With so many articles discussing players and fantasy strategies to help advance you in the standings this year, it’s time to throw a bone to those in keeper leagues that are out of contention in 2011 and are already thinking about what to do in 2012. Remember the game “Would You Rather…?” I’m sure most of you do, but if you don’t, it’s simple. You’re given two choices — sometimes both really good and sometimes both absolutely horrific. Either way, you are obligated to pick one over the other. Well, this is going to be an ongoing keeper league series now in which you’re given two options of which player you’d rather keep for the following season. Since we’re in Erik Hahmann’s regular shortstop article time slot, we’ll begin there…
A year or two ago, this was the easiest no-brainer of them all. Ramirez was a clear-cut top three overall draft choice with fantastic power and outstanding speed. He was hitting over .300 each season and was the ultimate 5-tool player in one of the thinnest positions in the game. Cabrera was just getting his feet wet and still developing as a player. There was talk of a potential power/speed combo in scouting reports, but with little to show for it on the big league level. Until this season…
Let’s start with the basic counting stats, the ones that actually make up the offensive categories in fantasy:
After a quick glance, it’s very easy to see that Cabrera is having the better season this year. And if you look comparatively to years past, you’ll also see that he has vastly improved his level of production while Ramirez seems to be in a steady decline. Yes, Ramirez has spent a lot of time on the shelf due to injury this season, but even if you adjust his numbers to the total plate appearances that Cabrera has had this year, Ramirez’ production overall, still falls short.
Now let’s look at some of the peripherals:
Again, Cabrera showing more dominance here in every category except walk rate. But everything else, from power to on-base skills, Cabrera has a distinct edge. And the value comparison to their respective team’s success is monumental.
Clearly, in 2011, Cabrera has been the more valuable player and a much better value in fantasy based on where these guys were drafted at the start of the season. Now the question remains as to which one you would rather own heading into next year. Will Cabrera continue his growth and improve upon his 2011 totals? Is this really the decline of Hanley Ramirez?
There are a number of factors that come into your decision making, but the most important are the answers to the aforementioned questions and what it will cost you in keeping one over the other. Personally, I’m choosing Ramirez over Cabrera without batting an eye, regardless of the cost. You can chalk up the bad season to a number of factors, primarily the injuries and the disgruntled attitude. Ramirez isn’t staying with the Marlins for long and they will be happy to have someone pick up the remaining $46.5M he’s owed over the next three years. Once he finds himself on a different team, we will likely see totals reminiscent of his 2008 season. Cabrera, on the other hand, has probably reached his ceiling, even at the ripe old age of 25. If he does improve, he’s still not touching the levels of what Ramirez can do.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at email@example.com