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.
Desmond has clearly established himself as a top-five fantasy shortstop over the past two seasons, but I'm not sure he's ready to overtake Reyes just yet. While I'll concede that he should have the edge in home runs and RBI, it's not enough to make up the difference that Reyes has in the other categories. Desmond's declining contact rate makes it unlikely we'll see a rebound in batting average and he has never posted an on-base percentage higher than .335. Meanwhile, Reyes is a .292 career hitter and has a .353 on-base percentage dating back to 2006. The 30-year-old should continue to score plenty of runs at the top of Toronto's lineup and I'm confident that he'll be more active on the basepaths a year removed from his ankle injury, though expecting more than 30 stolen bases could be a stretch. The only real question here is whether you trust Reyes to stay healthy, especially playing half of his games on the Rogers Centre turf. Desmond has played at least 154 games in three out of the last four seasons, so he's the pick if you want to play it safe. However, the dynamic Reyes possesses more upside if you are willing to roll the dice on draft day. I am. - D.J. Short (@djshort)
I’m not overly bothered that Reyes missed more than two months of the 2013 regular season with a severely-sprained left ankle. It was a freak injury, and the “injury-prone” label is often misused for baseball players when it doesn’t involve shoulder or elbow issues. But Reyes did admit earlier this month that playing on the artificial turf at Rogers Centre is an uncomfortable experience, and that leaves me thinking about how many games he might be out for in 2014 due to various leg-related ailments. Reyes turns 31 years old in mid-June. I’ll take the fresher legs of the 28-year-old Desmond, who has registered an .812 OPS (119 OPS+), 45 home runs, and 42 stolen bases in 288 games since the beginning of the 2012 campaign. Compare that to Reyes’ .780 OPS (111 OPS+), 21 homers, and 55 steals over that span. The cherry on top is that the Nationals’ lineup is much more loaded than Toronto’s -- which should boost Desmond’s chances for big time RBI and runs scored totals. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)