This past March the writers here got together and had our first draft for the Fantasy Assembly Friends and Family League. Don’t worry, I am not going to give you some sort of big recap; I have heard quite a few times that “No one cares about your draft” and it’s October for crying out loud. But I do want to talk to you about one particular pick I made.
Going in to the draft I was determined to not reach at second base. It was getting towards the 14th round of the draft, and I was still in need of a second baseman. Daniel Murphy and Howie Kendrick were still on the board for some reason; taking them at this point was not a reach, and in fact each represented good value. I thought to myself, “I’ve made it this far, let’s see how far I can push it” and let them pass. Murphy was drafted, but Kendrick made it back to me one round later. Now he was clearly the best available second baseman on the board, but I was stubborn and let him pass again even if it felt like a bit of a mistake. I waited a little while and took Scooter Gennett and Arismendy Alcantara. One of them would work out for me, right?
By the time I paid my taxes I knew I was in trouble. Gennett didn’t lead off like I had hoped; he was terrible and soon injured. Alcantara was benched in favor of Tommy LaStella on opening day, played sporadically for a few weeks and was back in the minors before the end of April. I cycled through a few other players. I “bought low” on Roughned Odor; this may sound good now, but he was terrible early on and was sent to the minors — I didn’t benefit from his second half breakout.
But I kept working the wire for a little longer and ended up with DJ LeMahieu at second base and Logan Forsythe at middle infield. This was primarily luck, but all it takes is a little luck and you can find someone who will exceed the performance of a Howie Kendrick or Daniel Murphy. Others may have gotten lucky with Delino Deshields, Justin Turner, Joe Panik or . . . well there are plenty of players who will produce similar or even better production than the veteran crew headed up by Kendrick, Murphy, Ben Zobrist and others of their ilk.
These guys have been reliable for a few years, but as they move further into their thirties, they have hit their ceiling. OK, Murphy broke his ceiling this postseason, but his career high in home runs in the regular season is 14. As for Howie Kendrick, those rumblings about winning a batting title are not coming to pass; Zobrist has leveled off as well. These players are solid, but not spectacular. You might have bid $13 dollars and possibly earned $15 dollars — you could do worse, but you should try to do better.
In fact, when I look at second base I see a decent chance for you to do better. There are plenty of younger players that you can get for a reasonable cost in a trade that might prove to be an upgrade sooner rather than later. Don’t settle; now is your opportunity to make sure you have a chance at an impact player for years to come.
Jose Pereza – With Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick hitting free agency, the door is open for Pereza to take over at second base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He came over in a deal with Mat Latos, Michael Morse, Bronson Arroyo, and Jim Johnson – that’s some dead weight to take on so there must be something here. Pereza only hit .182 during a brief stint with the big club before injuries shut him down, but he impressed with his speed and aggressiveness. Speed and aggressiveness is all I want. Players that can steal 30 bases are hard to come by these days, but if Pereza wins the job he might be able to give you that or more, even batting at the bottom of the order. In the long run he could give fantasy teams a big boost in the stolen base category, and should help in runs and batting average.
Jonathan Schoop – This is the type of recommendation that could come back to bite me. His plate discipline is nightmarish, but I can’t help but be drawn to Schoop’s power. I’m willing to stick my neck out because it is not as if it’s a really high risk to have him on your team, but there could be a high reward. The Curacao native quietly slugged 15 home runs in half a season. He’s unlikely to keep up that kind of pace, and with 9 walks against 79 strikeouts he’s not likely to keep a .279 average either, but 20 home runs has to be a fair bet, no? Brian Dozier and Robinson Cano are the only second basemen who cleared 20 home runs last year so elite power is at a premium here; if the construction of your team is right then Schoop can offer some pluses at a reasonable cost.
Devon Travis – I am not as high on him as some others, convinced about last April’s power outburst or concerned about his being injury prone. But, he has put up some high averages in the minors, has decent speed and will be in a great lineup. Where he hits in that lineup is uncertain, but I think he should hit between .280-.300 with double-digit speed and some power. That is about what I would expect from Dustin Pedroia who I’m sure is more highly regarded by your league-mates, and if that power outburst is real you’ll look even smarter.
Rob Refsnyder – Some circles have been calling for Refsnyder to play with the Yankees ever since Cano left. The Yankees felt his glove wasn’t ready, but we saw at the end of the year that his bat looks good enough to stick. He may give up some at bats to Dustin Ackley (seriously) and will probably hit at the bottom of the lineup early on, but with a lineup as aged as the Yankees I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move up quickly. I saw Chase Headley hitting second for crying out loud! He could get some good counting stats to go with a solid average.
Starlin Castro – We need to see how this shakes out, but I have an unscientific approach on this. Players who play in the bigs at age 21 or so are there because they are special, and Castro didn’t just play – he succeeded. Last year was a tough one, but Castro showed what he can do as he got blistering hot down the stretch. You might never get a chance to get him this cheap again.
There are a few other candidates for you to consider warts and all; Brett Lawrie is one such example. In my mind they are worth the cost. If they don’t pan out, keep grinding and you will find a contributor. They may seem unsafe compared to the likes of Kendrick, Murphy, and Zobrist, but those vets have warts as well. You don’t see them in their end-of-season numbers, but you will see it when you are in the middle of the pack by settling for a middle of the pack second baseman.
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