We've all played the "would you rather" game with baseball players. If you're starting a franchise, who would you rather have? Or for one at bat with the game on the line?
What could make that hypothetical more fun? Asking actual talent evaluators who they would rather have. This season, we'll take some of the best players/groups in baseball and ask scouts and executives who they'd take in a head-to-head situation, with a breakdown of their respective tools on baseball's 20-80 scale to illustrate why.
First up: two shortstops. Francisco Lindor of the Indians vs. Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox, Both are incandescent talents, and both anchor great teams at a young age. (Lindor is 23 and Boagerts is 24.) We asked an NL East scout to break them down tool by tool, and make the call on who he'd rather have:
"Both of these guys can hit for average,so this one is close for me. You look at Lindor and you see a guy who has so little effort in his swing, and he sees the ball so well. He can also really handle the bat and bunt. Bogaerts has so much bat speed and the ball jumps off the bat. I would give Lindor a slight edge, but I think both guys are going to hit for average and get on base for a long time."
Grade: Lindor 70
"This one's not all that close. Lindor isn't a [weak contact] hitter at all, I could see him being a 20 homer guy for a couple of years. He's deceptively strong and he lifts the ball well for someone of his size.
"Bogaerts raw power is just at a whole different level. I know it hasn't shown up in games as much as some of us thought it would early on, but his extension, bat speed and plane all suggest that he's going to be a power hitter. Maybe he's not Alex Rodriguez but 25 or 30 homers should show up."
Grade: Lindor 50
A no-brainer. Look, Bogaerts has gotten better with the glove, there's no question about that, but let's be serious. Lindor might be the best defensive shortstop right now. He's so fluid, he gets to everything, and you never see him off-balance. Bogaerts is an adequate defender. Lindor is a game-changing one.
Grade: Lindor 80
"Bogaerts is great. I think he gets overshadowed because of how good [Red Sox outfielder Mookie} Betts is, but it's a little weird we're not talking about a shortstop this good on a team like the Red Sox. He's got a chance to be an MVP.
"I gotta go with Lindor, though. He's a great player, but there's also some intangibles you can't teach. He's high energy, he's smart, and I don't think I've ever seen him make a mental mistake. Someday, this guy will be the best shortstop in baseball, and he might be pretty close to that already."