Often 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 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 2020 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.
The comparison of performances between Machado and Semien last season wasn’t particularly close, with Machado ranking as a relative disappointment in his first year in San Diego and Semien breaking out with an MVP-caliber campaign. Obviously, I’m banking on both players swinging in the other direction in 2020. Track record is certainly on Machado’s side. The 27-year-old has compiled five straight 30-homer seasons, while Semien reached 30 dingers for the first time in 2019 after managing just 15 bombs in 2018. Last year was also the first time Semien batted higher than .257, whereas Machado has a career average of .279. I’ll give the runs edge to Semien, as he has improved his on-base skills and will bat leadoff again in what should be a good A’s lineup. Machado is a much, much safer bet for home runs, though, and with Fernando Tatis Jr. and on-base stud Tommy Pham batting in front of him, he will have a boatload of RBI opportunities. Semien’s arrow is certainly pointing up, but I’m still giving Machado the nod here. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
Semien is a prime example of the anchoring effect, which is a cognitive bias that causes people to rely too heavily on the first piece of information they receive as a point of reference. He's gradually evolved – both at the plate and in the field – into one of the premier shortstops in the game. Yet, fantasy owners are still predisposed to dismiss him as a weird outlier because of his lengthy track record of mediocre production at the big-league level. The case for Semien revolves around the undeniable fact that he's made incremental gains in terms of plate discipline, morphing into an elite contact hitter, while also putting more batted balls in the air, which resulted in a career-high 33 round-trippers last year. He also led the majors with a whopping 747 plate appearances as well. Fantasy owners tend to underrate the impact of playing time, batting average and counting stats, simply because it's harder to quantify their value than homers or steals. There may be some mild pullback with regards to his over-the-fence power, playing time or counting stats, but Semien was one of only seven hitters to record 30 homers, 10 steals and a .285 batting average last season. Of that group, five are being selected in the first round of 2020 fantasy drafts. He isn't being treated like an elite fantasy shortstop, but he should be. – George Bissell (@GeorgeBissell)
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