Sometimes it’s helpful to look at a position as a whole. We too often look only at the players and think, “where can I draft a good second baseman?” When we do that, we devalue the skills that the position as a whole can offer our Fantasy teams. What do I mean? Check it out. In 2015:
- Only two second basemen managed 20 HRs or more;
- However, 14 players at 2B hit 10 or more HRs;
- Four others stole 20 bases or more;
- Seven players at the position posted a .300 batting average or greater (based on 200-plus plate appearances);
- A total of 17 players from the position hit .280 or better, still well above average (which is about .250);
- No second basemen collected 80 RBIs in 2015.
- Only nine second basemen scored 70 or more runs last season.
We know offense is down in general. Several years ago, the second base position looked ready to become a pretty productive Fantasy offensive position, but once again the middle infield is a shell game for most of the season.
The lack of power actually creates a lot of second base crushes for me. Without gaudy HR totals from the position, few Fantasy players will be jumping to get players at this position. Because I look at underlying skills before Fantasy stats, I’ll be better able to target 2B talent.
My advice would be to bolster your batting average through the second base position and subsidize whichever counting categories a player contributes. If a hitter brings steals or home runs to the table, keep track of your counting stats. Don’t just draft the average; target the combination of average and power or average and steals/runs. Remember, the player with a better walk percentage will more than likely contribute more runs.
If you’ve drafted a high-batting average player at 2B or MI, you can easily draft a player like Lucas Duda, a likely 30 HR hitter with a poor average. Power is rarer than you think, so fortify yourself in the other categories in MI.
Okay, to the crushing and flushing:
Brian Dozier – I know I said that so few second basemen contribute good power and clearly Dozier does. He steals bases as well. He also drains your batting average with just okay hitting skills. He looks to be drafted in the high 50s or 60s, in an area where I see potential staff aces such as Cole Hamels, Adam Wainwright, and Sonny Gray, as well as prime bounceback top-of-the-draft talents – Carlos Gomez, Adam Jones and Justin Upton. I just don’t see this as the place for a light hitting power hitter at any position. The power and steals are nice, for sure, but in terms of pure talent, I like just about anyone else here, particularly because they bring much higher upside. FLUSH
Joe Panik – Joe Panik is being drafted around number 250 in early 2016 drafts. That is just silliness. I know eight HRs, 37 RBIs and three steals is not going to make headlines, but that was in 382 at-bats and he did bat .312. He’s a very good hitter who walks a lot and strikes out infrequently. He makes good contact. He’ll have a place in the lineup and he’s just 25 this year, so don’t be surprised to see his skills grow, if not blossom, this season. I would begin to think about drafting Panik after about 175, probably around number 200. Bank a .300 average by a hitter who has a nice approach. I’ll guess he finds a way to produce 12-14 HRs, 50-60 RBIs and a half dozen steals while hitting over .300. That’s nice production from a MI at that part of the draft. CRUSH
Daniel Murphy – The beginning of the offseason focused on postseason hero Murphy, Ben Zobrist and Neil Walker, as they played musical chairs. Murphy landed in a very good spot that should boost his value. I don’t think he’ll hit 14 HRs again, even over a full season, unless it’s clear that he’s changed his approach and is hitting more fly balls. But he is a good bet to hit .290 if not .300. He and Ben Revere are really nice contact hitters ahead of Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth. With a good average, Murphy will contribute a dozen or more HRs, and in that lineup you should see his other counting stats rise. And he’s being drafted in the 180s early on. Add that up and it’s a CRUSH
Robinson Cano – Robinson Cano is being drafted in the 50s. Robinson Cano hits twice as many ground balls as fly balls (50 percent to 25 percent). Robinson Cano loves to swing the bat. Robinson Cano is not particularly selective. Robinson Cano hit only 14 HRs in 2014 (21 last season). Robinson Cano stole just two bases last season, down from 10 in the previous season. Robinson Cano is in his age 33 season, so legging out hits is not an automatic. As I write this, the players being drafted just before and just after Robinson Cano are Adam Jones and Justin Upton. I would draft Adam Jones and Justin Upton ahead of Robinson Cano in 99 out of 100 drafts, assuming that one draft was a middle-infielders-only draft. Robinson Cano is not worth a pick in the 50s. Draft Daniel Murphy 100 picks later. FLUSH
Dee Gordon – Great year. Don’t count on the same output. He is going to be over-drafted, so resist the temptation. Draft 35 HRs instead. FLUSH
Wilmer Flores – I was crushing on Flores last spring as a sneaky source of power and a player who makes great contact. He did bring his average into the .260s, and his HR output rose from six to 16. He’s a below average defender, so his starting role is never solid and going into the season, he seems to be a utility man for the Mets. I do think he belongs (and deserves) a full-time second base slot. But he’s just 24 this season and will continue to develop. I like him a lot at the bottom of drafts as a bench/streaming player who could reward with 20 HRs if given a full-time job. CRUSH
Anthony Rendon – While Rendon figures to be the everyday third baseman for the Nationals, his greater value is obviously at second base. Preseason projections had Rendon near the first round last season, but an early injury hobbled him for weeks and he never got on track. He still owns first round talent, but his increased risk has him being drafted in the 80s. I’ll take that risk any time, especially in the Nationals lineup. CRUSH
Matt Duffy – Sometimes you see a player who is getting drafted about where he should. To me, that’s Matt Duffy – right now around 130. If he was a 30-year-old veteran, I’d say pass because of the likelihood of regression, but he’s a former minor league batting champion who’s displayed good patience. His skills haven’t fully made the translation to The Show, but he’s young, he can hit and he steals some bags. I think it will get better, fast, and he will help your team batting average. It’s not a huge crush at #130, but he can produce value higher than this. CRUSH
Jonathan Schoop – He matched his 2014 power output in 125 fewer at-bats (18 HRs vs. 16 in 2014); a knee injury cost him a few weeks. His batting average surged to .274, but based on his .329 BABIP, I might guess something closer to .250 for this season. The power is real, but so is the risk. But in the 250 draft spot neighborhood, pencil me in for a CRUSH.