Fantasy Baseball: Ryan Zimmerman vs. Kevin Youkilis

by Bryce McRae and Tim Heaney on March 18, 2010 @ 16:00:00 PDT


Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals

Bryce McRae

Zimmerman's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Washington Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman
    Zimmerman is blossoming
    Kevin Youkilis is 31. He has only sniffed 30 homers in a season once despite a significant climb in his HR/FB the last two years. He has surpassed the 100 RBI mark just once despite playing in one of the top AL offenses. Did we say he's 31 and suffered from back spasm in the second half last year? His ceiling appears set.
  • Zimmerman is only 25. He cracked 33 homers - four more than Youk's career high - last year. He drove in 100 RBIs ... in a horrible Nats lineup. His HR/FB has grown two years running. His ceiling is higher.
  • OK, so Youk might steal a few more bases, Zimm might score a few more runs: Any difference is negligible. Which brings us to BA as the decider (well, Zimm is leading in three of four cats, but who's counting)? Clear advantage for the elderly, right?
  • Not so fast. Youk's BABIP was .359 last year, high even for him. Even with his ample walks, he's striking out more, and his contact rate has dropped. On the flip side, Zimmerman is taking more walks, being more selective with pitches and improving his contact rate. In short, he is developing as a hitter.
  • You want to argue about consistency, stability, past performance, etc.? Sure, Zimmerman has just one season of outstanding performance. Youkilis has only two, though. Don't put too much stock into the grizzly "vet". It just seems like he has been around forever.
Closing argument: Youk has more history. He's safer. He plays on a better team. Can you fault someone for chasing him early? No. Just don't be so quick to discount the Nats' offensive cornerstone. He has been improving, he hasn't hit his ceiling yet and he has already put up a better overall season than Youkilis.

Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Boston Red Sox

Tim Heaney

Youkilis' fantasy baseball player profile

  • Boston Red Sox 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis
    Youk has climbing pop
    The 31-year-old is an automatic four-category contributor: average around .300, 25-plus homers, 100 RBIs and 90 runs in a full season. His elite on-base skills and plate command reside in a dangerous lineup and a park friendly to right-handed batting averages.
  • In 2009 Youk clubbed 27 homers in only 491 at-bats, topping his already tasty growth in homer percentage on flyballs from the previous season. There's a foundation here: Youk's flyball rates have stood above 44 percent in each of the last four years. His contact rate took a hit but remained above league average; the vet's typically high line-drive percentage should soften the blow when his .359 BABIP comes down.
  • Ryan Zimmerman is an up-and-coming star. His HR/FB screamed upward after three years of similar numbers. I believe in growth, but this doesn't look like a maintainable baseline yet with such a rapid jump, especially since his grounder rate was moving upward until last year. Plus, would you really trust a hitter whose developing pop - not Adam Dunn-like yet - relies on Nationals Park for half the year?
  • Also, Zimmerman's BABIP saw a slight increase even though his liners and grounders both took a tumble. His indicators don't support both his average and power continuing their climb simultaneously; one skill will likely drop, which would remove one big draw of his 2010 value.
  • The third-base class has caused many fantasy headaches this draft season. Why not prevent the pain with a proven Greek medicine with better plate discipline than an up-and-comer? Youk's dual corner eligibility also keeps your lineup options open for the rest of your draft and during the season.
Closing argument: Believe me, if Youkilis were off the board, I'd jump at Zimmerman. However, Youk's plate skills assure that his average won't drop far even if his power continues its upward trend, keeping him at top-flight levels in each of his four primary production columns. You aim for stability in single-year, early-round commodities. Zimm has the better keeper stock, but there's a better chance of him falling short of the lofty 2010 draft price he set for himself. Youk is the steadier power-average combination.

KFFL staff verdict

Analyst Kevin Youkilis Ryan Zimmerman
Nicholas Minnix X  
Tim Heaney X  
Bryce McRae   X
Cory J. Bonini   X
Keith Hernandez   X
Eric McClung X  
Matt Trueblood X  

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About Bryce McRae

Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.

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