MLB roundtable: Which Chicago shortstop would you rather have, Tim Anderson or Javier Báez?

The 2021 MLB regular season is now two months old and I think we’ve all settled into the daily grind that is marathon regular season baseball. The 60-game sprint was fun in its own way last year given the circumstances. Give me the full 162-game experience every day of the week though.

Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB scribes will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we discussed the early AL MVP race. This week we’re going to debate two star shortstops.

R.J. Anderson: Whichever one is available to my team at the earliest convenience. I don’t think you can go wrong with either, as both are productive and entertaining players. I’ll give the edge to Báez just because I think his multi-positional versatility would come in handy (and he does possess an advantage in the power department), but again, I’d gladly take Anderson on my team.

Dayn Perry: Tough call on this one, and I can see the merits of either side. I’ll narrowly go with Anderson. I say that because of his recent offensive trajectory, and in particular he’s a much more reliable on-base threat than Báez. I’d still call Báez the better defender, but Anderson — according to the eye test and some advanced metrics — has narrowed that gap in recent seasons. Both are plusses on the bases, and both by all accounts are great teammates with leadership chops. You can’t go wrong with either, but Anderson’s OBP edge in recent seasons tips the scales just a bit for me.

Matt Snyder: There’s admitted bias tilting things here. Báez is my all-time favorite player (yes, I also love Anderson). He’s my pick. I know there’s a lot of bad with him, namely the excessive strikeouts, never walking and plate discipline issues. Despite that, though, he’s still a comfortably above-average hitter due to his huge power. Anderson beats him in batting average, but he also carries a really low walk rate and the difference in slugging means Báez actually has a higher OPS. Both are good defenders and baserunners, but Báez is superior on the basepaths and he has better instincts than just about everyone else in baseball.

Mike Axisa: When Báez hits, he’s a superstar because his defense and baserunning are so good. He’s an electric player. There are also times he looks blindfolded at the plate, and he’s liable to post a .238 on-base percentage like he did last season. I’m going with Anderson because there are indications he’s closed the gap defensively the last few years, and I’m more confident in his offensive game. He’s a high contact hitter in an era of sky high strikeout rates, and he’ll pop 20-ish homers as well. Both are high energy players who are regarded as excellent teammates, so there’s no going wrong there. Báez is awesome and incredibly fun, but I’m going with Anderson because he’s a safer bet on offense without lagging much on defense.

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