Fantasy baseball is a game of opinions, differing opinions. Sometimes it leads to passionate debate, sometimes it leads to an argument, sometimes it leads to an alley scrap. Isn't divergence of opinion great?
There are some interesting shortstop names near the top of the board in 2014, especially after Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki are selected. What's your next play, Tanner Boyle? Three Yahoo scribes (Brandon Funston, Dalton Del Don, Scott Pianowski) have conflicting advice, each picking one of the names you find in the header. Declare your debate winner in the comments.
Funston Opens: At the tender young age of 23, Jean Segura won this argument on the field last season, his first full-season MLB tour, by finishing as the top-ranked shortstop in the fantasy game. Considering his pedigree (.313 career average in the minors), where he's at on his career arc (going up) and the fact that his No. 1 fantasy skill (speed) never slumps, I'm having a hard time finding reasons to think Segura is going to regress in '14.
[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
With Reyes, health is the obvious red flag, and given his age and injury history, you're probably not going to see anything more than 20-25 steals from Reyes at this point in his career, even if he does deliver a mostly healthy season. As for Desmond, I think we saw him settle into where his legit power range is last season, which is right at 20 home runs for an upper limit. His '12 power spike (25 HR in 130 games) came with ratios (ISO and HR/FB) that were out of whack compared to the rest of his career. And his less than desirable K rate (22.1% in '13) makes his ability to continue producing a positive batting average tenuous.
I think Segura is a good bet to deliver something close to what he produced last season (think .280-plus batting average, low double digit home runs, 40-plus steals and 80-plus runs). And that should once again put him out in front of this pack of shortstops for the '14 campaign.
Del Don with Middle Lap: I’m betting on the player who’s not only the most injury prone but also the oldest. Still, before a broken ankle suffered while sliding into second base last season, Reyes’ previous three seasons averaged out like this: .301-90-10-52-36 over just 140 games played. Of course, that latter part points to the risk when it comes to Reyes. But even while missing an average of 20 games per year over that span, his total runs scored ranked 22nd and his 109 steals ranked sixth in all of baseball (his .301 batting average was also top-20).
Reyes has seemingly been around forever, but he’s still just 30 years old and even while dealing with a serious injury last season, he hit one fewer home run than he did in 2012 while playing in 67 fewer games. This might have something to do with the change in his home venue, as he went from playing in an extreme pitcher’s park (since its inception two seasons ago, Marlins Park has suppressed home runs by LHB an MLB-high 39 percent while also decreasing HR by RHB by 27 percent) to a park that’s favorable to hitter’s (over the last three years, Rogers Centre has increased HR by LHB six percent and RHB by 21 percent). The switch-hitting Reyes stands to benefit, and with a little luck in the health department, maybe another monstrous season lies ahead.
Pianow to Close: Reyes is the easiest player to eliminate here. He's been hurt too many times and he's at a part of a career where the steals could have a significant dip. The bedrock playing surface in Toronto is also a concern. Don't be a hero with your blue chips. Risk-taking is for the middle and late rounds.
Segura's overall debut was a hit, but the second-half collapse concerns me. Take a long look at these numbers, amigos: .241/.268/.315, one homer over 54 games. Is that someone you want to spend a premium pick on? Segura was a respected prospect before 2013, but he wasn't expected to rule the world (he didn't crack the Top 50 on scouting lists). It's very likely he played far over his head in the first half of last season.
I know it's boring and perhaps you're sick of me saying this, but you want floor with your early roto selections. Reliability. Consistency. Durability. This is where Desmond takes the debate home. He's stolen between 17-25 bases in all four seasons, he's batted .292 and .280 in consecutive years, and he has 45 homers the last two seasons. He's avoided major injuries. He's getting ready for his Age-28 season, on a Washington team that should be pretty darn good (good luck, Jays and Brewers).
Go with the proven commodity, fake friends. In the critical early rounds, I Got ID.