Friday, January 9, 2009
Fantasy Baseball Prep: Second Base
A new day, a new position. Let’s continue our trip around the diamond with a rather deep crop of second basemen. Again, just for clarification purposes, you can find the key for a generic points-based Fantasy Baseball league in the introductory post to this series.
If you missed out of my analysis of the players to key in on for both catchers and first basemen, you can follow the links provided or navigate the side bar.
All that said, let’s jump right into our Slugging% indicator (points-per-opportunity) and take a look at who may be stepping up as a masher in 2009. The range for this list starts with Aaron Miles (1.87) who just recently signed on with the Cubs as a starting second baseman (though I don’t think it will last, personally) and ends with Alexei Ramirez (2.60), who began his breakout year at the later part of the 2008 season with the Chicago White Sox. Though Ramirez will be Chicago’s starting Shortstop in 2009, he’ll maintain his second base eligibility from 2008… so be sure to take advantage of this on your draft boards.
For this statistic, 2.21 was the average for second basemen. Obviously the heavy hitters like Chase Utley (2.55), Ian Kinsler (2.53), and Dan Uggla (2.51) were all a good distance above the average. Why? Well, mainly because they’re making the most of their opportunities. Utley and Uggla both hit a ton of home runs (for second basemen, anyway) and Kinsler gives you a nice 25-25 option at a position that doesn’t offer that mixture all the time.
The average second baseman in this instance was Brian Roberts (2.21), exemplifying exactly what I was hinting with Kinsler. Roberts walks a good amount and hits a lot of singles. However, because he plays in a rather anemic Orioles line-up he doesn’t score a ton of runs. To make up for this, Roberts must steal a ton of bases to make the most of his opportunity. Dustin Pedroia (2.218) places right above Roberts. Pedroia, last season’s AL MVP, does have the benefit of hitting in a line-up that scores a ton of runs. However, Pedroia doesn’t walk, doesn’t steal; bases, and bats in a spot with minimal RBI opportunities. His singles, doubles, and run scoring potential all combine to provide your team with a serviceable, average slugging second baseman in points-based fantasy leagues.
When we make the shift from PTS/OPP. to PTS/PA (points-per-plate-appearance), we see a few familiar names topping the list with Utley (.93), Kinsler (.90), Ramirez (.85), and Dan Uggla (.849). At the bottom of this list, again, sits Aaron Miles, who’s probably not even drafting himself in his own fantasy league… so you should probably follow suit and do the same thing.
Our “average” group of players contains two annually overrated bats at this position and one generally underrated bate. Starting with the bad, Jeff Kent (.73) and Robinson Cano (.75) flank an underrated Kaz Matsui (.74). Again, as a veteran fantasy player, you know that Kent and Cano are going to go early. Whether it be the “consistency” of Kent of the “potential” of Cano, they’ll be over hyped going into 2009 Fantasy Baseball drafts. Kaz, on the other hand, will probably NOT be drafted in most leagues, despite the similar output you should expect from him.
While scanning this list, there’s a few things that jumped out at me. First is the Colorado second base situation. Last year, Jayson Nix sucked the morale and life out of the position with his “great defense” while fending off potential sleepers Ian Stewart and Jeff Baker. While Stewart has the greatest potential of the three, Bill James provides both he and Baker with identical pts/pa outputs at .817.
In the grand scheme of things, Baker and Stewart are both ranked ahead of annual fantasy starters (not to be confused with “fantasy stars”) Brian Roberts (.80), Brandon Phillips (.78), Howie Kendrick (.80), and Kelly Johnson (.81). Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of Kelly Johnson and Howie Kendrick’s injury-problems have broken my heart one-too-many times. But I am a big fan of both Brian Roberts and Brandon Phillips and was surprised to see the tandem of Stewart and Baker ranked ahead of them for 2009.
All this said, second base seems like a great position to sit on in 2009. Let your competition make uo your mind for you. If you’re forced into taking a risk on a Jeff Kent or Cano while filling out the rest of your roster with better players, make sure to grab Stewart, Baker, or both while the Rockies (hopefully) come to their senses and goes with one of these offensive threats as a regular in 2009.