Roto Arcade - Fantasy

For those who may have forgotten the rules involved in Spin Doctors, here's a quick review: A pair of Yahoo! fantasy analysts will debate an issue, and they'll each have 250 or so words in which to state their case. Then we resolve the argument democratically, just as this nation's founders would have done it: duelling pistols Web poll.

Today, we're taking a look at the top pick in 2011 MLB fantasy drafts. Brad Evans will state the case for Albert Pujols(notes), then Andy Behrens makes his pitch on behalf of Hanley Ramirez(notes). Let's play the feud…

Brad begins: As an unfailingly loyal Cubs fan, it’s painful to support any Cardinals player (Ryan Theriot(notes)!), but Pujols deserves the utmost respect. Arguably the greatest hitter of the broadband generation, the prolific slugger is the undisputed king of fantasy. It’s really no contest.

Since exploding onto the scene as a midlevel prospect in 2001, Pujols has terrorized big league pitchers. During that stretch, the three-time NL MVP, a model of consistency, has finished outside the virtual game’s top-10 just twice. Every year he’s a near lock for .320-40-120-110. He’s also contributed handsomely in steals, swiping 30 total bags over the past two seasons. Simply put, he’s the most reliable player in imaginary baseball today. And he’s still only 31.

Hungry to sign a colossal long-term deal, Pujols' negotiations with the Cards' front office are "not going well." Could you imagine what a motivated Albert could do? Pitchers might as well throw drunk.

Han-Ram is an extraordinary producer at a talent-thin position. However, true fantasy champions focus on numbers, not scarcity. Since 2006, the flashy shortstop has finished inside the overall top-five only once. Last year he checked in at No. 21. His downturn in power over the past three seasons and sharp groundball rise a year ago (1.56 GB/FB) are concerns, though minor.

Don’t get cute with the top pick. In this debate, Pujols is the clear winner. He’s an absolute tyrant who could establish new benchmarks in a dollar driven year.

Andy responds: If you think Pujols wasn't properly "motivated" during the last decade — that somehow his contract situation can lead to new statistical achievements — then please skip ahead to the voting. You're a lost cause. Albert is on the short list of the greatest hitters in history, and he hasn't been holding back, waiting for a contract year. He's awesome; the forecast is for continued awesomeness. 

But Hanley is no slouch, either. He's only 27, and he's already given us four straight 20/20 campaigns, plus he's won a batting title (.342 in '09). He ranked as a top-10 fantasy commodity from 2007-2009*, then finished 21st last season despite missing the final weeks with an elbow injury.

*OK, Brad did some sneaky things up above, the sneakiest of which was to cite top-10 finishes for Albert (paragraph two), then move the goalposts for Hanley: "[He] finished inside the overall top-five only once." And to correct the record, Ramirez actually had two top-five finishes according to Baseball Monster (2007, 2009).

This year, the shortstop position has a Glengarry Glen Ross quality: First prize is a Cadillac (Hanley), second prize is a set of steak knives (Tulo), third prize is you're fired (Reyes-Aviles). If you draft Ramirez, you'll have a massive advantage, even in a mixed league. That's the nature of his position. But it's impossible to screw up at first base. If you pass on Pujols, you'll just get Fielder in the second (ADP 21.6), or Dunn in the fourth (48.3), or Morales in the fifth (57.3). No matter how you play it, you'll own a four-category fantasy star.

My advice: Get Hanley while you can, wherever you can. 

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Photos via US Presswire

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