Spin Doctors: Jose Reyes vs. Hanley Ramirez

Andy Behrens

It's an old-fashioned Fish fight in today's episode, featuring Miami's new shortstop, Jose Reyes, and last year's model, Hanley Ramirez. These two are typically drafted in the same round, often back-to-back. Both offer risk, both offer potential profit. Please offer an opinion in comments, after the guru duel...

Behrens leads off: It isn't often that we give the Spin Doctors treatment to a pair of teammates, but Reyes and Ramirez present an unusual case, as the former bumps the latter to a new spot on the defensive spectrum. Normally with these debates, team context enters the discussion. But these two share the same lineup card, the same infield, the same ballpark, the same mascot ... same everything, basically.

So we can't use their surroundings to draw distinctions. We also can't use age, since both players are 28. And we can't debate draft price with these guys, because there's almost no separation in terms of ADP (19.3 for Reyes, 21.8 for Ramirez). And we can't reasonably use medical histories, since neither player is a lock to pass your fantasy team's mandatory physical. Reyes has notoriously delicate hamstrings, Ramirez has a twice-repaired shoulder. It wouldn't be a surprise if either player (or both) visited the DL in 2012.

When deciding between two similarly priced players who share so many traits, my preference — and feel free to ridicule me for this — is to simply look at their recent stats, then choose the best set of numbers. If that's your approach, then Reyes is the easy call. He's the guy who just won a batting title, who scored 101 runs, swiped 39 bases, and posted a career-best .877 OPS.

Ramirez was like a zombified version of his former self last year, hitting .243/.333/.379 with just 10 homers in 385 plate appearances. He's been an absolute ground ball machine over the past two seasons, and it's kneecapped his power potential. Ramirez will need better luck, better health and a better approach at the plate in 2012 if he's going to reclaim his top-tier status. Reyes only needs his legs to function properly for 135-145 games. If that happens, then he'll be dominant in the usual categories.

Funston closes: Make no mistake, Hanley Ramirez is on a mission to prove his doubters wrong.

"When everyone was talking ... I was working," was Han-Ram's recent response to someone who commented about what great shape he appears to be in. Clearly, last year was a failure for the former batting champ and 30/30 club member, and he seems to be taking it personally that people are now doubting him at the prime age of 28.

How dominant has Hanley been prior to last season? Well, you need only look back at the Yahoo! shortstop rankings each of the past three seasons. He swept all four first place votes from the experts heading into each of those seasons. When all is right, he's, conservatively, a .300 hitter with mid-20s power and mid-30s speed. And his situation in Miami will only accentuate any rebound effort that Han-Ram has to give as he'll hit behind flyers Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio and in front of the likely NL home run king in Mike Stanton. The counting numbers are ripe for the picking.

It's probably true that Han-Ram got a little complacent and full of himself last season. But you can't discount the toll taken by the back and shoulder injuries he endured, the later ailment ending his season just as he was starting to look like his old self. Nor can you doubt that Ozzie Guillen has sparked a fire under him by moving him to third base, which only adds another feather to his fantasy cap (eligibility at two of the most depth-thin positions).

If you're like me, and you think Han-Ram will come back strong this season, you have to take him ahead of Reyes because, let's face it, when Reyes is at his best, he's a three-category stalwart. But when Hanley's got his game going, there isn't an offensive stat he can't handle.