h2h Corner ~ Keep, Trade or Drop: Andre Ethier, Hunter Pence, Ben Zobrist?

Ben Zobrist is quite the conundrum for fantasy owners. He seems to qualify everywhere, he hit 27 HRs last year, stole 17 bases, batted .297 and posted a .405 OBP. What’s more, that HR total wasn’t completely flukey, as he smacked 12 dingers in only 62 games in 2008, so there was a chance he could hit more given the opportunity. Of course, he only managed to hit 23 HRs and steal 20 bases in 1,335 minor league ABs – so there was a ton of reasons to doubt him. Zobrist will be 29 in May, so he is in the sweet spot of his prime. I think you can bank on decent AVEs and OBPs, 20 or so HRs and 15 SBs for the next couple of years.

Hunter Pence has seemingly been around forever, yet he won’t be 27 until April. At this point, it appears we know what Pence will do: hit 25 or so HRs, steal 10 bases, bat .280, and post a .340 OBP. However, I think Pence could see an uptick in those numbers, especially the HRs, over the next few seasons. Pence did hit 70 HRs in 1,270 minor league ABs, so there is power potential. He also plays in a bandbox and is hitting his prime. He could be a sneaky 30-HR guy next year.

Andre Ethier became Batman and forced Manny to become Robin (or did Matt Kemp become Batman, Ethier become Robin and Manny become batgirl?) last season with an impeccable line: 31 HRs, .272 AVE and a .361 OBP. Still, did you know that Ethier is going to be 28 in April? He’s no spring chicken. Nevertheless, you can pencil him in for 30 HRs, 100 RBIs a .290 AVE and a .363 OBP over the next several years with upside to 35 HRs. That’s not bad at all.

I’ve almost talked myself into keeping Pence over Ethier. However, I’ll bank on Ethier’s consistency over Pence’s potential. This is a lot closer than you would think though. So if you see Ethier on the board alongside someone else (Carlos Pena or Lance Berkman) you like and know Pence will be available a few rounds later, you might pick someone else and grab Pence when the draft/auction snakes back to you.

Keep: Andre Ethier
Trade: Hunter Pence
Drop: Ben Zobrist


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).

While there are tons of player rankings available, they are all for 2010 and nothing more. So, if you are drafting in a start-up keeper league, how do you decide who to take? For example, 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.

The KTD series focuses solely on giving keeper league advice. It poses the question: 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.

If you want other KTDs, please let me know. Also, feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner)/Facebook pages.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by James Chang on February 24, 2010 at 3:16 am


    Just wanted to point out one little error in your entry. Zobrist’s OBP last season was actually .405, not .346.


  2. Posted by James Chang on February 24, 2010 at 3:32 am

    Also, I have to disagree with your choices on this one. I’ve been participating in many mock drafts and auctions on both Yahoo and Mock Draft Central and I can assure you that Zobrist is not the guy you want to drop–Pence is. In pretty much every mock draft I’ve done so far these three always go in this order: Zobrist, Ethier, Pence. If you don’t want to keep Zobrist then he is the one you should be trading since he has substantially more market value than Pence at this time. Also, you’ll be able to get Pence back in the draft for less than either of the other two.

    I actually think Pence may be the best hitter of these three, but he is not perceived as such by the masses. Even if he just repeats his 2009 numbers in 2010 he will be worth drafting this season in most leagues because it seems as if the general public expects him to decline or has simply forgotten about him. I don’t think Pence will ever be a big star, but he is already a better player than most people seem to realize. I definitely agree with you that he could break out with a 30+ HR season during his age 27 year; I expect Pence to be on several of my teams this season. I definitely won’t reach for him at all–but I don’t think I’ll have to.

    My final choices would depend on the rest of my keeper list, and I’m not a big believer in position scarcity, but because having a multi-category MI is so enticing I most likely would go:

    Keep: Zobrist

    Trade: Ethier

    Drop: Pence

    I’d actually be fine with keeping either Zobrist or Ethier, so I guess it would depend on which of the two is asked for in a trade proposal.


  3. Posted by Albert Lang on February 24, 2010 at 8:16 am

    James- thanks for catching the mess up on his 2009 OBP. My lazy eye used his career OBP.

    Also, good analysis. The part i didnt talk about is Zobrist’s eligibility — most likely why he is going before the other players.

    If he has second base/short stop eligibility (which he is this year), then he carries more 2010 value than the other two. this in turn, likely, makes him a more viable trade candidate than Pence. However, who knows where Zobrist stays (which limits his keeper value, in my opinion)?

    Still, you are absolutely right that Pence should probably be the one you are dropping. I’d talk about why i put Pence second but you provided all the analysis for why Pence is somehow underrated.

    So, upon further review, I’d go Ethier, Zobrist, Pence. I trust Ethier to produce longer and better than Zobrist and, like you said, Zobrist can get a decent chunk on the trade market.


  4. […] noted previously, Ben Zobrist is all over the KTDs and my rankings. Part of me thinks it is because of his awesome (nick)name. Another part of me […]


  5. […] I’m guessing a lot of people obtained Ben Zobrist late in drafts or off the free agent heap, which makes him an attractive keeper for the 2010 season. Add that to his 2009 campaign which came as a bit of surprise and the fact that he qualifies everywhere and it’s no wonder he has his fair share of KTDs. […]


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