This discussion broke out in the comments yesterday, and now I’m curious — for the 2011 baseball season, would you rather have Ike Davis or Ryan Howard as your first baseman? Who’s going to have a better year? First, a little information on the candidates:
Ike Davis: Last season Davis hit .264/.351/.440 with 19 home runs and 33 doubles in 147 games. His best skills were his patience, walking 72 times as a rookie, and a good glove, saving around 9 runs in the field and tumbling over multiple railings. On the other hand, he is painfully slow, struck out 138 times, and defensive numbers can be fluky. He will be 24 this season. Has a beard.
Ryan Howard: 2010 was a down year for Howard. His power numbers dropped and an ankle injury put him on the DL for the first time in three years. Howard hit .276/.353/.505 with 31 home runs and 23 doubles in 143 games, but is a career .279/.372/.572 hitter and averages 46 home runs and 27 doubles. His walk rate has been dropping for three straight seasons, but his strikeout rate has fallen along with it. He is painfully slow (though probably a tick faster than Davis) and a below-average defender — he appears to have cost his team somewhere around 15 runs defensively last season, but is closer to a negative 4 run fielder for his career. Howard will be 31 this season. Doesn’t have a beard.
Keep in mind two more things: We’re just talking about this season — so who do you think will be a more valuable player in 2011 — and contracts don’t count. Davis is cheap and Howard is signed to that curious mega deal, but please forget about how much each will be paid. Just value on the field, and just in 2011, regardless of salary: