This week's showdown features a pair of young keystoners who recently topped their organizations' prospect lists.
For the second-base edition of “Tale of the Tape,” I was given a choice between Jason Kipnis vs. Dustin Pedroia, Neil Walker vs. Martin Prado, and Anthony Rendon vs. Jurickson Profar. As the title gives away, I chose set no. 3, Rendon and Profar—a pair of former no. 1 prospects with All-Star potential. More than two years separate the second basemen in age, but both will enter the year ready to compete in their first full major-league seasons. In BP’s positional rankings, Craig Goldstein lists Rendon at the back end of the three-star tier and Profar checks in a few keystones later inside the two-star group. Can the two-star player outshine the three-star favorite?
To this point in their brief careers, Rendon and Profar have combined for fewer than 750 plate appearances, so small-sample-size goggles are required. As things stand, Rendon enjoys a comfortable .265-to-.231 lead, but Profar’s major-league clock also extends to a brief nine-game stint in 2012, when he struggled and hit .176. For what it’s worth, Profar out-hit Rendon with a .276 BA in four minor-league seasons, compared to Rendon’s .269 in two. We have obviously yet to see either player reach his full potential, but both have been graded with the tools to one day hit .300. Profar hasn’t adjusted as well to big-league pitching as Rendon, however, striking out 19.6 percent of the time (compared to about14 percent in the minors); Rendon’s strikeout rate is a cleaner 17.5 percent. And while both have fantastic contact rates, Rendon appears poised to hit for a better average in 2014. For Profar, the new season should help shed some light on his chances of fulfilling a grade-7 hit tool.
A look at the value picks at the keystone for your drafts and auctions this spring.
Once viewed as one of fantasy’s most shallow positions, second base has enjoyed a multi-year run as a fantasy-friendlier position thanks to a mix of established stars and new young talent creeping into the game. That’s reflected in the staff choices below, as a nice mix of players young and old comprise this collection of second baseman we think you should target in 2014.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
Matt Carptenter is an interesting case in that he's likely to regress some next year but I doubt that his numbers will fall off drastically enough to drop him below guys like Ben Zobrist and Ian Kinsler in 2B rankings. I doubt he scores 126 runs again but Carpenter holds a very solid 10 percent walk rate and he did put up 73 extra-base hits in 2013. The lineup behind him is very solid as well, and he has the opportunity to tease 100 runs scored again. He's not above Cano, Pedroia, or Kipnis, but he should be a very valuable 2B again this year. —Mauricio Rubio
Due to a 25-game suspension and a hamstring injury, Ruiz hasn't had much of an opportunity to demonstrate whether or not his 2012 power breakout is even remotely sustainable. He should have a chance soon, though. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that Ruiz hopes he'll be able to begin a rehab assignment next week, and then rejoin the Phillies on June 17.
Carlos Ruiz was placed on the disabled list on Monday with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, and he's expected to be out three to four weeks. While he is on the DL, Kratz will handle the starting catcher duties with Humberto Quintero serving as his backup. The 33-year-old backstop didn't do much with Ruiz serving a 25-game suspension to open the season, but he did hit three homers in just 92 plate appearances. He hits the ball in the air regularly (34.8 percent outfield fly-ball rate), and that will help his home-run power play up. He's not a catcher that should be rostered in most mixed leagues, even those in which teams start two catchers, but his steady playing time for the next month or so coupled with enough power to reach the seats a few times is reason enough to own him in larger NL-only formats.
Bret explains why the list has featured more pitchers than hitters in its early weeks, and then reveals this week's top 25.
You might have noticed that, since this list has started, there have consistently been more pitchers than position players on it. This week is no different, as there are 15 pitchers and only 10 hitters. The reason for that is pretty simple—while pitching is more plentiful on the waiver wire than position players are, the stars need to align a little more for a bat stashed away on your bench to actively contribute value to any given fantasy team. If you had Anthony Rendon on your bench prior to his initial call-up, and you also had Adrian Beltre entrenched as your third baseman, you’re going to need to pull off a trade to capitalize on Rendon’s value. Of course, the owner with Beltre at the hot corner is less likely to be stashing a fellow third baseman anyway, which only furthers the point.
It’s rare to find an owner who couldn’t use more pitching on his/her roster (or at least an upgrade over the worst active member of their staff). When you’re dealing with individual positions, the barriers to entry for value make deciding whom to stash a different proposition. So while I’m saying that in a vacuum, Mike Zunino has more value than Anthony Rendon for the rest of this season, roster makeup can play a large role in determining who is more valuable to your specific team. And since the liquidity of these rookies can vary widely from league to league and owner to owner, points are docked for the lack of flexibility that may come with housing a hitter.
An injury to Ryan Zimmerman clears room for the Nationals' top prospect for the second straight season.
The Situation: In an ironic twist, the oft-injured Anthony Rendon (Baseball Prospectus’ top Washington Nationals prospect and the 35th-rated prospect on Jason Parks’ Top 101 entering the season) has the injury of another to thank for his first taste of major-league action. Nationals All-Star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday for a strained left hamstring, leaving Washington with a hole to fill at the hot corner. Coming off strong showings in both the Arizona Fall League and spring training, Rendon put himself on the fast track to the Nation’s capital with a red-hot start to the 2013 season, including the most recent 10-game stretch at Double-A Harrisburg, in which he posted a triple-slash line of .333/.511/.636 while clocking in with an 11:8 walk-to-strikeout ratio.
Background: After dropping to Atlanta in the 27th round of the 2008 Draft, Rendon decided to forgo the start of his professional career in favor of three years with Coach Graham and the hometown Rice Owls. Without question the decision was a good one, as the Houston native immediately established himself as the top player in college baseball, eventually earning a major-league deal with the Washington Nationals worth $7.2 million over four years ($6 million of it in signing bonus).
The Baseball Prospectus 2013 Top 101 Prospects, by Position, by Organization, and by Age
Yesterday, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect crew released our Top 101 Prospects of 2013, also newly available in printed form in the now-shipping Baseball Prospectus 2013 annual. The festivities were wild and raucous for all, perhaps tempered slightly for fans of the Chicago White Sox. Here is the Top 101 list displayed by position, by organization, and by prospect age. Enjoy!