In the seminal Simpsons episode “Homer vs. Dignity” (season 12, episode 5), Marge Simpson advises us to “Avoid The Noid. He ruins pizzas.” Here are six second basemen our staff recommends you avoid in your upcoming drafts or auctions.
Logan Forsythe, Rays
A funny thing has happened in the last few years. Second base, traditionally a bastion of paucity (that works right? No? Let me have this), has actually accrued some depth. Enough for our esteemed leader to rank a guy like Dustin Pedroia 15th in his dynasty rankings. That being the case, I come to you with the advice to avoid Logan Forsythe, for a couple reasons.
Last year established career highs in:
- walk rate
- home runs (by almost triple)
- average, on-base, slugging
- stolen bases
His batted-ball profile didn't change in any significant way that would make these successes sustainable
It's a point well met that you can't just shout regression and think you've made a good argument. What matters is what a player will regress to. I don't have a great answer for that other than looking towards his career norms prior to 2015, and assuming a little progress, as he's another year removed from PETCO park, and another year into his prime. I'm not so blind as to say progress couldn't be made, but I'm struggling to find where it was made to support anything close to the output Forsythe managed on in regards to power or average.
The best I can say is that he was above average in terms of contact when he did decide to swing, and didn't swing close to league average. Neither of those things is out of the norm for Forsythe though, so we're back to something close to his previous career baselines, which isn't suitable for wor-, I mean your fantasy lineup. —Craig Goldstein
DJ LeMahieu, Rockies
DJ LeMahieu had something of a breakout year in 2015, finishing the season with a .301 AVG and 23 stolen bases on top of his first career All-Star appearance. For someone in his age-26 season, it wasn’t entirely unheard of for him to get his first big break at that point in his career. With that being said, there’s a good chance that ends up being the best season he ever puts up. The biggest factor at play here is his .362 BABIP. To be fair to LeMahieu, he’s always been able to sustain a high BABIP, and playing in Colorado with that big outfield is certainly helpful. It’s not going to remain that high, though. On top of that, he’ll be playing a full season without Troy Tulowitzki, and he’s likely to lose one of his productive outfielders to trade before the season begins.
Now, you’re looking at a .275 hitter with 20 stolen bases with not much else. It is more than a fine player, but not worth the price you’ll be paying right now. As of this writing, LeMahieu is going off the board as the 11th-ranked second baseman according to NFBC data. There are plenty of safer veterans I’d prefer over him. Specifically, you can wait a round or two to get Daniel Murphy or Dustin Pedroia. Neil Walker is going a whopping 90 picks after LeMahieu. If you prefer the upside of a younger player, Starlin Castro, Jonathan Schoop and Javier Baez are all going after LeMahieu. Plus, it’s advisable to avoid spelling LeMahieu as much as possible. —Matt Collins
Daniel Murphy, Nationals
“Avoid” isn’t the right word with Murphy. I’m definitely willing to own him in 2016, and I think he’ll be a solid contributor in a bunch of categories. But I’m willing to bet that he gets routinely overdrafted next year in the wake of his postseason, even if his current FantasyPros ADP is just no. 15 for the position (no. 177 overall). The main draw with Murphy has always been his well-rounded-ness. I don’t doubt that he can hit for an acceptable average and I don’t doubt that he’ll reach double-digit homers. But I do wonder if Murphy’s running days are behind him, and that puts a bigger dent in his value than you might suspect. For example, despite finishing with a career-high 14 homers and a second-best career total of 73 RBI, Murphy was significantly less valuable last year (no. 16 2B per ESPN Player Rater) than he’s been in years past. If you’re in a deeper league Murphy is a fine starting option, and in shallow leagues he’s a solid MI. But right now Murphy is being selected on par with Dustin Pedroia and ahead of Ben Zobrist. IMHO, that ain’t right. —Ben Carsley
Brandon Phillips, Reds
Written off by many heading into 2015 after a disappointing 2014 campaign, Phillips proved the fantasy experts wrong last year and was a top-five fantasy second baseman in mixed leagues. This former three-time All-Star is coming off his best fantasy season since 2011, but you should not bank on Phillips returning to the level of an upper-tier option heading into your 2016 fantasy drafts. Most of Phillips’ fantasy value in 2015 was tied to his 23 steals and .294 AVG, which seem unrepeatable this upcoming year. A career .271 hitter heading into last year, Phillips enjoyed a 20-point bump in his BABIP over his career norm, which helped him produce the second-highest batting average in his 14-year career. As for the spike in stolen bases, his 23 steals were more than his totals over the previous three seasons combined, so predicting a repeat performance in that category is dubious. His HR:FB rates have dropped dramatically the past two seasons and were well below league average, and his extra-base-hit percentage was at a career low of 19 percent in 2015; 140 of the second baseman’s 173 knocks were of the one-bag variety. Now that he’s 34 years old and on a rebuilding Reds team, I would be wary of investing in Phillips’ fantasy services in 2016. —Keith Cromer
Jonathan Schoop, Orioles
Schoop is likely to be a popular topic of discussion as a later-round guy (he’s currently barely cracking the top 250 as the 19th second baseman off the board) who boasts top-12 upside at the position, and J.P. Breen made that very argument in our Fantasy Players to Target piece on Monday. If you pro-rate his production in a half-season of plate appearances last year it’s a compelling case; he’s got a whole bunch of pop, he didn’t kill you in average. I don’t see him sustaining the batting average (or the counting stats that go with it), however. Not with his current batted-ball and contact profiles, anyway. His chase rate last year ranked as the seventh-worst among all of the 268 big-league hitters to log 300 plate appearances last year, and his poor results on his fishing expeditions helped drive the second-worst contact rate in that entire sample. And while he posted an 80th-percentile exit velocity when he did manage to put the ball in play, his propensity to put air under it raises an eyebrow as to how he managed to run the decidedly above-average BABIP that saved the day for his batting average last year. Minor-league BABIP numbers are always dodgy to reference, but last year’s effort came in well out of line with his previous 1,300-plus plate appearances between the high minors and majors.
The power he’s flashed over the past couple of seasons puts him squarely into the mix as a top-20 option in standard formats, but that home-run potential comes at the steepest price imaginable in OBP leagues. His .027 OBP-AVG differential was the third-worst at the position, besting only kingpin Dee Gordon and non-factor Omar Infante, and his 2.8 percent career walk rate in the majors has shown no signs of imminent improvement. He hits the ball pretty hard, but he’s also been an extreme pull hitter with fly ball tendencies, so it’s not necessarily a wise bet to bank on him running an above-board BABIP like he did last year. Coupled with his whiff rate, there are the makings of a lower batting-average ceiling here than he showed last year, and that’s terrible news in OBP leagues given the catastrophically poor approach.
All of this is a long way of saying that there’s a halfway-decent chance we’re looking at 2011-2012 Dan Uggla without the walk rate. A bunch of home runs, yes, but with a crippling average, no speed, and deflated Run totals because he’s on base so infrequently. Power is a good thing, to be sure. But the position saw a significant uptick in over-the-fence pop last year and fantasy players would be wise to avoid overextending on speculation for it at the potential cost of, well, everything else. —Wilson Karaman
Kolten Wong, Cardinals
This is one of the weirdest recommendations I have ever made in this space: to avoid a player I happen to like a lot, and I believe will eventually be quite the force in fantasy baseball. But I don’t make the decisions, the Cardinals do, and they have decided to go with a platoon at second base, with recent acquisition Jedd Gyorko handling duties against lefties while Wong bats against righties. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like this would have much of an impact on Wong’s value. After all, he hit 10 of his 11 home runs last year against right-handers with a .276 batting average. In fact, if you lop off all of Wong’s at bats, hits, home runs, runs, and RBI against lefties, he only loses two dollars in fantasy value, dropping from $15 in 15-team mixed leagues to $13. That sounds great… if you play in a league that doesn’t count stolen bases. Wong also stole eight of his 15 bases against southpaws in 2015. Take those steals out of his line and now he drops from $13 to $11. That’s still okay, but it drops Wong from 10th overall among mixed-league second basemen in 2015 to 18th. Perhaps Wong will run more in 2016, but even if he does, his current ranking of ninth overall among second basemen in NFBC drafts is way too high given the playing time possibilities. —Mike Gianella
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