With the dark days of winter upon us, it's a great time to start looking ahead towards the 2014 fantasy baseball season. With projections currently under way, positional rankings being assembled and even a mock draft to analyse, it is during this time we all start to take a stand towards one player over another. We saw this earlier in the off season with Ray and Alex battling it out over Matt Kemp and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Over the coming weeks I will pit two players, who I project to provide similar value in 2014, against each other and take a stand in favor of one at the end. We will then turn it over to you, the Fake Team Readers, to settle the dispute once and for all.
Today we start with two very talented, young, outfielders playing on opposite coasts. Representing the West coast is Cuban phenom, Yasiel Puig. From the East coast we have the insanely powerful, Giancarlo Stanton. Let's dive in.
In terms of 2013 statistical review, we're fortunate both players appeared in a comparable number of games. Puig was not called up until June and as such appeared in 104 games for the Dodgers. Stanton, as has been the case over his young career unfortunately, missed some time due to injury and ended up playing in 116 games for the Marlins. With a slight edge in the plate appearance category for Stanton, both players posted comparable rotisserie lines:
Puig: 66 Runs, 19 HR, 42 RBI, 11 SB, .319 BA (.391 OBP)
Stanton: 62 Runs, 24 HR, 62 RBI, 1 SB, .249 BA (.365 OBP)
On the season Puig ended up the more valuable fantasy commodity (30th Ranked OF, compared to 59th for Stanton) according to ESPN's player rater, largely due to the stolen base and batting average advantage Puig had over Stanton.
That was 2013, how about 2014?
My preliminary projections have both out fielders topping the 30 home run mark in 2014, with Stanton eclipsing the 35 homer mark. Obviously health is the major concern when it comes to projecting Stanton's counting stat totals, but assuming he can reach the 500 at bat threshold, 35-38 home runs should be a lock.
Taking a look at total runs created (Runs + RBI's) I give the slight edge to Stanton as well. While there is some uncertainty regarding where exactly Puig will bat next season, the line up he'll be in should create ample opportunity for both runs and RBI's. Stanton on the other hand will without question be hitting either 3rd or 4th in whatever line up he's a part of next year (here's to the Marlins trading him this off season). While the Marlins offense ranked dead last in runs scored in 2013, a middle of the order bat, with his power, will still provide plenty of RBI and decent run scoring opportunities. Once it becomes clear where exactly Puig will be batting, I do withhold the right to give the edge to him.
Next let's take a look at the stolen base category. For his career (489 games), Stanton has swiped 17 bags in the big leagues. Puig was able to steal 11 in 104 games last year alone. The fact Puig was caught 8 times is not ideal, however, watching the kid run, it's clear to me, it is not an issue of speed, rather picking his spots to run a little better. 18-20 stolen bases is my projection for Puig next year, while I'd be surprised to see Stanton rack up more than 3 or 4.
Lastly, we take a look at both players projected batting averages for next season. Puig's .319 BA in 2013 was impressive, however taking a look at his xBA, it seems to me, he might be due for some slight regression next season. I currently have Puig's 2014 BA projected out in the low .290's, still a very respectable mark for the fantasy game. Stanton on the other hand has never been a great batting average guy with the exception of his 2012 season where he hit .290 over 501 plate appearances. Last year's .249 BA falls in line with his xBA for the season and also his sub .265 career BA. For 2014 I have Stanton projected out at a low-to-mid .260 BA, giving the edge to Puig in this category.
Now that we've run through the rotisserie categories for each player, it is time to reveal where I have them currently ranked overall and at their respective position. Currently, both players are ranked within my top 20 overall, with Stanton coming in at 19th and Puig checking in at 14th. Among outfielders I have Puig as a top 5 option, with Stanton just cracking my top 10, at number 9. For the record I love Brian Creagh's selection of Puig, 23rd overall in their current mock draft. Stanton has yet to be selected through the first 2 rounds.
It is now your turn to agree, disagree, debate and pick apart both of these players. Who do you have ranked higher? Who would you rather build your team around? How early should a 2nd year player and semi injury prone player be selected in your opinion? Let's here it.