Preseason: Matt Holliday vs. Hunter Pence
Here we have two outfielders who appear to have very similar values heading into draft day. Holliday’s current ADP in NFBC leagues is 31st while Pence checks in just behind at 33rd. Which of these players would you prefer to own for 2012?
The case for Matt Holliday:
Over the past four seasons, Holliday has been a solid, if unspectacular, 2nd round selection in 15 team mixed leagues. He has provided you with a solid average base (.315 career), 25-30 HR power, 90+ Runs and RBI and close to double digit steals.
Injuries limited Holliday to only 124 games in 2011, but he still provided plus production while he was in the lineup (.296 AVG / 83 R / 22 HR / 75 RBI / 2 SB). The one glaring weakness was in the stolen base department, where he only managed two steals in three attempts after averaging nearly 13 per season previously in his career.
With the departure of Albert Pujols, Holliday is likely to slot into the 3rd spot in the lineup after hitting cleanup the majority of 2011. This change shouldn’t have a dramatic effect on his counting stats, but will provide him with the benefit of roughly 40 more at-bats.
Another factor to take into account is that Holliday’s strikeout rate last season (18.0%) was the highest he has posted since his rookie season in 2004. He did manage to also post the 2nd best walk rate of his career (11.6%) which kept his BB/K rate in line with career norms. This could be attributed to the knee and wrist injuries, but is still something you must factor in when deriving his 2012 value.
The key factor in discerning Holliday’s potential value lies in how often you think he will be running in his age 32 season. The dramatic decrease in chances last year leads me to believe that the knee injury affected his speed. Counting on him for around 5 SB seems appropriate, with anything more considered a bonus.
The case for Hunter Pence:
Pence has been an extremely consistent performer since bursting onto the scene in 2007. In his 4 full seasons, he has averaged nearly .287 AVG / 83 R / 24 HR / 86 RBI / 13 SB. He also seemed to turn it up a notch in 2011 after the trade to Philadelphia, hitting .324 AVG / 35 R / 11 HR / 35 RBI / 1 SB in only 54 games.
As with Holliday, the decline in stolen base opportunities last season (specifically only attempting 2 in 54 games as a Phillie) has to be taken into account. He was able to manage an 80% success rate (the highest in his career), so perhaps he was being more selective on when to run.
With the injury to Ryan Howard, Pence should begin the season hitting 4th in the Phillie lineup. This should lead to increased RBI chances, but could also limit his stolen base opportunities.
Pence’s BABIP last season (.361 vs .328 career) hints that there may be regression coming from his .314 average in 2011. Expect him to finish more in line with his career .292 mark. How real is the spike in power in the 2nd half of the season, could he be looking at a new career high in HR?
You’re on the clock! It’s the end of Round 2 / Beginning of Round 3 and both of these outfielders are on the board. Which one do you want on your team?