Often times in the midst of your draft, you’ll find yourself deciding between a couple players at the same position. With Player Showdowns, we take two players who are closely ranked by Average Draft Position (ADP) and/or Rotoworld’s 2014 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?
We’ll offer up one Showdown per position (catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, starter and reliever) here, and you can get dozens more by purchasing the 2014 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.
Gonzalez would be my pick here if I thought there was a good chance he was going to stay healthy for 150 games, but that simply isn’t the case. The Rockies outfielder was limited to just 110 contests last season due to a sprained finger that he decided not to have surgery on. I’m worried that the finger could become an issue again, and even if it isn’t, CarGo has often dealt with various other bumps and bruises throughout his career that have caused him to miss games. He’s averaged under 130 games played per season since becoming a regular, while McCutchen hasn’t played in fewer than 154 games since he became a full-time player. McCutchen actually regressed a smidge last year in what was a National League MVP-winning season, but he still finished as the sixth-most valuable fantasy player and second-best fantasy outfielder behind only Mike Trout. Does Gonzalez have a touch more upside? Probably. But I’m more than willing to trade that small edge for a guy who I know will give me elite production and stay on the field. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
This choice is likely to raise a few eyebrows, especially since I went with McCutchen in our recent mock draft, but after giving it a bit more thought I just see Gonzalez as having the greater fantasy upside at a slightly lower price. Hear me out here. Granted, McCutchen has put together back-to-back tremendous seasons, but I think he's a lot more likely to be closer to the 21 home runs he hit last year as opposed to the 31 he hit in 2012. And while he saw an uptick in stolen bases last year, he still wasn't very efficient in doing so. In fact, only six players (min. 50 stolen base attempts) have a lower success rate swiping bags over the past three seasons. With four straight 20-20 seasons, Gonzalez offers greater power potential and also has the luxury of playing half of his games in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the sport. That also gives him the potential edge in RBI and runs scored. I know, I know, I haven't addressed the big elephant in the room. And that's Gonzalez's health. He hasn't played in more than 145 games in a season during his career and was bothered by a nagging finger injury last season. McCutchen is unquestionably the safer choice and I fully expect him to go earlier in the great majority of drafts for that reason, but don't be disappointed if you end up with Gonzalez later on in the first round or for a couple of bucks less. We're mostly splitting hairs on pure talent in this debate, but Gonzalez could very well have the better year if things (finally) break right for him. - D.J. Short (@djshort)