Waiting Game: Comparing Second Base Tiers

Method

This series goes position by position, comparing the average production you get out of the top 5 ranked, the next 5 players, and so on. We’re looking for where the value of players starts to drop, so that you can see how long you can wait on a position and what kind of hit in production you’ll take if you do. One thing to note is that I’m not restricting players to only one position for the stat information. If a guy qualifies at 2B, SS, and OF, his numbers are going to appear in all three sets.

There’s a lot of discussion about tiers in ranking players. Some fantasy managers live by it, because they like to make cut-off points where they feel the talent is noticeably different between one group of players and the next group. Other managers don’t like it and prefer a simple straight ranking. I’ve always enjoyed tiers, and depending on the format of your league, there really can be obvious gaps in talent level at a certain number of players. 

I’ve done two things here. First I use CBS’s ranking info for 5×5 roto leagues, and I show the average numbers for the top 5 players at a position compared to players 6-10, and then 11-15. Next I’ll take data from a private CBS points league and show the averages for the same breakdowns (1-5, 6-10, 11-15). Although it’s a custom scoring league, there aren’t major differences from CBS’s public points system, and anyway, a lot of times the points rankings are very close to the 5×5. The nice thing is that it boils down production to a common denominator (points) regardless of whether a player was more speed or power.

The 5×5 Roto Comparisons

Here are your 5×5 averages of the top 5 second basemen, followed by 6-10 and 11-15. I’ve rounded to whole numbers. Finally, stolen bases are a factor in our calculations.

  • #1-5: 100 R, 14 HR, 68 RBI, 35 SB, .288 BA in 633 AB
  • #6-10: 78 R, 13 HR, 68 RBI, 11 SB, .297 BA in 568 AB
  • #11-15: 79 R, 11 HR, 63 RBI, 9 SB, .261 BA in 562 AB

There’s a bit of power throughout the position, and RBI production isn’t going to be all that different. What separates the top tier is runs and steals. For runs, three of the top five 2B had 0ver 100 R, and the lowest total was 85. By comparison, the highest in the #6-10 range was 85, and the rest were in the 70s. Altuve and Dee Gordon account for 120 of the 173 SB in the top-5. After them, only four qualifying 2B had 20+ SB, and two of them (Bonifacio, Kipnis) were outside of the top-20 ranks for the position. There is good BA to be had throughout the top-10, so the position is deeper than it used to be. In the top-15, the AB totals are all pretty high, but what really separated #1-5 from #6-10 was 65 AB. It’s not good science, but if you prorate the run total from #6-10 to equal AB as #1-5, they have 85 R, further closing the gap between the two.

 

The Points Comparison

Here’s the breakdown. Remember that in points leagues, power is more valuable than speed, so although Altuve remains atop the rankings (due to his many hits on top of his SB), Dee Gordon suffers and drops to eighth overall instead of third.

  • Range, 1-5: 581.5 – 710.5, avg. 639.1 points
  • Range, 6-10: 511.5 – 544, avg. 528.3 points
  • Range, 11-15: 434 – 505.5, avg. 476.5 points
  • Difference between avg. of 1-5 and 6-10 = 110.8 points = 21.0% more
  • Difference between avg. of 1-5 and 11-15 = 162.6points = 34.1% more
  • Difference between avg. of 6-10 and 11-15 = 51.8 points = 10.9% more

.

  • Range, 1-5: 581.5 – 710.5, avg. 639.1 points
  • Range, 6-15: 434 – 544, avg. 502.4 points
  • Difference between avg. of 1-5 and 6-15 = 137.7 points = 27.2% more

 .

  • Range, 1-10: 511.5 – 710.5, avg. 583.7 points
  • Range, 11-20: 394.5– 505.5, avg. 441.5 points
  • Difference between avg. of 1-10 and 11-20 = 142.2 points = 32.2% more

In points leagues, there’s more of a gap between the top-5 and #6-10, because those extra R and HR make more of a difference in counting up points. In this case, the gap between #6-10 and #11-15 is much smaller.

The Bottom Line: In roto leagues I’d really like to draft a super speedster like Altuve or Gordon, because after them, the difference in most other respects is insignificant aside from the few high-AB, high-R players. If you miss on the speed, be sure you get a top-10 guy, and you won’t miss out on much production. In points leagues, it seems that if you’re going to miss out on the top-5 second basemen, then you may as well keep waiting because the loss between the next two tiers isn’t extreme. Finally, let’s not forget that there were some disappointing seasons from previous top 2B, such as Kipnis (I like for rebound) and Pedroia and Phillips (I don’t like for rebound). Perhaps they’ll be more relevant in 2015, but the point is that you have a lot of options either way.

Compare tiers for the rest of the positions

CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird Base ShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherRelievers

Kevin Jebens

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Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.