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Draft Round Battles: Reyes Vs. Segura

This is another one of those battles where, if you're in a legacy league, it's no contest.  Take Jean Segura as a keeper for the next several years without thinking about it, no worries.  Just looking at 2014, however, it's much more of a question between Segura and the player to whom is he often compared, Jose Reyes

Segura didn't quite make "the Leap" to superstardom last season but he at least made "the leap" (ah, lowercase!) to being a productive Major League regular in his first year as an everyday player.  Segura hit .294/.329/.423 with 12 homers, 49 RBI, 44 steals and 74 runs in 2013 --- solid numbers, sure, but if you were Segura's fantasy owner last season, you felt the pain from June 1 onward.  Segura hit .354/.393/.550 with eight homers and 31 runs scored over 224 PA in April-May.  Afterwards, he was borderline unplayable, hitting just 261/.292/.354 with four dingers and 43 runs over the last four months.  Even his speed took a hit; Segura was 15-for-16 in stolen base attempts in the first two months and then only 29-for-40 after June 1.

So basically, if you value Segura as a top 50 pick,* you're doing so on the basis of two hot months.  As my Roto Authority colleague Andrew Gephardt recently noted, Segura's power numbers may also have been slightly deceiving, so another 12-homer season could be asking for much given that Segura never even hit as many as 11 dingers over a full minor league campaign.  (Though it's not like he was a poor hitter on the farm, judging from Segura's .313/.367/.439 slash line over 1755 minor league PA.)

* = as Mock Draft Central just barely does in their latest average draft position reports, with Segura clocking in at a 50.03 ADP.  Reyes is right behind at 51.46.

Consider that Reyes' numbers last season (10 homers, 37 RBI, 58 runs, .296/.353/.427) were comparable to Segura's and Reyes did his damage in 204 fewer PA.  So with that in mind, it seems pretty clear that Reyes wins this draft battle.  Boy, that one took much shorter than usual, eh?  I guess I'll fill the rest of the space by listing my Oscar predictions.  It's anyone's guess as to whether 12 Years A Slave or Gravity will take the Best Picture prize, as both films...

...what's that?  Oh yeah, I forgot the big elephant in the room when discussing Jose Reyes.  The reason he only made those 419 PA is because of a badly-sprained ankle that cost him almost two and a half months of the season.  Reyes missed just 15 games total between 2005-08 but his durability has since taken a major hit.  Over the last five seasons, Reyes has appeared in 36, 133, 126, 160 and 93 games, respectively.  It's hard to like his chances of staying healthy as he enters his age-31 season and spends his home games on the Rogers Centre's artificial surface.

On the bright side for Reyes, playing in the Rogers Centre does help his power profile, as his home run rate jumped to 9%, his highest total since 2006.  While he only stole 15 bases last year, that's actually not a bad total over 93 games for a guy who played most of his season in the wake of a severe ankle injury, so I'd pencil Reyes in for his usual 30+ steals in 2014.

If you could guarantee me that Reyes would be healthy for all of 2014, I'd have no trouble taking him ahead of Segura.  Heck, even if you think Reyes will miss 20-30 games, there's still a case for taking him over Segura given the veteran's comparable offensive stats despite the fewer PA last season.  With the lack of depth at shortstop, however, having Reyes on your team means that you'll also likely have to factor in the replacement-level production of whatever dude you pick up off the waiver wire to fill in at short when Reyes makes his usual stints or one extended stint on the DL.  If you're able to get another solid shortstop for your bench as a semi-handcuff then that's great, though that's one fewer roster spot you'll have to work with for the rest of your draft. 

I'm focusing the draft battle argument so much around Reyes' health that it's worth noting that Segura is certainly capable of improvement himself.  Don't forget about Segura's minor league numbers or his solid pedigree as a prospect --- while he likely isn't as good as he was in April/May of 2013, he also clearly isn't as bad as he was in the last four months of the year either.  If he continues to develop as a Major Leaguer, it's not hard to see Segura posting numbers that Reyes will need a full season to reach.

It's a very tough call between 12 Years A Slave and Gravity the two players but, as I did in another veteran vs. youngster middle infield draft round battle, I'll go with the younger option as the better prospect for 2014.

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