by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Prior to the season this would’ve been a ridiculous debate, as Pedroia was widely viewed as a Top 5 option at his position. However, at this stage you could likely make an argument either way (all stats are through Saturday):
- Pedroia – .266, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 41 R, 2 SB
- Rendon – .274, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 45 R, 5 SB
There’s little question that Rendon has been the better player, thus far, but can he maintain it? Is he the better option over the rest of the season? Let’s take a look:
The question is, what’s exactly happened? A .300 career hitter, his drop in average has been due to poor luck more than anything. While his strikeouts are up, would a 12.0% mark really concern anyone? The problem is in his BABIP, which currently sits at .293. Considering he actually owns a career best 24.2% line drive rate, expecting an improvement should be easy. Making it even easier is the fact that he’s had a mark of 23.4% or better in each month.
Outside of that, however, things get extremely murky. While an increased average will help with both runs and RBI, the major questions lie in both his power and speed.
Seeing a drop in home run production shouldn’t have been a surprise, after he hit just 9 a year ago. His 27.7% fly ball rate is nearly a mirror image of his 2013 mark (27.9%) and his HR/FB is an exact match at 5.6%. With this type of “power” going on for so long, why should we expect anything to suddenly change? Maybe he gets hot for a week or two, launching him himself up into the 10+ range, but the days of him hitting 20+ are apparently behind him.
The stolen bases are a bit more surprising, as he’s been caught 4 times. Interestingly, he hasn’t attempted a stolen base while hitting in the third spot of the order this season, so that’s something to watch. It wasn’t an issue last season, but he’s also now 30-years old. Having lost a step, maybe he wants to make sure he doesn’t take the bat out of David Ortiz’ hands. While we want to believe he’ll start stealing a few more bases, it’s hardly a guarantee.
He may not have the overall average upside of Pedroia, but is anyone going to complain about a .274 mark? The strikeouts are reasonable (17.3%) and while the overall line drive rate doesn’t look impressive (19.2%), a 14.5% in May drags the mark down. He should be able to maintain his current mark, or at least be close to it.
Hitting primarily second may also not allow him to drive in a significant number of runs, assuming that’s where he stays, though his power should put him right on the same plain as Pedroia. However runs scored should be there in a lineup loaded with talent and he easily could be a 75/75 player, with even more upside at year’s end.
He’s not a burner, but he does have 5 SB this season. It’s not going to be his strong suit, but we’ve seen players like Daniel Murphy steal 20 simply by picking his spots. Rendon’s not going to get to that level, but easily could maintain his current pace.
The power is the real question, and whether he can maintain it. At 24-years old it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s taken a step forward and there’s also nothing unrealistic in his 11.5% HR/FB. At this point does 20 HR really seem like a stretch? All he has to do is hit 3-4 HR per month to get there, and he’s already done that twice this season.
Pedroia does have the edge in the average department moving forward, but outside of that?
Power – At best the power is equal, though Rendon should carry an edge
RBI – While Pedroia’s lineup spot is more conducive to RBI opportunities, Rendon’s HR potential evens the score
Runs – Again, they should be close, at worst.
Stolen Bases – Does anyone believe Pedroia is going to start tearing up the base paths?
This comparison is actually surprisingly close, but I would lean Rendon by a hair. I could understand the argument for Pedroia, but outside of average I could easily see Rendon continuing to outproduce the veteran in the four other categories.
What about you? Who would you rather own and why?
Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports
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