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“On Bzdek” Getting to Second Base: 2017 Second Base Ranking 2 of 2

2017 Second Base Rankings 2 of 2

Last week I looked at the bottom half of the second base player pool entering 2017. This week, I’ll get into the top half. Second base is extremely deep this year. In the player pool discussed today there are multiple five tool threats, some killers in the power department, speed department, and batting average department, as well as some well-rounded players you can rely on.

Before I get into the top three tiers, second basemen Brandon Phillips was on the move last weekend as he was traded from the Reds to the Braves. The trade doesn’t change Phillips’ value all that much, however it does reduce the middle infield logjam in Cincinnati, opening more at bats for Jose Peraza. I discussed Peraza last week, and I think the increased playing time adds to his value making him a great sleeper pick.

Alright then, now that that is out of the way, let’s get started…

 

Tier III

Logan Forsythe
Forsythe has been a solid second base option for the last two years. In 2015 he made a name for himself with a .281/.359/.444 triple slash. While regressing slightly in 2016, the power was still there and the triple slash was decent at .264/.333/.444. Forsythe did this this with the Rays, one of the league’s weaker hitting teams. He was shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers in January 2017 straight up for prospect Jose De Leon. The change of scenery should give Forsythe a slight bump in value as he enters a stronger line up with the Dodgers. Still, I don’t see Forsythe as much more than a bench option unless you are in a deeper league.

Jason Kipnis

Kipnis hit 23 in 2016, besting his previous career high of 17. His 15 steals last year were solid, but as Kipnis (age 30) gets older his stolen base totals have trended downwards. Aside from the increase in home runs and decrease in steals, Kipnis’ 2016 season was consistent with his career .272 average and .345 OBP. The above average OBP, combined with batting in the 2 hole of a strong lineup, gives Kipnis a great shot to reach 90 runs again. He’s another strong option at the end of a draft, and I feel comfortable with his year to year consistency even if the end results are not spectacular.

DJ LeMahieu
It’s always fun to own players on the Rockies. In 2016, LeMahieu won the batting title with a .348 average, aided by a .388 BABIP that included .420 BABIP at home. Pretty ridiculous, but he is still in Coors for 2017 so high BABIPs are expected. He also hit a career high in home runs, but with only 11 that isn’t much to get excited about. He’s got a bit of speed to his game, posting double digit steals each of the last four years. LeMaheiu will be 28 during the 2017 season, well in his prime. I’d expect him to have another solid year, but he may be overvalued on draft day due to the batting title crown. With the depth at second base, there is no need to reach for LeMahieu on draft day.

Ian Kinsler
The veteran (34 years old) is as consistent as they come at the second base position. He has maintained a batting average above .275, provided 10+ steals and 10+ homers each of the last 4 years, with 2016 being the best of those four seasons. Kinsler hopped on the power bandwagon with 28 home runs. I’d expect this to regress toward the high teens in 2017.  This, and going on age 35, doesn’t make me want to rush out to draft him. However, Kinsler has a decent floor with the power and speed combination, and hitting in a line up with Miguel Cabrera and some other great hitters in Detroit should keep his run totals close to 100 and RBI totals around 80. Kinsler provides some added value in OBP leagues, coming in at .348 and .342 in 2016 and 2015, respectively. Kinsler doesn’t bring the excitement that some of the younger second baseman carry, but sometimes it’s the boring veterans that help you win your league. Kinsler is a safe play.

Matt Carpenter
Matt Carpenter posted a solid year in an injury shortened 129 game season last year. His .271/.380/.885 triple slash in 2016 is almost identical to his 2015 triple slash of .272/.505/.871. Carpenter was a bit of a hipster in that he saw his power spike in 2015 (28 homers), a year before the rest of the league. While his home run total for 2016 was down to 21, the HR/AB remained consistent and if Carpenter had played a full season the HR total would be right where it was in 2015. Carpenter also comes with 3B and 1B eligibility in most leagues, which adds to his value. In fact, he will start the season as the Cardinals 1B, so his 2B eligibility after 2016 is questionable. Going on age 31, I like Carp for his reliable power stroke, but his lack of speed (0 SB in 2016) puts him in the third tier.

Dustin Pedroia (value pick)
Pedroia has been one of the better second basemen in the league for a decade now, and deservedly so. He consistently puts up batting average and on-base numbers that are above average. You can expect home run totals in the teens which isn’t turning any heads, but Pedroia makes up for that with 30+ doubles every year. Going on his age 33 season, Pedroia can still net you a handful of steals. Overall, a .300/.350/.440 triple slash is expected for 2017. Pedroia has been held back in recent years with some injuries, but those appear behind him and a healthy Pedroia is a definite asset. At an average draft position well after the other players in his tier, Pedroia is a value pick.
Tier III includes a lot of very reliable players. If I waited until the late rounds to draft a 2B, I would be happy with any of the above. While you know what you are getting with these guys, the upside isn’t quite as high. Carpenter is likely the biggest power threat, but he lacks speed. LeMahieu projects for a great average, but lacks on the power side. Kipnis, Pedroia, and Kinsler are all around good ball players but are not game changers in any one category.

Pedroia smacks one

Pedroia Smacks One

 

Tier II

Rougned Odor
Yet another second basemen who hit a career high in home runs in 2016. With 33 home runs and 33 doubles, Odor had himself a nice triple slash of .271/.296/.502. Add on his 14 steals and you’ve got yourself a darn good fantasy second basemen. Odor will be entering his age 23 season and has improved his numbers each of his first three seasons. One statistic that increased for Odor that is not necessarily good is his K%, which jumped from 16.8% to 21.4% year over year. When looking a bit deeper, Odor’s swing % also increased on both pitches inside and outside the strike zone. Odor was a lot more aggressive in 2016 and it paid off for him. I have concerns that the aggressiveness will catch up to him as pitchers adjust to Odor’s approach. Odor walked at a rate of 3.0% in 2016, which is awful. Odor was also caught stealing 7 times out of 21 attempts, so I wouldn’t expect much of an increase there for 2017. I can see regression coming for Odor, and I would stay away considering the array of good second basemen out there this year.

Dee Gordon
Everyone was flying high on Dee Gordon after he won the batting title in 2015 and led the league in steals for the second year in a row with 58, after posting 64 in 2014. Gordon was going as a top 25 pick last year , probably above his true value, but the speed and average combination was tantalizing. In 2016, Gordon missed half the season with a suspension, yet still posted 30 steals, consistent with his stolen base pace of the previous two seasons. Expect the stolen bases to continue in 2017, and with Gordon’s speed his average should remain respectable in the near .300 range even if he doesn’t win a batting title. The one downside to drafting Gordon is that he has almost no power: 1 HR in 2016, 4 HRs in 2015. Other second base speedsters like Turner, Villar, and Segura all come with at least some expectation of power, and that is represented in their draft price on draft day. As such, I wouldn’t draft Dee until the other speedsters are off the board.

Jean Segura (value pick)
Segura’s career has been up and down. He broke out with 44 steals in 2013, then struggled in 2014 and 2015, though still posted 20 and 25 steals in those two seasons. After being traded to Arizona, Segura broke out again, posting a .319/.368/.499 triple slash to go along with 33 steals. Looking at Segura’s batted ball profile over the last four seasons, there are a couple things that jump out at me. In 2013 and 2016, Segura’s two best seasons, his hard hit % was 27.6% and 29.7%, respectively, up significantly from the 21.1% and 19.7% hard hit % he posted during 2014 and 2015. Segura’s other batted ball stats fluctuated minimally except for BABIP, which was a career high .353 in 2016, and explains the increase in average. Additionally, in 2016 Segura pulled the ball at a 31.4% clip, which when combined with his improved hard hit % in 2016 explains the boost in slugging %. Segura also posted a 33.7% pull rate in 2014, however, perhaps due to not hitting the ball quite so hard, his bottom line numbers did not improve. It also helped that in 2016 Segura played in hitter friendly Chase Field. The move to Seattle’s less hitter friendly environment will roll back the expectations a bit, but the Mariner line up is good enough to minimize the impact of the change of scenery. Segura is a power/speed threat like Jonathan Villar and Trea Turner, discussed below. All three have a lot to prove, however Segura’s price on draft day will be considerably cheaper, thereby making him the best value.

Segura waves goodbye to AZ

Segura waves goodbye to AZ

Brian Dozier
After a career best season, Dozier was surrounded by trade rumors all offseason. Minnesota was looking to sell high, but the right offer never came and Dozier remains with the Twins to start 2017. Dozier’s power has been trending upwards every season, culminating with 42 bombs last year.  In addition to plus power, he also provides some steals (18 in 2016) which adds a nice compliment to his game.  The batting average can get ugly at times and I tend to avoid players who could hit in the .230s if things go the wrong way for them. If you are willing to take the risk on the batting average, the power/speed combination will be useful.

Daniel Murphy
Another second baseman with a career year, Murphy finished 2016 with a .347/.390/.595 triple slash, his slugging % the best in the National League. Murphy could always hit for a solid average as he hits the ball to all fields. In 2016, this trend continued, but Murphy hit the ball harder than ever before – his hard hit % jumped from 28.7% to 31% to 38.2% from 2014 to 2016. This coincided with increases in fly ball %, which jumped from 29.4% to 36.0% to 41.9% from 2014 to 2016. The result was more doubles and more home runs. Regression is reasonably expected because the torrid pace of 2016 is tough to maintain, but I expect more of the same from Murphy in 2017 and hitting in the Nationals line up he will get plenty of opportunities for RBIs and runs.

 

In the second tier, we start to see players that kill it in one category while providing value in other categories as well. The power/speed combination is sought after in many fantasy league formats, and Dozier, Odor, and Segura can all provide a bit of that. In addition, we have Murphy, who does everything but run, and Dee Gordon, who derives his value wreaking havoc on the base paths.

 

Tier I

Trea Turner
Trea Turner is a very interesting player for 2017. As a prospect, Turner was known for his plus speed and not so much his power or hit tool. He had a cup of coffee in 2015 with the Nationals and struggled. In 2016, he was a mid-season call up and did nothing but rake, posting a .342/.370/.567 triple slash with 33 steals and 13 home runs in only 72 games. This pace is unsustainable, so the real question is how much regression should we expect? The big surprise with Turner was the power, and this will certainly regress. In 2016 Turners HR/AB was 4.23%, way up from 1.81% and 1.60% rates at AAA Syracuse. Batting average will also regress, based on an K% of 18.2% and a BABIP of .388, however Turner’s blazing speed should make this regression less harsh. Speaking of speed, you can count on Turner for steals in 2017, especially with Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker who lets guys run. After accounting for regression, as well as the general risk of the small sample size and sophomore slump due to pitchers adjusting to him, Turner will be overvalued on draft day. In a re-draft league, I would avoid paying the top 15 pick he will likely cost. In keeper or dynasty leagues, Turner may be worth the gamble.

Jonathan Villar
Villar only played 11 games at second base in 2016, which does give him second base eligibility in some leagues. However, Villar played most of his games at shortstop (108) as well as 42 games at 3B, so in a standard Yahoo league he comes eligible at 2b, 3b, and SS, which is a lovely combination. Villar played his first season in Milwaukee in 2016 after three years in Houston. In Houston, Villar was always a fantasy sleeper that never quite put it together. The change of scenery to Milwaukee must have helped, as did the guaranteed playing time. Villar led the National League in stolen bases in 2016 with 62, while popping 19 homers (career high of course), 38 doubles, and posting a triple slash of .285/.369/.457.  Villar will be only 26 years old in 2017, so still in his prime. The one concern with Villar is he strikes out a ton – 174 times in 2016, good for a K% of 25.6%. Villar did walk at an above average clip of 11.6% too, which is somewhat comforting. The speed is for real, and I have no reason to believe he won’t be able to run free with the Brewers in ’17. I’m not confident in a repeat of 19 homers, mainly because there were not many changes to Villar’s batted ball profile from year to year. Line drive %, ground ball %, fly ball %, all remained relatively consistent with his prior year numbers. Hard % did increase, as did soft %. I think 12-14 homers is a reasonable expectation. Villar’s 2016 stats are what people are paying a top 15 pick for what they hope Trea Turner can get them. If you are looking for a trail blazer with a bit of pop, I recommend passing on Turner and scooping up Villar a round or two later.

Robinson Cano
Cano comes in at #2 on my list. He’s a consistent hitter whose floor gives you piece of mind on draft day. In 2016, Cano hit 39 home runs, a career best, while posting a .298/.350/.533 triple slash. While Safeco field is not known for being a hitter’s park, the Mariners line up sure can hit, and Cano is right in the middle of it. Another thing I like about Cano is that he is an Iron Man. He played no less than 156 games in each of the last 10 seasons. He will be entering his age 34 season this year, and while this is cause for concerns for dynasty or keeper league owners, I am not worried about Cano for 2017. He should be in for another solid season and I would target him in re-draft leagues.

Jose Altuve
Altuve leads the top tier of second basemen to start 2017. Three consecutive 200 hit seasons and five consecutive 30 steal seasons is a big reason why – the floor is just so high. In 2016, Altuve hit 24 home runs, besting his previous single season career high of 15. While the power is trending upwards, the speed is trending downwards. Altuve’s 30 steals in 2016 were his lowest mark since his rookie season in 2011 when he only played 57 games. We’ve seen this trend before, where speed guys develop some power and ultimately stop running. The risk of Altuve running less is mitigated by the assumption that this will coincide with increased power numbers. If the power isn’t there, Altuve will go back to helping his team through the base paths. Overall, you can bank on the excellent average and power/speed combination. I don’t know where the HR vs SB will fall, but I think 55 steals plus home runs is expected. Altuve is going around pick 4-6 in redraft leagues this year, and I think that’s right where he belongs. At only age 27, I would love to own him in any league type.

 

In the top tier we have two very high ceiling players that are on the riskier side in Turner and Villar. We also have two high ceiling/high floor guys in Cano and Altuve. If you want to solidify your 2b position early, Altuve and Cano are two guys you can plug in and not have to worry about at all. If you’re looking to take a risk, I would lean toward Villar, or even consider waiting several rounds for Segura, who also has a five-tool impact at a much lower cost.

That wraps up the second base position. Next up I’ll be tackling the shortstops, starting with the bottom half next week.

 

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 26th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #80 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss players in the draft going for nice bargains.

Our guest this week is Steve Hamilton. Steve is a writer, and editor with majorleaguefantasysports.com focusing on baseball. His articles publish every Saturday.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 2nd, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #81 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. OPENING DAY SPECIAL! We will discuss some of the days events as well as relevant fantasy baseball updates.

Our guests this week are Ron Shandler, and Bilal Chaudry. Ron is FSTA Hall of Famer, and one of the pioneers of fantasy baseball. You can find his work at ronshandler.com. Bilal is a veteran owner in Major League Fantasy Baseball leagues and frequent radio guest.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I am a fantasy baseball enthusiast. I joined my first league in 2004 and haven't stopped playing. I am also an auditor and CPA at a midsize public accounting firm where I analyze information every day. Combined, my passion for baseball and my analytical background create a unique perspective to analyzing fantasy baseball.

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