Do you want to know the definition of madness? Grab a chair, I’ll show you. We are in the midst of a very exciting postseason. Through each League Championship Series, we’ve had four combined series played, and all but one reached the winner-take-all game. That doesn’t even count the two Wild Card Games.
But in the middle of all of this, us and our friends at the Dear Mr. Fantasy Podcast are already doing some early rankings for next season. From that, a bit of a debate has started up. Who is the more valuable player heading into 2013? Jose Bautista, or Giancarlo Stanton? If you haven’t read the discussions or chipped in, feel free to do so here at the Dr. Mr. Fantasy Facebook page, or here at our’s.
Now, the World Series begins today and my Giants are a part of it. No matter how the series goes, I’ll probably be in my own form of hiding until it ends, so I want to take this chance to do some writing. (In all seriousness, I won’t write anything until the end of the series, but if you want to talk ball with me, feel free to reach me on Twitter at any time. The same goes for Nash, Clave, or the Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks page.) Now that that’s over, let’s hash it out.
Giancarlo or Joey Bats?
First thing’s first. This is a discussion about 2013 and only 2013. If we’re talking about a keeper league, you’d be hard-pressed to argue for Bautista, as he just turned 32, while Stanton will turn 23 in November. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the issues.
Numbers: When you’re comparing two fantasy players at the same position, the numbers they’ll produce trumps everything else. Obviously, one of the best predictors of that is what they’ve done recently. Since Stanton made his major league debut in 2010, Bautista really came out of his shell the same, and most prediction sites go back three years, let’s go back to 2010 and see what they’ve done and you can draw your own conclusions.
On the surface, that looks like a clear edge to Bautista, but it’s really not that simple. Yes, by raw numbers over the last three seasons, Bautista has an edge, but notice one other thing. Bautista’s numbers are by and large, decreasing. Stanton’s numbers are generally increasing. You may also notice that while they both missed significant time in 2012, Stanton’s numbers were better by a good deal.
Let’s focus on homers, as that’s the one thing these guys are in the most control of. RBI and runs are too dependent on teammates, and we’ll get to that in a bit. I guess average and steals are mostly independent stats, but I really doubt you’re drafting either of these two to fill those categories in.
In terms of home runs per plate appearance, Bautista was at 14.7 in 2012 while Stanton was at 13.5. If they both stayed healthy and 650 plate appearances in 2013 and stayed at the same rate, Bautista would 44 homers while Stanton would be at 48. Not bad but again, notice the trend of Stanton increasing and Bautista decreasing. Now, 32 is not an old player by any means, especially for a power hitter, but it’s hard to think he’s going to improve that rate significantly. Also, four home runs may not seem like much, but it can be a huge difference maker, especially in a roto league.
Edge: Honestly, I think both will have fine numbers in 2013, but the edge is with Stanton here. He’s moving in a better direction. Which brings me here.
Age/Health: Now, we’re not talking about keeper leagues but someone’s age goes into single-season projections as well. Again, note the Opening Day Ages of both guys. Bautista: 32, Stanton, 23. In terms of age, Stanton holds the obvious edge. Health is a bit of a different argument.
Over the last three years, Bautista has been the healthier player, but only barely. Plus, you have to remember that Bautista was quite injury prone before 2010 and couldn’t even get 100 games played in 2012. Also, while Stanton only played 100 games in 2010, he was called up on June 8. From that point on, he missed only 4 games. Health is pretty close to a push but if I was a betting man, I’d say that Stanton will play more games in 2013. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll see more good pitches to it.
Situation: I won’t tell you that I like either of these team’s playoff chances in 2013 and that can be a factor late in the year with banged up players (a risk for both), but the hitting situation of Bautista is significantly better than Stanton. For one, he plays in a better hitter’s park. Two, the American League East is a much better division for hitting than the National League East. Three, the Blue Jays are likely to offer significantly better protection in the order both before and after Bautista than the Marlins are with Giancarlo.
Both will have new managers next year, which is worth noting but shouldn’t be a huge factor. New manager, old manager, it doesn’t matter. Anyone would put these guys right in the heart of things.
But while either player can hit a ball out of anywhere if he gets it on the screws, that doesn’t always happen. And a ball just off the screws is more likely to fly out of Toronto’s park than Miami’s. Also, the better offensive team is Toronto, so he’ll have more RBI and runs scored chances. One more thing to keep in mind is that the ability to DH is not insignificant when talking about players who seem to deal with injuries a lot. Toronto is an American League team with a DH. Miami is in the National League, which lacks a DH. Pretty much all around, the edge is Bautista’s here.
Overall: Looking at the posts, Chris McBrien of the Dear Mr. Fantasy Podcast has Joey Bats fifth, while Clave ranked Stanton tenth. Both reserve the right to change their opinions, but let’s say that they don’t.
Frankly, they’re both a little too high for my tastes. I don’t have the confidence that either can get through the year without a trip to the DL and if you’re talking about a first-rounder in a snake and who knows how much money in an auction, I just can’t justify taking such known injury risks that early. Yeah, I know that 37 and 27 are still great HR totals but think of it this way, if you’re in a head-to head-league, those guys each missed at least a few weeks of action. If that happens again in 2013, maybe the power lost in those weeks costs you a playoff spot, or a better seed. Heck, Bautista missed a lot of the end of the year, playing only two games after July 16. I know in the Head-to-Head league that Nash and I play in, a pretty good team missed out on his bat in the playoffs. Guess how that team fared. I’m sure it happened to others.
Basically, I don’t expect either of these teams to be particularly strong in 2013. So, if either Stanton or Bautista are nursing injuries late in the year, it stands to reason that the Marlins and Blue Jays will be quite conservative about getting them back on the field.
But if you’re asking me right now who I think will have the better statistical season and therefore the better fantasy player in 2013, I go with Stanton.
Dixon’s ridiculously early 2013 projections