By Adam Ronis
Each week leading up to the regular season I will compare two players that are ranked closely together that people will debate between taking in drafts. I will take suggestions on player comparisons if you tweet me @adamronis.
This week I’ll examine two second basemen. Jose Altuve has an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 89.82 in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) and Aaron Hill has an ADP of 111.74.
The case for Altuve: If you want stolen bases from the second base position, Altuve is one of the few that is a good bet to top 30 stolen bases. Jason Kipnis has reached at least 30 steals in two consecutive seasons, but he will cost you an early pick. There doesn’t appear to be any other second basemen in the Top 20 at the position that will reach 30 stolen bases.
Altuve will provide a good average. He’s a career .285 hitter. He hit .290 in 2012 and .283 last season. There are some flaws, though. Altuve will not hit for power or get a lot of RBIs. Altuve has 14 home runs in 1,423 career at-bats.
The Astros’ anemic offense doesn’t help. The Astros scored the fourth fewest runs in baseball last season resulting in just 64 runs for Altuve. That’s an extremely low number for someone that had 672 plate appearances.
Altuve had five home runs and 52 RBIs last season. In On-Base Percentage leagues, Altuve hurts your team with a .323 career OB%. Altuve could be a good fit for a team that loads up on power the first few rounds and is looking for stolen bases.
The case for Hill: An injury-plagued season usually pushes players down draft boards. That is the case with Hill, who missed time in 2013 with a broken hand. This is called a buying opportunity.
Hill was very good when he was on the field. In just 327 at-bats, Hill batted .291 with 45 runs, 11 home runs, 41 RBIs and an .818 OPS. Hill had a line drive rate of at least 21 percent for the third consecutive season and Hill usually hits the ball in the air.
In his first full season with the Diamondbacks two years ago, Hill hit .302 with 93 runs, 26 home runs, 85 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. In a good ballpark and solid lineup, there’s no reason Hill can’t get to those numbers again.
The one stat that is in question is the stolen bases. Hill had 21 stolen bases in 2011 and 14 in 2012 before getting one and being caught four times last season. Projecting him for 7-9 is more reasonable.
The verdict: Altuve is often being taken as a Top 5 second basemen and he does not do enough to warrant that spot. Hill is often being selected outside the Top 10 and he’s way higher in my rankings. Hill will provide a good average, solid counting stats and has 25-homer power. Hill has at least three seasons of 26 home runs or more. Hill is the better value and I’d take him straight up over Altuve regardless of price.