February 16, 2011
In today's very special episode of Spin Doctors, we debate the merits of a pair of second basemen, Dustin Pedroia(notes) and Ian Kinsler(notes). Scott Pianowski argues for the Bostonian, Andy Behrens supports the Texan. And somewhere, Dan Uggla(notes) is thoroughly disgusted. Let's get to it…
Pianowski opens: With all due respect to the estimable Mr. Behrens, it's almost a little silly that we're having this discussion today. Pedroia's ADP is 21 slots higher than Kinsler's, and this is one instance where the wisdom of the crowds is right on. If we're looking at these guys as an "either-or" question (and that's what this exercise is), Pedroia is the only logical conclusion.
Both players are coming off major injuries, of course. Pedroia fractured a foot, more a bad luck fluke than anything else, the first major ailment in his career. Kinsler had ankle and groin injuries, the type of maladies that often trail an injury-prone player. Kinsler has been hurt in each of his five big-league seasons; he averages a mere 123.6 contests per campaign. You know what you're signing up for. Eventually, the other cleat drops.
Otherwise, the players will be similar. Kinsler offers more power, Pedroia more surety in batting average (his career mark is 24 points higher). Both players rake at home and lose a lot of juice on the road; Kinsler's career numbers at home are better, but Pedroia is the superior player out of a suitcase. On a per-game basis, they'll probably be similar in value, but five years of DL ink can't be ignored.
There's a time to take upshot risks on players, project growth, ask a veteran to do something he's never done before. It's not in the Top 5 rounds. Spend your blue chips on sure things. You can dream the Arlington upside dream all you want; I'll take the safe floor (and the better supporting cast) in the Back Bay.
Behrens responds: OK, so maybe I've told a few Kinsler-is-injury-prone jokes over the years. We've all done it. He's treated the DL like a summer hideaway. At times, he's like the middle infield's version of Nick Johnson(notes).
And that would be a really strong point in this debate if we weren't comparing Kinsler to Pedroia, a guy who spent 97 days on the DL last year and who's now playing with a screw in his left foot. (Or, more accurately, "a screw in there that's holding everything together." His words). Let's not pretend that injury risk is only present on one side of this discussion. It's a factor with Pedroia, too.
In this clash, I'm interested in what the fantasy lines will look like for each player if things go well — that is, if Kinsler gives us 500-plus at-bats (as he did in '08 and '09), and if Pedroia's foot-screw thing is a success.
At full strength, I'll take Kinsler, easy. He's just one year removed from a 30/30 season, and was the consensus No. 2 fantasy second baseman entering 2010. He holds a clear edge over Pedroia in power and speed; Dustin's top single-season HR/SB totals are 17 and 20. Both players benefit from hitter-friendly parks and productive lineups. The only standard category in which the Laser Show has an advantage is AVG … that's it. It's unlikely that Pedroia will run enough to be an asset in steals, not with a damaged wheel.
Seriously, read the man's recent comments about his foot injury, and tell me you think he's just fine. No thanks. When Cano and Utley are off the board, Kinsler is my next target.
Photos via US Presswire