We're back again with an either-or, and like previously, the reasoning behind each choice is just as relevant as the decision itself. The question is which player would be better for the rest of the season in standard 5x5 rotisserie mixed leagues.
David Price or Matt Moore?
Moore is a rock star right now. I think the big question is Price or R.A. Dickey, huh? Or Matt Cain -- curse of the Cy contenders?
Price: I see nothing about a glance at his numbers that says anything other than "corrections due." Moore still walks way too many for my taste, and there's some correction coming from the other direction, for him.
Don't think the correction for Moore will be crippling, but for reasons mentioned, Price's upward statistical and indicator mobility gives him the edge.
Perry Van Hook
I don't think either one will be as good as (most) fantasy players hoped at the draft table, but I will take Moore simply because the strikeout numbers will be higher.
Not so big one? Trout or ...
Looks like I get the deciding vote. Nick said it best for me -- Moore is still walking far too many. This will catch up and there will be a correction. Betting on an improved walk rate is risky business but yet we do it year after year. Price's velocity is down a bit, but his walk and strikeout rates are both in the neighborhood of their career marks. He's been absolutely croaked by a high BABIP and HR/FB. These should normalize which should result in a better ERA going forward.
WINNER: Price 3-2
Salvador Perez or Carlos Ruiz?
Like Perez, but LOVE Ruiz (wish I had not swapped him in my Strat league).
Perez: But only by the slightest of margins. Ruiz's history of mild or worse injuries leans me slightly toward Perez, whose knee injury in 2012 was more the result of a freakish incident. On the other hand, Ruiz plays in a somewhat better park for offense. Really, this is a toss-up for me, because my projections for them from here on out would be pretty similar.
Both will disappoint in the power column, but Perez's ability to make consistent, sound contact gives him the edge, despite Ruiz's more favorable home digs. As Nick stated, they'll have similar numbers from here on out, but Perez is less likely to go into a prolonged slump, and Ruiz might take another few weeks to get going at his typical pace. Ask me again in June for confirmation.
I like Perez to have a better average and more at-bats.
I'm with the guys -- this is real close and they profile similarly so you can't base it on needs. I'll take the younger and therefore more durable Perez. I am a little concerned, however, as he does not have an extended track record in the bigs so we are expecting the contact to return to its normal rate despite a limited track record establishing that perceived normal rate.
WINNER: Perez 4-1
Nolan Arenado or Aramis Ramirez?
Odd to go the prospect over the vet, but I have nothing but good feelings about Arenado, especially since I saw him this spring.
A-Ram: I'll take my chances with his injury history. No ballpark is Coors Field, but Miller Park is a pretty good place to hit, and I'd much prefer Ramirez's track record at the dish to the number of things that could go wrong for the inexperienced Arenado.
... Harper? Tough call?
Arenado, the obvious keeper preference, plays in Coors Field, so that works in his favor, but I feel that his rest-of-the-season projection is a pro-rated output of what A-Ram typically does. And I think, despite his plus peripherals in contact and plate discipline, that Arenado will take a small step back as his book becomes bigger for opposing pitchers. Ramirez's typical production will do for me, especially since he typically heats up in the coming months, and if my third-base lot is solid, I'd be looking to sell Arenado in a few weeks. Given the way the position has produced this year, though, that's hardly going to be the case in most formats.
I am already on record as saying that I think Arenado will have 20 home runs (assuming of course he stays in the Rockies lineup) but I think Ramirez will drive in more runs and likely have a higher batting average so I would take him for total contributions.
I'm with Perry in that I expect Arenado to display more power than most scouting reports suggest (solid contact rate, hits fly balls and calls Coors Field home). That said, I'll take the rather quiet but solid production Ramirez has provided the past several seasons. Despite just returning from the disabled list, Ramirez has actually been very durable the past couple of seasons.
WINNER: Ramirez 4-1
And of course…
Mike Trout or Bryce Harper?
Harper, it's his turn. Trout is still killer, but sort of back to earth. Harper is still reaching. And, Washington is going to get hot. Watch out when they do.
Harper: Same answer as it was before this season began, because Harper's ability to hit for power is more reliable than Trout's, and power is a scarce commodity these days. My projections from May 8 through season's end would probably have each earning a dollar amount similar to that of the other -- something within $5 of the other, I'm sure -- and I'd opt for the one I view as the better homer hitter.
Harper. Better power with enough steals to supplement it. Trout has recovered, but I don't think his clip will move that much higher than its .275 heading into today.
Sadly this will be a recurring question and I say that because BOTH are terrific young players and great to have on fantasy teams. But I think the advantage goes to Trout because even if Harper has more HR and RBI, Trout will score more runs and steal more bases and hit for a higher average because he hits both LHP and RHP well while Harper will not have as good an average against LHP.
I agree with the Captain Hook's analysis verbatim. That said, I agree with Nick in that it is close enough that if you prefer the pop, take Harper.
WINNER: Harper 3-2
Lord Zola's Wrap-Up
Price versus Moore is both an exercise in mining the advanced metrics and comparing an established veteran to an up-and-comer. The knights predominantly trust regression and favor Price.
Perez versus Ruiz is really asking if Perez will hit as expected going forward. The knights believe he will, but as I pointed out, this is a bit of a leap of faith based on a limited track record in the majors.
Arenado versus Ramirez was included as a reminder that we were spoiled last season by a couple of historical anomalies and expectations should be tempered. That said, our lone dissenter, Lawr, cited what amounts to a personal scouting report to trust what the numbers are saying. Ultimately, this is what's most important. It's your team, your call. Numbers are great, I believe in the power of numbers and they are a driving force behind this game. But, experience is also a great teacher and trust me, Lawr has seen his share of ball, so if he sees something special in Arenado, there's a pretty good chance it's real. While you don't want to base a decision on one live game, let alone a single at-bat or two, trust your eye and instincts.
Trout versus Harper was mostly a subtle shot at the mindset to which Perry alludes. From an analytical basis, they're both outstanding and it comes down to needs.
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 fantasybaseball.com, 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 MLB.com and SI.com, 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.