February 24, 2009
Separated by a razor-thin ADP margin, many would argue the disparity between big boppers Ryan Howard (12.54 ADP) and Mark Teixeira (13.06) is marginal. Really, drafting either one isn't going to turn your team into the Titanic. While two of our experts don't necessarily disagree with that viewpoint, the difference might be wider than you think...
Widely considered the power darling, Ryan Howard has suddenly become the Hilary Clinton of fantasy commodities. After his horrendous first half last season (.234/.324/.508), polarizing viewpoints about his true value are inescapable.
The Noise isn't a naysayer.
Those unafraid of Howard's perceived inconsistency will be richly rewarded come September. Despite posting a terrific 22.3 LD% last season, the Phillies basher tallied a career-worst .251 BA – a total the folks at Fangraphs attributed to bad luck. It's because of his Adam Dunn-like appearance many are blindly abstaining from baseball's premiere bopper, even in Round 2 of 12-team mixed leagues.
It's important to note HR/RBI contributors of Howard's stature are few and far between. His league-leading 146 RBIs outdistanced second-place finisher Josh Hamilton by 16. And he bested, ironically, Dunn by eight long-balls for the home run crown.
Yes, if someone could harness the wind energy generated by Howard's abundant whiffs, millions of green jobs could be created. But don't dwell on the negatives. Assuming his luck reverses course, he should return to the .265 -.275 BA range. Couple that with his expected 40-plus bombs, 125 RBIs and 100 runs and R-Ho's 12.3 ADP is a discount (Per Mock Draft Central).
Undoubtedly, Teixeira will hit for a healthier average, but his power numbers, even in the Bronx Bombers' loaded lineup, will pale in comparison. Howard will likely finish with 8-12 more homers and 15-30 more RBIs. Plus, the Y! cover athlete curse may prove more cumbersome than the New York media.
Early picks are about floor over upside, and that's why you grab Teixeira in this spot.
You're accepting a ton of batting-average risk if you make the Howard play; consider he needed a .352 rush last September just to finish at .251, and he can't do much against lefties (.231 career). He just got a $54 million paycheck, do you think his approach is changing? Howard will continue to strike out 190-plus times a season and his slumps will drive you to drink.
The Phillies outscored the Yankees by 10 runs last season, but generally the Bronx is where you want your hitters to be; the Yanks led the majors in runs in 2007 and 2006, and they were second to Boston in the two seasons before that. The American League is a slow-pitch softball game, tap the keg and play for the big inning. With Teixeira in the fold and likely rebounds from Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, I can't imagine why the Yankees won't outscore them all in 2009. You want a piece of the New York undertow, and Teixeira, locked into the cleanup spot, will benefit as much as anyone.
At the end of the day it comes to this – is Howard's extra power worth what you give up in average? Neither player will run much, and don't tell me about Howard's extra pull in RBIs because that's a team-dependent stat and Teixeira could easily beat him there this season. Runs scored will be a push. Add it all up and I'll take the four-category guy over the three-category guy, every time.
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