Draft This, Not That: Second Basemen

Question marks start popping up near the top of the second baseman tiers. Outside of Jose Altuve and Dee Gordon, you have depleted power from Cano, expected batting average issues with Brian Dozier, injury issues with Anthony Rendon, and inconsistency from Jason Kipnis. Last year the hot name soaring up draft boards was Kolten Wong. This year it will be Rougned Odor. With Odor, you’re supposed to get excited if you land an 18 homer, 10 stolen base season. With that in mind, second base for fantasy purposes is deep in mediocrity so you might as well wait well into drafts to take a shot on one of them.


Draft Neil Walker – Not Daniel Murphy:

Interesting that I’m opting to focus on one player who is essentially replacing the other on his former team. In focusing on Neil Walker and Daniel Murphy, this really comes down to whether we should value Daniel Murphy so much more just because he comes with the additional third base eligibility. How much more are drafters valuing Daniel Murphy in the early going? Well, he’s coming off the draft board more than 65 picks before Walker is in the earliest NFBC drafts.

If recent history tells us anything, about the only 5×5 stat where I can tell you Murphy trumps Walker is batting average. Murphy’s low batting average mark over the past five seasons came last year at .281. Walker on the other hand has hit anywhere from .251 to .280 over the past five seasons. To counteract the batting average advantage Murphy has, I feel strongly that Walker’s home run total will eclipse Murphy’s in 2016. Walker has put up 91 homers over the past five seasons compared to 48 for Daniel Murphy in the same time frame. In that span, Walker has accumulated just five more plate appearances than Murphy. When it comes to speed, I could see Murphy finishing in the 6-8 stolen base range playing for a team in Washington that wants to be a little more aggressive on the base paths. Meanwhile, Walker is more likely to finish in the 2-4 stolen base range. It is interesting to note though that Walker was successful on four of his five 2015 stolen base attempts compared to Murphy’s success on just two of his four attempts.

When it comes to their respective runs and RBI totals, a lot of that will be determined by where each player settles into their respective batting lineup. I could see either players hitting second or fifth in the lineup this coming season. A lot of that will depend on a game to game need, pitching matchups, and the health of teammates. Murphy might benefit the most from lineup placement if he is able to bat second and receive protection from NL MVP, Bryce Harper. Regardless of where Walker and Murphy find their names penciled into day-to-day lineups I feel their runs + RBI totals will be similar.

The biggest reason for the ADP difference for these two players lies in Murphy’s dual position eligibility coupled with his recent post season heroics that might still be fresh in people’s minds. Murphy’s other position he’s eligible for is third base, however, and he’s about as valuable as Nick Castellanos is as your fantasy third baseman.  That’s the same Nick Castellanos who comes off the board after Neil Walker on average. I could see Walker having some additional value in deeper formats due to his position eligibility, but in most cases I simply do not see him being worth investing in some 65 picks earlier than where you could grab Walker for your fantasy needs in 2016.

For 2016, I project the following stat lines:

Daniel Murphy: 75/12/65/6/.285
Neil Walker: 70/17/70/3/.265

Draft Jonathan Schoop – Not Rougned Odor:

I am a fan of Rougned Odor as a young player and excited to see more from him. Given that Odor is likely to find his name penciled into the bottom third of the Rangers’ lineup to start the 2016 season, I just don’t want to pay the premium that’s been attached to his name so far in early drafts. That premium has him going just outside of the top 100 overall picks at 108 on average in early NFBC drafts. Jonathan Schoop has a similar skillset but currently is holding down an ADP of 261 through those early NFBC drafts. I actually feel there’s a greater chance Schoop could take on a desirable lineup spot earlier in the 2015 season given the current makeup of the Orioles’ roster.

I will admit that while the skill set is similar for these two American League second basemen, Schoop is perhaps a tad more flawed. Those flaws can be seen in Schoop’s K rate which came in at 24.6% for the 2015 season compared to just 16.8% for Odor. When they did make contact though, the results were quite similar. Both Odor and Schoop finished with a solid second half, so let’s zero in on what their contact looked like during that period of the season. During the second half of 2015, Odor’s made medium level contact 44.2% of the time and hard level contact 33.2% of the time. By comparison, Schoop made medium level contact 47.7% of the time and hard level contact 33.7% of the time.

Odor supporters will likely point to his stolen base contribution as a major factor to why he would come off draft boards 150+ picks earlier than Schoop. To those people I would suggest they look at how frequently Odor was caught stealing and ask themselves if they would give him the green light going forward? Odor stole six bags in 2015 but was caught seven times. Not too impressive, and his recent success at various levels is not much better. Though it is a small sample size, you should know that Schoop was successful on both of his 2015 stolen base attempts. Not that anyone is going to select him hoping for a handful of stolen bases in 2016.

I’ll give slight nods to Odor in the batting average due to contact rate and a slight nod in the stolen base category simply because he is likely to attempt to steal more bags than Schoop. What I think you’re really hoping for if you roster either player though is for a power boost to your roster from a position that clearly lacks home run hitting contributors. This is where a lean towards Schoop and fly ball distance is all the evidence I need. Schoop managed to tally the eighth highest average fly ball distance in the big leagues in 2015 at 306.45 feet. There is an impressive list of names ahead of him – Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Davis, Pedro Alvarez, Paul Goldschmidt, Kyle Schwarber, Jose Abreu, and Nelson Cruz to be specific. Odor’s average fly ball distance checked in at 277 feet, good for 175th overall.

For 2016, I project the following stat lines:

Rougned Odor: .270/65/18/70/10
Jonathan Schoop: .250/60/22/75/3

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