I think second base stinks this year. It gets boring real quick and there is a serious lack of speed. In the past, we use to rely on our middle infielders for significant stolen base production, but the second base crop for the most part can no longer be counted on.
The second base edition of Pod’s Picks may help you find value or learn who to avoid at their current going rates. The bullish section will only include players from my top 20, while the bearish group will only include those whose RotoGraphs consensus is in the top 20.
My Rank: 16 | Consensus: 20
A shocker. I would have guessed that if anything, I was more pessimistic on Lowrie’s fantasy outlook this year than the market. Or maybe the three amigos are just more pessimistic than everyone else. I am projecting a somewhat similar performance to his 2013 season, but with a decline in batting average. Looking at the rest of the projection systems, it appears likely that I am projecting more plate appearances than everyone else. Given his injury history, this is understandable that caution would be warranted.
My Rank: 8 | Consensus: 11
Zobrist is coming off a disappointing year as both his power waned and speed declined. I am projecting his HR/FB rate to partially rebound to halfway between his 2012 and 2013 rate, which seems fair. I am also projecting only a slight bounce back in steals, so I see the power returning more so than the speed. Given that both skills dropped last year, it’s possible that the other three rankers are less optimistic that either are going to bounce back all that much.
My Rank: 11 | Consensus: 14
Yet another surprise. Though his speed has gone missing and his batting average has declined, he has otherwise been rather consistent, as he’s hit exactly 18 home runs for four straight years now. I figure that Phillips moves into the two hole this year which will cause his RBI total to collapse, but his other numbers to remain constant, with a couple of extra steals.
My Rank: 20 | Consensus: 15
Real glad he showed up here. I don’t get it. He’s getting some sleeper love, and frankly it makes little sense to me. He’s slated to hit eighth, which is the worst possible spot to hit in if you’re a National Leaguer and he has seemingly little chance of moving up much given the names ahead of him. He has no speed and shouldn’t be expected to be a major positive contributor to your batting average.
So, you’re really hoping he enjoys a power breakout. Heck, he must do so to deliver any value whatsoever, since his runs scored and batted in totals are going to be underwhelming out of that eighth slot. His batted ball distance last year was just about league average, as was his xHR/FB rate. The good news is that suggests a nice spike from what he posted last year. The bad news is that even if he doubles his home run output, or gets into the high teens, that still makes him close to replacement level in mixed leagues.
My Rank: 10 | Consensus: 6
With his strong walk rate and massive doubles total, Carpenter is much more valuable offensively in real baseball than fantasy. But with limited speed and little power, you’re hoping for another inflated BABIP and a Cardinals offense that rakes with runners on again. While he could hit about .300 again, there’s almost zero chance he comes anywhere close to those 126 runs scored. In fact, I’m not even projecting him to breach the 100 mark. He still feels like an overvalued version of peak year Placido Polanco to me, and that’s just not all that valuable.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.