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It’s outfield time for the fantasy team, and this year’s field is an interesting group. There is a lot of talent at the position this year, as with almost every year, but a clear drop off comes after the top twenty or so. In today’s edition of the Tale of the Tape, we’ll be looking at a couple of in-their-prime outfielders who will be in their first spring training with their respective clubs. Neither are the cream of the crop at their position, but they’re very solid and are being drafted as high-end OF2s. It’s Justin Upton vs. Carlos Gomez.

Batting Average

  • Upton 2015: .251
  • Gomez 2015: .255

Last season was a down-year for both players in this regard, with Upton’s AVG representing his lowest since 2008 while Gomez hit lower than he had since 2011. Upton has the edge over their respective careers, but that’s heavily skewed by Gomez being a relatively late-bloomer. The latter has hit for a better AVG over the last three years. Part of the reason for that can be found in the strikeout numbers, as Gomez strikes out just around 21 percent of the time while Upton is set down roughly 26 percent of the time. To offset that, the Tigers’ new outfielder has consistently put up high BABIPs throughout his career, giving hope that he should see an uptick from the .304 mark he produced last season. However, the same can be said for Gomez and his .307 BABIP in 2015. Both should be better than last year, and the final result should be relatively close again. However, Gomez has the advantage in both strikeouts and recent track record with a similar BABIP profile, giving him a clean win here. Advantage: Gomez

On-Base Percentage

  • Upton 2015: .336
  • Gomez 2015: .314

Looking ahead to 2016, Gomez already has a bit of a head start here given the advantage I gave him in AVG above. Still, I don’t foresee it being a massive advantage, so walk rate will still play a big role here. Upton is a relatively safe bet for a double-digit walk rate, achieving that feat in three of the last four years. He failed to reach that mark in 2014 because of an increased number of swings on pitches out of the zone, but corrected that issue last year. Gomez, on the other hand, is a perpetually aggressive hitter who has never finished with a walk rate higher than 7.3 percent. His advantage in AVG isn’t enough to overcome the substantial gap in their abilities to draw walks, giving Upton a win here. Advantage: Upton

Home Runs

  • Upton 2015: 26
  • Gomez 2015: 14

It was a down power year for Gomez, who had hit a combined 66 home runs over the previous three seasons. One part of his stat line that jumps out here is his 8.1 percent HR:FB rate, his lowest rate since 2010. A portion of that could certainly be carved out for bad luck, but there was also some real diminished power. Luckily, much of that can likely be tied to the injury issues that hampered him for most of the year. If he can get back to a clean bill of health, getting back to the 20-home-run plateau should be attainable. Upton, meanwhile, is a consistent threat for 25-plus homers. He’s reached that mark in each of the last three years and has topped a .200 ISO in four of the last five. Although Gomez has a fairly significant advantage in terms of home park, Upton has proven to be a consistent home run threat regardless of his home. Advantage: Upton

RBI

  • Upton 2015: 81
  • Gomez 2015: 56

That’s a really rough 2015 for Gomez, but it’s a bit misleading given the time he missed combined with playing most of the year on a bad Brewers team. With that being said, Upton has a built-in advantage given his power edge. However, Gomez is no slouch there and team context can change things. In this case, he finds himself with a full season in what should be a very good Astros lineup. Based on the end of last season, he should find himself right in the middle of the order in front of Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and George Springer. That’s a lot of talent to hit behind. Upton also finds himself in a stacked lineup, though his spot is less certain. As of now, it looks like he’ll be hitting towards the top of the order, which would hurt him here. If he’s forced to rely on guys like Jose Iglesias and Anthony Gose in front of him, he could disappoint here. Past numbers would suggest Upton should easily win here, but we all know RBI isn’t a predictive stat. Gomez will be hitting in the middle of a lineup after hitting leadoff for most of his career. In my eyes, the overall power is close enough where lineup context gives Gomez a slight edge. Advantage: Gomez, slightly

Runs

  • Upton 2015: 85
  • Gomez 2015: 61

To start with, the same qualifiers regarding Gomez’s 2015 numbers from the RBI section apply here. Aside from that, everything is coming up Milhouse for Upton in this category. He has a safe on-base advantage and the lineup is going to be a major help. If he does indeed hit near the top of the lineup, everything he’d lose in RBI value would be made up for here. Hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez will do that to a player. Gomez, meanwhile, will be hitting in front of Colby Rasmus and a bunch of platoons. While that sounds dismissive, it’s actually helpful that the batters trying to knock him in should have the platoon advantage more often than not. That’s not nearly enough to knock off Upton’s advantage both in terms of on-base ability and lineup context. Advantage: Upton

Stolen Bases

  • Upton 2015: 19
  • Gomez 2015: 17

Last year’s numbers are not at all representative of this duo’s past production. Upton got back into double digits after two straight years of little-to-no production in this category. He’s always had the speed to put up these numbers, but the aggressiveness came out of nowhere. Gomez, meanwhile, was hurt by the time he missed and stole half the number of bases he had the year before. One would have to expect him to try to get back to his previous level and at least reach 20 steals in 2016. While Upton can certainly get back to double digits, in 2016, it’s hard to be nearly in confident in him given the two players’ track records. Advantage: Gomez

Injury Risk
Upton’s entire game seems to have been relatively underrated in recent years, but no portion of his career is more unheralded than his durability. He basically never hits the disabled list, having played in at least 149 games in each of the last five years. Gomez has also benefited from a relatively clean bill of health over the last few years, but suffered a bit of a hit last year. Besides the infamously rejected Mets deal due to health concerns, he missed some time with rib and intercostal issues towards the end of last year. Add in the fact that Upton is a few years younger, and he gets a clear edge here. Advantage: Upton

Playing Time
Neither player is going to platoon. Neither player is going to suffer from a prospect pushing them. Neither player is going to get extra rest as players in their 20s on teams that expect to be part of a close race. Push

Ceiling
This one seems relatively simple to me, as this matchup is a clear case of consistency vs. upside. Upton mostly is what he is, with a little bit of potential to hit a next level. He likely strikes out too much to hit .300, but a .275 AVG with 30 HRs and 20 SBs isn’t entirely out of the question. Obviously, that’s a really good player, but Gomez offers more than that. Houston’s outfielder has the potential to get to .300 with his K-rate, even if he’s never hit that mark. On top of that, his peak involves one of the best power/speed combinations in the game, as he’s a threat to hit 25-plus HRs and steal 40-plus bases. Upton has a higher floor and is more likely to hit his ceiling, but in terms of who has the most overall potential, Gomez has to be the winner. Advantage: Gomez

Overall
In the end, this matchup ended in a 4-4 tie. It makes sense given that there are only four spots separating the two based on NFBC ADP data. It likely comes down to whether you play in a standard league or one that uses OBP. In a vacuum, however, I would lean towards Upton. He’s a more consistent hitter, more likely to be available on an everyday basis and plays in a lineup with almost endless potential. And the winner is. Justin Upton