“65 Mustangs” – A deeper view into Shortstop.
Plan B part 2,
This is the 2nd in 5 parts on what I like to call Plan B. What to do if you realize late in the draft that you have a big hole at one of your positions. Who do you look to draft when the top 10 to 12 players at a position are already gone? Last week I talked about 2nd base. If you missed the intro, which I won’t repeat here, or missed the article itself, you can find it here: http://ecbiz204.inmotionhosting.com/~majorl10/2013/02/12/joes-garage-a-deeper-view-into-second-base/ I’ll use the same format for each of the major positions I cover.
So you missed out on drafting a Shortstop and are in the mid to late rounds of a snake draft? You didn’t want to commit a high round pick to an injury prone or speed reliant, but fragile shortstop, so, you passed on Tulo and Reyes, and while you might have picked Hanley, someone snatched him a round sooner than you would have. Castro, Andrus, and Desmond look pretty good too, but don’t have a long track record of success and are lacking in one or more of the standard five categories, or have been inconsistent to date. So, again, someone snatched them from your queue sooner than you would have picked them. You don’t trust Asdrubal Cabrera after two consecutive 2nd half collapses, and are not sure if Alcides Escobar can sustain any of the good, but seemingly fragile numbers he compiled in 2012. Rollins and Jeter must finally be over the hill, right (God, that was hard to type. Sorry Derek, just proving a point here)? Let someone else take the chance. Finally, you just couldn’t get excited about the useful, but flawed, trio of Hardy, Aybar, and Alexei Ramirez. Instead you chose the player with the highest value in the round those three went in regardless of position. Now what?
At this point you mainly have two choices. The safe choice is to essentially punt the position and make a “safe” defensive pick. Pick a guy that is assured regular at bats, probably won’t be a big drag on the batting average, and, especially in a H to H league, will be slump, averse, and consistent if unexciting. Just like at 2nd base, Marco Scutaro might keep SS warm until you can make a trade or grab a hot rookie as he comes up from the minors. It is doubtful he’ll repeat his career year at 37 years old, but he shouldn’t kill your BA. Then there is perennial disappointment, Jed Lowrie, who escaped from Houston to compete with Weeks and Pennington for at bats in Oakland. At 29, we may have seen the best he has. Pennington will net you 15 to 20 steals, and Peralta will net you 15 to 20 HR, but that is probably all he has left at 31. Lowrie’s statistical twin brother, Mike Aviles, is a popular pick in every draft, but that breakout never happened, and now he is 32. Maybe you could take one more chance on Rafael Furcal. He might get you some value until he gets hurt. Then there are a host of regular SS who are assured of 400-500 mediocre at bats (Yunel Escobar, Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, Ruben Tejada, Brendan Ryan), who could all lull you to sleep with their output. In fact, I’m sleepy now thinking about it.
The other choice is to take a chance and make a pick with a bit of high risk, but equally high upside. Go for the double and risk getting thrown out to get in scoring position, instead of playing it safe and stopping at first base. A couple of examples from last season are Ian Desmond and Alcides Escobar. Both were post hype prospects coming off disappointing seasons each of .250, 65 runs, single digit HR, and less than 50 RBI. Even the 20-some SB were disappointing, considering the speed these guys brought with them. Both of them showed horrendous K/BB rates all the way back to the minors. Washington was rumored to be shopping Desmond to anyone who would listen. Escobar had stolen nearly 200 bases and hit .300 in the minors from the age of 17, when he was signed out of Venezuela. However, after sporting a .290 OBP and .240 BA in 2 years as a starter and being traded for Zack Greinke, the future was murky. Anyone who grabbed Desmond and rode him in 2012 was hugely rewarded. Escobar owners had to be a little more patient, but Escobar put up solid numbers across the board. Both clubbed over 30 doubles and hit .293. Escobar stole 35 bases, while Desmond hit 25 homers, even while missing a month with an injury.
Who will be the 2013 Desmond or Escobar? I don’t know, but here are some possibilities. We all saw what Josh Rutledge could do in a couple of months at the end of last season. If Tulo is healthy, he’ll have to get his at bats at 2b in 2013, but is still SS eligible. A super sleeper, as he is not guaranteed the starting gig, is Andrelton Simmons of the Braves. He has been mentioned as the possible lead off man, in front of that 3 headed monster of an OF, plus Freeman, McCann, and Uggla. He’ll have to fight off Paul Janish and Tylor Pastornicky to do it, but he’s probably the favorite at this point. A couple of other hyped rookies are Texas’ Jurickson Profar, who may not have a position, Boston’s Xander Bogaerts, who may still be a year away, and Milwaukee’s Jean Segura, who was also once traded for Zack Greinke. All three are potential five tool infielders. If you are tempted by the stolen base, you may be in luck. Dee Gordon could steal 100 bases if he learns how to steal first, and Everth Cabrera finally got a chance to play and led the NL in SB, albeit with a .246 average. Billy Hamilton has stolen 100 bases, but it was in the minors. He is a SS by trade, but the Reds are trying him in the OF to get his legs in at the big league level. All are high risk/high reward choices at this point. Two others deserve mention also as possibly better choices then the Jed Lowries and Yunel Escobars of the world. Zack Cozart showed some flashes of power in a deep Cincinnati lineup that plays in a bandbox, hitting 33 2b and 15 HR, but disappointing with a streaky .246 avg and .288 OBP. He is, however, entering that magical age 27 season, when power and patience seem to blossom. Finally, we have a name from the “past” possibly returning. Stephen Drew, JD’s little brother, has a chance to reach for that same Green Monster that his brother used to aim for. Following 2 injury ruined seasons, the once promising Drew is finally healthy, and could surprise with double digit homers and some decent run producing stats. I’m not sure which of these guys will put up a Desmond/Escobar type season, but all have a better shot than Brandon Crawford, Mike Aviles, Ruben Tejada, and Cliff Pennington. It is up to you to pick the right one. Good luck.