Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Ryan Braun or Mike Trout, more rest-of-season decisions

by Todd Zola, on August 15, 2012 @ 16:00:00 PDT


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St. Louis Cardinals 1B Allen Craig
Craig can't be ignored

We're getting close to the home stretch, and it's time to make some difficult lineup decisions. To that end, I have asked the knights to choose between several pairs of players, but they are not arbitrarily chosen. The hidden purpose of this week's Round Table is to focus on the explanations and not just the players chosen.

The choices are:

Ryan Carey

Adrian Gonzalez or Mark Teixeira

Tex had a nice July, but a wrist injury has slowed him a bit recently. For his part, Gonzalez has been an RBI machine for the past few weeks. Throw in the big advantage in batting average and it's hard not to go with the Boston 1B in this match-up.

Tim Lincecum or Jon Lester?  

Despite Lester's 12 K performance against the AAAA Indians, I still have no faith that he has really turned the corner. He still is going to go up against some tough AL East offenses down the stretch. Lincecum has pitched much better since the break, so I think the former NL Cy Young winner is the safer pick here.

Andrew McCutchen or Matt Kemp?

I am taking Kemp in this match-up. McCutchen may be starting to hit the wall a little. He hasn't stolen a base since June 19th and his power seems to have ebbed this month as well. Kemp on the other hand continues to round into MVP form. His 2 SB game last week shows that he is finally getting his legs back. He'll provide better overall production (barring injury) the rest of the way.

Joe Blanton or Ryan Dempster?

Dempster ending up in Arlington was about the worst possible place for fantasy owners. Both pitchers throw for teams who can win ballgames, but for me this battle comes down to the ratios. Blanton is not a flashy name, but he is much less dangerous for your ratios, particularly WHIP, the rest of the way than Dempster will be. Again, if it's close, I am going with the NL hurler.

Prince Fielder or Allen Craig?

I am a big Craig fan, and I guess Todd has thrown this in for a reason only he knows, but I am still going with Fielder purely on history. Craig offers more flexibility with OF eligibility, so that is nice, but Prince hasn't done anything to convince me it's time to jump off his bandwagon yet. His power is down a bit, but he could go on a power spree at any time. It's closer than you might think and obviously Craig is a much more affordable asset to try to acquire.

Mike Trout or Ryan Braun

I am going with Trout here, and for me this was the easiest choice of them all, which seems strange considering who his opponent is. Trout has been the better player over the last 30 days by a wide margin and he offers more upside in SB's and Avg. which for me offsets Braun's slight power advantage.

Lawr Michaels

Boston Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez
A-Gon gone more often

OK, I need to preface my picks below with the fact that I will always pick a player on a contending team over a player who is not on one. Meaning this year I don't care what say Jason Kubel is hitting: I will take Nick Swisher who has a better chance of getting regular play.

Adrian Gonzalez or Mark Teixeira? Mark Teixeira. He is a Yankee. They are in it. He is a switch hitter, and he is a solid second halfer.

Tim Lincecum or Jon Lester? Again, the Giants are in it so the chances Lincecum gets shut down are less than Lester. Timmy has also been deadly end of season in the past.

Andrew McCutchen or Matt Kemp? Tough one. I would probably yield to Kemp as he does have more pop, and due to his time in the DL, might be a little fresher.

Joe Blanton or Ryan Dempster? Is neither a choice? Though I would go Dempster who historically has been a good WHIP arm. Keep runners off base and percentages are that you will get wins, and a better ratio, improve.

Prince Fielder or Allen Craig? Allen Craig is from Berkeley. Need I go further? OK, he can hit, too, and again, St. Louis is going somewhere. I realize too Craig is brittle, but as long as he is healthy, Matheny will write him in every day.

Mike Trout or Ryan Braun? Broken record. And, Trout is scary good. The Angels have to play him every day. Braun is terrific, but if he misses a few games, it does not matter.

Nick Minnix

On the first basemen, I'm not sure. I initially put A-Gon here, because he's shown plenty of good signs for a sustained turnaround in power, but Teix's wrist issue isn't serious. From here on out, Gonzalez probably won't sustain his post-break pace, so I think I'd take a gamble and opt for the Yanks' guys, who was smashing it before a pitch drilled him and who has that second-half track record Lawr mentioned.

The pitchers? Man, this is tough. Lincecum's results have improved, and minus a five-walk game at Colorado, he's really cut out the control problems. His future NL West showdowns don't scare me as much as Lester's AL East schedule does. The lefty's incredibly sharp breaking ball was reportedly a big reason for success in his last start, so I think there's reason to believe that a turnaround is a good possibility, but historically the curve hasn't been his sharpest pitch, so there's more uncertainty there, and I'd need to see more of it before I wanted to ride him.

I'd probably side with Kemp, too, just because McCutchen's balloon is leaking a little, and like Lawr said, Kemp is undoubtedly fresh and ready for a stretch drive.

Blanton, because he stayed in the NL, moved to a park that should help him prevent home runs (a big problem for him throughout his career) and has a 5.86 K/BB that screams for better fortunes in ERA. The Dodgers also added one of the best outfielders in the game in Shane Victorino. The fears about how Dempster's stuff would play in the AL, and particularly in Texas, have turned into living nightmares, and although the former Cub's fortunes should improve, the degree by which they do doesn't seem likely to make him extremely roto helpful.

Prince, hands down, because I know that he'll be in the lineup every day, and it's not like I'm settling.

Last one is tough. I still can't help but think, as good of a player as Trout is, that a little more correction isn't coming, perhaps in conjunction with the fact that he's hitting dingers more frequently lately. August has been just an OK month for him. He won't sit, though, you know that, and he runs every damn time he has any chance. The Brewers have more incentive to rest Braun for any possible reason, and although he's been durable, he seems to deal with these nagging injuries that get him a game or two off here and there. Then again, he'd also love win a second MVP Award to shove it in the face of his doubters, and if he goes nuts to close this one out, he could win it (although the supposed voters' dilemma of the difference between "most valuable" and "most outstanding" may interfere). I'll let you pick, and I'll take the other one.

More knights weigh in, and Lord Zola wraps up....

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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