Fantasy Baseball Face-Off: Francisco Lindor or Carlos Correa?

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/9116/" data-ylk="slk:Francisco Lindor">Francisco Lindor</a> just keeps getting better and better (AP Photo).
Francisco Lindor just keeps getting better and better (AP Photo).

We continue our series of fantasy debates with a battle pitting two of the game’s brightest young stars who both happen to play shortstop against each other, with Andy Behrens and Dalton Del Don doing the arguing. Let the respectful disagreement commence. 

Andy goes to bat for Lindor: We’re three seasons into the careers of Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa, two shortstops who haven’t yet turned 25, and both look like future MVPs. Lindor has already finished among the top-10 in voting for the award in each of the past two seasons; Correa would have done the same last year if he’d avoided injury. These are face-of-the-game players. Draft either (or both) near the turn in the late-first or early-second round and you’ll get no argument from me. 

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It’s honestly difficult to find any basis on which to separate these guys. Cleveland has the more hitter-friendly home park, but Houston still led the league in run-scoring last season. Correa just delivered the best slash line of his young career (.315/.391/.550) and Lindor reached new highs in runs (99), homers (33) and RBIs (89). Check out the 2018 Steamer projections for each player:

Lindor — 97 R, 25 HR, 87 RBIs, 14 SB, .293 AVG

Correa — 87 R, 27 HR, 94 RBIs, 7 SB, .291 AVG

Again, the difference between these two is razor-thin. Both are ascending stars. I’ve got them back-to-back in my overall ranks, comfortably inside the top-20. No problem with either player.

For me, the point of differentiation between these guys is the fact that Lindor went 15-for-18 on stolen base attempts last season, while Correa swiped only two bags on three attempts. In reality, this is not a particularly significant difference, but it clearly matters for fantasy purposes. Lindor projects as an asset in all five standard categories. If you’re going to convince me that Correa will be more valuable in fantasy in 2018, you need to explain how he’s going to overcome Lindor’s potential double-digit edge in steals.

Dalton counters for Correa: Correa followed up a disappointing sophomore campaign with a huge season last year, finishing with a .315-82-24-84 line in just 422 at bats. The former No. 1 overall pick is a year younger than Lindor, whose OPS was 99 points lower last season, when he failed to reach 100 runs or RBI despite getting 650+ at bats. Lindor is likely to record 10-15 more steals, but Correa is the favorite to beat him in all four other categories.

The Astros project to score a crazy amount of runs this season (Fangraphs has them leading MLB), and don’t forget Correa’s last 100 at bats came after returning from torn thumb ligaments, so he likely was at less than full strength. Lindor may be his equal if not better when it comes to real baseball thanks to his amazing defense, but Correa is younger, in the better lineup and coming off a season that prorates to .315-117-34-119 over 600 at bats, and any worries about the thumb injury lingering into 2018 were halted when Correa slugged .562 with five homers in the postseason.

Since he entered the league in 2015, Correa’s 135 wRC+ is tied for first among shortstops with Corey Seager, with decent separation from Lindor’s 117 over that span. Interesting that Andy brought up Steamer, since it projects Correa to finish with more homers and more RBI than Lindor – in 62 fewer plate appearances. Both are obviously fantastic players, but Correa’s bat has legit MVP upside, so he’s a no-brainer considering his superior situation as well.

Follow the Yahoo crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, and Scott Pianowski

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