January 21, 2015
Fantasy Three-Year Projections
Previous articles in this series:
Listen guys, Javier Baez doesn’t appear here. He played in more games at shortstop than at second base last year, so he’s going to appear in the shortstop ranking. If he were eligible for this list, I’d have him ranked somewhere around [REDACTED].
Enjoy the rest!
Three-year rankings disclaimer: most of the weight is placed upon projected 2015 performance, with a substantial drop in weighting potential 2016 performance and then another drop in how 2017 output is valued. Finally, remember these are themed around positions, so losing eligibility is a big deal within the confines of this particular exercise.
This is a clearly defined tier for me, but I admit I had trouble ranking these three names. Cano has the strongest track record and is a lock to stay at second base, so he gets the top spot for a three-year ranking. I think his power rebounds slightly in 2015, even if it doesn’t reach Yankee Stadium levels. Rendon probably has the most upside, but he could lose eligibility as soon as 2016 and is an injury risk. Altuve had the best season in 2014, and while you can’t expect a repeat performance I still think he’ll be quite valuable. I’ve been listening to Altuve detractors for years, but the dude can flat out hit and can still run, so I’m going to rank him highly until he falters.
I am simultaneous excited and terrified by the prospect of owning any one of these players for the next three years. Kinsler finished as the fourth-best fantasy second baseman last year and contributed meaningfully in all five categories. He seems a good bet to do so again batting near the top of a very potent lineup, but he’s always an injury risk. Pedroia’s power regression is startling, but he might return to the 12-15-homer range if healthy and he could easily score 100 runs and swipe 20 bags if he plays 140 games. He’s still a very valuable player and is still just 31, just temper your expectations from his heyday.
Kipnis had a bad, injury-plagued 2014, but you ignore him at your own peril. He’s still got 15-homer, 25-steal, 90-run upside, and he’ll only be 28 this year. Dozier is the only guy in this tier without a checkered medical past and put up a monster 2014 year, but the average is a drag and his contextual factors are a bummer.
I don’t know how to categorize these guys. Gordon can give you All Of The Steals, but his ability to get on base is solely predicated on BABIP, and that scares me. He should put up 50-plus steals for many years, but the average could be anywhere from .260 to .300 in a given year, leaving him as a two-trick (R, SB) pony.
Walker is a perennially underrated fantasy asset who finished as the 10th-best second baseman in 2014. More quiet, unspectacular, steady production is on the horizon. Much of what was said about Walker also pertains to Kendrick, who seems to be still be docked for not blossoming into Rod Carew. I really like Wong and think he could easily sit atop this tier, but I want to see him hit for a decent average in the majors before I go crazy. He could be a .270 hitter who notches 15 homers and 20-plus steals on the reg, though.
Murphy can hit and run a bit, but he could move to third base depending on where he’s traded and I think his true talent level is better reflected in his 2012 and 2014 campaigns than his breakout 2013.
13. Chase Utley, PHI
Awesome when he’s on the field, but 36 years old and rarely on said field. That being said, 286 games over the past two years suggests his durability concerns may be a bit exaggerated, though it makes little sense they’d diminish with age. Your guess is as good as mine.
Zomg, potential. I love Alcantara and it sounds like Joe Maddon could truly turn him into a Ben Zobrist-esque utility guy, but there’s also a risk he loses 2B eligibility at some point. Add in that he’s unproven and I couldn’t bump him up a tier for three-year rankings, though he would be higher for dynasty. Profar still has all the potential in the world, but that doesn’t matter if he can’t stay on the field, and I’m legitimately concerned about his health. At his best, Gyorko is Brian Dozier without speed, but at his worst he’s unrosterable. Still, you have to like the lineup around him for 2015, and he’s a nice bounce-back candidate.
This is pretty much the “crap, I forgot to draft a second baseman” group. If you get to this point, target Hill for upside, Prado for floor/versatility, and Gennett if, well, Hill and Prado are gone. You could reasonably argue for Prado and Hill above Gyorko, but call me an optimist.
Welcome to the next group of young guys. Odor was impressive for someone his age last year, but you don’t get additional points for that qualifier in fantasy. Given the competition that surrounds him and the fact that he’s still several years away from prime, he lands down here. I love Peraza and was one of the earliest guys in on him, and I bet he’s starting in Atlanta by August of this year. I’m not super high on Schoop, but he’s young, can hit for power, and is in a good ballpark.
Mets fans will be angry with me for this Herrera ranking, but I just don’t see big fantasy upside and I’m not convinced he’ll hit the ground running in the majors with such little experience above HIgh-A. This is mildly optimistic ranking for Franklin, but I still think he’s going to hit for power and run a little bit, and he could turn into a multi-positional tool in Tampa Bay. I know everyone who’s played two positions since 2010 has been labeled as “the next Ben Zobrist” at this point, but he has a chance to be a low-rent Zobrist. Panik is unbuttered-wheat-toast levels of boring, but he’ll probably hit for decent averages and post decent run totals for the next decade. No pop or speed, though.
26. Brandon Phillips, CIN
Phillips doesn’t run anymore, last year he stopped hitting for power and he’s at an age where recurring injuries should start to be the norm. He had a great run as a consistent top-10 fantasy second baseman, but that run is over.
Semien should see more playing time in Oakland than he would’ve in Chicago, but his contextual factors take a nosedive. There’s a chance he ends up as a utility player, but the double-digit power/speed combo makes him interesting. LeMahieu is boring but can provide immediate value and should get more playing time with a Gold Glove in his pocket. Johnson can run and that’s about it, but running is important for our purposes.
I couldn’t pick just one of these old bums, so you get 31 players instead of 30, because I don’t play by the rules. WYSIWYG with Infante, and WYG isn’t so hot anymore, though anticipating a slight rebound from his 2014 stats is reasonable. Weeks was actually quite good when on the field last season, but that’s always an issue for him. His injury history and up-and-down career knock him back here, though he could be a steal for 2015 depending on where he ends up.
Notable omissions: Danny Espinosa needs to show he can hit enough to make his power interesting, and the Yunel Escobar acquisition puts him out of a job. Corey Spangenberg doesn’t have a clear spot yet and could end up as more of a utility option. Rob Refsnyder doesn’t have a starting spot or the scouting profile to match his MiLB stats. Devon Travis’ upside is only as someone who could rank in the mid-20s on this list. Alex Guerrero doesn’t figure to get much playing time up front and might be an outfielder. Tommy La Stella is headed toward a future as a utility player now that he’s a Cub. Sean Coyle is blocked in Boston, and his future projection skirts the line between second-division regular and utility player. Alberto Callaspo is 100 years old and is just a part-time player now. Just say no to Gordon Beckham.
Will appear in different lists so please don’t turn the comments into a “what about?” party: Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist, Josh Harrison, Asdrubal Cabrera, Josh Rutledge, Brock Holt, Stephen Drew, seriously don’t ask me about Javier Baez (I would have ranked him sixth)