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Keeper League ‘Would You Rather?’ — Roy Halladay or Stephen Strasburg

When the FanGraphs meet-up took place in San Francisco on Tuesday night and the group was sitting around the TV hanging on each and every pitch thrown by Stephen Strasburg, inspiration hit for today’s Would You Rather column.  Proven talent versus monumental upside.  Seasoned veteran versus young upstart.  Future Hall of Famer versus….future Hall of Famer?  There are a lot of pros on each side and very few cons.  So if it were up to you…

Would you rather keep Roy Halladay or Stephen Strasburg?

To a certain extent, it’s somewhat pointless, or should I say redundant, to start listing different statistics here.  Halladay has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game since 2002.  Including this season, he’s thrown 200+ innings in 10 of the last 12 seasons with the only two “off-years” being 2004 when he was dealing with shoulder problems and 2005 when his leg was broken by a line drive back at the mound.  Since then, he’s just been ridiculous with a rising K/9 and dwindling BB/9 over the last three full seasons and a current SwStr% of 10.7%, which again, has risen steadily over the last four seasons.  The guy is a horse, plain and simple, and will anchor any fantasy rotation in top fashion.

Strasburg, obviously, has a much shorter pedigree but has consistently been dominant at every level.  High school was a breeze, he was almost unhittable while at San Diego State, absolutely dominant as the only collegiate selected for the Olympics, cruised through the minors last year and looked fantastic in his 2010 Major league debut.  The injury curtailed a meteoric rise to greatness, but after exactly one year removed from Tommy John surgery, Strasburg was back to his old tricks on the hill and returned to throw five shutout innings of two-hit ball against the Dodgers in his return.  He had four strikeouts and was dealing a 92 mph change-up to go with his 99 mph fastball.  His return was a thing of beauty to witness and you should really check out Jeff Zimmerman’s Pitch F/X analysis, if you get a chance.

So with both pitchers being who they are, the question for keeping in fantasy leagues comes down to cost and longevity.  Both are certainly worthy of being held from year to year, but do you go with Halladay who likely has a few great years still left or Strasburg who now has, what should be, a stronger arm but could possibly have future arm issues?  There are plenty of pitchers to come back from Tommy John and have continued their careers in solid fashion, but for how many years are we talking about?  We’ve seen the likes of Kerry Wood, Francisco Liriano, Adam Wainwright and Josh Johnson all return but with issues in subsequent years, so the risk of losing Strasburg after just a couple of seasons is certainly there.  Keeper league owners love the upside of the youngsters, but for me, the proven talent of Halladay is nearly impossible to pass up.

Vote on the poll and discuss…

Who Would You Rather Protect?