In my early 2012 First Base Rankings that I published on Monday, some readers commented that Arizona Diamondbacks first base prospect Paul Goldschmidt is a better fantasy first baseman than Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. I disagreed as Goldschmidt has a propensity to strikeout a lot. But as I was giving this some thought on Tuesday morning, I have to admit I am a big fan of Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton, and he, too, strikes out a great deal.
So how can I like Stanton and dislike Goldschmidt when they are very similar players, on the surface, yet play different positions. right?
With that, I figured I needed to take a look at both Goldschmidt and Freeman, since they play the same position, and I ranked Freeman as my 15th best fantasy first baseman in 2012. Some feel Goldschmidt deserves to be ranked ahead of Freeman, so let's take a look at their minor league and major league stats after the jump:
It is a little difficult to accurately/correctly compare Freeman's minor league stats to Goldschmidt's since he is 2 years younger than Goldschmidt. But age aside, here is how they fared at each level of the minors that they played, exlcluding Rookie ball:
Freeman- .316-.378-.521, 18 HRs, 95 RBI, 70 runs, 491 at bats, 15.6 K%, 8.5 BB% (19 yrs old)
Goldschmidt- he skipped A ball and started in High A
Freeman- .302-.394-.447, 6 HRs, 34 RBI, 43 runs, 255 at bats, .338 BABIP, 13.8 K%, 8.8 BB% (20 yrs old)
Goldschmidt- .314-.384-.606, 35 HRs, 108 RBI, 103 runs, 525 at bats, .385 BABIP, 26.9 K%, 9.5 BB%, (23 yrs old)
Goldschmidt proved to be too advanced for High A, yet the Diamondbacks left him in High A all year where he hit for plenty of power, yet some were concerned with the high strikeout rate. Like Jerry Sands, he had his critics, as he was old for the level. Freeman struggled against more advanced pitching, hitting for less power, but increased his walk rate and reduced his strikeout rate slightly.
Freeman- .248-.308-.342, 2 HRs, 24 RBI, 15 runs, 149 at bats, .263 BABIP, K%, 6.5 BB% (20 yrs old)
Goldschmidt- .306-.435-.626, 30 HRs, 94 RBI, 84 runs, 366 at bats, .331 BABIP, 20.1 K%, 17.9 BB% (24 yrs old)
Freeman finished the 2009 season in AA where his power disappeared leading some to question whether he had enough power for a first base prospect. Goldschmidt silenced his critics as he continued to hit for power, increased his walk rate and reduced his strikeout rate, earning him a promotion to the big leagues in September 2011.
Freeman- .319-.378-.518, 18 HRs, 88 RBI, 73 runs, 461 at bats, .351 BABIP, 16.2 K%, 8.3 BB% (21 yrs old)
Goldschmidt skipped AAA altogether and was promoted to the big leagues in late 2011. Freeman quieted his critics as he crushed AAA pitching with his power returning against advanced pitching.
Freeman- .282-.346-.448, 21 HRs, 76 RBI, 67 runs, 571 at bats, .339 BABIP, 22.4 K%, 8.3 BB (22 yrs old)
Goldschmidt- .250-.333-.474, 8 HRs, 26 RBI, 28 runs, 156 at bats, .323 BABIP, 29.9 K%, 11.3 BB% (24 yrs old)
Well, it is quite obvious that Goldschmidt has more power than Freeman, but the difference in age and the strikeout rate are important to consider as well. I am a sucker for power hitters and Goldschmidt very well could find himself in my final First Base Rankings come draft day 2012, replacing one of Gaby Sanchez or Michael Cuddyer.
Freeman could get plenty of votes for NL Rookie of the Year, which should be announced in the next week or so, but I do recall reading about his "below average" power when he was still in the minors. It will be interesting to see how both fare in 2012, as Goldschmidt hits in the more favorable hitters park, while Freeman is still 2 years younger than Goldschmidt and has one year of MLB experience under his belt as well.
Some concerns I have with Freeman is the 36.8% outside the zone swing percentage and the 11.5% swinging strike percentage. Pitchers also are not afraid of pitching to him as evidenced by the 60.2% first pitch strike percentage. In the past, Freeman has struggled at each new level, so let's see how he performs in 2012, before dropping him out of the rankings altogether. He is just 22 years old.
Goldschmidt swings and misses in almost 12% of his swings, leading to his high strikeout rate. I wonder if he can maintain his 21.1% HR/FB rate in the big leagues in 2012. If so, he could hit 25-30 home runs in 2012.
Who would you rather have in 2012?