When talking about hyped up outfielders this offseason, Carl Crawford and Carlos Gonzalez come to mind. It’s hard for an eight-year veteran like Crawford to be hyped up, but his move to the loaded Boston Red Sox lineup did just that. As for Gonzalez, an encore to his monster 2010 season is in order, but will he come out and perform a 25-minute version of “Free Bird” or will he get a bottle thrown at his head a la Axl Rose?
In our 2011 fantasy baseball rankings, we have them both in the top-three among outfielders, so clearly they are both top options. But who should you draft?
Each player is assigned a grade for each of the five standard offensive categories plus a few extra I felt were important to factor. Grades are based on my expectations for the season and take into account both the player’s expected performance relative to the entire player pool and relative to the position he plays at. Grades were averaged using the standard 4.0 GPA scale to provide a cumulative “Professor’s Grade.”
Professor's Grade A- (3.50) B+ (3.46) Crawford
Runs A- A- Draw
Batting Average A- B+ Crawford
Home Runs C+ B+ Gonzalez
Runs Batted In B B+ Gonzalez
Stolen Bases A B+ Crawford
Health A- A- Draw
Potential Ceiling A A Draw
Pick Security A- B Crawford
The Case for Crawford
Crawford is the model of consistency. He steals 40+ bases every season and is a threat to steal 50, his power is constantly in the double-digits and his batting average hovers around .300. Add in the fact that he will probably bat third for the Boston Red Sox and it’s hard not to think 100+ runs and 90-100 RBI aren’t in his future for 2011. He should be able to keep his home runs up in the high teens now that he is in Boston and he screams top-five potential. He’s going into his ninth full season so none of this should be a surprise, which is a big reason why he scored an “A-” in the pick security category. There’s no real injury history to speak of so feel free to pick him at no risk of being disappointed.
The Case for Gonzalez
No one was better than Gonzalez in 2010. That’s a fact, not an opinion. The big question here is whether or not he can repeat that performance and Bryan Curley does a great job with that topic in his fantasy projection of CarGo. He’s a legitimate 30/30 threat, especially playing half of his games at Coors Field, so even if he can’t repeat his .336 batting average, he will provide plenty of value in the counting categories. He is going ahead of Crawford in some drafts, so you are going to have to pay a pretty penny to get him on your team, but he could be worth it if he can bring the value he did last year.
Who Should You Draft?
As you can tell, these two are very close in value. Crawford edged out CarGo going 3-2-3 in the eight categories, and his final grade (3.50) was a hair better than Gonzalez’s 3.46 mark. What Crawford lacks in power, he makes up for with the security that you are getting what you pay for. If you want a guy who will definitely hit .300, be among the league leaders in steals, while not hurting any of your power stats, Crawford is your guy. Gonzalez brings the power and speed, while not killing (and possible helping) your batting average.
If I weren’t more risk averse I would probably take Gonzalez with the hopes that he repeats his 2010 season, but when picking in the first or early-second round, it’s better to take the sure thing. And that sure thing here is Crawford.