Welcome to the latest edition of the game show currently sweeping the Internet. Reading this column guarantees that you will achieve fabulous wealth and success in your fantasy baseball league. That’s right, you guessed it: it’s time to debate Keep Trade or Drop (KTD).
For those of you that followed the column last year, I’ve instituted some changes for the 2010 season. Specifically, I’ve decided to tweak the game to give it more of a keeper flair. Keeper leagues are more en vogue nowadays. You get to win championships with the same players and lock down a young player for years.
Despite the growing trend to play in keeper leagues, fantasy baseball coverage has not kept up. While there are tons of rankings available, they are all for 2010 and nothing more. So, if you are drafting in a start-up keeper league, who do you take? If they’re both on the board, do you go for tried and true Carl Crawford, or do you roll the dice (but only barely) and select the slightly less proven Justin Upton. Read enough of these columns and you might just get your answer.
Here on out, the KTD series will be focused solely on giving keeper league advice. If you are in a keeper league, which player would you rather keep, which would you rather trade and which would you be forced to drop. Rarely is the decision easy to make, but it might just decide whether you compete and win your championship, not just this year, but for years down the road as well. It will also help you make a snap decision when three similar players are on the board and the clock is ticking.
I thought this one would be a lot closer (given that these guys are probably all ranked within 10 spots of each other). If we were only looking at this year, I’d keep Ryan Howard, no doubt. However, the scope here isn’t so limited. That’s why Prince Fielder is the man (well he is the man for a lot of reasons). Prince Fielder was born in 1984, which means he is entering his year-26 season. Typically, that is right before a hitter’s prime. What has Fielder done in four non-prime years? Oh, just averaged 40 HRs, 95 runs, 111 RBIs and a .283 AVE. Fielder is actually a no-brainer in this little exercise.
So what to do with the other two? I’d see how many Phillies/Yankee fans are in my league and draft the first baseman with the most supporters. In a smart/neutral league, I’m going for Ryan Howard. Howard, at 30, is almost a year older than Teixeira. Still, he has been an offensive god since 2006, averaging 102 runs, 50 HRs, 143 RBIs and a tidy .278 average. Sure, he can’t hit lefties a lick (.226 career average) and that number ain’t getting any better (.207 AVE in 2009), but his counting stats have simply been too good to let Teixeira pass him on account of his unfortunate average.
Mark Teixeira, who will be 30 in May, has never hit as many HRs as Howard has averaged over the last four seasons. While his numbers have been quite good – he has averaged 98 runs, 34 HRs, 114 RBIs and a .296 AVE over the past four seasons– they just aren’t as good as Howard’s. Given the small discrepancy in age, I have no problem advocating for Howard being more valuable than Teixeira and this will be reflected in my final rankings.
Keep: Prince Fielder
Trade: Ryan Howard
Drop: Mark Teixeira