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Fantrax Staff Debate: Corey Seager vs. Alex Bregman

One of the most enjoyable parts of fantasy sports in debating which players are better than others. We’ve all done it. You’re hanging out with some friends, probably enjoying a beer or two, and you get into a long discussion over which player is better than another one. Sometimes it might get heated, but that’s okay. We aren’t all going to agree on every single player. That would make fantasy leagues incredibly boring.

The same can be said here at Fantrax. We have a great group of writers and podcasters (that might not be a word but who cares) who are all very knowledgeable, but we don’t always agree. So we figured we’d have some good ol’ fashion debates about two players that are close in potential 2018 fantasy value.

Today, we debate two elite young shortstops both entering their age-24 seasons. Both Alex Bregman and Corey Seager have enjoyed success thus far in their careers, but who should you be drafting in 2018? With their ADPs so close, we decided to break them down and take a look.

Previous Staff Debates

Willson Contreras vs. Buster Posey

Mike Zunino vs. Yasmani Grandal

Edwin Encarnacion vs. Rhys Hoskins

Anthony Rizzo vs. Cody Bellinger

Brian Dozier vs. Dee Gordon

Ozzie Albies vs. Yoan Moncada

Carlos Correa vs. Trea Turner

Corey Seager vs. Alex Bregman

Tale of the Tape

Seager Bregman

Eric Cross (@EricCross04)

Man, this shortstop position is just chock full of elite young talent. Both Bregman and Seager are already bonafide top-five options at the position and will only be 24 this season. If Seager has progressed from his impressive 2016 rookie season, this might now be that close of a debate. However, the only area he improved in was raising his walk rate from 7.9% to 10.9%. Everything else either stayed around the same or even got a tad worse.

It was still a fine season for Seager, don’t get me wrong. But unfortunately, when you don’t run at all, 22 home runs and 77 RBI can only take you so far. For those expecting 30 and 100, you were probably a little disappointed.

Bregman, on the other hand, enjoyed a breakout season of sorts. He came with one home run and three steals of a 20/20 season and raised his average 20 points. Bregman also showed a much better approach at the dish, cutting his strikeout rate from 24.0% to 15.5%.

There’s reason to believe that Bregman can improve on his 19 homers from 2017. He displayed 25+ homer power in the minors and swatted 11 in 267 second half at-bats in 2017. Bregman makes hard contact and has begun pulling the ball a little more. If that 10.2 HR/FB% can rise some, Bregman could approach 30 bombs in 2018.

Overall, the value of these two men is likely going to be close. They’re both likely going to hit between .280 and .300 with around 180-200 combined runs and RBI and hit a similar number of home runs. What moves the needle over to the Bregman side for me is the speed. Neither is considered a burner, but at least Bregman will get you 15-20+ steals, while Seager likely will never reach double-digits.

Ryne Mikins (@Ryhhno)

Just judging by their Fantrax ADP’s, Seager and Bregman are very interchangeable players. The 23-year-old Seager has two seasons under his belt, while Bregman, also 23, played his first full season last year. On the surface, their numbers are nearly identical.

As far as fantasy goes, Bregman had the slight edge in 2017 due to his stolen base potential. Bregman swiped 17 bags last season compared to Seager’s four. However, Seager’s final two months were soiled due to right elbow issues. In fact, he dealt with various injuries throughout the whole season. Impressively, he still performed well, batting .278 with four homers and 24 RBI over the last two months.

Seager also did a better job of getting on base last season. His .375 OBP was even higher than his Rookie of the Year winning season last year. On top of batting near .300, Seager increased his walk-rate to 10.9 percent. His strikeout numbers jumped, as well, but that’s to be expected.

Seager proved in 2017 that he wasn’t susceptible to the infamous “sophomore slump.” He’s now 23 with two All-Star caliber campaigns under his belt. When I’m valuing players I often consider consistency more than anything. You know what you’re getting with Seager and I don’t think he’ll have any problem keeping it up year in and year out. Bregman had a fantastic breakout season but until he shows that he can repeat it, I have to take Seager.

There’s really no “wrong” choice when debating these two players. Both players represent some of the game’s best young talent. This likely won’t be the last time the two are spoken about in the same breath. It likely won’t be the last time we’re debating which one is better, either. Where they both stand here and now, I have to take Seager.

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Keith Farnsworth (@fantasy_keith)

How can I possibly choose between two premier bats at their position like Corey Seager and Alex Bregman? Both come littered with upside and provide a relatively high floor on clubs with very potent offenses. Seager will hit for a higher batting average than Bregman and could be a challenger for a batting title this year or sometime near in the future.

Bregman himself may not be a batting champ one day, but his .315 batting average in the second half of 2017 was worthy of very high praise. Both players have a solid approach at the plate. Seager’s 11% walk rate is a touch higher than Bregman’s (9%), but Bregman also strikes out a bit less (Seager 21% vs, Bregman 16%).

Each of them has power growth coming in the future. Seager could hit 30 home runs this year, after hitting only 22 last year in his 145 games with the Dodgers, but it would most likely be accompanied by an adjustment to his batted-ball tendencies, for either more fly balls or selling out to his pull side. Bregman plays to his power a little more naturally by putting the ball in the air about 40% of the time, as opposed to 33% of the time for Seager. The power results have been similar for the two, each slugging between .475 and .480 last season.

The main difference boils down to speed. Bregman doesn’t exactly have a long minor league track record of high-steal seasons, but his 17 stolen bases last year is a major separator if both hitters are going to hit for a high average and have 25 or so home runs. Honestly, I think they both will have very nice seasons, but I find myself drafting more of Bregman, especially in Dynasty.

Ryan Cook (@RyanCook13)

Seager certainly sets the bar high from season to season, but on the back of some elbow problems throughout the playoffs, now is the time to pounce while others sell him short. Among shortstops, Seager ranked second in walks (10.9%), second in OPS (.854), and second in OBP (.375) last year, and although his overall contact rate dipped by three percent, there’s certainly no reason he should be ranked anywhere outside the top 30.

The reason for Seager’s decline in contact was largely due to him hitting more balls in the air, finishing with a career-high 33.1% fly ball rate. All of that seems minuscule when you look at Seager’s home/road splits, though, or if that doesn’t excite you, his lefty/righty splits.

On the road, Seager was A++, batting .288 while mashing 10 home runs in the process. He was equally as impressive against southpaws, matching the .325 AVG he hit in the small sample size that was 2015. Seager also lowered his strikeouts vs. lefties to just 45.

Full circle, Seager is still the complete package, and although each season we prepare ourselves for some slight regression, there’s nothing stopping Seager from joining Correa and Francisco Lindor in the elite tier of shortstops this season.

Van Lee (@ManlyVanLee)

This choice kind of surprised me because I have always been an avid Corey Seager fan, and the over-drafting of Alex Bregman last season left a sour taste in my mouth. But Seager, while being really good (and somewhat undervalued) somehow hasn’t produced at the level that I anticipated. His 22 home runs last year in 613 plate appearances once again fell below my expectations, and his counting stats left something to be desired. He’s simply not a stolen base threat, so there’s really no value to be gleaned there, either. Meanwhile, after a mediocre start, Bregman managed to slash and run his way to a very respectable 19 HR and 17 SB last year.

Thanks to that surge in the second half by Bregman, I believe that he does have the talent and the tools to be a very good major league player, and if he’s going to hit .284/.352/.475, there’s enough there to think that he could improve upon last year’s counting stats (especially playing in that insane Astros lineup), and reach the 20-20 mark this year.

Those stolen bases are valuable, and if you can find yourself drafting Bregman here and possibly getting Benintendi on the next swing through, you’re going to end up with 40+ HR and 40+ SB just from these two spots while also netting plenty of counting stats. It’s a great draft strategy to go after these types of guys, and that sets you up very nicely going into the middle rounds.

Seager may yet grow into the player I expect him to. I think he could be an annual 30 home run threat who drives in 100 consistently, but right now it’s not happening. He does have the higher batting average potential, in my opinion, and there really is something to be said about that as a perk. But it’s not enough for me to jump off the Bregmania hype train again this year.

Overall Fantrax Verdict: Alex Bregman 6-3

Alex BregmanAnthony Franco, Eric Cross, Keith Farnsworth, Mick Ciallela, Nathan Dokken, Van Lee.
Corey SeagerAndy Singleton, Ryan Cook, Ryne Milkins.

Thank you for reading and we hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members.  Got a question that we didn’t cover here? Then follow us on Twitter (handles above) and ask there.

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