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Last week we looked sleepers and busts at first base, this week we move around the diamond to second base. Earlier this week, Doug Anderson wrangled up a few industry experts and compiled the 2B rankings.

Once you get past the top tier at second base things get a little dicey and a large degree of uncertainty exists. There are multiple players ranked among the top 25 that have a rankings range of greater than 10 spots.

Even a few of the top players have some doubters, which is evidenced by the SCFE rankings distribution. For example, I think Robinson Cano is the best bet among all second basemen to hit 20 homers along with a .300 average, while others will point to his career high strikeout rate and age as areas of concern.

With so many question marks, there’s little doubt the landscape will change as the offseason continues. Where does Daniel Murphy end up? Will anything come of the current flap surrounding Cano?

Those answers will come as the hot stove gets really cooking in the next few weeks, for now let’s take a look at some early ideas for sleepers and busts at second base.

Early 2016 Sleepers and Busts at Second Base

Sleepers

Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays

AVG
BABIP
BB%
K%
LD%
GB/FB
HR/FB
Pull%
Soft%
Hard%
2015
.304
.347
7.6%
18.1%
21.6%
1.76
16.0%
31.3%
15.9%
27.8%
Career
.304
.347
7.6%
18.1%
21.6%
1.76
16.0%
31.3%
15.9%
27.8%

 

If it was not for his shoulder issues, Devon Travis would be a highly sought after Fantasy commodity at second base. It looks like Travis will be on the shelf until at least April, hindering his draft stock heading into next season. This will create a great opportunity for savvy Fantasy owners, assuming his shoulder fully recovers, as he should be able to find his way into an everyday role in a stacked Toronto lineup. Based on his minor league career and impressive 2015 MLB debut, Travis should hit for a high average and provide a decent combination of power and speed at the middle infield position. When looking at the SCFE’s 2B rankings, most of the experts ranked Travis outside of their top 20 if they ranked him at all, which feels about right given the risks heading into next year. That being said, if Travis was healthy, I believe he would be ranked if the 10 to 15 range. You should be able to pick up Travis late in your drafts, making it a good bet that he produces a tidy profit.

Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles

AVG
BABIP
BB%
K%
LD%
GB/FB
HR/FB
Pull%
Soft%
Hard%
2015
.279
.329
2.8%
24.6%
19.3%
1.14
17.4%
43.2%
20.1%
34.5%
Career
.238
.281
2.8%
24.8%
16.1%
1.28
15.2%
46.8%
21.6%
29.7%

 

Jonathan Schoop’s 2015 season did not get off to a great start as he suffered a knee injury in mid-April. Once he returned, he had a productive second half, hitting .283 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs over 271 plate appearances. For the year as a whole, his batted ball profile suggests some downside to his BABIP and therefore his batting average. Schoop has not showcased a great amount of plate discipline at the MLB level evidenced by his unsightly career K/BB ratio. There is some hope since over his minor league career, spanning 1,454 plate appearances, Schoop recorded a K% of 16.5%, BB% of 7.7%, and a .271 batting average all while maintaining plus power for a second baseman. If he is able cut down on his strikeouts and increase his contact rate, Schoop’s power will look all that more attractive.

Wilmer Flores, 2B/SS, New York Mets

AVG
BABIP
BB%
K%
LD%
GB/FB
HR/FB
Pull%
Soft%
Hard%
2015
.263
.273
3.7%
12.4%
21.1%
1.13
10.3%
38.9%
21.7%
28.5%
Career
.253
.270
4.1%
13.2%
20.9%
1.13
8.6%
39.6%
20.5%
27.5%

 

Wilmer Flores provides some power, a rarity when it comes to talking about middle infielders. He is one the better second base eligible bets to eclipse 15 home runs in 2016. The biggest hurdle heading into next year for Flores appears to be playing time. For now, it looks like he is pencilled in as the starting shortstop for the Mets. He will probably compete for at bats with both Dilson Herrera and Ruben Tejada at second base and shortstop. I think there is upside in his batting average too; last year he had a league average LD% and Hard%, yet his BABIP was just .273 resulting in a batting average of .263. Part of the BABIP drag was caused by his popup rate, which was nearly twice the rate that he had recorded over his minor league career. Given his ability to make contact and limit his strikeouts all while hitting for power, Flores carries a decent amount of upside for a late round pick.

Second Base Busts

Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals

AVG
BABIP
BB%
K%
LD%
GB/FB
HR/FB
Pull%
Soft%
Hard%
2015
.264
.321
10.1%
19.7%
21.4%
1.36
6.2%
38.8%
12.7%
31.8%
Career
.275
.314
8.7%
17.0%
22.0%
1.13
8.7%
37.7%
13.3%
36.1%

 

The Anthony Rendon hype machine was running full force heading into last year, and rightly so, as he was fresh off a breakout season. Rendon never did get on track due to various injuries that delayed the start of his season and also forcing him to miss some time in late June and early July. Even if he stays healthy, which is a big “if” considering his injury history, I think he will disappoint in 2016. I believe Fantasy owners will draft Rendon as a top 5 second baseman, while his numbers will be similar to players a tier or two below him. When drafting in the early rounds, you want to accumulate players with high floors. Rendon’s injury history and ability to repeat his great 2014 campaign provide a lot of question marks. His stolen base total came out of nowhere when you consider his professional career heading into 2014, I don’t think double digit stolen bases will be the norm going forward. It will be interesting to see how much his injuries impacted his batted ball profile, but his fly ball rate and Hard% went in the wrong direction. I do think his strikeout rate will fall given his impressively low swinging strike rate. All things considered, I think that Rendon will hit for a strong average; however, the counting stats will leave plenty to be desired.

Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds

AVG
BABIP
BB%
K%
LD%
GB/FB
HR/FB
Pull%
Soft%
Hard%
2015
.294
.315
4.3%
10.9%
24.9%
1.48
7.6%
34.9%
17.6%
24.4%
Career
.273
.294
5.6%
13.9%
19.2%
1.40
10.4%
35.3%
16.7%
28.3%

 

Brandon Phillips is coming off a solid 2015 campaign where he turned back the clock and produced a near .300 average while showcasing his power/speed abilities that he used to be known for. As he ages, Phillips appears to be transforming himself into more of a contact hitter, which should continue to sap his power numbers going forward. Last year, Phillips recorded his lowest Hard% since 2003, while in turn he posted his second highest contact rate and lowest K% of his career. The fact that he swiped 23 bags last year was a huge shock given his 26 attempts were his highest total since 2010. Phillips will be 35 next year and you have to believe that his likely decreasing speed will result in fewer stolen bases in 2016. He could sustain a useable batting average, but an aging player with limited and declining power is not someone you should be targeting.

Starlin Castro, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs

AVG
BABIP
BB%
K%
LD%
GB/FB
HR/FB
Pull%
Soft%
Hard%
2015
.265
.298
3.6%
15.7%
17.0%
1.87
8.3%
40.8%
23.2%
23.6%
Career
.281
.321
4.9%
15.6%
19.9%
1.62
6.9%
36.0%
18.8%
26.9%

 

Starlin Castro’s career got off to such a great start. An everyday player by the age of 20, he had the makings of the next great Fantasy shortstop. We were going to be treated to a decade of 20/20 seasons with a .300 average. My how things have changed. The speed is gone; he is just 18 for 33 on stolen bases over the past three seasons combined. His career high in home runs is a mere 14 and with a fly ball rate consistently around 30%, a huge spike seems unlikely. Castro’s batting average is no longer a huge asset and he is coming off his worst batted ball profile of his career in 2015. He mustered up a career low line drive rate of 17% and a Hard% of 23.6%, all while posting a career high popup rate of 11.3%. Never known to be the most selective hitter, Castro managed to post a 3.6% BB rate (a career low), third lowest in the majors. The Cubs have already moved him away from shortstop to make room from Addison Russell; now the next step may involve a new clubhouse. He will be drafted too early by those who point to the fact he is only 25 and that his upside is still great. I will not be one of those owners since we have such a large body of work to rely on. I struggle to see a scenario where Castro holds any mixed league relevance, even at a position as weak as second base.

Second base is not the most exciting position, but hey you need to fill out your roster. Just make sure you get the correct value for whomever you pick. Enjoy festivities that Thanksgiving brings and tune in next week when we will look at sleepers and busts at the hot corner.

 

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Fabian Taylor

Fabian Taylor lives in Vancouver, BC. In his previous life, he traded natural gas for a couple firms in Calgary. He now trades stocks, bonds, and commodities out of a float home office. Family, finance and Fantasy Sports -- Is there anything else?
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