Often 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 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 2019 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.
I’m admittedly a bit torn on how to evaluate Muncy going into this season. It’s not because I’m unsure whether his breakout last year was real, because I think it’s pretty clear he’s a new guy after he revamped his swing. Among players with at least 400 plate appearances in 2018, Muncy ranked fifth in slugging percentage (.582), 20th in flyball percentage (44.9 percent) and ninth in hard-hit rate (47.4 percent). Where my concern lies is his playing time, as lineup-juggling manager Dave Roberts could bench Muncy regularly versus lefties even though the 28-year-old had a .891 OPS versus southpaws last season. Ultimately, though, I view Muncy as a much safer choice than the future Hall of Famer Cabrera, as strange as that sounds. Even if he sits often against left-handers, Muncy should at least approach last season’s 481 plate appearances, and if that happens I think he’ll come close to repeating his numbers. With Cabrera, I worry that his body may be broken down at this point. He’ll be 36 shortly after Opening Day (eight years older than Muncy) and was limited to 38 games in 2018 and has missed significant time due to injury in three of the last four campaigns. There could be upside still in his bat, but Cabrera is much likelier to be a dud for your fantasy team. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
In my opinion, there's absolutely no comparison here. On one hand, you have a 35-year-old superstar who is locked into a full-time role who bats in the coveted third spot in the order, against a possible flash-in-the-pan breakout star who isn't projected to see 500 plate appearances and will sit against most left-handers. Sure, Cabrera had a miserable 2017 season, though some highly-publicized off-field issues can be partially to blame for the overall offensive decline. Prior to having his 2018 season cut short by a ruptured biceps, Cabrera looked much more like the offensive force that fantasy owners have come to know and love over the years, slashing .299/.395/.448 with three homers and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances. It's an extremely small sample size, but it's certainly encouraging that his hard-hit percentage (46.3%) was at an all-time high. Muncy has always had power potential, but never clubbed more than 25 home runs in any minor league season, and had only hit five at the big league level before smashing 35 long balls during his breakout 2018 campaign. It seems obvious that his 29.4 HR/FB% is completely unsustainable, the question is how much does it fall. Muncy should be a guy that can hit you 25 homers, but with the uncertain playing time, his counting stats will suffer, and he doesn't offer anything in terms of batting average and speed. Give me Cabrera for what I believe will be a return to the .300/30/100 player that has made him a perennial fantasy star. – Dave Shovein (@DaveShovein)