Often times in the midst of your draft, you’ll find yourself deciding between a couple players at the same position. With Player Showdowns, we take two players who are closely ranked by Average Draft Position (ADP) and/or Rotoworld’s 2014 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?
We’ll offer up one Showdown per position (catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, starter and reliever) here, and you can get dozens more by purchasing the 2014 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.
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Ben Zobrist vs. Brandon Phillips
I’m choosing Zobrist here because I believe he has the more stable skill set. Phillips posted his first career 100-RBI season in 2013, which looks nice, but it masks the fact that he had the lowest average (.261) and on-base percentage (.310) and easily the lowest slugging percentage (.396) in his career for a full season. The second baseman’s downward trend in stolen bases also continued last year, as he swiped just five bags. And, with an expected move from the cleanup spot up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, Phillips’ gaudy RBI total will certainly drop. Phillips is still just 32, so I don’t see his production falling off the cliff, but I think we’re seeing the beginning of his decline. Meanwhile, Zobrist had the lowest strikeout percentage (13%) of his career last season while maintaining a nice walk percentage (10.3%). The 32-year-old also had over twice as many steals as Phillips in 2013 (11) and has out-homered him two of the last three years. To top it all off, Zobrist offers fantasy owners versatility with his eligibility at shortstop and the outfield, as well. Phillips is the flashier name, but Zobrist is the safer fantasy selection. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
I'm hardly a huge Phillips believer now that he's 33 years old, so this is as much about choosing him as it is thinking that Zobrist's fantasy upside simply isn't particularly impressive. In real life a ton of Zobrist's value comes from defensive positional versatility and drawing walks, neither of which are as valuable in most fantasy circumstances, and as someone likely to hit around .275 with 15-20 homers and 10-15 steals the ceiling just isn't high enough. Plus, he's the same age as Phillips. Phillips, meanwhile, has similar power and speed projections and also gets a nice boost by likely hitting behind on-base machine Joey Votto in the Reds' lineup once again. He won't drive in another 100-plus runs because Phillips' numbers with runners in scoring position will come back down to earth, but whether he hits behind Votto or in front of Votto I like his run production potential more than Zobrist's. In real life I'd take Zobrist every time, but in fantasy I'd still learn toward Phillips for at least one more season. – Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman)
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