Take your pick: Reyes or Kinsler?

By Ian Kay
Working on a trade in a 10-team mixed league this morning, I was offered a choice between Jose Reyes and Ian Kinsler.
Both are middle infielders with stud potential but plenty of  injury issues. One is a shortstop with 70-steal wheels. The other is a 30/30-caliber keystone. 
Who’s the better value the rest of the way? Let’s pro/con this together, folks.
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Why Reyes?
Speed: It’s probably the most valuable commodity in the roto game, and Reyes has more of it than just about anyone. He’s stolen at least 56 bases in each of his five full seasons and is 19-for-21 in theft attemps this year. Kinsler is a speed merchant in his own right, but Reyes is in a whole different category.
Position: There are fewer quality shortstops than second basemen this season. Besides Hanley Ramirez, which of baseball’s star offensive options play short? There’s Troy Tulowitzki (currently on the DL), Jimmy Rollins (down year) and, uh, that’s about it. In a 12-team league, guys like Marco Scutaro and Cliff Pennington are starters at short. Check out the Yahoo! position rankings for three players who qualify at both slots: Ben Zobrist: No. 4 SS, No. 8 2B; 
Juan Uribe: No. 10 SS, No. 14 2B; Jeff Keppinger: No. 15 SS, No. 19 2B. Juan Uribe as a 10-team starter? That’s a serious lack of depth.
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Why Kinsler?
Power: What Kinsler loses to Reyes in speed, he makes up for in power. The second baseman hit 31 homers last season and has a career .472 slugging percentage. Reyes’ career high was 19 bombs back in ’06. His career slugging mark is nearly 40 points lower at .433. While the pair is dead even at six homers each right now, that likely won’t be the case for long. Kinsler’s gone yard five times in his last 20 games — including one each of the past two nights — and is slugging .617 in that span.
Environment: Rangers Ballpark is a hitter’s paradise, especially when the weather really heats up late in the summer. Kinsler’s lineup spot is also pretty cushy — behind Michael Young‘s .353 OBP and in front of Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero‘s combined 145 RBIs. Reyes, meanwhile, plays home games at cavernous Citi Field and won’t see many RBI opportunities leading off for an NL team. 
The Verdict
Personally, I’m going with Reyes. The gap between these two is razor thin, but the chance at 20-plus second half steals without hurting my batting average is too much to pass up. That said, if I needed a second baseman more or was hurting in the power categories, I’d have no reservations adding Kinsler to my squad.

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