Have you ever flipped through an Eat This, Not That book? You know the ones; they tell you to choke down this healthy, funky looking hummus crap, not that incredibly delicious French onion dip. This is not like that at all. This is more like me telling you to try this surprisingly delightful off-brand of French onion dip instead of the marked up name brand stuff. Either way it’s still French onion dip and I’m just trying to save you a buck. And back away from the hummus, that crap is nasty!
This week the Fantasy Assembly crew makes their way to the keystone. Second basemen are our focus as we head towards Friday’s release of our Top 25 Second Basemen for 2015. For me, this marks the third installment of Draft This, Not That. Draft This, Not That for Catchers and Draft This, Not That for First Basemen were released during the previous two weeks.
The second base position seems deep to me in 2015. Well, deep in mediocrity at least. There is a large contingent of middle of the pack offerings at second base. If you miss out on Anthony Rendon or Robinson Cano early on I highly encourage you to target upside in the form of someone like Kolten Wong or perhaps Mookie Betts if he is 2B eligible in your league. If speed is your thing I suppose you might make Jose Altuve or Dee Gordon an early target as well.
As for Draft This, Not That, here are a few guys I would pass on knowing a similar slash line will be available later on in drafts:
Draft Kolten Wong, Not Jason Kipnis
Fellow Fantasy Assemblyman, Tommy Landseadel got second base week started off yesterday with some hate for Jason Kipnis and I am jumping on that bandwagon here. Let me start you off with the second half numbers for these two from their 2014 season. It’s almost too perfect that if I add in the 30 post season at bats from Wong that he and Kipnis have the exact same number of Plate Appearances (PAs) from the second half of the 2014 season, so let’s do that:
Of course these numbers carefully chosen for you fit my argument all too perfectly. Wong finally saw some consistent playing time so his 2014 second half is all I really can point to and you cannot exactly tell me Kipnis has lit the world on fire in his last three halves of MLB time. Also not helping Kipnis’s case is that he is coming off surgery after needing finger tendon repair from a weight lifting incident this off-season.
Helping Wong’s case is that the Cardinals really have not done much to back him up on their roster. They seem set on letting him sink or swim. Unfortunately, Wong seems to suffer from a bit of tetraphobia, otherwise known as a fear of the number four. This can be seen in his strong desire to avoid letting a pitcher throw him four balls in an at bat. Consequently, his lack of ability to draw walks likely means Wong is slated for a 7th or 8th slot in the Cardinals’ lineup which will put a damper on his ability to score runs. All the proof you need is in his second half OBP of .286. Regardless, Wong can realistically approach a 20 home run, 20 stolen base season. For my liking I think 15 home runs and 25 stolen bases are a bit more realistic for his ceiling.
At this time you can likely get Wong about three rounds later than Kipnis is going off draft boards on average. Even in early drafts, people are already onto Wong. So many tasteless jokes can be written into a Kolten Wong write-up and I have resisted that temptation. I’m sophisticated, y’all.
Draft Howie Kendrick, Not Dustin Pedroia
For the first time in years Dustin Pedroia may finally be falling into an ADP range that makes him reasonable to consider. But why draft him when you can have his clone about 70 picks later?
Like Jason Kipnis above, Pedroia will also be entering the 2015 season coming off surgery. Only in his case it is to repair his left wrist. While this has been described as a minor cleanup of scar tissue, it is still a surgery and that is not something I like to get too involved in with my early picks. It used to be that Pedroia could be counted on as a solid producer of runs and RBI with a fairly consistent 15 home run, 20 stolen base output. In the past two seasons Pedroia has seen his home run total fall to just 9 in 2013 and 7 in 2014. In fact, Pedroia is now in a four-year decline in home runs from his peak of 21 in 2011. I would like to tell you that since the power is gone you can still expect Pedroia to be active on the base paths. Given that he was only successful on 6 of 12 stolen base attempts in 2014 I am not sure this is going to be a big part of Pedroia’s game moving forward either. With their lineup rebuilt and looking solid from top to bottom the Red Sox are not going to want to be giving away outs on the bases.
Enough about Pedroia, what about Howie Kendrick? Kendrick is about as reliable a .290 hitter as you are going to find. He hovers around .290 like clockwork. Unfortunately, like Pedroia, Kendrick’s power has somewhat dried up as well although there really is not an injury issue to point to for his fall in home runs. That I like. He should have a clean bill of health going into the 2015 season. As for his stolen bases, Kendrick was successful on 14 of 19 attempts in 2014. Without any single player lighting the base paths on fire, the Dodgers are going to have a fair amount of speed up and down their lineup and given his continued success rate I expect Kendrick’s speed too to be utilized often enough to approach 15 stolen bases in 2015.
What remains to be seen is where Howie Kendrick will hit in the Dodgers’ lineup. Kendrick might his second but for my liking he should hit out of the 5-hole with plenty of runners to drive in and enough bats behind him to still score a fair amount of runs as well. Regardless of where Kendrick hits, I think you are looking at a solid chance at a similar amount of R + RBI out of him and Pedroia with each of them having the ability to hit 10 to 12 home runs and steal 10-15 bases. My question to you is; who would you draft instead of Pedroia knowing you can get Kendrick quite a bit later?
You could draft:
Josh Harrison and Howie Kendrick instead of Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts
Kole Calhoun and Howie Kendrick instead of Dustin Pedroia and Leonys Martin
Gerrit Cole and Howie Kendrick instead of Dustin Pedroia and Michael Wacha
Given that I see Kendrick and Pedroia as similar producers heading into the 2015 season I like each of those first options quite a bit more. Harrison has already done with we hope Bogaerts might eventually do but looks nowhere close to being capable of doing so at the moment. Kole Calhoun will benefit from hitting at the top of a decent lineup with 20 home run, 15 stolen base potential while Leonys Martin will hit near the bottom of his lineup and offers little power upside to go with his contribution in the stolen base category. Finally. Wacha has risk due to a shoulder issue while Gerrit Cole looks ready to take things to the next level. All this adds up to me passing on Pedroia for 2015 and looking to land Kendrick instead.
Draft Jonathan Schoop, Not Jedd Gyorko
Honestly, what is the difference here? Both Schoop and Gyorko should hit in the bottom third of their respective lineups and each has 20+ home run power that comes with the risk of a Mendoza Line flirting batting average. Since Schoop can be had over 100 picks later than Gyorko, he should be your target for a little pop from your middle infield position.
From their 2014 numbers, Gyorko earned the nod over Schoop in both his K% (22.6% vs. 25.4%) and BB% (8.1% vs. 2.7%). Schoop got the nod over Gyorko in both his FB% (36.9% vs. 34.7%) and HR/FB% (13.1% vs. 9.5%). Their BABIP was nearly identical at .253 for Gyorko and .249 for Schoop. I’m not seeing much to separate these two so far.
Gyorko is closer to his prime at age 26 whereas Schoop is just 23 years old. External factors such as surrounding lineup and home ballpark would seem to lean towards Schoop. Again, I am still seeing only slight differences and off-setting factors.
In a vacuum I would lean towards Jedd Gyorko. Give me a 100 pick difference though and I will gladly wait and take a shot on Jonathan Schoop to take the next step and provide a power boost from my middle infield slot in deeper formats.