Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Better Keeper: Carlos Pena or Garrett Atkins

I was talking to John Brubaker the other day, and the topic turned towards our keepers. Both of us are trying to decide on who our seven keepers will be for our twelve team 5x5 category league. John's dilemma was deciding whether Carlos Pena's upside in power was enough to make him more attractive as a keeper than Garrett Atkins.

Let's take a look the pros and cons to both players.

Garret Atkins
Pros: He hits for average, maintaining a .306 batting average over his three full seasons in the majors. He has good lefty/righty splits, and he has a solid walk rate. He's fairly young and could improve on his power. He plays at a great hitter's park.
Cons: His numbers are much poorer away from Coors. His OPS on the road is .163 less than at home, and his batting average is .095 worse when he's away. His unappealing away stats could leave him susceptible to cold streaks. He hasn't shown that he can be a consistent power hitter.

Carlos Pena
Pros: He hit for a ton of power, hitting 46 home runs to go with a .627 slugging percentage, which was second only to Alex Rodriguez. He can get on base through walks, with the fifth best walk rate in the league. His lefty/righty and home/away splits are bearable.
Cons: He's two years older than Atkins, and he's already been given up on by four teams. Even though he walks a lot, he strikes out a lot as well, enough for tenth most in the league. His high strikeout totals might not affect his power production, but they could easily affect his batting average. His .282 average might be a fluke, as it's thirty points above his career average. According to ESPN's Inside Edge, Pena has more holes at the plate than Atkins.

Atkins might have more value than Pena next year purely because of his age, which allows him a bit more upside than Pena. Atkins is a safer risk than Pena, as it is much more likely that Pena fails to repeat his 2007 numbers in 2008 than it is for Atkins. In 2007, third base was a less productive source for power than first; only four third basemen hit 30 or more home runs compared to nine first basemen. Atkins does have the ability to hit thirty home runs, and he has already proven that he can hit for average. Pena has less of a track record than Atkins, so it's hard to predict what he might do next year.

This is one of those decisions could very well end up leaving you kicking yourself in July, but I think Atkins' age, track record, and position scarcity makes him a better keeper pick than Pena. It seems very unlikely that Pena will come close to replicating last year's numbers, and he could end just a poor man's Paul Konerko, which isn't bad value, but it doesn't necessarily make him keeper worthy. Also, since John has Adrian Gonzalez on his roster as well, Pena might be expendable. A close edge to Garrett Atkins.

Questions/Thoughts/Pithy Sayings?


Nathanael said...

really nice write up ben - definitely a tough choice. i think I would keep Pena though - 46 bombs are just so rare

Jonathan said...

pena should grow a mustache

Jonathan said...

thoughts on the torre hire and dodgers potential offseason moves?