With each passing week of these rankings it almost seems like you would have been better off skipping the first 100 players picked in your 2014 drafts, choosing to start crafting your team from pick 101 instead. Maybe we should convince our league opponents to sprinkle in our missed picks from the top 100 and spread them around between 101 and 250 for our 2015 drafts. Based on ESPN’s ADP from this past season only Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, and Jose Altuve were drafted as top 10 guys at the 2B position and finished statistically as such. Your 2nd, 3rd, and 6th rated statistical performers at the position were Anthony Rendon, Dee Gordon, and Josh Harrison. Rendon was selected at an ADP of 226, Gordon had an ADP of 220, and Josh Harrison wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
Going into last season Rendon had people’s attention but many probably doubted he was ready to take as big a leap as he did at age 24. Could Kolten Wong be next year’s Rendon? Dee Gordon was looked at as a twiggy youthful underperforming bust. Maybe Jedd Gyorko can be the next 2B to break away from his status as a talent bust. As for Harrison, if you threw his name out there and asked people to tell you what sport he played they probably guess football.
Enough small talk already, let’s get to the keystone bounce back candidates already:
Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox – Age 32 in August 2015)
2014 Stat Line: .278/72/7/53/17 in 551 ABs
The scrappy Pedroia has aged like an NFL running back. Boston’s second baseman has played through countless injuries and his stat line has taken a hit because of it. At this point Pedroia’s name value is worth more than his actual value and he won’t likely find his way onto any of my 2015 rosters.
As disastrous as the Red Sox 2014 it seems quite likely that their entire roster is due for a bit of a bounce back, Pedroia included. The bounce back for Pedroia is most likely to be seen in his runs scored and perhaps a tad across the board otherwise. Even if he is able to bounce back to the tune of .280/80/10/60/18 there’s no way he should be taken inside the top 60 picks where I still anticipate he will land.
Bounce Back Potential: Like a Pete Rose signed baseball. It doesn’t bounce too well and it only looks valuable because of the name on it. Rose has killed his autograph’s value with the amount of signings he’s taken part in. Pedroia on the other hand has killed his statistical value by playing his body through countless injuries.
Kolten Wong (Cardinals – Just turned 24 this past Friday)
2014 Stat Line: .249/52/12/42/20 in 402 ABs
Something tells me Kolten Wong is going to have a little buzz associated with his name as Spring Training gets underway and we move closer to March 2015 drafts. Referring to the expected buzz as being “little,” is likely a great understatement. For his SB and HR production in 2014, Wong doesn’t look like someone who should be on a bounce back list. His .249 average and R+RBI production left a little room for greater expectations though.
Extrapolating stat lines out to a greater number of ABs is always a risky way to hope bigger stat lines are in a player’s near future. If we do that with Wong we get a 15 HR/24 SB player at 500 ABs and an 18 HR/28 SB player at 600 ABs. Drooling yet? Get ready to go into full on double dose of Novocaine in the dentist’s chair mode. Can you guess how many players reached 18 HR and 28 SB in 2014? Just two! Hold tight, I’ll get you a bib. If John Lennon was a Kolten Wong dreamer he would not be the only one.
What we need to keep in mind with Kolten Wong is that the Cardinals are a patient organization when it comes to their young position players. Look at how they’ve handled super prospect Oscar Tavaras and how slowly they brought along Matt Adams. Cracking the 500 AB mark will be a tall order for Wong and he won’t get anywhere near that 600 AB mark in our dream scenario above. He still needs to get his K% down near what he showed through his years on the farm. In 2014 he K’d at a clip of 16.4% and will need to get that down to around 13% to take the next step. Furthermore he will need to develop a more selective eye at the plate before the Cardinals will entrust a full-time gig to him near the top of their order. His .292 OBP in 2014 won’t cut it. On the plus side, the young St. Louis 2B did have an 83% theft rate on the base paths that should help him maintain his value and possibly make a run at top 10 status at the second base position.
My early prediction is that we will see Kolten Wong selected on average between picks 150 and 160 next year which is right where hyped keystone youngsters Jedd Gyorko and Jurickson Profar were selected in 2014 drafts on average. He’s certainly on the rise and should continue to develop steadily over the next few years. I’d just keep expectations in check and delete that stat/AB extrapolation from memory.
2015 Bounce Back Potential: Think dodge balls. They’re pretty bouncy. The problem with dodge balls are that the power isn’t always in your hands. There’s the awesome power of hoisting it in the face of your opponent and then there’s the flip side of being the hunted. The power will be in your hands early in draft season before the hype train gets going on Wong. As soon as people start getting all trendy, thinking Wong is the next greatest thing is when 2015 Wong drafters will become the hunted. My advice is to snag him at a value in the early going, take him for what he’s worth and expect nothing more through the middle of draft season, and let others overpay as draft season winds down and his ADP peaks out just before the start of the regular season.
Jurickson Profar (Rangers – Age 22 in February 2015)
2014 Stat Line: Zilch
Speaking of Jurickson Profar. I want to own Profar in 2015 like I want to hug a person with Ebola. In many cases I’ll tell you that we need to be patient with a young player. In Profar’s case I’m going to go the opposite direction when it comes to his age. His development has been severely interrupted due to injury and I am of a mindset that he’s going to need time to get back on track. The fact Profar’s shoulder is still an issue and surgery could still be in his near future gives me even more reason to stay away. It would be encouraging if he can get himself into some Arizona Fall League action yet even that won’t be enough to sway me to make Profar a part of my 2015 plans.
In dynasty formats I’m all for taking a discount on his pedigree but for 2015 redraft leagues he’s going to spend his time on someone else’s roster while he figures out how to hit MLB pitching. Let’s also keep in mind that Profar hasn’t exactly been productive in his 303 MLB ABs accumulated to this point. What he’s been able to do in those at bats is put up a stat line of .231/32/7/28/2.
Bounce Back Potential: Like a bowling ball dropped into quick sand…for 2015 that is.
Jedd Gyorko (Padres – Age 27 in September 2015)
2014 Stat Line: .210/37/10/51/3 in 400 ABs
Somewhere in Gyorko lies a productive power bat for a position fairly void of serious power options. His performance to this point has been frustrating to say the least. In 2013’s second half he gave us a preview of his power potential that many of us hoped would carry over to 2014. The first half of 2014 rivaled what many stat lines looked like throughout MLB…when pitchers hit. Thank goodness for plantar fasciitis putting an end to Gyorko’s pathetic first half.
In the second half Gyorko experienced a bit of a rebound. His average went from .162 in the first half to .260 in the second half. This correction was largely due to a K% that improved by 5.5% in the second half to go along with a BABIP that climbed from .192 all the way to .313. What didn’t change from first half to second half was his home run production. After hitting 5 HR in 204 first half ABs, Gyorko followed it up with 5 HR in 196 second half ABs.
For 2015 it would be nice to see more consistency to Gyorko’s game. We can hope for that and a trade to Colorado. Wishful thinking, I know. San Diego’s Petco park and surrounding West Coast stadiums will continue to be Gyorko’s nemesis and there is nothing exciting about owning a San Diego hitter. Being a Padre hitter is kind of like being a boxer with no arms.
2015 Bounce Back Potential: Like that little league bat with the tiny two-inch sweet spot. There’s hope that you’ll square one up but probably a better chance you will be left with your hands stinging. This isn’t to say I won’t own Gyorko if I can get him at an extreme discount. I’ll consider taking him sometime after pick 220 if he lasts that far into 2015 drafts.
Brandon Phillips (Reds – Age 34 in June 2015)
2014 Stat Line: .266/44/8/51/2 in 462 ABs
In 2014 Brandon Phillips officially morphed into Omar Infante. Infante is about as exciting to select on draft day as getting a pair of socks gifted to you at Christmas. Phillips seemed destined to have a major decline for a few years now and he finally bottomed out this past season. Prior to 2014 he somehow kept finding his way to 18 HR and even lucked into a 100 RBI season in 2013. Giving him the Infante tag is a little harsh. Infante has almost zero upside whereas we could still hope Phillips finds a portion of his prior success.
The numbers supporting Phillips’ demise are a six-year slow, steady K% increase from 11.7% to 14.8% as well as a less subtle three-year fall in his HR/FB% that went from 8% to 4.6%. Factor in that Dat Dude BP has altered his game to include more line drives than fly balls over the past three years and his yearly 18-22 HR expectation is likely a thing of the past. As for his draft status, Phillips might have enough name value after years of solid production that he won’t actually come at a significant value in 2015 drafts. If drafters want to let Dat Dude fall to pick 170 and beyond I’d start to consider making him part of my 2015 plans.
2015 Bounce Back Potential: Like that old tennis ball you have been throwing to your dog the past year. It still bounces a little and ultimately serves its purpose.
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