Tier 3 (Part 1)
I see only two decent 2B keepers left, Kendrick and Johnson. I have a couple more articles planned on 2B left off my rankings. In my next article, I will look at some players that could be kept depending on the costs. The other article is on the flaws/questions that kept some of the other 2B off the list.
Howie Kendrick: Howie has generally been predictable with around 10 HRs, 15 SB and a 0.290 average. He produced at that level last season, except he hit 8 more HRs. His HR/FB% jumped from 7% in 2010 to 16.5% on 2011. In 2009 and 2010, his average home run and fly ball distance was 281 ft. In 2011 it jump 10 ft to 291 ft. The jump in HR numbers is real.
If there was one stat to watch going into 2012, it would be his K%. It jumped to a career high of more than 20% for 2011. He swung at and missed more pitches out of the strike zone than in the previous couple of years. He had problems with chasing pitches out of the strike zone early in his career and it looks like it may be returning.
Going into next season, I expect his HR projections to be a little low. Feel free to take a chance that he will continue on with his 2011 HR numbers.
Kelly Johnson – Kelly is a wild card in 2012 because of 2 unknowns surrounding him.
First, which Kelly Johnson will show up? The player that hit 26 HRs, stole 13 bases and had a 0.284 AVG in 2010. Or the player that hit only 0.222 while striking out 27% of the time in 2011.
Here is what I know:
1. He swings for fences and should have over 20 HRs given a reasonable amount of PAs.
2. He will steal 10+ bases.
3. He has no plate discipline right now. His K%, Swing% and Contact% has gotten significantly worse over the past 3 seasons. I would expect a low AVG.
His floor is 0.220-0.240 AVG, 15-20 HR and 10-12 SB for 2012. He has some upside if he can get the K’s under control and if his BABIP, 0.277 in 2011, is closer to his career average (0.311).
The second main factor affecting his value is what team he signs with and his role on that team. I would not set him as a keeper until this information is known. Is he headed to an offensively challenged team or back to Toronto? Will he be used in the 5th or 6th spot to drive in runs or hidden at the bottom of the lineup? Will it be a platoon situation? At least get an idea of how he will be used before setting him as a keeper.