Tag:Would You Rather Have
Posted on: January 19, 2012 9:13 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Kershaw or Price?



By Matt Snyder


For the latest installment in our ongoing offseason series, let's take a look at two similar left-handed starting pitchers. They're both under age 27, both made their respective debuts in 2008, were both drafted in the first round and both have already had a top two finish in Cy Young voting (one won it). One plays in the AL East, the other in the NL West. That's right, it's Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers against David Price of the Rays.

The case for Kershaw

Well, gee, where to begin? How about with a 2011 Cy Young Award -- coming in a season where Kershaw won the pitching triple crown, leading the NL with 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. Also impressive were Kershaw's 233 1/3 innings pitched, five complete games, two shutouts while sporting an NL-best 0.98 WHIP. On top of all that, Kershaw took home the Gold Glove. He can even hit, as the .225 batting average and 10 runs scored is pretty impressive for a pitcher.

Better yet, Kershaw is only turning 24 this coming March and has already logged over 700 innings in his young career. We're talking a guy who could be a legitimate Cy Young candidate for the next decade-plus.

The case for Price

Upon first glance at the historically basic pitching categories, Price had a down year in 2011. He went 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA. This came on the heels of a season where he went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and finished second in AL Cy Young voting. Advanced metrics like FIP and xFIP, however, say Price simply had worse luck in how things shook out. And it wasn't like he was bad anyway. He struck out 218 batters in 224 1/3 innings and sported an impressive 1.14 WHIP. And at age 26, it's very reasonable to expect Price to have a similar looking W/L and ERA in 2012 to what we saw in 2010.

Would You Rather Have
Still, I can hear the cries already. This is a stupid "comparison" because Kershaw's numbers like W/L and ERA dwarfed Price's in 2011, right? Well, the opposite was true in 2010 and let us also consider the competition. Remember, Kershaw is in the NL West while Price is in the AL East.

Kershaw made nine of his 34 starts against the Giants or Padres -- and the only worse offense in baseball belonged to the Mariners. He made two more starts against the Astros. In those 11 starts against dreadful offenses, Kershaw went nuts, to the tune of a 10-0 record and 1.33 ERA. Meanwhile, Price made 12 starts against the top three offenses -- in terms of runs scored -- in baseball: The Red Sox, Yankees and Rangers. Of Price's 34 starts, 21 came against teams with a winning record.

It's fair to point out that Kershaw had good success against the Diamondbacks and Tigers while Price was knocked around by the Twins and A's, for example. But the general point is that Price faced much tougher offenses throughout 2011.

Our call

There is absolutely no wrong answer, but I'm going Kershaw. It might be surprising after those last few paragraphs, but I was merely trying to sell just how tough this decision should be. Glancing merely at the Cy Young voting and traditional stats from 2011 says Kershaw is an easy choice, but it's far from easy. In fact, my choice is based merely on the roughly 2 1/2 year difference in age. Otherwise they are basically the same to me, as the competition level evens out their numbers -- not to mention factoring in 2010.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 18, 2012 9:06 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 5:18 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Yu Darvish or C.J. Wilson



By Matt Snyder


We now know that the Rangers have signed Yu Darvish to a 6-year, $60 million contract, which is more than they were reportedly willing to pay C.J. Wilson. Plus, the Rangers now owe the NPB's Fighters a $51.7 posting fee on top of the contract. So they were willing to shell out $111.7 million for Darvish, but not half of that for Wilson.

So this marks the perfect opportunity to continue our offseason series and see if our answers equal the answer of the Rangers organization ...

Would you rather have C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish?

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and company would rather have Darvish. Do we agree with that decision?

The case for Darvish

I've already made the case that Darvish is unlike any pitcher we've ever seen come from Japan. Seriously, if you haven't seen the stats, please click on that link. He's head and shoulders above the likes of Dice-K and Hideo Nomo at this point in his career, so it's unfair to lump him in with past imports just because they came from the same league. Darvish is a different kind of talent.

Would You Rather Have
Also, there's the fact that Daniels personally flew to Japan to watch Darvish pitch and the Rangers scouting department was watching him very closely as well. Considering the quick turnaround the organization has made into an American League powerhouse under Daniels and his scouting department, are we seriously going to question what they think they see in Darvish? I'm sure not.

Additionally, Darvish is only 25 while Wilson is 31.

The case for Wilson

The left-hander has only been a starter for the past two seasons, but he's been damn good. In 2011, he was good enough to finish sixth in Cy Young voting, as he went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 206 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings. Keep in mind, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was the top hitters' park in all of baseball in 2011, too, so Wilson was throwing roughly half his games in a pitchers' worst nightmare. He wasn't bad at home (3.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP), but the difference showed when he took the ball on an opposing mound. He sported a 2.31 ERA and 1.15 WHIP on the road in 2011. And now he's headed to the Angels, who play in what rated as a pitchers' park in 2011.

But much of the case for Wilson is that he's a known entity in Major League Baseball. More to the point: Darvish is not. So this part is actually a case against Darvish.

Pitchers in Japan throw once a week while pitchers in the majors are expected to pitch once every five days. Darvish did cut down his schedule to once every six days last season, in advance of knowing he was probably going to post, but that's still one day longer than in America. Also, many scouts liken Nippon Professional Baseball to be either Triple-A level or between Triple-A and the majors. So we don't have any large samples upon which to judge Darvish adjusting to real big-league hitters over the course of a long season or dealing with real adversity when, say, Albert Pujols crushes a grand slam off of him. Then you have the travel issue -- in Japan, all the games are played within one time zone. And how will Darvish handle the wilting heat of Texas in the middle of the summer?

There are many fair questions to be asked. 

Our call

It's incredibly tough, considering the only bits and pieces I've seen of Darvish came in the 2009 World Baseball Classic -- where he was dominant, but I just don't trust numbers in March. On the other hand, I very much trust Daniels and his operation. With Darvish being six years younger and an imposing 6-foot-5 power pitcher, the possible upside is intriguing. Ultimately that, the age difference and my trust in Daniels has me begrudgingly picking Darvish here. I wish I had at least one major-league start to judge, but no MLB teams were afforded that luxury.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 16, 2012 11:31 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Strasburg or Moore?



By Matt Snyder


Admission time: This is the matchup I've been most looking forward to in this series. In judging from the comments on occasion, it seems that some fans become angry when we speculate about what might happen in the future. I couldn't possibly be more in disagreement with that sentiment. Thinking is fun. There's no right answer yet, so why not just make an educated guess on which player will end up with the better career? In fact, I think it's much more boring in the offseason to discuss what has already happened than to try and surmise what is coming next.

So we're going to do some looking ahead here and ask that you do the same. We're going to go with two young pitchers who appear to have ace potential, but the sample sizes we have seen in the majors aren't very big -- and with one of these guys, he's already undergone major arm surgery.

It's Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals against Matt Moore of the Rays. A righty against a lefty -- and both with gobs of potential.

The case for Strasburg

This one could be spun whatever way one wants, based upon any preconceived biases. We could say Strasburg was the most heavily-hyped pitching prospect since Mark Prior ... And look how he turned out! Or we could say Strasburg is the most heavily-hyped pitching prospect since Roger Clemens.

Then there is the Tommy John surgery. There have been players that had their career ruined by the procedure, so focusing on them suits the Strasburg haters. Of course, nowadays the procedure is successful at a very high rate and you could go down the list of names like Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter, John Axford, Jaime Garcia, Shaun Marcum, Brian Wilson, C.J. Wilson, etc. etc. etc.

Would You Rather Have
What if Strasburg stays healthy the rest of his career and does what he's done his entire life: Dominate the opposition. That's an ace for about 15 years.

Strasburg, 23, was the first overall pick in the MLB Draft after making collegiate hitters look silly for a few years. In 17 minor-league starts, he's 8-3 with a 1.90 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 94 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings. In 92 major-league innings, Strasburg is 6-4 with a 2.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 116 strikeouts against just 19 walks. This past season, he was even more dominant upon his return from Tommy John surgery, putting up a 1.50 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 24 strikeouts in 24 innings. He only walked two hitters.

He's going to have his innings capped at 160 this season to protect him in recovery, but starting in 2013 -- assuming full health -- watch out.

The case for Moore

Unlike Strasburg, Moore built himself into a huge prospect while in the minors. He wasn't hyped heading into the draft, as the Rays snagged him in the eighth round. Still, the 22-year-old left-hander was utterly dominant in 2011. He was promoted to Triple-A midseason, where in nine starts he went 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings. He was so good the Rays felt that was all the time he needed before hitting the bigs in September. Moore made a pair of relief appearances and then one start: Against the Yankees. He did not disappoint, striking out 11 hitters in five shutout innings, picking up in the all-important win as the Rays were chasing down the Red Sox in the wild-card race.

Then, manager Joe Maddon felt comfortable enough with the rookie (he'll still be a rookie in '12, by the way) to start him in Game 1 of the ALDS. And Moore was nails. He threw seven shutout innings against the mighty Rangers in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the majors. He struck out six while allowing just two hits, two walks and a hit batsman.

On top of all that, the Rays have locked Moore up with an incredibly team-friendly contract through 2016 -- but club options could keep him away from free agency until 2018. On the other hand, Strasburg's agent is Scott Boras, so the Nats won't have near as easy a time in keeping him.

Our call

I think the question comes down to if you trust Strasburg's arm to stay healthy. Moore looks like he has perennial All-Star potential, but Strasburg has Hall of Fame talent. I like gambling, so I'm going to go with Strasburg. If you're conservative with selections like this -- and want to factor in contract status in a major way -- Moore is the pick. But I'm not conservative on issues like this. Gimme Strasburg and the possibility of him winning a handful of Cy Youngs.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 16, 2012 10:35 am
Edited on: January 16, 2012 10:46 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?



By Matt Snyder

As we continue the ongoing series of Would You Rather Have, we'll tackle a PED-themed version today. As every baseball fan surely knows by now, Ryan Braun failed a drug test and is facing a 50-game suspension for the beginning of the 2012 season, unless his appeal is upheld. Jose Bautista, on the other hand, has never failed an MLB drug test. However, I'd wager a hefty sum that if the Braun news first broke as "an unnamed All-Star slugger has tested positive for a banned substance" that the overwhelming majority of people would have guessed Bautista was the culprit.

In no uncertain terms, I think it's unfair how many people -- and it's not just fans, some media members are in on the witch hunt -- seem to believe that Bautista could not possibly get better at age 29 without having cheated. I've written about it multiple times (like here) but it drives me crazy. His body type hasn't changed one bit. Then again, neither has Braun's.

Whatever the case may be, that's why I connected these two superstar corner outfielders. Fair or not, one of these players has failed a drug test and the other has the suspicions of the majority of baseball fans. Since they are both big-time power hitters and play a corner outfield position, the debate works. Let's dive in.

The case for Bautista

Last year at this time many people believed the slugger's breakout campaign in 2010 was a fluke, but then Bautista went out and had an even better all-around season. He was once again punished for not playing on a team in contention in the MVP voting, finishing third. This time around it was much more egregious, considering the batting average and on-base percentage gains made. Bautista led the AL in home runs, walks, slugging percentage, OPS and Wins Above Replacement, Baseball-Reference.com version (he actually tied Justin Verlander there with 8.5).  Bautista's 181 OPS-plus led the majors and is insane (if you aren't familiar with the stat, it's ballpark adjusted and means Bautista's OBP plus slugging percentage was 81 percent better than the league average).

Would You Rather Have
Also impressive, Bautista walked more times than he struck out, an amazing feat for a slugger of his caliber. Albert Pujols regularly does it, but not many other power hitters ever do.

While neither outfielder here is going to approach a Fielding Bible Award any time soon -- both rate out poorly in advanced defensive metrics -- Bautista has a nice arm in right field, racking up 13 outfield assists in 116 games last season (he played 25 games at third). Using the eye test, too, I'd much rather have Bautista in the outfield than Braun.

Oh, and Bautista isn't facing a 50-game suspension.

The case for Braun

The 2011 NL MVP, Braun had a spectacular season with 33 homers, 111 RBI, 109 runs, 33 stolen bases and led the NL in slugging percentage and OPS. His OPS-plus was 166 and WAR was 7.7, for comparison's sake. Since winning the NL Rookie of the Year (after playing just 113 games) in 2007, Braun has been one of the best hitters in all of baseball.

Again, neither is a very good defender in terms of range or saving runs for his pitching staff, but one thing Braun does very well is not commit errors. He's only made six errors in the past four seasons combined. So while he won't get to as many balls as, say, Brett Gardner, Braun is sure-handed when he does.

If you wanna use age, Braun isn't that much younger than Bautista. He does have a three-year lead, as he turned 28 in November while Bautista turned 31 in October.

Our call

You can call me petty, but I'm going with Bautista until -- if ever -- he fails a drug test of his own. I'm pretty sure I would have leaned that way in October, but it would have been incredibly tough. That's irrelevant now, though, because Braun's name is tainted, even if temporarily, while Bautista's is not.

Vote away, and I have to say, I'm very interested to see how this one goes down. Lots of different issues in play, so let's hear those opinions. Please do keep in mind this is moving forward. Even if Braun misses 50 games this year, he's signed with the Brewers into his late 30s.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:28 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Hosmer or Votto?



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The gut reaction to today's Would You Rather Have is the easiest so far and probably the easiest of the entire series. But the gut reaction isn't always the easiest.

Today we look at two first basemen, Eric Hosmer of the Royals and Joey Votto of the Reds. While the easy answer is Votto -- the 2010 National League MVP -- the long view makes the question more difficult. The difference in players today isn't just what they can do on the field at the moment, it also includes the future and how long you can keep a player. So today's question isn't just Hosmer or Votto, it's better put as Would You Rather Have Hosmer for six years or Votto for two?

The case for Hosmer

Hosmer's case comes down to promise (and price). A rookie in 2011, Hosmer hit .293/.334/.465 with 19 homers and 78 RBI in 128 games -- a year before the Royals expected him to land in Kansas City. Hosmer, the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, hadn't played above Double-A before 2011. The Royals started him in Triple-A in 2011 despite a strong spring. He responded by dominating the Pacific Coast League in his first (and only month) at the highest level in the minors, hitting .439 and getting on base in more than half his plate appearances. The Royals promoted him to the big leagues in early May. Not only did he show he belonged, he got better as the season went on, finishing strong by hitting .349 with five homers in the last month of the season.

The case for Votto

This isn't tough -- the former MVP finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2008 when he put up a 125 OPS+ and hit 24 homers. That's been his worst season as a pro. In the last three years he's hit .318/.418/.565 with a 161 OPS+. Think his numbers are inflated by playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park? Think again -- in his career he's hit better away from GABP, hitting .296/.391/.534 in Cincinnati and .329/.418/.566 away from it. Coming up through the Reds' minor leagues, everyone knew Votto could hit, but the knock against him was his glove. Since then, he's turned into a Gold Glove first baseman.

Votto, though, may only be in Cincinnati two more years. Last winter he signed a three-year, $38 million deal covering his arbitration years, but none of his free agent years. Votto will be the premier free agent of the 2013 season at the age of 30 and he won't come cheap. In all likelihood, Votto's pricetag will be more than the Reds can afford and the team's first MVP since Hall of Famer Barry Larkin will be playing in a different uniform. While Votto will be making $9.5 million in 2012 and $17 million in 2013, Hosmer will be making near the league minimum -- and he'll be wearing Royal blue for the foreseeable future.

Our call

In the end, it probably comes down to your team. If you're the Reds and looking to win immediately, you'll take Votto. If you're building for the future and watching your pennies, like the Royals, it's Hosmer. In a vacuum, I'll take Votto for two MVP-caliber seasons over the potential for more in Hosmer. Hosmer's in the Show Me State, and Votto's already shown me he's one of the premier players in the game. But saying all this, I can see a scenario in 2015 that I'm looking back in regret over this choice.

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Hosmer for six years on your favorite team or Votto for two?



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Posted on: January 14, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 3:17 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Upton or Kemp?



By C. Trent Rosecrans


We love interaction here at Eye On Baseball, comments can make us think and we like reading what you think. Sometimes you bring up a point we hadn't thought about and make us re-think our positions or reinforce our views. Often, you help copy edit and fact check, those contributions are equally appreciated. We love good, intelligent comments. Really, one of the reasons for the Would You Rather Have series was to get more involved with our readers and encourage disussion. So far, it's succeeded and we hope it continues.

That said, the one criticism of yesterday's comparison of Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria made no sense to me -- some commenters said we couldn't compare a third baseman and a shortstop. Really? Just hours after posting that, the Yankees and Mariners played their own game of Would You Rather Have, comparing a catcher/DH and a pitcher -- and nobody told them they couldn't do it.

Sometimes the pairings we come up with will be players of the same position, other days they may have other things in common. Yesterday we had college teammates and today we're looking at two of the best talents in the game, and two of the top four finishers in last year's National League MVP vote -- Justin Upton and Matt Kemp. The pairjust happen to play in the same division, but different outfield positions.

The case for Upton

Sometimes it's hard to believe Upton is just turned 24 at the end of August, it seems like he's been around for a long time now. And really, he has been talked about in baseball circles for quite a while. The younger brother of the Rays' B.J. Upton, the younger Upton has been on the radar since high school because of his own play, but also because his older brother went second overall in the 2002 draft. In 2005, Upton topped his brother by going first overall.

It didn't take long for Upton to show up on the big stage, arriving in the big leagues before his 20th birthday. In the four subsequent seasons, he's improved and blossomed into one of the game's best players, As a 23-year-old in 2011, Upton hit .289/.369/.529 while setting career-highs in hits (171), doubles (39), homers (31), RBI (88) and stolen bases (21), in addition to the best on-base percentage of his career. He's also turned out to be one of the best defensive right fielders in the game, winning the Fielding Bible Award for 2011.

What the numbers don't show is just how much room there is for Upton to improve. Putting up those kinds of results could be a career-year for many fine players, but Upton can be even better, which is scary.

The case for Kemp

Kemp, like Upton, appears to have all the talent in the world. And 2011 was when he put it all together, showing that he can not just be a very good player, but an MVP-level player. As much as anything, his teammates kept him from winning an MVP in 2011, as he put up a 10 WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com on the strength of his .324/.399/.586 season. In addition to leading the National League in homers (39), runs (115) total bases (353) and OPS+ (171), he led the majors with 126 RBI. Kemp missed out on the MVP, but did win the Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove (although advanced numbers don't like his defense as much as the voting bloc of managers and coaches do, apparently).

The Dodgers signed Kemp to an eight-year, $160 million extension after the 2011 season -- but if he continues to put up the numbers he did in 2011, the 27-year-old will be well worth the cost. Upton signed an extension before the 2010 season that will keep him in Arizona for the next four years at a total of $45.25 million, with a $2 million bump in 2012 over 2011, a $3 million raise in 2013 and a $4.5 million increase in 2014, before maxing out at $14.5 million in 2015. That's the thing with supreme talent, if you want to keep it, you must pay, and neither of these players will be living paycheck to paycheck anytime soon.

Our call

It's pretty much a coinflip. On one hand, you have the production and cost certainty of Kemp, knowing you'll have him through the 2019 season. On the other hand, there's the dream of just how good Upton can be, but then risk losing him right after his 28th birthday following the 2015 season and seeing him star elsewhere. If I were in a gambling mood, I'd take Upton. But as it is, I'm feeling conservative (or as conservative as you can feel when doling out $160 million) and take Kemp, hoping that 2011 was the start of a trend. Ask me again in 15 minutes and I could change my tune.

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Upton or Kemp on your favorite team?



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Posted on: January 13, 2012 2:39 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 2:27 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Tulowitzki or Longoria?



By C. Trent Rosecrans


And once again it's time for our bloodfeud showdown in the Would You Rather Have series, and we're still not messing around. So far it's been even difficult for Matt and I to agree -- not to mention you, but that's cool, because it's the offseason and talking about baseball is always good. When there's snow outside my window, I yearn for baseball and baseball talk, so here we go with another hypothetical to keep the boredom and basketball away.

Today, we'll look at two of the best young players in the game, that although they play different positions on the infield, are still cornerstones of their franchise -- Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria. So, which former Dirtbag of Long Beach State would you rather have?

The case for Tulowitzki

It's not that tough to make a case for Tulowitzki in any argument. When you bring up Tulowtizki, you're talking about a career .293/.364/.505 hitter with two Gold Gloves at the most important defensive position on the field. He's also gracious with fans and media alike, apparently a great teammate and a team player. He has a great sense of humor and has even rocked a mullet for charity. He's only 27 and is entering the prime of his career. There's almost nothing not to like about Tulowitzki.

The case for Longoria

A year younger than Tulowitzki, Longoria is one of the game's best players, regardless of position. A career .274/.360/.515 hitter, he's coming off what on first glance is a "down" season, hitting .244/.355/.495 with 31 homers. But look more closely and he had terrible luck, with a career-low batting average on balls in play of .239 -- nearly .100 points lower than his 2010 BABIP of .336. It's the first time in his four big-league seasons that he's had a BABIP less than .300. Despite the low BABIP, he increased his walk rate (13.9 percent) and decreased his strikeout rate (16.2 percent) in 2011, both career bests. Longoria didn't win the Gold Glove at third base in the American League for the first time since his rookie season, but there's no shame in losing to Adrian Beltre when it comes to fielding.

Contracts always play a big role in these kind of decisions and in most real-life decisions. That's where Longoria has the advantage. The Rays may have the most team-friendly contract in baseball, with control of Longoria through the 2016 season, making just $4.5 million in 2012 and $40.5 million due to him over the next five seasons (if the team exercises it's no-brainer team options in 2014-16.) Tulowitzki is also staying put for the near future -- and beyond. The Rockies have him signed through 2020 with a team option for 2021, when Tulowitzki will be 36, owing him at minimum $152.25 million.

Tulowitzki is aided by Coors Field, of course. That subject is going to come up anytime a Rockies player is brought up in just about any discussion -- and for good reason. As good as Tulowitzki is, he's better at Coors Field. In his career, he's a .312/.382/.549 hitter at Coors Field and a .274/.346/.462 hitter everywhere else. Last season the gap wasn't nearly as large, as he hit .310/.381/.567 at home and .292/.362/.519 on the road, with 13 of his 30 homers coming on the road.

Our call

This one may be a tad easier than our last two, but it's still a choice between two of the game's best -- but in the end, the choice is Longoria. Despite playing in fewer games by nearly a season, Longoria's accumulated a better WAR as measured by both Baseball-Reference.com (24.1 vs. 23.7) and FanGraphs (26.9 vs. 24.5), but the biggest reason is the contract status. While it's hard to fault the Rockies for locking up Tulowitzki for the better part of the rest of his career, Longoria's under contract for half the length of Tulowitzki's contract at nearly a quarter of the price. While Tulowitzki gives you positional value, it's not that much more, especially when you have elite defensive talent at both spots.

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Tulowitzki or Longoria on your favorite team?



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Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:35 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 10:50 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Cano or Pedroia?



By Matt Snyder


As we continue the final trek toward spring training, we also continue the series that's gonna get us there. Our first installment of Who Would You Rather Have got some pretty good discussion going, as it pitted Roy Halladay against Justin Verlander. I believe we have an equally tough decision in front of us this time around, too.

For this installment, we look to baseball's most intense rivalry ... specifically the second basemen: Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia. I feel compelled to point out that we seemed to get a lot of non-answers on Twitter and in the comments (like "Tim Lincecum" to the Verlander vs. Halladay question), and I'm thinking those people didn't understand that this is an ongoing series. I can assure you that many big names from across America -- like Lincecum -- will be included at some point. You'll also have a decision between two young NL West sluggers Saturday, for example. Patience ...

Anyhow, it's Cano vs. Pedroia now. Red Sox vs. Yankees. Beantown vs. the Bronx. Let's get it on.

The case for Cano

While he was already a very good hitter, Cano has developed into one of the most feared hitters in baseball over the past two seasons, finishing in the top six of MVP voting both times. His triple slash line of .311/.365/.533 from 2010-11 is a beauty for a second baseman, not to mention the 28 homers, 46 doubles, 118 RBI and 104 runs he posted last season. It was good enough for Cano to bring home the Silver Slugger for the second consecutive season.

A model of durability as well, Cano hasn't played in less than 159 games in any of the past five seasons. Pedroia only managed 75 games in an injury-plagued 2010 season, so that's a point for Cano.

The case for Pedroia

On the other hand, Pedroia played in 157, 154 and 159 games, respectively, in three of the past four seasons, so it's not like he's injury prone. Pedroia, the 2007 Rookie of the Year, also won the 2008 MVP. And Pedroia can do it all. He hit 21 home runs last season while stealing 26 bases and also winning a Gold Glove (his second). His .307/.387/.474 line is competitive with Cano's, too. Where Pedroia has a bit less home-run power, he makes up for it by getting on base. He holds a .373 to .347 advantage in career OBP.

Pedroia has one World Series ring, but so does Cano.

Cano will make $14 million in 2012 while Pedroia will make $8 million, but Pedroia's salary increases in the next several years while Cano is a free agent after a 2013 club option. Age is a veritable wash, as Cano is roughly 10 months older.

Really, any which way you can divide this up, it's a very close call. Many advanced defensive metrics show Pedroia with a significant edge in range, hence the 2011 Fielding Bible award -- meaning the stat crowd views him as the best defensive second baseman in all of baseball. Cano is viewed as no better than average defensively from that perspective. Cano did win the 2010 AL Gold Glove, but Gold Glove voting has produced dubious results at times -- like Rafael Palmeiro taking the honors in 1999 while playing only 28 games in the field. Unlike many younger bloggers and writers, I don't totally discount the Gold Glove, but I do trust the Fielding Bible awards more. Of course, using either one gives the defensive edge to Pedroia -- and you could argue Cano only won the 2010 Gold Glove because Pedroia was hurt anyway, which I would.

Our call

I'm going to go with Pedroia here in a photo finish, the closest of calls, based upon the defensive separation. The two are very close across the board. Just as with yesterday's pick, I could go either way and there definitely isn't a wrong answer. In fact, we have over 20 of these posts lined up, and this may well be the hardest choice among them.

But now it's your turn. Vote and comment away.

Fan Vote:



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