“Joe Talkin’ To Me?!” Don’t Get Caught in The Middle: Top 30 Fantasy 2B and SS, Part 2
Last week we covered some of the middle infielders you might be sifting through late in your draft if you whiff early at 2B or SS. We saw steady veterans, one-hit wonders trying to repeat, youngsters hoping to improve, prospects hoping to crack a lineup, and cheap sources of HR and SB: the desperation picks.
Anyone can jump early and snag a middle infielder to solidify themselves at a shallow spot. Anyone can wait and blindly throw darts late in the draft. But the middle picks are where you can win your league. These are the players that could find themselves in the top-5 or bottom-5 come draft season next year. If you scoop up enough of these guys who out-produce their draft day position, you have an excellent chance to win your league. Obviously, the opposite will be certain doom. This is where many leagues will be won or lost.
2B Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Dodgers – The steady veteran is serviceable across the board, but unfortunately not spectacular anywhere. He can get you double-digit SB and HR, but they will be low double-digits, barely reaching the plateau. Kendrick is over drafted every year, but has seen a steady decline every year. This could be the year he outplays his value. If he falls in drafts, a dozen or so SB and HR to go with a .293 career BA is gold.
SS Ketel Marte, Seattle Mariners – Seattle is handing the reins over to the 22-year-old who has shown no power, and little speed throughout his MiLB career. He showed well batting .283 in 247 AB in Seattle in 2015, but we need to see more. He is ranked in the top-5 to 8 on most ‘expert’ rankings. You will see there is a gluttony of young talent with little experience near the top of the SS rankings; they can’t possibly all work out.
2B Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals – Don’t let the seven post-season HR fool you. He is 30-years-old and is coming off a career high 14 HR. The Nationals paid for the hottest two-week stretch of his career; don’t do the same when you sit down at your draft table. He used to hold some multi-position eligibility, but he doesn’t even have that anymore. He has a sweet swing and will have a nice batting average, around .280-.290. He only has a career .755 OPS and the counting stats just don’t add up.
SS Alexei Ramirez, San Diego Padres – He has been good for 15-ish HR and SB throughout his career. He offers a mixed bag of athleticism: one year he went 6/30 and another 15/7. He won’t wow you as the ratios are not sexy, but at a shallow position take a guy who has put up numbers in the past.
2B Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs – Look…He is far removed from his days of 20/20 and being a ‘jack of all trades’. At this point, he is a better real-life player than fantasy asset. He will go well before the 18th 2B in drafts, so, if this sinks in, you won’t have to worry about him. He hasn’t hit over 13 HR in the past three seasons, and is a year older. He hasn’t stolen more than 11 bases in the past three seasons, and is a year older. The batting average you say? He is a career .265 hitter, and, once again, is a year older.
SS Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers – This is another guy who would be ranked higher, but for different reasons. He will have a tenuous hold on the starting SS job in Milwaukee with super prospect Orlando Arcia lurking in the minor leagues. Let’s assume he will maintain the job. What can he do? Run. Steal bases. Run. Steal more bases. Run. Score runs. He has been labeled a bust, but he is only 24. With 42 SB in 194 career games, he could carry a fantasy team in that category. The career BA isn’t pretty, but he hit .284 in limited action in 2015. The power doesn’t appear to be there, but he hit 7 HR in a half-season in 2014. With no other real lead-off option in Milwaukee, he could pay huge dividends if he plays the entire season.
2B Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants – The Yonkers product would be ranked much higher if he had a full season under his belt, or if there weren’t so many good 2B out there this season (yes, 2B is rather deep, just not strong at the top). In 173 career games, or a little more than a full season, he has hit .309 with 90 R. The lack of power and speed limits his upside, but the power could be developing with 8-of-9 career HR coming in his last 100 games.
SS Jose Iglesisas, Detroit Tigers – He is 26-years-old and has hit .300 in back-to-back seasons (2013 and 2015). He offers zero power, but at this point in the draft he is a better bet then any mediocre veteran. He gets on base and has a shot to hit atop a deep Detroit lineup on base in front of the greatest hitter of this generation, Miggy Cabrera. He stole 11 bases last season, and with good health and a cushy spot in the batting order, he could steal more and score a ton of runs to go along with excellent ratios.
2B Neil Walker, New York Mets – 15 HR and 70 RBI are almost a guarantee. You take that, move on with a clear conscience and worry about a hole you have elsewhere on your fantasy squad. There is talk of him hitting #2 for the Mets which would boost his value more, but that is not likely.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, New York Mets – He has hit a minimum of 14 HR and 58 RBI for five consecutive seasons. His ratios are acceptable, he steals a handful of bases, and is durable. A durable SS who has consistent power sounds like a steal at number 18.
2B DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies – He plays his home games hitting atop the Rockies lineup at Coors field. He had 23 SB and batted .301 last season. Entering his age 27 season, he is primed to produce.
SS JJ Hardy, Baltimore Orioles – He is the only SS in MLB that has five 20-plus HR seasons in his career (excluding Arod). At 33-years-old, there might be another one left in the tank. Take a chance!
2B Starlin Castro, New York Yankees – A 25-year-old, three-time All-Star goes to play for the Yankees. Sounds good. But after back-to-back 20 SB seasons in 2011 and 2012, he has regressed. He is still just 25, with a ton of MLB experience. He has double digit HR five seasons in a row and is a .281 career hitter. There is still lots of room to go up.
SS Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics – With him you get a 25-year-old SS who hit 15 HR and swiped 11 bases in his first full MLB season. At 25, there is room for growth. He will challenge for a 20/20 season, and that is something we would all take at our SS position.
2B Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays – He is a career .304 hitter with an .859 OPS…OK. You figured out he only has 62 career games. But in those games, he has 18 2b, 38 R, 36 RBI, and 8 HR. He hit .318 across four minor league season, and showed power and speed. He would be in the top-5 if he were not going to begin the season on the shelf. He is a stash.
SS Jean Segura, Arizona Diamondbacks – At just 25 with a 44 SB season under his belt, he is primed for big season moving from the bottom of the Brewers lineup to the top of the Diamondbacks potent offense. Quite simply…He will carry you in SB.
2B Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds – After stealing 5 and 3 bases in 2013 and 14, he bounced back with 23 in 2015. The steady veteran has hit at least 17 HR eight times in the last decade, and although he seems ancient, is only 34. He also hit .294 last season, the second best BA of his career.
SS Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Rays – This is a career .334 MiLB hitter with an OPS of .925. He struggled in Seattle over three seasons, but has shown some signs. He has shown the ability draw walks and had double digit HR and SB in a “bad” 2015. Tampa gives the impression that they know what they are doing, and if they traded for Miller, you have to believe they know something. That and the pedigree are enough to have him this high at a shallow position.
SS Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs – 13 HR and 29 doubles as a 21-year-old rookie SS on a pennant-contending Cubs team, who also unseated a three-time All-Star, is something to get excited about. But based on the 142 strikeouts and .242 BA, this is probably not the season to be too excited. Someone in your draft will get too excited, pushing a top-10 guy down to you. Relax.
2B Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles – He had 15 HR in a half-season last year. He is only 24, so his power is still developing. Potential 3o HR at 2B? You take that in a heartbeat and don’t sweat the ratios, which won’t be completely terrible.
For your listening enjoyment, Gary Thorne.
(Click the player for more in depth analysis.)
2B Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays – Can a career 2015 be repeated in 2016?
SS Ian Desmond, Free Agent – If he signs as a starter, he will be a steal.
2B Wilmer Flores, New York Mets – Talented super-utility player just needs full-time job.
SS Erick Aybar, Atlanta Braves – Old faithful for those who fail to get a top SS.
2B Aaron Hill, Milwaukee Brewers – If he stays healthy, he hits dingers.
SS Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels– Take a gamble that he can get back to 17 HR.
2B Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates – Filled the stat sheet in 2014. Why not?
SS Eduardo Escobar, Minnesota Twins – Cheap power at the SS position.
2B Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks – Now or never for the former first-rounder.
SS Didi Gregorious, New York Yankees – Can he improve, take advantage of Yankee Stadium?
2B Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals – Cheap power with multi-position eligibility.
SS Tyler Saladino, Chicago White Sox – Cheap source of steals late in your draft.
2B Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies – Potential lead-off hitter, source of steals.
SS Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds – Proven power if you strikeout early on SS.
2B Jace Peterson, Atlanta Braves – Youngster could improve, or not?
SS Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals – Will be over-drafted on name brand value.
2B Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs – Some of the rawest power in the game, but no job, for now.
SS Adeiny Hechavarria, Miami Marlins – Trying to put together a complete season.
2B Rob Refsnyder, New York Yankees – Top prospect just needs a chance.
SS Jordy Mercer, Pittsburgh Pirates – Hopefully, you won’t have to go here.
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