You're probably all familiar with the nearly 20-year old debate over which 3rd baseman was the better player.
But what you might be familiar with is that its possible that we could quite possibly have the exact same situation brewing today, only this time the battle has switched from the hot corner to the gritter middle infield.
Two players every Royal fan is undoubtably familiar with is this years Royals player of the Year Mike Aviles, and this years ALMVP Dustin Pedroia. Alot of people felt that Pedroia's MVP case wasnt the best in the league, while a lot of people thought that Aviles had an equal case for Rookie of the year as eventual winner Evan Longoria.
But what a lot of people may not realize is that the two players might be much closer in terms of talent than they appear at first glance.
Take their lines this year:
Thats pretty close, not close enough to really spark a debate, but close enough to warrant a second look.
The first thing you would probably notice is that both players have some decent platoon splits, Pedroias are a little wierd as he hits righties more often, but hits the ball harder against lefties. Aviles on the other hand just crushes lefties, making more contact, being more selective, and hitting it much harder.
The second (and possibly most controversial) thing is their home/road splits. Much like in the historical rivalry, the parks the players call home seem to have a significant impact on their hitting ability.
Aviles manages to hit just .311/.339/.420/.759 in 219 ABs at "The K" with only 10 doubles compared to .340/.370/.545/.915 in 200 AB with 17 doubles.
On the other side Pedroia, our reigning MVP hits .344/.393/.519/.912 in 320 ABs with a whoping 35 doubles under the shadow of the green monster, but fades to just .309/.359/.468/.827 in 333 ABs with a more pedestrian 20 doubles away from Fenway.
Lets also not forget the often overlooked area of defense. While advanced defensive metrics were not in place for the historical rivalry, we now benefit from being much better able to judge the quality of our two performers.
And this is where the situation gets VERY cloudy. While never really considered a great defensive shortstop, Aviles apparently didnt get the letter, posting a very solid 32.0 UZR/150 rating at shortstop this season. Dustin Pedroia however attempts to defy advanced rating by relying more on his grit and posted a 10.4 UZR/150 at 2B, improving over last years 4.0.
So what does this boil down to? To put it very simply Mike Aviles, in about 2/3 of the playing time of Dustin Pedroia(and playing 1/4 of that time at a position he is not proficient at) put up almost EXACTLY 2/3 of the WAR of the Reigning MVP (4.4 WAR to 6.6)
*Edit cause I suck at polls....