February 19, 2010

Behind the Numbers: Votto vs Gonzalez

The 3rd round of your neighborhood draft rolls around to you. Your Yankee-homer friend Steve has already knocked back his fair share of brew and just picked Andy Pettitte, because "he's a winner". Thankfully, the rest of the guys in your draft are taking it seriously, so you've gotta buckle down. You've already got a speedy outfielder, and a high-quality middle infielder, but now you're looking for a good power hitter. You look down your list and see the top two guys who aren't crossed off are the slugger from Cincinnati and the soon to be ex-Padre Adrian Gonzalez. You know that they have been going off the board at around the same time in most mocks (Votto-30 and Gonzalez-31 according to Mock Draft Central's ADPs) So what do you do now?
Well I'll tell you what I would do, snatch up A-Gon even if he remains in sunny San Diego all year long.

First off, while Votto may seem like the up-and-comer in this situation, let's not forget the Gonzalez has yet to turn 28, so he has tons of good days in front of him despite what his 40 year-old face and 6 years of major league play may tell you. The two are fairly even in statistics as well, as Votto showed he could hit for a better average while Adrian will hit for more pop. They will both put up around the 100 mark in both RBIs and Runs, and neither is a real threat to swipe bags.

So what sets Gonzalez apart from Votto in my mind, you ask? Gonzalez's durability, but more importantly, the stats which lie underneath the ones that count in roto. What if I told you that there was a player who could put up the numbers of a high-quality first basemen all while playing 160 games in a year, is that something you might be interested in? If you didn't get that reference, please go buy Entourage now. Now watch all the seasons. Done? Ok good. You can now actually live life. Now back to the baseball. Votto is coming off a year where he missed 31 games, mainly due to stress. Now, I don't know about you but the first guy sounds a lot more secure than the one who had trouble with the pressures of major-league ball.

The durability is great and all, but what I focused on when I made my decision was the numbers which show how the player got to his final stats last season, mainly BABIP. Last year, Votto hit a very respectable .322 over the entire 131 games he played, which is one of the major selling points by guys drafting him this year. But while he did that, he hit an astonishing .372 on balls in play. That kind of a number is only seen by guys like Michael Bourn, who have tremendous speed. Votto certainly does not fit that category, so its almost a guarantee for him to hit a lower number next year and cause the average to drop. On the other side, Gonzalez hit a reasonable .278 on balls in play, which is very reasonable since he hit .277 over the course of the season. As long as he evens out to accepted average of .300, he could see a healthy rise, especially if he finds his way out of the hit destroyer that is Petco Park. Finally, a look at Adrian's BB-to-K ratio shows just how much the Padres lineup is hurting him as it jumped from .52 to 1.09, showing a patient hitter waiting for pitches he would get in most lineups.

So, when your leaguemates turn to you, waiting for you to go up to the board and record your pick, get up, put on your best Sly Stallone impression and yell "Adrian! Yo Adrian!"