Can They Bounce Back? Short-hops at 2B

Second base holds an interesting mix of fantasy potential as we look into 2019. At the top, players like Jose Ramirez, Javy Baez, and Jose Altuve offer strong mixes of speed and power that rival the production you might receive from almost all other positions. The middle tier offers solid bats like Travis Shaw, Daniel Murphy, and Scooter Gennett. And further on you have several players to dream on, whether due to past production (Jonathan Schoop, Roughned Odor) or tantalizing potential (Yoan Moncada).

This week I highlight 3 second basemen whose 2018 left owners wanting more, and look to see if they can bounce back in 2019. I also include alternatives for you to consider that have similar production potential and are currently being drafted near their current ADP.

  • Dee Gordon

Moving from Miami to Seattle agreed with Dee Gordon… for the first month, mostly. During the first month of the season, Gordon slashed .309/.339/.400 and produced a .739 OPS with stole ten bases. Other than posting a .323 batting average in July, Gordon did not meet or exceed that production over any other month of the season. Though he did turn in a top ten season with regard to stolen bases (30 in 2018), the rest of Gordon’s numbers took a big hit from his strong 2017 season:

Name HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wRC+
2017 2 114 33 60 .308 .341 .375 94
2018 4 62 36 30 .268 .288 .349 77

They look even worse when you take out that strong first month, leaving him with a .258/.276/.336 line, .612 OPS and 20 stolen bases the rest of the way. The most concerning aspect of Gordon’s 2018 season is his lowered base thievery as the year went on. Gordon only stole eight bases over the second half, attempting only 14 steals after the break and generating lower ratings in speed-related metrics compared to his first half (-0.7 UBR, -2.6 wSB).

Without above-average stolen base production, Gordon has almost no value in fantasy circles, especially at a position with more speed production than most. For me, Gordon is not a worthy investment at his current ADP (114.88), especially given other options going just before or after him in drafts.

A less-risky alternative is Cesar Hernandez (ADP: 182.37) since he will give you solid speed production (19 steals in 2018) and power (15 home runs in 2018) that Gordon will never possess.

  • Brian Dozier

Dozier never put it together in 2018, posting his worst production in several seasons. He was especially bad in the second half, batting .187/.289/.326 with only five home runs and seven steals, though he still managed to post top ten marks in both home runs and steals among second basemen.

Quality of contact played a big part in Dozier’s drop-off as the second baseman declined in both Average Exit Velocity (-0.85) and Barrel% (-2.1%). His XBA rated among the lowest 3% in the league (.207) and his other expected metrics were not favorable either (.304 WOBA, .347 XSLG). His average home run distance declined by 16 feet as well, furthering the narrative that his lost 2018 was not a mirage. He really struggled with breaking balls in 2018, slashing a dismal .149 BA/.214 SLG/.192 WOBA that was well below his usual output and expected production on those offerings (.194 XBA/.281 XSLG/.238 XWOBA).

Despite all of these red flags, Dozier’s plate approach remained consistent. Both his BB% (11.1% in 2018, 11.1% in 2017) and K% (20.4% in 2018, 20% in 2017) mirrored last season’s rates and he managed to improve in several plate discipline metrics (-0.9% O-Swing%, +1.7% O-Contact%, -1% SwStr%). So, with all of this information, what should we expect from Dozier in 2019?

Dozier’s BABIP (.240) was low considering his career average (.271), and the fact that his batted ball profile did not change considerably as compared to the past two seasons. A lowered LD% (-2.2% in 2018) affected it somewhat, but he managed to post a .280 BABIP in 2016 with an even lower LD%. I think he will have better BABIP luck in 2019 and post a batting average closer to .250.

The days of Dozier hitting over 30 home runs are likely gone, but I could see him swatting 18-20 with room for slightly more given his recent signing with the Washington Nationals (Nationals Park was 5th in HR Park Factors in 2018). Changes in his base running abilities (-3.5% UBR, +1% wSB, -0.3ft/sec sprint speed) will likely keep him around ten steals or less moving forward. Dozier’s 148.69 ADP is solid considering the production he could offer, and I would be fine taking him there despite his struggles in 2018.

  • Jose Altuve

I wrote about Jose Altuve during our positional wrap-ups at the end of October, noting that he remains a top three selection at the position despite an injury-marred 2018. The only thing that could keep him from posting elite numbers at the position in 2019 is the health of his knee after the surgery he had on October 20.

Before injuring his knee, his first half production (.332/.394/.470 with 9 home runs and 14 steals) was right in line with previous levels of performance despite a slightly lowered ISO (.139). He continued to grow as a hitter, posting improvements to his batted ball profile (+3.7% LD%, -1% GB%), quality of contact (+5.1% Hard%), and BB% (+0.8% since 2016).

Provided his knee issues do not relapse, pencil Altuve in for right at 20/25 production with his usual high-level batting average. I am lower on his power than others are (I expect 18-20 HR instead of 24), but am more optimistic about his speed and think he could sniff 30 steals if healthy. If the knee injury worries you, given Altuve’s high ADP (16.95), Whit Merrifield is a great target slightly later on (31.05 ADP) and compares well to Altuve in power and speed over the last two seasons:

Name HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Jose Altuve 37 196 142 49 .332 .399 .502
Whit Merrifield 31 168 138 79 .296 .347 .449

 

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Hunter Denson

Written by 

Fantasy baseball enthusiast, Boston Red Sox fan and general lover of baseball living in the Pacific Northwest. More likely to remember Mel Ott's career HR number than my pin number. Married to an amazing woman who supports and encourages my baseball mania.