February 26, 2009
Owners who don't sink heavy coin in elite three-baggers will inevitably face an age-old fantasy question: Draft proven or potential? Per early Mock Draft Central returns, the average investor is leaning toward the latter (Chris Davis ADP: 64.60, Garrett Atkins: 73.98). Brad Evans and Scott Pianowski, sporting greased chests and malleable folding chairs, jump into the ring to decide the issue.
There's a smear campaign going on right now with Garrett Atkins and I'm here to put a stop to it. Atkins was the No. 11 third baseman in the Y! game last year, No. 6 in 2007, and an absolute overlord in 2006 – but people talk about the guy like he's Mario Mendoza. Why is everyone in such a hurry to deconstruct and discredit Colorado players?
Okay, a lot of what Atkins produces comes at home, no doubt on that. For his career he's got a tasty .337/.394/.527 line in the thin air versus a pedestrian .260/.328/.424 set on the road. But so long as the Rockies don't move to Jacksonville before the start of the season, why should we care where Atkins does his best work? We don't hold Fenway against the Red Sox or Arlington against the Rangers, and I'm not taxing Atkins merely because he's doing what most Colorado players tend to do: raking at home and struggling on the road (in part because of the atmospheric changes; note that former Rockies generally become better road hitters when they leave the carnival for good).
Some of Atkins's struggles last year may have been position-related; he struggled when the Rockies asked him to play first base (.722 OPS there, .824 OPS at third). If the position juggling is over, we can go back to business as usual – this is one of the safest spots to put your third-base money. Atkins has earned a solid rep over 2,434 at-bats in the show; Davis has all of 295. Let's not lose sight of who's the proven guy here.
The Noise retorts …
Speculative investment in high-upside commodities is the epitome of fantasy. Attractive boppers with strong baseline skills are Megan Fox hot. No wonder we fantasize about their measurements, position flexibility and general assets.
"Crush" Davis is one young rocket launcher to obsess over.
Owners forced to reach for the Texas titan will be rewarded with statistical riches. Believe me. He isn't some personified Ponzi scheme who would freeze the finances of established fantasy investors.
The 22-year-old lefty-swinger was magnificent during his big league audition last year. In 295 at-bats – most accumulated down in the order – he clubbed 17 homers, drove in 55 and tallied a .285 BA. Extrapolate those numbers over 550 at-bats and Davis would've finished with 32 dingers and 103 RBIs, numbers comparable to Jason Bay. More importantly, his final long-ball tally was just four less than Atkins who logged 316 more at-bats.
Yes, the Colorado slugger has a more reliable track-record, but Davis will undoubtedly dwarf him in most power categories. His expected spot near the middle of Texas' monstrous lineup and friendly home porch in right point to explosive totals. Michael Young believes:
"I'm not one to go there and bestow big things on young players. But I'm not going to be shy about how good this kid is going to be."
Of course, he's unproven. His struggles last August (.228 BA, 4 HR, 20 RBIs) lend pause. But the experience he gained will prove invaluable.
Atkins is the safer choice, but Davis' profit potential (35 HR, 110 RBIs) is definitely more enticing.
Images courtesy of US Presswire