There is no way around it. Each and every MLB season, some players meet expectations, some exceed expectations, and unfortunately, some do no live up to expectations. This all has major implications for the Fantasy Baseball season, and owners who invested an early-round pick for a player not living up to the hype could see their team derailed.
Now, what makes matters even worse, is if the early-round selection plays a position that lacks a lot of star power. It is one thing for an outfielder, first baseman, or even third baseman to get off to a slow start, or even have a down year. The potential to fill a hole at those positions through waiver wire additions or a trade is much easier to accomplish than it would be with a few other places around the diamond.
Namely, second base.
Second base is the epitome of a position that lacks star power. Heading into the 2015 season, just two second basemen were
ranked in the Top 30 and only one more was inside the Top 50 Fantasy players (per Yahoo).
It starts with the top-ranked second baseman entering the season. Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners has really struggled. Amazingly, he is currently ranked outside the Top 400, which should come as little surprise when actually looking at his numbers (.251 BA, two HRs, 16 RBIs, 22 runs, one SB).
Detroit Tigers’ second baseman Ian Kinsler has definitely been better than Cano, but I am not sure there is much to brag about here. He entered the season as the third-ranked second baseman and the 48th overall Fantasy player, yet is barely a Top-130 option right now. His batting average isn’t terrible (.271), but for a player who posted 92 RBIs a season ago, and who has hit 30 homers twice in his career, the fact that Kinsler has just one dinger and 22 RBIs almost two months into the campaign just does not cut it.
The list keeps going. Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is a former American League MVP, and is currently ranked outside the Top 160. Neil Walker of the Pittsburgh Pirates finished as a Top-10 second baseman last season, yet right now is the 281st overall Fantasy option. The Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley is not even a Top-700 player and is currently batting below the “Mendoza Line.” Utility man Ben Zobrist of the Oakland Athletics has spent some time on the disabled list this season, and is also not a relevant Fantasy option at the moment.
The second base position is in a bit of shambles right now.
When top-ranked players struggle, other players have the opportunity to jump the leaderboards, which is exactly what Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians, Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Jimmy Paredes of the Baltimore Orioles have done this year. Each are currently Top-6 options at second base, but unfortunately, Kipnis and Wong are owned in over 90 percent of Fantasy leagues, while Paredes is owned in 72 percent of leagues.
So, while owners should check and see if Paredes is available, let’s dive into some even more under-the-radar names. DJ LeMahieu of the Colorado Rockies is the first second baseman owners need check the wire for. He actually saw some of his at-bats earlier in the season batting behind the pitcher. Well, now he is batting second in Colorado’s lineup, and has posted a .335 BA, three home runs, 25 RBIs, 19 runs scored, and four stolen bases this season. On top of those solid numbers, LeMahieu has been the top-ranked second baseman over the past two weeks of action, and is available in 59 percent of Fantasy Leagues.
Scoop LeMahieu up immediately.
From the top second baseman over the past 14 days to the No. 2 second baseman during that span; Joe Panik of the San Francisco Giants is owned in just 18 percent of Fantasy leagues, which is honestly a crime. Not only is he the second-ranked second baseman over the past two weeks, but Panik is also the 12th overall Fantasy option over that time. He has produced a .353 BA, two homers, 11 RBIs, 11 runs, and 1 stolen base during the past two weeks, and would make for a solid fill-in or even full-time second baseman for the duration of the season.
The last player I would like to discuss today is Logan Forsythe of the Tampa Bay Rays. Forsythe has eligibility at first base, but has seen the majority of his playing time at second base. He has posted solid numbers (.291 BA, five HRs, 22 RBI, 19 runs, three SBs), and just seems to be one of those players Tampa Bay runs out there, and he just flies under the radar. Forsythe is not a player I would recommend picking up ahead of LeMahieu or Panik, but he is owned in just 19 percent of Fantasy leagues, and owners who are desperate for help can at least turn here for a decent option.
In no way do I expect all of the players I mentioned as having poor starts to the season to continue to do so all year long. However, there is only so much time Fantasy owners can allow a hole in their lineups to continue. Part of the reason I alluded to stats over the past two weeks in this column is due to the philosophy, as I discussed with Panik, that my recommendations can be used either has fill-in part-time options, or even full-time players for the rest of the 2015 season.