2010 Fantasy Match-Up: Jose Reyes vs. Jimmy Rollins

Early ADPs have Jimmy Rollins going before Jose Reyes, but just barely. Heading into 2009 it would have been an easy decision for owners, with Reyes considered one of the top selections in all of baseball. Should the injury concerns from last season have sent him down below Rollins? Let’s take a look.

We all know that Reyes possesses game changing speed, which is where the majority of his value sits. From 2005-2008, his lowest stolen base total was 56, picking up as many as 78 in 2007. Can he reach those levels once again?

The first question is the leg injuries that derailed his 2009 campaign. Every time it appeared like he was on his way back there was another setback, leaving fans and fantasy owners alike to grow more and more frustrated. While the early word is that he is not going to be affected in 2010, after so many starts and stops in his recovery there has to at least be a little bit of doubt.

You also cannot forget that the Mets had been trying to reign him in a bit prior to the injury problems. After attempting 99 stolen bases in 2007, the fear was that the wear and tear on his body made it impossible for him to perform down the stretch. That year he hit just .205 with five stolen bases in September as the Mets choked away a chance at the playoffs.

In 2008 he attempted 71 stolen bases, and he was better in September, though marginally. He hit .243 with 10 SB, after hitting over .300 every month from May through August.

Take those September struggles in addition to the injury concerns and you have to wonder if the Mets will once again make a conscious effort to keep Reyes planted at first base a bit more. If they do, it will certainly play a role in his potential value.

On the other hand, it is not like Rollins is a slouch on the base paths. He’s had 30 stolen bases or more every year since 2005, including three seasons over 40. He doesn’t attempt as many, but is rarely caught (in 2008 he had 47 stolen bases in 50 attempts). Last season he was caught eight times, the most since 2004. He was a perfect 10 for 10 over the last two months of the season, so I wouldn’t be concerned there.

Yes, he doesn’t run as much as Reyes, but he doesn’t need to either given the offense he has behind him (which we’ll get to later on). While he easily could reach the 35-40 stolen base plateau, the chances are, even if the reigns are put on Reyes a bit, he’s not going to match him if Reyes is healthy for the full season.

This is an easy call. Reyes isn’t much of a power hitter, with a career high of 19, now calls an extreme pitchers park home. In 147 at bats last season he managed just two home runs and double-digits is going to be considered a success for him in 2010.

In Rollins, you have a player who plays in an extreme hitters ballpark and has had 20 or more home runs in three of the last four seasons. For what he loses to Reyes in the speed department, he more than makes up for in the power department.

At this point, the two have to be considered pretty even.

Rollins struggled badly in 2009, but a lot of his problems were based on luck and not skill. He posted a BABIP of .253 last season, with most of the struggles coming in the first half (.229).

After the All-Star Break he was the same type of player he always is, hitting .272. That’s the thing, Rollins never really posts overly impressive averages. From 2004 through 2008 he had averages of .289, .290, .277, .296 and .277. It’s not that he’s a big-time strikeout guy either, it’s just that he’s never been able to parlay his speed into above average BABIP. Maybe it’s the fact that he tries to hit too many home runs or the ballpark he plays in, but at this point it’s a simple fact.

Reyes has never been much better. He’s a career .286 hitter and after hitting .300 in 2006 has posted marks of .280, .297 and .279. Will the huge field he plays in allow him to hit for a higher average?

He hit .329 in 85 at bats at home last season, but that is an awfully small sample size. It is possible for it to continue and if what we saw from David Wright in 2009 is any indication, it almost should be expected. Reyes is going to get the nod here, but really just badly.

This is a draw, plain and simple. While Rollins has a better offense behind him, Reyes’ ability to hit for extra base hits, as well as turn his singles into doubles or triples, evens the playing field. Plus, while it’s easy to look at Ryan Howard and Chase Utley as two of the best, it’s not like David Wright and Carlos Beltran are slouches. Both players have proven that they can score a ton of runs and that should continue in 2010.

More power generally is going to lead to more RBI. Rollins has had a year of 90, as well as 83 and 77. Reyes, meanwhile, drove in 81 back in 2006 but has proven to be more of a 60ish type guy. The extra home run power is going to mean a few extra RBI for Rollins.

As you can tell, these two are extremely close, almost even, justifying how close their ADPs are thus far. While there are concerns over Reyes ability to steal bases in 2010, his potential there is the sole reason I would select him first. Outside of maybe Jacoby Ellsbury, how many players have the potential to put up numbers similar to that of Reyes? The answer, quite possibly, is no one.

While I view Rollins as a great fallback option, if I have a selection of the two, it’s going to be Reyes every time.

What about you? Which of these two would you rather have and why?

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