Doctor Detroit: Alex Rios vs. Shin-Soo Choo

Veteran Yahoo readers know all about the Spin Doctors series, where a couple of scribes go head-to-head in debate. Today's exercise is a one-man show, so we need to call it something different. Doctor Detroit will suffice for now. (No, it's not a good movie. No, it's not a current reference, either. Go ahead and launch your howling protests in the comments.)

I often look to Arlington when I'm making fake-baseball picks for my offense, and 2014 surely won't be any different. Ron Washington has a strong lineup at his disposal, major sticks all over the place. Go where the runs are.

I was in need of an outfielder during the ongoing Yahoo Friends & Family Mock Draft (you'll be seeing the results later this month), so I considered a couple of Texas options: Holdover Alex Rios and newcomer Shin-Shoo Choo. I didn't find much to differentiate them, and I ultimately settled on Choo.

It didn't feel like a daring or controversial pick on my clipboard, but a couple of points and clicks brought interesting slants to the forefront. I'm apparently one of the few voices in the fantasy baseball landscape who sees Rios/Choo as a legitimate debate. Just about everywhere else, Rios is clearly the favored option.


- Esteemed industry colleague and friend Jeff Erickson ranks Rios at No. 23 overall. Choo is 43rd. Big difference.

- Another esteemed roto scribe and amigo, Tristan Cockcroft, slots Rios at 39 and Choo at 63. Slam dunk.

- The early NFBC ADP trend goes with Rios too, though it's closer, about a 14-pick difference.

So I ask you, Yahooligans, where do you stand on this? And why is Rios the clear preference to so many? Could Choo be one of the underappreciated outfielders on the early 2014 board?

The players have similar profiles. Choo's career average is 10-points higher (.288 to .278), a small edge. Rios hit his career mark last year, while Choo was three points under.

Choo's career rate of home runs is also slightly higher, though it's close enough to call it a wash. Maybe those marginal differences are worth paying for, maybe not, but they certainly don't put Choo behind the eight-ball. Most projections will have both players hitting somewhere between 17-22 homers, I suppose.

If you look at runs scored and RBIs in tandem, the players again grade very closely. Choo scored 107 in Cincinnati last year, batting leadoff, and knocked in 54. He'll probably see more RBI chances in the Arlington ignition spot, no longer held back by the structure of NL lineups. Rios scored 83 and drove in 81 last year, splitting his time between Chicago and Texas.

It's a crude way of looking at it, but add the numbers together from last year: Choo is at 161, Rios 164. One guy gets a tailwind with runs, one guy gets a tailwind with RBIs. At the end of the day, it's probably another wash.

The stolen base column gives Rios his best argument. He was a brilliant 42-for-49 on the bases last year (Choo posted a mediocre 20-for-31 clip), and he's been a better percentage runner for his career. The logical call is to give Rios the jump here.

This is where I get a little nervous with Rios - I'm not comfortable chasing the full steal total from last year. Keep in mind he had a modest 23 bags in 2012 and just 11 the previous year (in 145 games). He turns 33 in February - not an alarming age, but you have to wonder when the steals trend could work the other way. Choo is about 17 months younger - a mild advantage, but an advantage just the same.

Both players have proven durable: Choo has given us four essentially full seasons out of five, and Rios hasn't needed extended time off since 2006. They're early-round fixtures for a reason.

Mash it all together and I see two players who are difficult to separate. Both are firmly on my radar because I love five-category potential; additionally, you often see versatile players under-ranked if they're generally good in several areas but not dominant in any one spot (Rios's 42 bags to the side).

If it's an either/or and you want to go Rios, I can respect that. I also grasp no one is really dug in this early in the fake baseball season - I'm sure Jeff and Tristan aren't, and I'm not either. Opinions change. Ranks get tweaked. My first real draft or auction is still several weeks away.

By March, I'll probably regret all this Choo propaganda. Today, I see a nifty price and I really have no way to take advantage of it.

I've said my piece. Add yours in the comments.

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