Pedroia's speed sets him apart
By Eric Karabell
I'm not sure why people view Dustin Pedroia differently now than a year ago, because his 2009 numbers weren't all that far off, from a fantasy baseball perspective or otherwise, from those delivered when he won the 2008 American League MVP award. Yes, Pedroia's batting average took a 30-point hit, but the power was similar and he stole 20 bases again. He also greatly increased his walk rate. For this perceived off season, this consensus second-rounder in 2009 drafts is now viewed as a fourth-rounder, placing him squarely in ... Robinson Cano territory.
Hey, nothing against Cano, a fine player in his own right who might someday win a batting title, but even at a historically weak fantasy position like second base, I want the more versatile option. That's still Pedroia. He steals bases. He hits for some power. I always look for well-rounded statistical players in the early rounds of a draft. Pedroia does the same good things as the New York Yankees second baseman, but the big difference is that one golden category: stolen bases.
I don't see why Pedroia can't get back to his MVP numbers, which means a potential batting title and increased power. There might not be 30-home run potential with him, as there seems to be with Cano, but Pedroia still hasn't reached his power prime. I think someday he could swat 25 home runs. Maybe someday comes in 2010, based on his second half surge a year ago.
That's right, as fantasy owners were complaining about him, Pedroia hit 12 home runs after the 2009 All-Star break, just like Cano did, and Pedroia topped him in runs scored and, of course, stolen bases. Cano has long been known as a second-half stud, but Pedroia hit the same number of home runs, and delivered only six fewer RBIs. I view Pedroia's odd power splits -- only three home runs before the break -- as a harbinger of pending power, and let's remember he has yet to hit the magic prime age of 27.
None of this counts against Cano, whom I also consider a strong top-40 player at a weak position, but when most things are equal, I will select the player who adds stolen bases. That's 20 stolen bases I don't need to draft later, with similar power and batting average. It's true that stolen bases aren't a scarce commodity in fantasy baseball this season, but if I can get an extra 20 or so over a similar player, I do it.
Cano's best yet to come
By Tristan H. Cockcroft
Like their real-life teams in the expected standings, the battle for which is the more valuable fantasy second baseman, Cano or Dustin Pedroia, might be one fought right up until the 2010 season's final pitch. They're the consensus Nos. 3 and 4 options at their position, according to the early ESPN Live Draft Results, and are separated by only three spots in terms of average draft position. Pedroia is being picked 30th (ADP: 32.6), Cano 33rd (ADP: 33.3).That's not merely a result of Cano's higher ranking on the 2009 Player Rater, though he did outpace Pedroia by 20 spots. Cano also batted 24 points higher, hit 10 more home runs and drove in 13 more runs, which more than overcame Pedroia's 15-steal and 12-run advantages. But we all know Pedroia is probably a better player than he showed last season, right? Obviously, that must be what the masses are assuming, picking the guy who had the lesser 2009 first.
Well, who's to say Cano can't be a better player than he showed last season? He's now 27 years old, that magical year for a baseball player, if you believe in such a thing. Even if you don't, it can be safely said that Cano is smack-dab in the prime of his career, with five years' big league experience, meaning he's no less likely to grow as a hitter than Pedroia, who is 26 with three-plus years' experience. Cano also plays in a ballpark beautifully crafted for his skill set, and he's in a lineup that averaged more than 5½ runs per game in 2009.
Consider this: Cano has improved both his line-drive and fly-ball rates in each of the past two seasons, and after the All-Star break last season his number in the latter department reached 36.6 percent, another considerable boost. In addition to his career-high 25 home runs, he also smacked 48 doubles, an amazing 22 of those at new Yankee Stadium, another sign that he might yet have untapped power. Cano's power typically is to right field, and in a ballpark that's a scant 316 feet down the right-field line and 385 to right-center, he's a perfect fit.
The Yankees' official Web site also reports that Cano might serve as the team's No. 5 hitter this season, which could make him a virtual lock for 100 RBIs given that he slugged .520 last year (.480 career) and would have Mark Teixeira (.383 on-base percentage in 2009) and Alex Rodriguez (.402 OBP) occupying the next two spots ahead of him. That'd be in addition to Cano's 100-run potential, being that he scored 103 times in 2009 and would still have potent bats like Jorge Posada (.522 slugging percentage) and Curtis Granderson (.453) behind him.Might Pedroia fit your fancy if steals and runs are your object? Certainly, but don't expect his advantage to be substantial. He might best Cano by 15 steals and 15 runs, yet trail by 10-15 homers and 25 RBIs. That means that unless you expect Pedroia to match Cano in batting average -- and understand that Cano is a .306 career hitter who batted .320 last season -- you're better off with the man in pinstripes.