Originally posted on Sons of Roto  |  Last updated 3/24/12

Photo Credits: Keith Allison and bridgetds

Yo, you smell that? It ain’t pigs feet. Smell it again. Nope, it’s not succotash. Give it one more whiff. Yeah, you know what it is. It’s another piping hot edition of “Beef: The Series.” The shortstop position is full of pratfalls, but Starbonell and Justin Occhionero are waging war over two popular players fantasy owners are fawning over.

Let’s wipe you down, because you’re about to get a hot beef injection.

More after the jump:

Starbonell’s Case: Dee Gordon is a potential difference maker at SS. Aybar? I have him as a top 10 SS, but he barely makes the cut. Don’t get it twisted, there’s some potential with Aybar as a member of the Albert Pujols-led LA lineup, but what’s the ceiling here? 10 HRs and 30 SBs? That’s cute, but my man Dee Gordon has the speed to steal 60 bases. Sure he won’t hit any HRs, but I’ll take the 30 steal advantage over the 8-10 HR advantage everyday when we are talking fantasy shortstops. It’s a position many of us are trying to get speed from, so when you have a player that can carry you in the category, you roll with that **********. What say you Justin? Still want to talk up Erick “I Have One Double-Digit HR Season Under My Belt And Have Never Scored 75 Runs” Aybar?

Justin’s Case: Here yee here yee, king Starbonell has spoken. Now, step aside and let the Emperor of Swag have his fun. I too have much love for the man they call Dee. He probably will steal a ton, and hey if all goes well, he’ll reach the 60 SB mark. Not too shabby at all. But for my money, I’d rather take the chance on the more complete player that is Erick Aybar. The past year, Aybar showed us exactly what he’s capable of doing. Although unspectacular, I’ll take this at the SS position every day of the week. He’s a plus contributor in runs and stolen bases, just like Dee, but those 8-10 HRs will make him the more valuable player. The added bonus of Mr. Pujols only sweetens the deal. You say his ceiling is 10 HR 30 SBs? I’d say that's his floor, and with Pujols batting after him, we could see him reach the 100 runs milestone. Dee just doesn’t have the lineup to beat Aybar in the non-speed categories.

Starbonell’s Rebuttal: I’m sorry, did you just call Aybar a “plus contributor” in runs? Funny, he’s never scored 75 runs before. Didn’t realize we were lowering the bar so dramatically. Yeah I get that Pujols will boost his run totals and we will likely see him set a career-high there, but that’s assuming he sticks at the leadoff spot all year. There’s been a fair amount of speculation of how the top of the lineup will run as the Angels have a few options to go to if they so choose. Knowing Mike Scioscia, if Aybar isn’t killing it day-in, day-out, he’ll juggle his lineup to maximize the offense. And how are 10 HRs a “floor” for Aybar? Dude had never hit double-digit HRs prior to 2011 and is hardly a guarantee to improve on that total. He’s simply not a power guy, so expecting an improvement in that area is overly optimistic. Fact is, his “across the board” contributions probably will look like this:

.280 BA, 10 HRs, 55 RBIs, 100 Rs, 25-30 SBs

Keep in mind, that’s the ceiling I see for Aybar. Now those aren’t bad numbers, but those are only starter-worthy stats in fantasy because of the position he plays. I’ll take the 30 steal advantage Gordon gives you because it will actually make a dramatic difference in the standings of your league. The meager 10 HR edge Aybar gives you is nice, but comes nowhere near equaling the speed advantage you gain with Gordon. As for your theory that Gordon’s counting stats will automatically suck with LA… come on Justin, you are better than that. I know the Dodger offense is crappy compared to the Angels’, but Gordon will presumably hit leadoff and have Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier playing behind him. Sure the RBIs will suck since he has a pitcher hitting before him, but it’s not like Aybar is about to be a world-beater in driving in runs. You can take the “all around” production in Aybar. Me? I’m taking the guy who will carry me to the SB title while scoring 90-100 runs and hitting for .290 or more. That’s the impact player in this beef. That’s Gordon.

Justin’s Rebuttal: Speed demons are always overvalued. I’m not denying the sexiness of Dee, but I am saying I’d rather take a guy who’s been consistent for a few years now. Dee will be entering his first full year in the majors, so to expect him to hit .290 is a little far-fetched, especially considering that he posted a rather high .345 BABIP last year (and 55.9 GB%---we get it, he’s fast, but not that fast). When that comes back down to earth, I can’t see Dee hitting anything more than .280. We know what to expect from Aybar though, and his upside takes an upward turn this year. Hitting before Pujols not only equates to more runs, it will also mean that Aybar will be seeing a lot more pitches in the strike zone. He will have some nice balls to hit, and with his ability to hit line drives (20.7 LD% in 2011) and reach base on ground balls with his speed, I easily can see this being his best season to date. Yes, Dee’s steals will be nice, but I rarely want any one player to carry a position for me. There is too much cheap speed to grab later on. If you want to draft Dee because he may get you 20 more SBs, that’s your prerogative, but if you are wise, and willing to spread out your speed (because let’s face it, there are tons of 20 SB guys out there), you’ll want a guy who will help you out in all categories. That, my friends, is Erick Aybar!

Final Thoughts and Poll: So who won this edition of “Beef: The Series?” You siding with Starbonell and his “speed kills” theory? Or does Justin’s “all-around” approach make you wet? Settle this beef by casting your vote.

Who Won This Beef?
Most strikeouts by a hitter in a single season
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