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January 31, 2014

TTO Scoresheet Podcast

Second Basemen

by Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

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As Baseball Prospectus wraps up a week dedicated to second basemen, we’re here to take a look at the Scoresheet merits of players minding the keystone. Be sure to check out our podcast for lots more on the position. In addition, this week we answered a number of reader questions concerning keeper strategy, so you’ll want to tune in to hear our thoughts as you make your keeper decisions. On that note, with the keeper deadline for most leagues just days away, send us your keeper quandaries via email, Twitter (@TTOScoresheet), or commenting on this article, and we’ll be happy to respond before the deadline.

Here how we rank the second basemen in Scoresheet:

KEEPERS

Rank

H

Age

Team

Player

1

L

31

Sea

Robinson Cano

2

R

30

Bos

Dustin Pedroia

3

B

32

TB

Ben Zobrist

4

L

28

StL

Matt Carpenter

5

L

27

Cle

Jason Kipnis

6

B

21

Tex

Jurickson Profar

7

R

31

Det

Ian Kinsler

8

L

35

Phi

Chase Utley

9

R

25

SD

Jedd Gyorko

10

R

30

Ari

Martin Prado

11

R

32

Cin

Brandon Phillips

12

R

32

Ari

Aaron Hill

13

R

23

Was

Anthony Rendon

14

B

28

Pit

Neil Walker

15

R

30

LAA

Howie Kendrick

16

B

30

Oak

Jed Lowrie

17

R

26

Min

Brian Dozier

18

R

32

KC

Omar Infante

CUT BUBBLE

Rank

H

Age

Team

Player

19

L

25

Atl

Tommy LaStella

20

R

23

Hou

Jose Altuve

21

L

23

StL

Kolten Wong

22

L

29

NYN

Daniel Murphy

23

B

31

Oak

Alberto Callaspo

24

L

20

Tex

Rougned Odor

25

R

27

ChA

Gordon Beckham

26

R

27

LAD

Alexander Guerrero

REDRAFT FOR VALUE

Rank

H

Age

Team

Player

27

L

32

NYA

Kelly Johnson

28

R

27

Pit

Jordy Mercer

29

R

25

Col

Josh Rutledge

30

L

26

Sea

Dustin Ackley

31

R

34

Atl

Dan Uggla

32

R

38

SF

Marco Scutaro

33

R

25

Col

DJ LeMahieu

34

L

23

Mil

Scooter Gennett

35

L

27

Oak

Eric Sogard

36

B

23

Sea

Nick Franklin

DEEP LEAGUES

Rank

H

Age

Team

Player

37

R

28

ChN

Darwin Barney

38

L

27

Bal

Ryan Flaherty

39

B

36

NYA

Brian Roberts

40

R

22

Bal

Jonathan Schoop

41

R

27

TB

Logan Forsythe

42

B

25

Det

Steve Lombardozzi

43

R

31

Mil

Rickie Weeks

44

B

33

Tor

Maicer Izturis

45

L

27

StL

Daniel Descalso

46

B

29

KC

Emilio Bonifacio

47

R

26

LAA

Grant Green

48

L

34

Cin

Skip Schumaker

49

B

27

Was

Danny Espinosa

50

R

21

Bos

Mookie Betts

51

L

22

Min

Eddie Rosario

52

R

26

KC

Johnny Giavotella

53

L

22

LAA

Taylor Lindsey

54

B

35

Mia

Rafael Furcal

55

L

23

ChA

Micah Johnson

56

R

23

Det

Devon Travis

57

B

30

Ari

Cliff Pennington

58

L

26

Tor

Ryan Goins

59

L

24

Mia

Derek Dietrich

60

R

21

Hou

Delino DeShields

61

R

34

ChA

Jeff Keppinger

62

R

37

StL

Mark Ellis

63

R

33

Cle

Mike Aviles

64

B

27

Bal

Jemile Weeks

65

R

27

Mil

Jeff Bianchi

66

B

21

Cle

Jose Ramirez

67

B

22

TB

Ryan Brett

68

B

22

LAA

Alex Yarbrough

Second base is where your dreams of a well-rounded team go to die. Unless you are lucky enough to have Cano or Pedroia (Pedroia’s defense advantage essentially makes the two players 1A and 1B), you are looking at a soft middle class and a lot of wishin’ and hopin’ veteran second-sackers can hang on for one more year or young players can take the next step. If you have the roster spots to spare, you may want to consider getting creative here and figuring out a platoon.

And now for some more detailed thoughts on players to target or avoid. Or in some cases, both! And don’t forget to check out the podcast for even more on the position.

KEEPERS
A fierce debate raged this week on the Scoresheet-talk Yahoo! Group over Jason Kipnis vs. Jurickson Profar. We are strongly divided ourselves, so Ben and Ian decided to make their cases.

Ben: To be honest, I was kind of surprised to see that so many people that I respect would rather have Jurickson Profar than Jason Kipnis at this point. That tempers my enthusiasm some, but I still feel pretty strongly that Kipnis is preferable to Profar, not just in the short term, but also over any longer term of projected value. My reasons are pretty simple—Kipnis has demonstrated very strong offensive performance, has earned a positive defensive rating, and is in the prime of his career. Profar, in contrast, has been much ballyhooed but struggled to get on base and has not shown or been given positive defensive ratings. Most of his supporters will point out that Profar is six years younger than Kipnis, but for me that just means six more years to potentially protect a guy that continually leaves you wishing for more, hoping he'll improve, and wondering why you hold out hope that he'll be half the player he was hyped to be. Even if Profar improves, as long as Kipnis doesn't completely collapse in the next couple of years, Kipnis will have built up so much value--potentially at a star level—that Profar will struggle to ever catch up. Give me Kipnis, because if one in the hand beats two in the bush, two in the hand definitely beats one in the bush every single time.

Ian: Ben makes an excellent point about Jurickson Profar's limited projected ceiling. To believe in Profar's bat at this point, you have to assume improvement well beyond what a projection system such as PECOTA suggests. He also doesn't appear to be nearly as athletic as Manny Machado or Xander Bogaerts. That said, it also seems premature to ignore the reams of scouting information on this site and elsewhere about the juice in Profar's bat. Profar's most likely career path is to both be very good at his peak and for that peak to last a long time. My argument is then, when taking into account Scoresheet's replacement level, the extra half decade of goodness trumps Kipnis' near-future advantage. When you add Profar's upside back in to the equation, I think he comes out well ahead in the battle.

For those of you in win-now mode, don’t overlook Chase Utley. He’s not going to hit .284/.348/.475 like he did last year, but you won’t need all the fingers on one hand to count the second basemen who will. But if he can stay healthy, the regression may not be too steep, and he received a solid defensive rating. Of course, he’s a 35-year-old who hasn’t had 600 PAs in the majors since 2009, so if you have him, you are also going to need to draft a least one player to cover his innings missed and the risk that this is the year he falls off a cliff.

Brian Dozier had a year at the top of his projections, but we're anticipating there's just enough bat to make him a legitimate 13th keeper or early draft opportunity. He's lost his shortstop eligibility, which may be a mixed blessing, since he was stretched in real life at the position. At second base, he's likely to hold his job through a slump, play error-free baseball, and crush lefties with his huge platoon split. (Pro tip: If you own Cano, Kipnis, or Carpenter, draft Dozier early to start over them against portsiders).

BUBBLE
Tommy La Stella has likely issued a restraining order against at least two of the True Outcomes by this point. It's not often that we'd so strongly recommend a 25-year-old player who hasn't reached Triple-A yet, but it's also not often that they come with a present plus hit tool. La Stella is a marginal defender, but his competition in Atlanta has slower instincts than a citizen of Woodbury, so it's all relative. On the offensive side, he has top-10 potential at the position. As Conor Glassey notes, he's basically the prototype of an overlooked prospect. The Braves are excited now, and so are we.

We’re not going to name names, but at least one of the Three True Outcomes would struggle to beat Jose Altuve in a height contest. So it is with the utmost respect that we must report the guy doesn’t walk, can’t hit homers, and was given a pretty harsh defensive rating. On the other hand, he has hit 30 doubles each of the past two years, so he has some extra base ability, and he likely won’t make a ton of errors.

Avert your eyes from Wong’s unfortunate cup of coffee in the bigs last year and instead gaze lovingly at his ranking as BP’s no. 33 prospect in all of baseball. A rank, we might add, confirmed by plenty of other prospect mavens as well. He’s 23, has the starting job, and brings tons of promise.

Not that you would, but don’t forget about Alexander Guerrero. Also don’t place too much stock in roto rankings, which will take into account his likely runs and RBI in the Dodgers’ lineup, things you know don’t have much value in Scoresheet. Of course the Dodgers were apparently begging and pleading Michael Young to also play the position. So unless the team has figured out a way to purchase an additional second base, their pessimism on Guerrero should be your pessimism.

REDRAFT
If you've missed out on protecting a regular second baseman, we don't have a ton of good news for you. One target we would consider late is Kelly Johnson, the one-eyed man of the Yankee infield. He's coming to the end of his productive shelf life, but he's in a favorable situation in a fun offensive ballpark. Playing time is plentiful, and a strict platoon with Eduardo Nunez or Scott Sizemore would only help goose Johnson's rate stats. He also is already eligible at second and in the outfield corners, and will probably pick up third base eligibility soon.

One of our mantras is to acquire Rockies whenever possible, since Scoresheet doesn’t take into account park factors. That mandate is more difficult, of course when the team appears to be going with the two-headed monster of D.J. Le Mahieu and Josh Rutledge. And we use that term very loosely. We think Rutledge has more potential with the bat, so taking a flier on him could pay off handsomely if he gets the job for any extended period of time.

We're listing Nick Franklin here, but he's not for contenders. If you're a rebuilding team, and you're looking for ways to spend your mid-draft picks, Franklin remains an intriguing target as he spends 2014 rebuilding his value and hopefully finding a way to book it out of Safeco. Sure, there's a chance he'll end up spending more time in Tacoma than Dale Chihuly, but one has to assume that a path will once again open up for him at some point. He still has enough offensive promise to be an eventual medium-term keeper.

DEEP LEAGUE
Jonathan Schoop is the Orioles’ best infield prospect from Curacao since Ivanon Coffie. Or, perhaps better put, Schoop is the Orioles’ best infield prospect from Curacao ever. He’s probably going to start the season in the minors, but he only has Ryan Flaherty and Jemile Weeks “blocking” his path to the majors. Schoop ranks as BP’s 82nd-ranked prospect, and with some pop in his bat, he could bring a mid-season boost to your team.

We're obviously not the first to come across this point, but the best second base prospects tend to be minor league shortstops. In Scoresheet, this holds even more true, as players often get to play their first major league season at their old position. That's why you won't see likely future second basemen such as mighty mite Arismendy Alcantara or Jorge Polanco on this ranking list, much less bigger stars with some chance of moving such as Alen Hanson or even Javier Baez. After TTO godhead La Stella and de facto big leaguers Kolten Wong and Jonathan Schoop, the highest prospect on our board is Mookie Betts. Unlike in real prospect rankings, Dustin Pedroia's presence is a limiting factor, but we anticipate the talent outing itself eventually. A little further down the rankings, we recommend finding room for Devon Travis, who seems to be surpassing the utility bat track in the minors, and Ryan Brett, who's in an organization that knows how to use second basemen well. On the converse, we recommend staying away from Delino DeShields, who may rank high on fantasy prospect lists but who has little use in this game, and Micah Johnson, who's been getting some sleeper buzz but who seems stretched on both sides of the ball to these eyes.

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9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

msloftus

Public NL league: Alcides Escobar or Tyler Skaggs. Thoughts on Garrett Richards and Corey Dickerson as keepers also? Thanks!

Jan 31, 2014 07:48 AM
rating: 0
 
IanLefk
(85)

Hi there! For Escobar vs. Skaggs, while I want to say door #3, I think Alcides has the rarer talent, and is already 27. I'd have to think you'd want to find a trade partner with crossover issues first, though.

I like Garrett Richards a lot less than consensus, he seems like a back-end starter/setup guy to me. Again, I recognize I'm out on a limb there, if you're a fan, I won't argue. Dickerson seems like a solid mid-tier keeper at this point. The Rockies' outfield is still a little crowded with average players, but Dickerson seems like he has a leg up in both talent and opportunity.

Jan 31, 2014 13:45 PM
rating: 0
 
Mario66

Hey guys, how are factoring in defense in ranking players? There used to be a rule of thumb that 1 defensive point translates to between 5 and 5.5 points of OPS.

Jan 31, 2014 13:08 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ben Murphy
BP staff

I think that's generally still a reasonable rule of thumb. If you haven't already, I'd browse the archives of Scoresheet Talk, which may have more details.

We do factor in defensive value (both the range rating and errors in the field) in our rankings, and we also built the SS/SIM statistic to utilize the range rating from Scoresheet and the PECOTA projected errors in the field to build a more comprehensive projection for a player's value.

Look for SS/SIM on these pages as PECOTA is finalized and released in the coming weeks. We will put together some materials to help you use it well in your leagues and make sure folks are comfortable with it.

Jan 31, 2014 16:17 PM
 
John Carter

Is it possible Jed Lowrie has learned to stay healthy or did he just have one freakishly healthy year (for him)? . . . or did he just have a freakishly unhealthy career so far?

Roughed Odor doesn't cost a protection slot - just a low round draft pick. Is he really just borderline worth keeping around at that cost?

Jan 31, 2014 14:04 PM
rating: 0
 
IanLefk
(85)

Thanks for reading! I don't claim to have any special knowledge about Jed Lowrie. We'll probably go into greater detail on him during shortstop week, where he's more valuable (our rankings here treat him as a second baseman alone). A healthy Lowrie is a keeper, and it's a matter of how much you want to bet on his health record being traumatic. Cop out answer, I know.

As for Odor, that's probably the fault of our headings. Our rankings are created as though you were starting a continuing league and everyone had the same status. So we as a group would recommend drafting Odor around the cut line (12th-15th round). Personally, I have him on the higher end of that spectrum, I think he'll play his way into an opportunity somewhere.

Jan 31, 2014 15:05 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ben Murphy
BP staff

Just to piggy-back on Ian, I think we would all agree that Odor is a lock as a prospect/rookie keeper going into 2014. We have varying levels of enthusiasm for his long term potential, which is why he isn't higher in the overall list. Hope that helps.

Jan 31, 2014 16:13 PM
 
Noel Steere
(965)

Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can use Adam Dunn as a poster boy of the Three True Outcomes. Our history has become lost to the mists of time and the storage space of Google:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topicsearchin/rec.sport.baseball/subject$3ARob$20AND$20subject$3ADeer$20AND$20before$3A1994$2F12$2F31%7Csort:date%7Cspell:true/rec.sport.baseball/dgbppwqfR8w

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topicsearchin/rec.sport.baseball/subject$3ARob$20AND$20subject$3ADeer$20AND$20subject$3AFan$20AND$20subject$3AClub%7Csort:date%7Cspell:true/rec.sport.baseball/aLUt7YQDaXI

(And yes, that's Christina Kahrl leading the charge)

Feb 01, 2014 18:11 PM
rating: 0
 
tb3nn3tt

How far up the list does Aaron Hill jump if you're playing for 2014? .300/.362/.500 in 1,172 PA since moving to Arizona. Average range and one of the best 2B at avoiding errors.

Splits make him about -5 wOBA points vs RHP and +11 against LHP.

Steamer has him at .271/.332/.443, but I believe I recall reading that players who play part of the year after a wrist injury usually out-hit their projections the following year.

Give him a little bump to .280/.340/.450 and you get a .340 wOBA vs RHP, .355 wOBA vs LHP, and an overall plus on defense - with some upside if he hits the way he's hit in Arizona so far.

He's at that dangerous age for 2B, but does he jump up into the top 5-7 if you're just looking at 2014?

Feb 01, 2014 18:23 PM
rating: 0
 
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