Imagine you’ve just arrived in Arizona to enjoy some Spring Training action. In exchange for sitting through two dozen enthralling exhibition baseball games in less than a week, you’ve agreed to first take your sweetheart on a day long horseback riding excursion. You’re about to pay full freight for this pricey little adventure when a shady looking cowboy pulls you aside whispering tales of an unadvertised, half price donkey option.

It’s a pivotal crossroads: Do you forfeit a few servings of nachos at the ballgames and pony up for the trustworthy horse, which you’re confident will deliver you to the promised land? Or do you gamble on the cagey donkey, which may nibble on your girl’s foot halfway through the trek before taking a nap in the middle of the desert?

 

Miguel “The Horse” Andujar ADP 66

vs. 

Rafael “The Donkey” Devers ADP 148

 

The Horse Case: After a shot of espresso in 2017, Miguel Andujar burst onto the scene in 2018 with a monster spring training, paired with a timely early season Brandon Drury injury. Miggy 0.5 followed up a very impressive first half with an even more impressive second half highlighted by a 10 homer August with a .320 batting average.

While he’s never been one to walk much (4.1% 2018 BB rate), the 24 year old also doesn’t strikeout much (16% 2018 K rate), he’s surrounded by one of the best lineups in baseball, and nothing in his profile signals that he’ll start chewing on your lady-friend’s leg rather than carrying you to useful power numbers with a plus average. With only one full major league season under his young saddle, Andujar is quickly approaching reliable horse territory. If you jump aboard this pricey stallion, I’d be comfortable expecting a stat line around 80/27/90/.280/2 in 575 ABs.

 
The Donkey Case: Rafael Devers enjoyed more of a venti latte than a shot of espresso during his 2017 major league action. At only 20 years young, Raf posted 10 homers, 3 steals, and a .284 average in a healthy 222 ABs. Unfortunately, 2018 saw our young donk take a large step backwards in the average department, hitting only .240 over the course of 450 ABs. Devers especially struggled in July and August as he battled numerous hamstring injuries.
 
His .281 BABIP during his 2018 campaign, compared to a .342 BABIP in 2017 and .320+ BABIPs all through the minors, paints a picture of an all-around unlucky, injury riddled sophomore season. Statcast data backs this theory up as Devers’ barrel % and exit velocity both improved from 2017 to 2018. Raffy’s 2018 K% & BB% were also right in line with his 2017 performance. The RED Sox supporting cast is nothing to scoff at either. If you squint, you just might be able to see a horse here. I’d be comfortable taking a ride on this mule with an expectation of 80/26/85/.270/7 in 540 ABs.

The Verdict: Did you really think Judge Donkey Teeth was going to rule in favor of the horse in the premier edition of Horse v. Donkey? Take Donkey Devers! Your main squeeze won’t know the difference, I promise!

The sky is the limit for both of these young animals. A 10-15 point gain in average, which I’d expect from Andujar, just isn’t worth the 80 draft slot difference in price. The power upside from these two is comparable; I won’t be surprised if either of the kids blast 35 homers this season, but Raffy D could also kick in nearly double digit steals. Last year Devers outperformed Andujar in barrel %, average exit velocity, hard hit %, and he boasted almost double the BB%. Sure, I’m cherry picking stats here, but you get the idea: now’s the time to buy Rafael.

So jump on that donkey, grab some extra nachos, and prepare to ride off into the fantasy baseball sunset!

 

Find Donkey Teeth on Twitter @DonkeyTeeth87. Subscribe to his podcast with @DiktaSausagePod: Ditka, Sausage, and Fantasy Sports on Itunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

All ADP data courtesy of NFBC and all statistics courtesy of Fangraphs & Baseball Savant.

  1. Grey

    Grey says:
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    Are you not scared at all about Devers’ GB rate?

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @Grey: Not really. 46.2%? It’s actually down from 49.1% in 2017 and right in line with his numbers all thru the minors. Plus, last years GB & LD rates were skewed a bit by the 2nd half injury woes, in my opinion. Andujar was at 44% GB rate himself.

      Last year Yelich was at 51.8%, Baez, 45.6%, Cain 54.6%, Altuve 46%, Stanton 45%. Granted, they all have a bit better line drive rates, but the point is guys can succeed at those rates. I do think the line drive rate is the area Devers could stand to improve. If he turns some of those fly balls into line drives, look out. Still, he made impressive hard contact in 2018 despite the injuries and he’s only 22.

      Would you really be shocked if hes a top 50 player this year?

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Nah, not shocked… I was close to writing a sleeper post on Devers, but got cold feet… Those splits too, what if the Red Sox take 150 ABs from him?

        • Donkey Teeth

          Donkey Teeth says:
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          @Grey: Possible, but that feels like a poor decision for a 22 year old’s development. He actually thrived against lefties in 2017. And it’s also interesting that hit lefties really well at home last year. Not sure what to make of that.

          I think it’s still too small of a sample size on those splits to make much of em.

      • jbona3 says:
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        @Donkey Teeth: I like Devers this year as well, and while I’d like to see him increase his FB%, the number that concerns me most is his 15.7% IFFB% (Infield Fly Ball % – aka pop-ups), which places him 24th highest among batters with 450+ PAs last year.

        It’s easy to forget how young he is, this entire MLB season will be his age-22 season – most prospects are still honing their craft in the minors at his age.

        • Donkey Teeth

          Donkey Teeth says:
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          @jbona3: Agreed on the infield fly ball rate, I’d like to see it come down a little. That said, there are guys that have success with similar IFFB%, Andujar being one himself at 14.5%.

          Like I said in the chat above, I think more line drives are the key to Devers taking a major step forward this year.

  2. Mike

    Mike says:
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    Yo great post. Devers all the way for me.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @Mike: Thanks, Mike!

  3. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    im in this year thanks for the post

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      @AL KOHOLIC: No problem!

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