April 23, 2010

Fantasy Debate: Ike vs. Smoak

Over the last few weeks, two hyped prospects have gotten the call up to the show. (I hope don't have to pay royalties to Sony for calling it that.) Anyhow, Ike Davis has been very impressive so far in his 5 games, hitting just a hair under .400 with a handful of RBIs and runs, and he even hit his first homer yesterday. Justin Smoak on the other hand, made his own major league debut yesterday after replacing the woeful Chris Davis for the Rangers. While his debut was not anywhere near the opening day that Jason Heyward had, I was still impressed enough to pick up Smoak in my main league after his patient, 2 walk performance. But, when I went to claim Smoak off of the free agent list, it made me think about who I would really rather have on my team out of these two young studs. Even though Davis was already rostered by a league rival, I felt like comparing Davis and Smoak would make for a good article. I sure hope I was right.

Scout's Takes:
Both Smoak and Isaac Davis, as he was listed on MLB.com, were taken in the first round of the 2008 draft. Smoak was taken at 11, while Ike slid down to number 18. Each were juniors out of college, meaning at the very least the Rangers scouts saw Smoak as the better prospect. Baseball America also saw a major discrepancy in their talents as they ranked Smoak their 13th best prospect coming into 2010, and Davis 62nd. Both are said to possess a lot of power and can have shown in the minors that they can hit in the minors. Smoak is said to have a great glove, but we don't care about defense, so that point is moot. While the scouts might not be able to predict who will have the better year, it does seem that they think Smoak has the higher ceiling.
Advantage: Smoak

Supporting Cast:
Neither the Mets nor the Rangers have been truly offensively explosive this year, scoring 71 and 67 runs respectively. The good news, however, is that each team is on the upswing with Jose Reyes starting to look like his old self, and Ian Kinsler returning to the lineup shortly. The fact that Smoak will probably end up moving between the 6-7 spots after Kinsler's return hurts his stock a bit in terms of RBIs. Davis, on the other hand seems to be the fixture in the 6 hole for the Mets. Overall, I think these two lineups will shake out to be pretty similar in terms of run production and their ability to put runners on base for their young sluggers.
Advantage: Push

Experience/ Durability:
Sure Ike has played in 5 times as many MLB games as Smoak, but that's not the kind of experience I'm talking about. Both of these guys are youngsters who have been rushed to the majors because of their impressive minor league stints. Davis racked up almost 200 more ABs in AAA before getting the call, due to the fact that Smoak went through a minor injury in his first year after being drafted. With such little experience under their belts, those 200 ABs mean a lot towards Ike's development from college star to MLB rookie.
Advantage: Davis

Home Ballpark:
Sine they will be spending the majority of their seasons in their home parks, the more forgiving they are the better. According to ESPN's Park Factors, there is not a huge difference between their run production, but Citi Field is a very stingy HR park compared to the Ballpark at Arlington. Since we are talking 1B and homers are essential, I would much rather be in Smoak's shoes.
Advantage: Smoak

If you're gonna fork over a waiver priority for one of these guys, you'd like to make sure that they are here to stay. The Mets' first basemen prior to Davis were horrendous. I mean they were choosing to start Fernando Tatis. If that's not a sign of desperation, I don't know what is. While Chris Davis showed yet again that his 2008 season was a fluke, he still has a .280 season on his record and looms nearby in AAA. Should Smoak also struggle, the Rangers may decide that they might as well stick with the more powerful Davis despite his amazing ability to swing and miss.
Advantage: Davis

As a new Smoak owner, I may be a little bit biased, but I like him more than the Mets' 1B this season. While Davis has already shown he can play at the big league level, I am very impressed by Smoak's two walks in his premier. If he can lay off the bad pitches, it will make the transition a lot easier on his batting average. I have a lot of confidence that he will produce a better batting average than Davis, with his plate discipline and as long as his power comes around, like most scouts believe it can, he should be able to keep up with Ike in the power department. Both of these young stars should wow during their rookie campaigns, and if you are short at 1B I would strongly advise looking at these two.

Final Predictions:
Smoak: .285/75/23/80
Davis: .275/70/20/75

If you have a couple similar players who you are choosing between, and would like to see profiled against one another, leave a comment and I'll lay out how I think they compare.