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January 10, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Rankings Review: Second Base

by Marc Normandin

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Based on reader feedback from the first base review, I’ll tackle second base a little differently. The setup will be more like last year, but with auction values listed as well. This is not what they were paid for at auction, but is what they were worth during the 2010 season. This should shed some light on how much I missed for players I missed on, though, as always, the reasoning behind why there was a miss is more important than the miss itself. The dollar values come from John Burnson’s Graphical Player 2011, and are for mixed leagues.

Note: For some reason I organized the players alphabetically within tiers. Whoever told me that was a poor idea back in 2010, thanks. Here is a link to last season’s second base rankings.

Five Stars

Ian Kinsler (.289/.378/.515 PECOTA, .286/.382/.412 2010; $7.2): Kinsler didn’t play a full season, dealing with a high ankle sprain before the year began and a sprained groin that kept him out for a large chunk of the second half. He hit grounders more often than he ever had while also dealing with a lower HR/FB, so chances are good the injuries messed with his power and helped him along to the lowest ISO of his career.

Chase Utley (.301/.405/.535 PECOTA, .275/.387/.445 2010; $11.2): Utley was also a victim of injuries, with a sprained thumb messing with his performance. He was at his worst after returning from the disabled list (.208/.344/.245) which didn’t help the rumors that he came back before he was ready to. With a healthy thumb, Utley should be what we expected him to be in 2010—further removed from the injury, he hit .323/.436/.531 in September.

Four Stars

Gordon Beckham (.278/.361/.469 PECOTA, .252/.317/.378 2010; -$2.6): No, that negative dollar value isn’t inaccurate. Beckham was that bad. For the first half of the season, anyway: he hit .310/.380/.497 after reworking his swing during the All-Star break with White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker. If he can repeat that, or even hit his PECOTA forecast from 2010, Beckham will be worth a four-star slot in 2011.

Robinson Cano (.297/.338/.493 PECOTA, .319/.381/.534 2010; $31.7): It’s easy to look at Cano’s placement in the four-star rather than five-star tier and wonder what I was thinking, but there was some discussion in the comments last February about whether he even belonged this high. Chances are good he has earned himself five-star  placement in 2011, though a closer look at him will tell us for sure.

Aaron Hill (.279/.340/.495 PECOTA, .205/.271/.394 2010; $0.7): There were a few looks at what was wrong with Hill during the 2010 season, one from this author in July, and another from Craig Brown in October. The takeaway was that he was swinging at a ton of pitches out of the zone and making contact with them, which helped drive his liner rate down. He’ll need to overhaul his approach if he wants to be a four-star caliber second baseman again.

Brandon Phillips (.281/.338/.486 PECOTA, .275/.332/.430 2010; $15.7): I noticed the projection was a little wonky in the power department since he has approached that level of power just once in the last four years, but I don’t think I emphasized that he should have been a low four-star guy enough. He was good, but not great.

Dustin Pedroia (.310/.378/.480 PECOTA, .288/.367/.493 2010; $2.5): Pedroia didn’t play long enough to rack up value thanks to breaking his foot on a foul ball in June, but he was great when he took the field. His foot is supposedly good to go for 2011, which is good news for owners that want to hold onto him.

Brian Roberts (.296/.380/.454 PECOTA, .278/.354/.391 2010; -$8.6): Roberts was placed here with the thought that he was healthy, but he ended up missing most of the year due to his back problems. If anyone drafted him based on the ranking and felt like they got hosed, don’t worry, I picked him in an AL-only league with 30-man rosters and paid for that selection.

Dan Uggla (.261/.366/.489 PECOTA, .287/.369/.508 2010; $26.6): Uggla’s career-high batting average (and his first over .260 since 2006) was basically the lone difference from his projection. He was one of the bright spots that was supposed to be bright at second, in a year where that just didn’t happen often enough.

Rickie Weeks (.256/.383/.462 PECOTA, .269/.366/.464 2010; $22.8): Weeks was another player who did what he was supposed to, and ended up with one of the better seasons at second.

Ben Zobrist (.270/.378/.483 PECOTA, .238/.346/.353 2010; $8.0): Zobrist didn’t show the power he displayed from 2008-2009, partially due to a back injury, and partially thanks to a lack of fly balls with any thump behind them. His swing was the most likely culprit, as he wasn’t generating enough loft and drive.

Three Stars

Luis Castillo (.288/.373/.373 PECOTA, .235/.337/.267 2010; -$13.8): His PECOTA forecast looked for a slightly-lesser repeat of his 2009, but instead, he gave anyone who drafted him a second helping of his horrific 2008 campaign. A reader asked me to add a “Do Not Draft” designation on certain players—it’s not ranking time yet, but seasons like Castillo’s 2010 merit serious consideration for that honor.

Orlando Hudson (.287/.362/.432 PECOTA, .268/.338/.372 2010; $2.3): Injuries hurt Hudson’s production, and while he remains a useful in-real-life player thanks to defense, his fantasy stock has fallen quite a bit.

Kelly Johnson (.283/.373/.469 PECOTA, .284/.370/.496 2010; $19.8): I didn’t buy Johnson’s projection, which was the first time in recorded history that I didn’t believe in Kelly Johnson, and, well, you can see what happened. Of course, Johnson had the best season of his career following his worst, so I have to remember to keep from beating myself up too much before I overcompensate for 2010 and overvalue him in 2011.

Howie Kendrick (.299/.335/.454 PECOTA, .279/.313/.407 2010; $9.6): After a few years of slight growth, Kendrick went and had his 2006 rookie season again. He’s not a poor choice for a bottom-of-the-tier three-star second baseman, but he’s closer to being a guy you pick because you have to rather than one you select because you want to.

Jose Lopez (.283/.322/.457 PECOTA, .239/.270/.339 2010; -$5.7): Remember when Jose Lopez hit .285/.313/.453 from 2008-2009 despite playing in a park that hates offense? If you do, and you also remember how it was that Lopez was able to do this, could you please write him and let him know what it is he’s doing wrong? He’ll be in Colorado this year and may have buy-low potential if he remembers how to hit for power in between his outs.

Martin Prado (.311/.369/.452 PECOTA, .307/.350/.459 2010; $18.0): Prado did PECOTA proud in 2010—I said he was, “in the upper crust of the tier”, so this ranking worked in context.

Skip Schumaker (.294/.355/.407 PECOTA, .265/.328/.338 2010; -$1.5): Schumaker would have been a defensible last name on the three-star list if he hit his projection, which looked a lot like his last three seasons of work, but he didn’t come close. Thanks, a lot, Skip.

Two Stars

Clint Barmes (.268/.317/.435 PECOTA, .235/.305/.351 2010; -$6.8): PECOTA liked Barmes thanks to two straight years with some pop, but the lack of OBP cuts into his run production, and half his games do come outside of Coors, so he ended up with two stars.

David Eckstein (.273/.342/.368 PECOTA, .267/.321/.326 2010; -$6.9): Eckstein struggled at the plate once the early year was out of the way, and chances are good he won’t ever see a line like that 2010 forecast again either.

Mark Ellis (.265/.330/.415 PECOTA, .291/.358/.381 2010; -$0.3): Weird season for Ellis, who brought up his batting average in the BABIP-hating Coliseum, but lost the power he unexpectedly possessed in prior years.

Mike Fontenot (.273/.346/.435 PECOTA, .283/.331/.375 2010; -$11.6): The playing time just wasn’t there for Fontenot, not that he showed the power that had earned him plate appearances in the first place. I said he may actually be a three-star player but there were some concerns following his previous two seasons—those won’t be any less weighty after a poor 2010.

Chris Getz (.286/.351/.407 PECOTA, .237/.302/.277 2010; -$12.2): I didn’t like Getz’s projection one bit, stating that it would make him a three-star caliber second baseman, and that just wasn’t realistic. He was below-replacement as a fantasy second baseman in mixed leagues, and there isn’t much reason to think he’s significantly better than that either.

Jerry Hairston (.259/.329/.386 PECOTA, .244/.299/.353 2010; -$2.2): Unless your league park-adjusts, Hairston probably wasn’t lots of help, though his 53 R, 50 RBI, nine steals and 10 homers were pretty solid for a player who was drafted with backup intentions in mind.

Akinori Iwamura (.273/.351/.392 PECOTA, .173/.285/.250 2010; -$18.9): He had three solid seasons in a row in the two-star vein, but his 2010 was one of the worst years of anyone in fantasy, especially considering he didn’t even make it through half-a-season of playing time.

Kazuo Matsui (.280/.339/.415 PECOTA, .141/.197/.155 2010; -$21.9): Remind me to pay special attention to middle infielders hitting their mid-30s for this year’s rankings.

Casey McGehee (.269/.331/.425 PECOTA, .285/.337/.464 2010; $16.5): I didn’t think the 90 RBI in McGehee’s forecast was realistic, but then he drove in 104. The Brewers’ offense wasn’t lacking in 2010, so McGehee got plenty of opportunities, and if he can keep his line up, he should remain valuable. Better than I gave him credit for, at least.

Freddy Sanchez (.287/.325/.416 PECOTA, .292/.342/.397 2010; $0.9): Sanchez doesn’t have much value unless he hits for a high average; he didn’t, hence the $1 status.

Scott Sizemore (.264/.345/.410 PECOTA, .224/.296/.336 2010; -$16.1): Sizemore had an impressive minor league track record, but it just didn’t translate to production in the majors, not that 163 plate appearances is much of a shot, either.

Luis Valbuena (.259/.332/.400 PECOTA, .193/.273/.258 2010; -$18.8): Valbuena was terrible, much worse than both his forecast and his 2009 production. He hit well in limited duty at Triple-A, so it’s to be seen if he can recover somewhat in the majors in 2011.

One Star

Jeff Baker (-$10.9) wasn’t great when he took the field, but he didn’t do it that often, appearing in just 79 games. Ronnie Belliard (-$14.9) , after a few solid years, fell apart in Los Angeles. Emilio Bonifacio (-$11.4) should have been a decent source of steals off the bench, but instead, didn’t even get off of the Marlins’ bench often enough to make a difference. Alberto Callaspo ($1.1) was considered much better than a one-star player if he could get some playing time, and while he did log over 600 plate appearances, he was nowhere near as good as in 2009. Blake DeWitt (-$4.2) rebounded from his poor 2009 campaign, but is still a one-star kind of player. Willie Harris (-$12.3) had his worst season in years, and though he’s versatile, but it was mostly due to a sub-.200 batting average. The ISO (.179) and walk rate (12.6 percent) remained, giving hope for 2011. I was concerned about playing time with Omar Infante ($7.7), but the Braves were injured often enough to get his usefulness in the lineup and invalidate his ranking. Maicer Izturis (-$10.6) was in the same boat—he needs playing time to be worth more than a paltry sum, and between injuries and the Callaspo acquisition, he didn’t get it. Adam Kennedy (-$6.3) was listed almost solely because he had a starting job, and his “hitting” helped justify that as the sole reason for inclusion. Jeff Keppinger was a wild card since you never know how often he would take the field, but he ended up worth $3.3 and on the field often.

Related Content:  PECOTA,  Worst Seasons,  The Who,  Year Of The Injury

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