Welcome to another game of Keeper League Would You Rather. While first base is widely considered the deepest position in fantasy baseball, it is also has a high percentage of players protected, given the fact that most of your mashers are found here. Still, dynasty leagues, AL or NL-only, and deeper mixed leagues have numerous owners looking for cheaper alternatives at the position with the hopes that an inexpensive youngster will eventually provide big time power at a bargain rate. So let’s look at two of the more popular options from the youth bin…
Obviously, the cost of protecting and expected value are the primary concerns when deciding which players to hold over for the next season. Considering that neither had a starting job heading into the season but both were expected call ups at some point they were probably valued similarly — salary-wise for auctions, similar picks in snake drafts. In both cases, each could have been a waiver pickup during the season. Either way, for the sake of this piece, let’s assume that the cost to protect each is the same.
From there we can move onto the numbers…
Unlike the first installment of this series, we are not dealing with players that possess any kind of major league track record. Allen has a pair of late season call-ups under his belt, but with 172 plate appearances combined for both years, the sample size remains too small to accurately predict. The same can be said about their current season stats as each have less than 85 PAs this season.
So where do we judge?
Well, we can take a look at some of their minor league statistical highlights for starters…
Goldschmidt appears to be the better power hitter, obviously a key factor for protecting a first baseman. During his short time in the minors and quick ascension to the Show, he has never posted an ISO lower than .291. There was concern that his power was being inflated by the hitter-friendly Cal League, but his move to the Southern League proved that the power was not a fluke nor ballpark induced. He went from .314-35-108 with a .291 ISO in 2010 to .308-30-94 with a .320 ISO this season in over 100 fewer plate appearances. On top of that, he almost doubled his walk rate while lowering his K% from 26.9 to 20.1. Despite the fact that his current walk rate in the majors is down to 7.1% while his K% has spiked to an abominable 38.6%, you can still see his growth and development as a power hitter.
But Allen is no slouch himself with steady minor league power totals and solid ISO marks. His limited experience in the bigs gives him a slight advantage nowadays and that can be seen in both his walk rate and annually increasing Contact%. His opportunities with Arizona had been very limited, so to see marked improvement from call-up to call-up is promising. He’s also shown that he is able to limit the strikeouts to a certain degree. During his first two cups of coffee, he was striking out at roughly a 35% while this season it’s down to 28.9%, a number recently skewed by 7 Ks in three games at Yankee Stadium, undoubtedly fueled by the emotions of a kid playing in the Bronx for the first time and having knocked a pair of solo shots out in his debut.
Both players should start the 2012 season as their respective teams first baseman, but in the grand scheme of things, I would be much more inclined to protect Goldschmidt. His power definitely exceeds that of Allen and given the hitter-friendly environment at Chase Field, he stands to continue the big bopping trend. Allen may prove to be the more disciplined hitter which should translate to a better batting average and OBP, but more often than not in fantasy, the bigger stick speaks the loudest.
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