Ask the Professor: Butler or Sandoval?


Christian asked the following:
I play in a 5×5 roto keeper league and can’t decide between keeping Billy Butler of Pablo Sandoval. Who would you keep? Butler comes with such pedigree and everything I read says he should be hitting machine at any moment. Plus hitting is all he has had to concentrate on this off season as opposed to last season where he had to try and learn first base. However, there is no denying Pablo can hit. He hit last year and continues to hit in the winter league play. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Billy Butler or Pablo Sandoval…  Pablo Sandoval or Billy Butler…

Man, that’s a problem I wish I had myself.  For those who have been reading the site, you know how big of a fan I am of Sandoval, and that’s why this answer may be a bit surprising.  I’d go with Billy Butler.  That is, of course, assuming they are both simply eligible at 1B.  If Sandoval is eligible at C, or will be eligible with 5 games (since I think he’ll get there by early May), then it’s him without a doubt.  Assuming that it’s at least 10 in season, however, it’s going to take him far longer to become eligible at the position (especially with Bengie Molina manning the position and the clean-up slot), it’s a hole different story.

They are as close as possible, I just feel like Butler has the better chance of taking it to the next level, to becoming the .300, 25 HR, 100 RBI player that both have the potential of being.  He has taken his lumps, culminating in his demotion last season, but he hasn’t let it break him.  Instead, he returned to the majors in July and hit 11 HR and showed the league the type of player he is capable of being.  Is he going to reach his full potential?  Maybe, maybe not, but the possibility is there to take the next step.

Sandoval was on fire upon getting his chance to play, hitting a robust .345 over 145 AB.  The thing is, he had never played above Double A prior to being recalled and was the benefactor of an unrepeatable .367 BABIP.  His average is going to drop, and while it should be near .300, it could be below it.  While he hit a total of 23 HR last season, only 3 of them came in the major leagues.  His FB% was very low (28.9%), but his HR/FB was not typical of a power hitter either (7.7%).  He could have the same type of lack of power that plagued Butler early on last season, though I would anticipate him coming in between 13-18.

Honestly, I see the two likely being the same type of player.  Like I said, depending on your league rules, Sandoval becomes the easy choice due to catcher eligibility, especially if your league requires 2 starters.  He has the potential to be a Top 10 catcher this season, giving him tremendously more value then Butler.  It’s an extremely tough position to fill, so when you have a chance to hold onto a player like him, it’s an easy call.

All else being equal, however, and they both are simply eligible at 1B, I would rather take the gamble on Butler.  I just see him as having the better upside to reach his full potential in ‘09.
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  1. Hmm, if this is the original question and no salaries are mentioned, I don’t see how any of them are keeper worthy to begin with! The details were sparse in his question, so maybe other factors are involved. But both are bottom tier 1st basemen, I can’t see why you’d even consider keeping either of them.

  2. wombaty says:

    Hello Professor,

    Not sure if this is the place to post/send a topic for you to consider for your “Ask the Professor” category, but I would love to hear what you think about Twins RP Jose Mijares. I know he might not hold a ton of interest for people in 5 * 5 leagues, but for those in holds leagues do you think he might have value?

    Many thanks for the excellent site..


  3. admin says:

    Wombaty, let me take a look at this and I will definitely post my thoughts on him in a day or two for you.

  4. wombaty says:

    Many Thanks!

  5. Wombaty says:

    Since Mijares probably does not warrant a post by himself, maybe a post on promising non-closer relievers? I’m in a league that counts holds (and it seems like more leagues are starting to take on that stat), so something like that would be an excellent resource. Thanks for considering!

  6. Larry Yocum says:

    Well, if it is a keeper, what are the odds that Butler only becomes a DH? That would significantly lower his value.

    On the flip side, Sandoval is being talked about in a utility role again this year, even though he is slotted at third currently. I think the Giants play him at 3rd-1st-C again this year, which means that you could get a multi-eligible position player next year and heading into 2010 if he is kept again on that team.

    I like Sandoval above Butler anyway, but I agree that they are comparable players and a good debate topic. It just seems like the Jacobs deal was yet another indication that the Royals have totally given up on Butler defensively, limiting his keeper value as a Util only player going forward.

  7. Glenn says:

    For a dynasty keeper league:

    Devon Travis or Kolton Wong?

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