Bret shirked his duties of feeding me an angle for this because he was drafting in mixed-league LABR or some inexcusable nonsense like that. I took off my own training wheels and immediately noticed an interesting contrast between back-to-back outfield picks who could not be more similar: Khris Davis and Miguel Sano. At 24th and 25th among outfielders, respectively, and just outside the overall top 100 with about a 10-pick cushion between them, the two are virtually perfect substitutes in terms of price and skill set. In the tale of the tape, however, one must prevail. I always head into these things with a preconceived notion, but I try not to let it color my bias. I'll be fighting it strongly this time.
If a healthy Michael Brantley is the contemporary pinnacle of contact hitting, Davis is nearly his antithesis. Yet somehow Sano is worse. Only twice in 2016 did Sano's rolling 15-game average strikeout rate (K%) ever fall below Davis' full-season 27.7% rate, if that's any indication of how whiff-happy the former is. In Sano's defense, he actually recorded fewer swinging strikes than Davis did, and he chases bad pitches very infrequently for not only his hitting profile but all hitters. Unfortunately, he made the least amount of contact on such swings, making him all but helpless against a pitch that's not, for all intents and purposes, "good." Perhaps it's ironic, then, that I wasted so much digital breath when the difference could come down to BABIP — which, for Sano, has hovered above .350 through his first 800-plus plate appearances. All that has to happen is Sano marginally improve and Davis marginally slip, but if the last two seasons are any indication, neither will happen. Advantage: Davis, barely
This surprised me: the Twins' offense (well, and its position-player defense, too) projects to be a good deal better than Brewers. A turd painted gold is still a turd, however, and both Minnesota and Oakland should be pretty bad offensive teams. Run-scoring opportunities should come few and far between, relatively speaking, and Davis has scored more runs per plate appearance than Sano has since the latter's debut. It's Sano's double-digit walk rate (BB%), then, that gives him the advantage, however slight it may be. Just don't count on either for much in this department. Advantage: Sano, barely
Davis and Sano both have legitimate 35-homer power. Sano has that flashy 80-grade tag, but Davis has demonstrated across four seasons now that he is every bit the juggernaut that Giancarlo Stanton has been. We can dream on Sano becoming the next Stanton – Stanton—whose isolated power (ISO) is only 10 points higher than Davis' since Davis debuted—but Davis already has what we want. Advantage: Davis, barely
Much like runs and, well, pretty much everything else that came before this, RBI will come down to who makes the most of his opportunities. Of course, neither can control who gets on base when he's up to bat. But every home run matters, and the difference between them will likely come down to the 1.6ish runs batted in for every home run hit. Indeed, that's pretty much what comprises the difference in their prorated RBI totals (since 2015) as of writing this. Advantage: Davis, barely
Only Davis has more recently played a fully healthy season, yet neither has escaped all his non-debut seasons unscathed. Sano qualifies at third base—we actually featured him there instead of as an outfielder, which is my oversight and exactly why Bret should put my training wheels back on — but the hot corner runs pretty deep itself, so the versatility will benefit only the few owners who thrive off multipositional players. Advantage: Draw
As aforementioned in home runs, it's just hard for me to justify waiting only 10 picks to draft Sano when Davis guarantees all the production we could ever want from his dynamic, über-hyped peer. Like, the fantasy community talks about upside, but if Sano's realistic upside is approximately Stanton, who isn't that much better than Davis, then we're betting on a riskier asset to produce a small profit over the safer one. I'm risk-averse — it's a caveat I reiterate, because these things matter—but I think the risk-reward opportunity here is objectively stark.
And the winner is… Khris Davis.
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