Taking a look back at 2010 and trying to project what will happen in 2011 is what we do at Fanball. To that end, Ted Carlson has been sending out assignments for the staff to rank our top options at each position for the 2011 season. Today, I’ll defend my rankings for the Top-10 Second Basemen for 2011 and explain why I favor Chase Utley over Robinson Cano.
For the other reviews in this series, click on the following links.
UTLEY OVER CANO
Am I the black sheep or what? It seems like every time we look at these staff rankings I’m the maverick out there saying something no one else agrees with. To be honest I had zero intention of stirring up any controversy, it’s just how things played out.
So why in the world would I list Utley #1 when everyone else on staff had him #2 behind the Yankees’ Cano? Here are my thoughts.
Both players have a history of excellence at the dish, though I still say Utley has the higher ceiling here. The data.
* Hit at least .297 in five of his six seasons and owns a .309 career average.
* Hit at least 14 homers in each of his six seasons.
* Knocked in at least 72 runs in each of the past five seasons (he had 62 as a rookie).
* Scored at least 70 runs in five of his six season.
* Produced at least 155 hits in each of his six seasons.
* Hit at least least 34 doubles each of the past six seasons. In fact, he is fifth in baseball with 240 doubles since the beginning of the 2005 season.
Now for Utley who has:
* He has hit at least .275 each of the past six seasons and owns a .293 career average.
* Hit at least 22 homers in five of the past six seasons.
* Knocked in at least 93 runs in five of the past six seasons.
* Scored at least 93 runs in five of the past six seasons.
* Produced at least 158 hits in five of the past six seasons.
* Hit at least 28 doubles in five of the past six seasons. In fact, he is 14th in baseball with 216 doubles since the beginning of the 2005 season.
Remember, Utley was limited to just 115 games in 2010 because of injury or those columns above would almost certainly read all six seasons instead of five of six (he hit .275-16-65-75-13, 20 doubles and 117 hits in 115 games).
Let’s do a more direct comparison between the two.
From 2005-09 Utley averaged 29 homers a season. Cano has only one season in his career with 29 homers.
From 2005-09 Utley averaged 101 RBI a season. Cano only has one season in his career with more than 97 RBI.
From 2005-09 Utley averaged 111 runs a season. Cano has never scored 105 runs in a campaign.
From 2005-09 Utley averaged 15 steals a season. Cano has never stolen more than five bases in a season.
Are you catching my drift here? More directly, here are each man’s totals, per 162 games, over their careers.
Utley: 29 homers, 105 RBI, 109 runs, 15 steals
Cano: 21 homers, 91 RBI, 92 runs, 4 steals
I’m sure some will argue for the difference in the batting average of the two pushing the Yankees’ second sacker ahead of Utley, admittedly Cano has Utley beat there (career: .309 to .293), but I would counter with the following. Utley has a career OBP of .380. Cano has only one season in his career in which he can match that (.381 in 2010). Utley also owns a .514 SLG in his career, well clear of the .489 mark of Cano.
Don’t get me wrong I love Cano, but I think he is coming off a career best season which will drive up his price. He is also on the Yankees, and that always makes guys more expensive. I’m more than willing to give up a few batting average points for the better production in the other four fantasy categories that Utley will likely offer in 2011, so you can go ahead and take Cano first.
And finally, why no Howie Kendrick love (I was the only one to mention him in the top-10)? I got news for everyone, not only does Kendrick own a .295 career average, he had more homers (10) than Ian Kinsler (nine), more RBI than Kelly Johnson (71), more runs than Juan Uribe (67 to 64) and more steals than Utley (14 to 13) in 2010. I’ll gladly take Kendrick as my second basemen in 2011.
By Ray Flowers