I get 2 keepers – Andrew McCutchen is my first, and I need to choose from the following for my second: Brian McCann, Dee Gordon, Ian Kinsler, Hanley Ramirez, Freddie Freeman, Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado, Gerrit Cole, or Masahiro Tanaka.
“Seconds of Pleasure”
First thing I do is compare my prices for a list of guys with BaseballHQ’s prices. For primarily veteran players, this makes it easy to see if there is a consensus:
Player PK HQ
McCann 13 13
Gordon 23 30
Kinsler 24 24
Ramirez 22 25
Freeman 26 27
Cruz 22 22
Machado 21 17
Cole 13 16
Tanaka 18 17
What we learned here, I think, is that Brian McCann, Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado and Gerrit Cole are not keepers for you.
I don’t think Tanaka is a keeper either, since he’s coming back from an injury that often requires surgery, without having surgery. Lots of upside if he makes it work, but too much risk to use for a keeper. (If you disagree, stop here and freeze Tanaka, it’s a risky but reasonable choice.)
Which leaves us, in order of average value: Freddie Freeman, Dee Gordon, Ian Kinsler, Hanley Ramirez. But from top to bottom it’s close, so you have some decisions to make, because there are some things I don’t know about your league.
For instance, how deep is it? It is a mixed league, clearly. If it’s a 10 or 12 or 15 team mixed league, position scarcity matters, which elevates Dee Gordon over Freddie Freeman. If it’s 20 or 25 teams, Freeman is close, if not Gordon’s better.
If it’s an OBP league, however, Freeman is enough better that you would take him over Gordon, even in a 15-team league. Maybe. Read on.
But let’s assume you play the aging and inferior but more popular BA format. Gordon is more valuable than Freeman, and clearly more valuable than the guys HQ and I have ranked below him, which makes young Dee the obvious keep, EXCEPT…
Except Gordon contributes in one category. In your league is it more helpful to have a 2B who steals 50 bases but doesn’t do much else? Or is it better to have a guy like Hanley or Ian, who will hit double digit homers and steal double digit bases, with a better BA?
If you follow HQ’s guidance (and $30 bid) this is a no brainer, but depending on how your league values steals (and marginal hitting ability, which is what Gordon has), he may be hugely valuable, but he’s surely also risky. Guys who don’t hit lose at bats.
Not that the other guys aren’t risky. Ramirez moves to the American League for the first time, is changing positions and brings with him an injury history that has to be considered, at least, while Kinsler has seen his power and speed decline in recent years, as he has moved into his middle 30s.
Looked at through this frame, you really can’t make a bad choice here, but not one of them is a slam dunk winner. Freeman might be the safest bet, but he plays first base for a team that has stripped away every other offensive weapon. Gordon is the most explosive, if he plays he will run, but if he’s hitting .222 will he still play? Ramirez has the biggest upside. If he stays healthy he could be a 20/20 guy, but he’s not likely to stay healthy, which probably makes Kinsler the safer bet.
So, I’ve talked myself into Kinsler, for all the reasons listed above, hoping he’ll have a year not unlike last year’s, even if not quite so much.