Diamond Duels: Colby Rasmus vs. Drew Stubbs

by Matt Trueblood and Keith Hernandez on March 14, 2011 @ 03:40:42 PDT

 


Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Matt Trueblood

Rasmus' fantasy baseball player profile

  • Drew Stubbs hit 22 homers last season. Fine. But to do it, he defied some of his farm tendencies. Stubbs is not a natural fly-ball hitter, which is one reason (of many) that he had never before hit more than 12 home runs in a professional season before 2010. He scooped his fly-ball rate over 40 percent last year but lost line drives in the process and killed his batting average.
  • St. Louis Cardinals OF Colby Rasmus
    Rasmus lord of flies
    Rasmus, on the other hand, hits fly balls like he was born to do it. His fly-ball percentage last season was over 48 percent, yet he hit many more liners than did Stubbs as a percentage of total balls in play. Rasmus is stronger and has a track record of real power, as in 2007 when he hit 29 homers in Double-A. He was 20 years old for most of that season, by the way.
  • Both men strike out a ton. Stubbs will consistently strike out more, though. Last season, Stubbs had a swinging strike percentage of nearly 12. For power hitters, making contact within the strike zone is the key to success, and Rasmus has made contact over 87 percent of the time on those pitches for his brief career. Stubbs, by contrast, comes in at 81 percent.
  • Given two guys who whiff a lot, I'll take the one (Rasmus) with better overall plate discipline. Rasmus walked in 11.8 percent of his plate appearances last season, while Stubbs came in at 9.4 percent. That gives Rasmus a much higher OBP ceiling, an important consideration for two guys who are going to contribute big-time in the runs category.
  • Both guys are in good positions, but Rasmus has a better environment in which to produce across the board. He will bat "higher up" in the St. Louis order, according to manager Tony La Russa, which likely means second. That puts him after Ryan Theriot or Skip Schumaker or who cares, and, more importantly, in front of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. He will get a chance to drive in 80-plus runs from that spot in the order, and scoring 90 is not at all out of the question given the sluggers who will bring him around when he gets on base. Stubbs is Cincy's favorite to lead off, which is great, but the Reds behind him are not as good as the guys behind Rasmus, so the runs potential is lower. (Love ya, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce, but neither of you is Holliday, and of course, no one is Pujols.) At the same time, batting atop the order means batting after the pitcher, who is batting after Paul Janish or Fred Lewis or who cares, and that means not many RBI chances for Stubbs.

Closing argument: Stubbs is faster than Rasmus. Congratulations. You cornered me there. He will steal more bases, and probably not a few but 20 or 25 more. In the other four categories, though, Rasmus is going to outperform Stubbs, because he is a better real-life hitter in a better situation. Stubbs' ballpark and his poorly constructed swing will get him 15-plus homers again, but Rasmus has 25-plus potential without sacrificing batting average or plate discipline. Rasmus is also two years younger. Give me upside, balance and power over a speed guy with all kinds of risk trying to be something he's not.

Drew Stubbs, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Keith Hernandez

Stubbs' fantasy baseball player profile

  • In 2010, his first full season, Stubbs showed fantasy baseball gamers that he has what most covet: the power-speed combo. Twenty-two homers, 30 SBs and 90 runs scored put him in respectable company last year; Hanley Ramirez was the only other player who managed that. The downside: Poor plate discipline and contact leave Stubbs' BA vulnerable. But the free-swinging downfall plagues his center field counterpart in St. Louis, too. While you aren't drafting either center fielder for his BA contributions just yet, Stubbs' speed and success in beating out grounders contributes to his higher BA upside. Great American Ball Park isn't a bad place to swing the stick, either.
  • Cincinnati Reds OF Drew Stubbs
    Ticket Stubbs for power, speed
    Dusty Baker is almost certain to make Stubbs his leadoff man this season. What could this mean for the former Longhorn? Well, for one, it will make him more of a lock to repeat his 30 thefts. The leadoff spot will also force him to correct some of his flaws, most notably his plate discipline. Stubbs is just 26 and can easily improve on his BB/K. Even a minimal improvement in his plate discipline and batter's eye can have positive effects on his contact and OBP. Stubbs struggled as the table-setter last year in 127 at-bats (.220-3-8) but also, logically, stole more bags there (13) than at any other lineup placement.
  • Stubbs' power was a bit of a surprise last year, considering he was never really a standout in the HR department in the minors. Leading off could take away from his power numbers a tad, but Stubbs still has the pop to approach another 20-homer season. The fear of a slight drop-off with the HRs isn't a decisive reason to pass on this talented outfielder.
  • Like Stubbs, Colby Rasmus is a good bet to move up in the order (No. 2?). Hitting in front of The Machine isn't the worst thing that could happen. Compared to Stubbs, though, Rasmus' speed won't pay off as much by a move up in the lineup. In fact, he can't hold a candle to the quickness of Stubbs on the base paths. Rasmus' highest SB output in the minors was only 18 bags in Class AA. Stubbs stole a whopping 46 bases in just 107 games at Triple-A Louisville in '09.
  • Having Mark McGwire as your hitting coach isn't a bad thing if you are trying to go deep more often. Rasmus' fly balls and HR/FB rose last year, yet his contact suffered as a result. A HR breakout could be in the works for the 24-year-old this year, but if the contact continues to suffer, don't expect much else. A tense relationship with skipper Tony La Russa was apparently smoothed over in the offseason, but could this be something that hurts Rasmus if he gets off to a slow start?

Closing argument: The Reds and Cardinals know that they have talented ballplayers in Stubbs and Rasmus. Both are still young and have plenty of time to mature. The jury is still out on their full potential because of just three full seasons combined in the bigs. After one full season from Stubbs and two from Rasmus, Stubbs seems to be the more complete player. The speed is there with Stubbs, and we all know that speed is the one thing that doesn't slump.

KFFL staff verdict

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Fantasy Baseball Diamond Duels

 

About Matt Trueblood

Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.


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