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If you’ve been following the fantasy team’s positional coverage, you’re well aware of what we do in this space. For those new to the series, however, the Tale of the Tape is a feature in which we pluck two closely rated players and place them in a head-to-head matchup to see which one is superior. We’ve done both big-league and prospect versions, but today we’re treating you to a minor-league clash between a couple prized shortstop prospects: Francisco Lindor and Tim Anderson.

Batting Average

Lindor is a 20-year-old switch hitter who hit a combined .276/.338/.389 in Double-A and Triple-A. That performance at his young age at such an advanced level speaks highly of his overall skill set. It’s a hit tool that should bring a high batting average without a pronounced platoon split, as he’s displayed an ability to handle the right and left side of the plate over the past two seasons. Anderson, on the other hand, possesses fluid wrists with a swing that looks too easy. He compiled a .297/.323/.472 slash line in High-A before a late-season promotion, so the tools and production both suggest a potential to hit for high average at the major-league level. The knock on him is a lack of polish at the dish. His plate discipline isn’t phenomenal, and it remains unclear how his swing will be exploited at the upper levels. Lindor, on the other hand, controls his swing well and has shown a quality approach with high contact rates. Though both shortstops have the potential to hit for a high average, Lindor has fewer question marks and gets the nod.

Advantage: Francisco Lindor

On-Base Percentage

In the slash lines provided in the previous section, it’s clear that Lindor possesses an advantage in walk rate. That advantage extends to the overall approach at the plate. Anderson is unrefined and currently gets by with his supreme physical ability. The BP scouting report from the Prospect Team suggests he struggles to handle secondary pitches and occasionally lunges out onto his front foot too quickly. Gazing into the crystal ball, it doesn’t appear Anderson will be able to match Lindor’s recognition and patience at the plate.

Advantage: Francisco Lindor

Home Runs

Anderson may have only connected with seven homers in High-A and Double-A, but the power potential is exhilarating and deceptively manifested itself last year, despite the low home-run totals. The 21-year-old compiled 41 extra-base hits last year in just 345 plate appearances. Just watching a batting practice session from Anderson, and the effortless power is obvious. It’s loud. As far as Lindor is concerned, some see him eventually hitting double-digit homers. That is not a given—as seen in the pedestrian .113 ISO—but he did connect with 11 long balls last year. Either way, the smooth-fielding shortstop doesn’t project to have impact power numbers. Anderson clearly has superior potential in this realm.

Advantage: Tim Anderson

Runs Batted In

Lindor doesn’t profile as a middle-of-the-order bat. Due to his hit tool and his solid approach, he could nab a leadoff role or slide in a two-spot somewhere, but if not, he’s going to slide down between seventh and ninth in the batting order. The RBI opportunities aren’t plentiful in either possible outcome. However, Anderson could absolutely anchor a batting order if everything comes together. He has the potential to hit for power and average, maximizing his opportunity to drive in runners already on base. The current South Sider prospect gets the nod.

Advantage: Tim Anderson

Runs

This category is tricky. Both prospects have speed on the base paths, and both have the potential to hit in the top half of a batting order. Lindor stole 28 bases and scored 75 runs in 567 plate appearances last year. Anderson stole on 10 bases and scored 55 runs in 345 plate appearances—though he clearly has the ability to swipe more bags. Working under the assumption that Lindor eventually blossoms into a hitter who can swipe 20-plus bases and hit north of .280, I think he’ll hit atop someone’s batting order. Anderson may not get on base as much but should counter that with more power and should also hit in the top-half of an order. Lindor may have an edge, but it’s so slight and speculative that I’m not convinced that it warrants a victory.

Advantage: Push

Stolen Bases

In terms of stolen bases last year, Lindor won handily. The issue is that he doesn’t possess true top-end speed, which makes projecting a gaudy stolen-base total very difficult. Plus, he was caught stealing 16 times in 2014. That either signifies a rawness on the basepaths or non-impact speed, or both. Anderson, on the other hand, has true plus-plus speed. He may have stolen only 10 bases last year, but that doesn’t highlight the upside here. It’s massive. Our own Bret Sayre wrote in his scouting profile that he could swipe 30-plus easily. Lindor doesn’t have a strong chance to do the same in the majors.

Advantage: Tim Anderson

Injury Risk

Gauging injury risk for a position prospect is more imprecise than for pitching prospects—as if that’s easy in itself—unless a player has a glaring issue of nagging injuries or has a bad body. Neither of the prospects have that issue. Anderson, though, fractured his wrist in 2014 and missed some time. Wrist injuries are a bit fickle for hitters, so it’s worrisome for fantasy owners. However, since he’s not poised to break into the big leagues for another year or two, it’s far from a death sentence. When comparing him to Lindor, though, the wrist injury sticks out because Lindor has been a workhorse over the last three years. He missed a couple weeks of games in 2013 with a lower-back strain, but that’s hardly as serious as a fractured wrist and he displayed no ill aeffects from the injury in 2014. This one goes to Lindor.

Advantage: Francisco Lindor

Risk/Upside

We know what Lindor is likely to be at the major-league level. His risk is minimal. He picks it well at short and has an advanced approach at the plate for a 20-year-old hitter. Most fantasy owners can feel confident that he’ll hit for a solid average, score runs, and steal 20ish bases. That’s not otherworldly, but certainly valuable at the shortstop position. The problem for Lindor is that Anderson has a chance to be truly special in fantasy circles. It’s not a sure thing. He needs to polish his approach and continue to play professional baseball. He could be exploited by good secondary offerings at the higher levels. But, man, if it comes together, it’s a true five-category producer who is a mainstay in the first rounds of fantasy drafts. That takes the cake, especially at a premium defensive position.

Advantage: Tim Anderson

Estimated Time to Impact

The Cleveland Indians don’t have anyone claiming the long-term shortstop role in the majors. Lindor will begin the year in Triple-A, and if everything goes well, the young man could get his first sip o’ coffee in 2015. Furthermore, his fantasy value should be expected to materialize rather quickly because owners won’t be waiting for power to develop. Anderson has barely sniffed Double-A and requires more refinement in approach. It’s unlikely that he makes a meaningful big-league appearance this year, and either way, fantasy owners will need to exercise some patience with the Alabama native. It could take a few years for everything to coalesce. No question that Lindor is the victor in this category.

Advantage: Francisco Lindor

Overall

It’s 4-4-1, which is supremely unhelpful in an exercise such as this. I debated adding another category to break the tie, but I found myself essentially “choosing” a winner based on whatever category I decided to add. Furthermore, I thought about editing the Runs category and awarding Lindor the victory, but that felt disingenuous. I’m throwing my hands up in the air. I’m calling the game. It’s a tie. Call me Bud Selig circa 2002. Just be aware that designation includes the gargantuan paycheck and my picture in his upcoming “fan experience” exhibit in Miller Park.

Winner: Push

Thank you for reading

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Muboshgu
2/05
I'd say Lindor is your choice if you're playing it safer, while Anderson is the guy if you want to swing for the fences.
briankopec
2/05
The tie-breaker is your league format.

In Deep mixed and and AL-Only leagues you want Lindor, especially if OBP is used as a stat.

In shallow Mixed leagues, grab Anderson instead.
briankopec
2/05
I see my random capital letter-i-nator is working.
hotstatrat
2/05
Anderson has the greater chance of getting moved off shortstop and having the shorter career, so the edge goes to Lindor.
jfranco77
2/05
If you're scoring it like boxing, most of Lindor's wins are 10-9 (maybe he gets a 10-8 for time to impact) but Anderson's SB, HR and upside wins could be 10-8 or even 10-7. Judges give this one to Anderson even with the possibility that he ends up at 2B/CF.