“Joe Talkin’ To Me?!” Don’t Get Caught in The Middle: Top 30 Fantasy 2B and SS, Part 1
In fantasy baseball, one of the most frustrating things you can try to do is procure solid statistics from your 2B and SS positions. In this post-steroid era of MLB, the production at the positions is scarce. Much like a MLB team needs that strong middle-of-the-field defense, a fantasy team needs solid production from there virtual double-play duos.
Rest assured, there is plenty of production to go around. And if you can snag solid middle infielders at the right price on draft day, you do not need a Jeff Kent/Alex Rodriguez combo, circa 2001; those just don’t exist anymore. Remember, the lack of production at any position is relative.
Over the next three weeks, you will get the top-30 2B and SS in fantasy baseball. Rankings will run deep enough for owners in the deepest leagues to get insight on some of the “10 beers deep” late-round picks. You will get 10 of each per week, in reverse order.
Apologies for starting at the bottom of the barrel, as many people are in leagues that will not utilize these players. At any rate, these are the potential (I hate to use this word) sleepers that owners need to know about in all leagues.
2B Rob Refsnyder, New York Yankees – He hit .302 in 47 PA in 2015, and showed power and speed in the minors. He is one of the Yankees top prospects, and if the team or SS Did Gregorious struggle, the temptation to move newly acquired Starlin Castro to SS and call-up Refsnyder could be too great.
SS Jordy Mercer, Pittsburgh Pirates – He makes the list because he has a full-time gig and trying to find 30 shortstops to rank is a chore. He might actually do more harm than good to your fantasy squad if you were forced to play him, unless you play in a league that awards fielding.
2B Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs – Sure, he doesn’t have a job, but this late into your draft why not take a shot on a dude who has some of the most natural power in the game? If there are any injuries on the infield, he is ready to step in, and could even slide into 2B with Zobrist going to a corner OF spot in case of injury there.
Check out this oppo power…
SS Adeiny Hechavarria, Miami Marlins – After hitting .321 in April of 2015, he finished batting .281 on the season. At the age of 26, a little improvement in consistency could go a long way. The counting stats are not great, but as difficult as he is to strikeout, he could have a breakout season.
2B Jace Peterson, Atlanta Braves – He struggled in his first full season, batting .239. But he showed nice plate discipline walking 56 times. In four minor league seasons, he stole 148 bases. If he can turn those walks into better pitches to hit, raising the .239 BA, he could be a sneaky source of steals.
SS Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals – At 29-years-old with a career .298 OBP, he will surely be over drafted after Kansas City’s World Series Championship. Don’t be fooled! He has never hit more than 5 HR, scored more than 76 R, or driven in more than 52. He used to steal bases, but only had 17 last season and is turning 30.
2B Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies – He stole 19 bases last season in 405 PA. More impressive is that he walked 40 times. There will be no power, but he could find himself leading off for the Phils this season and stealing lots of bases.
SS Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds – He is the poster boy for “better real-life player than fantasy player”. That being said, if you are throwing darts late in a draft because you are desperate for a SS, grab a guy who has proven he can bang 15 HR from a power depleted position.
2B Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals – With the signing of Daniel Murphy and the departure of Ian Desmond (still a free agent), Espinosa is slated to play SS for the Nats. He has 20 HR power and will qualify at 2B and SS, two positions where power is hard to find. He is a great late grab for your bench.
SS Tyler Saladino, Chicago White Sox – Expected to be the starting SS for the Sox, he has posted seasons of 28, 29, and 39 SB in the minor leagues. Unlike most of the guys this far down, he has not proven to be a poor fantasy option. If you are digging this deep, why not take a shot that the speed can carry over to the show?
2B Chris Owings, Arizona Diamonbacks – At 24-years old, the time is now for the former first rounder to step up on the MLB level. He stole 16 bases last year and will be in a loaded Arizona lineup. If he can show the power and speed he displayed in the minors, he will be a draft day bargain.
SS Didi Gregorious, New York Yankees – The “all glove, no stick” SS is getting no love in the fantasy world. At such a shallow position, a 25-year-old with developing power (9 HR in 2015) who is hard to strikeout (85 strikeouts in 155 games) is just the guy you want to grab late and see if he takes another step forward. He makes lots of contact and is in a great ballpark.
2B Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates – He will have 3B eligibility, hit .315 two years ago, has some power, and has some speed. Why not? He is a doubles machine, and where he bats in the order will greatly effect his production.
SS Eduardo Escobar, Minnesota Twins – He hit 12 HR last season in 127 games. At age 27 with the SS job all to himself, you could see 18 HR this year. That’s not bad for a guy you will get for nothing on draft day.
2B Aaron Hill, Milwaukee Brewers – He has trouble staying healthy, but when he plays, he hits home runs; he even steals a few bases. The only worry is health. A healthy Hill will return nice rewards for fantasy owners.
SS Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels – He has never struck out more than 60 times in a season, making his career .256 BA puzzling. He is now in a better lineup in LA, likely hitting in front of Mike Trout, and at just 26 years old, take a chance that he will get back to the 17 HR SS he was in 2013.
2B Wilmer Flores, New York Mets – I know he does not have a starting job, but he will be the backup at every infield position for NY. He will play plenty vs lefties, fill in for whoever needs rest, and have a job if anyone on the infield gets hurt. He hit 16 HR last year, is one of the most difficult hitters in MLB to strikeout, and will have fantasy eligibility at 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS.
SS Erick Aybar, Atlanta Braves – When you miss out on SS, you take the veteran Aybar. You know what you will get. You will get someone who fills a position on your roster and doesn’t hurt you. He will contribute in SB, but not much elsewhere.
2B Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays – In his first full-time opportunity, Forsythe mashed 17 HR, batted .281, and sported an .802 OPS. He was gold off the waiver wire last season and will likely be going late in drafts this year. Take a chance on a repeat.
SS Ian Desmond, Free Agent – Having no team, he is worth drafting today. Some one will sign him, and sign him to be a starter. This is a 20/20 SS we are talking about. He would be much higher if he had a team.
Numbers 30-21 are not the sexiest names out there, but if you want to compete with the big boys, you need to know them. Next week will be a little more interesting with 20-11, aka players who will be owned in most leagues.
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