In head-to-head leagues, consistency throughout the year is king. The other day I was involved in a mock draft where I observed something I have heard of people doing but had yet to actually see. I watched Troy Tulowitzki be selected before Hanley Ramirez. They went second and third respectively. Picking near the back of the first round (pick 9 of a 10 team draft) I decided to go with Joey Votto. I then turned around and took Robinson Cano. That got me thinking. Looking past the fact that they play different positions who would I rather take if given the choice between Cano who's ADP is 10.3 and Tulo who's ADP is 4.75.
Troy Tulowitzki: .315/27/95/89/11
Shortstop seems to be my albatross in head-to-head leagues almost every year. Last year Elvis Andrus was one of my sleepers and I ended up starting him all season on a batter heavy team. While he proved me right in many ways, I must say I expected more in the stolen base and batting average categories not to mention his goose egg for homeruns. I mention all of this to say that I would rather have Tulo in a standard 5x5 roto league because of the scarcity of the position along with Tulo's consistently high power numbers.
Robinson Cano: .319/29/109/103/3
Since I am bragging about my teams from last year I definitely shouldn't stop here. Cano was my pick at second base in every one of my head-to-head leagues last season. Boy did I cash in! Cano is my top second baseman and he should be everyone's. He is still young, plays on a great offensive team, and hasn't had a rash of injuries over the last few seasons (see Chase Utley). Although I would take Tulo over Cano in 5x5 roto leagues, I still love Cano.
Now lets get to the problem of head-to-head leagues....
Troy Tulowitzki: .315/27/95/89/11/48/78/.381/.568/32
Robinson Cano: .319/29/109/103/3/57/77/.381/.534/41
They are still very similar players. One thing I have not mentioned is that Cano had 156 more at-bats than Tulo. This more than makes up for the difference in a few categories and would have put Tulo over the top in homeruns had they had an equal number of opportunities. But this all continues to overshadow the real problem for head-to-head owners which is consistency. Every play has ups and downs or highs and lows. But not like Tulo. His highs can be very high., while his lows will kill you in head-to-head leagues. If you made it to your league's playoffs with Tulo on your team (which is a big if !) you were happy as he hit 15 homeruns with 40 RBI's in September alone. The reason you may not be happy is that he ruined your team for 4 of the 5 months before that. He had only 1 dinger in April, looked good with 5 in May, and then slipped to combine for only 6 homers in a 3 month stretch from June-August. He was out for most of the month of July.
In head-to-head leagues players who perform best in the last few month of the season are extremely important, but players who can't get you to the playoffs are not. Players are only as good as they are from week to week in head-to-head leagues and Tulo showed last season that you should handle him with care.