Fantasy Baseball: Miguel Cabrera vs. Ryan Howard

by Nicholas Minnix and Bryce McRae on March 11, 2010 @ 15:00:00 PDT


Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers

Nicholas Minnix

Cabrera's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Cabrera has helped to define consistency and reliability. Would you call 2006 a down year? He hit only 26 homers ... but drove in 114 and batted a career-high .339. Nah, it's 2008, when he hit a full-season low .292 ... but posted a career-high 37 dingers and 127 RBIs. Everything pretty much falls somewhere in between.
  • Detroit Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera
    Steady Miggy has the BA
    Ryan Howard, 30, is undoubtedly a top run producer, but he's slowly approaching a point in his career at which 40 homers are no longer a lock. His rate of homers per flyball has decreased considerably since his ROY campaign of 2006. If that's part of a desire to become a better-rounded hitter, the reality is that his skill set doesn't leave room for anymore BA growth.
  • Howard's sub-70 percent contact rate makes him a potentially larger BA liability. He has improved his selectivity, but his BB/K is declining, and his diet of breaking stuff is going up. His BA has nowhere to go but down. RBIs will slowly follow. Not likely this year, but it's possible, and something to keep in mind for future ones.
  • Cabrera has no glaring flaws as a hitter. At 27 (in April - scary, isn't it?), he has already accomplished what few players do in a lifetime. He's younger, and yet he has nearly 2 1/2 extra years of stability on his resume. And Cabrera could still improve, especially if steps like alcohol and stress counseling are signs of maturation and dedication.
  • Howard plays on a better team, but the disparity amounted to about half a run per game for a disappointing Tigers club last year. The ballpark isn't a difference maker, either. Citizens Bank Park aids jack production, but Comerica Park is among the most homer-friendly for right-handed hitters, like Miggy.
Closing argument: Neither player contributes reliably in stolen bases, so it comes down to the tradeoff between batting average aid versus liability and a few homers, RBIs and runs. Howard's counting statistics, however low the risk may seem, are still more at risk than Cabrera's tremendous four-category base. Miggy is a safer choice and has room for growth.

Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies

Bryce McRae

Howard's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Philadelphia Phillies 1B Ryan Howard
    Howard thumps even with BA bumps
    You want security: Howard has at least 45 homers and 136 RBIs in each of the last four years. Barring injury, the 30-year-old should continue to rank among the league leaders in those categories. Miguel Cabrera has big power, but has shown a slight growth in groundballs.
  • No, he can't help in average, like Cabrera, but Howard's BA returned to near normal levels last year after dipping to .251 in '08. A .279 average, or something around there, isn't going to end your chances in that category.
  • You point to his struggles against lefties? Howard has hit them hard in the past (2006: .279-16-45 in 197 at-bats). Even with his southpaw struggles, he rocks righties, the more common pitchers, and has still put up scintillating power numbers. Now, if he starts pounding lefties....
  • OK, he isn't taking as many free passes as he had in the past. He's not striking out as much, either, and he's making more contact - both in and outside of the zone. He's still developing as a hitter.
  • Protection: Adrian Gonzalez must be jealous. Howard is surrounded by Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins - all dangerous hitters in their own right. Can you say the same for the lineup around Cabrera? Pitchers are forced to pitch to Howard.
Closing argument: It's plain and simple: Howard can outdo Cabrera in three of four relevant roto categories - runs, homers and RBI. He can outdo nearly everyone else in the league in the latter two categories. He's the safer bet.

KFFL staff verdict

Analyst Miguel Cabrera Ryan Howard
Nicholas Minnix X  
Tim Heaney X  
Bryce McRae   X
Cory J. Bonini   X
Keith Hernandez   X

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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