But now it’s time to look at the second round as a thing. Because maybe in the early decade, it seemed like the sure things bled into the second round. Now it seems you can’t get out of the top ten without questions.
So here are the second rounders in our earliest of mock drafts:
|2||14||Anthony Rendon||3B||Blue Sox|
|2||18||Freddie Freeman||1B||Scott Spratt|
|2||20||Ian Desmond||SS||Paul Sporer|
|2||22||Felix Hernandez||SP||Zach Sanders|
One thing that occurs to me when looking at Anthony Rizzo vs Yasiel Puig, and Michael Brantley vs Ryan Braun, and SGP vs Z-Score analysis — we treat individual stats as individual, but there’s tons of multi-collinearity here. In other words, we can’t really look at homers and RBI as stand-alone stat categories if they influence each other so heavily. This is especially important if you want to punt a category.
And there are seemingly different kinds of players, is there a chance that the Big Power dude is so rare that we should value him a little more heavily over the Five Category non-monster? In other words, are there plenty of 15/15 guys, but not many 30/0 guys? That would change things, especially when you’re thinking about your late-draft picks and what kinds of players would fit in there.
More on that later, but it could affect what we think of picking guys like Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper in the second round. They have demonstrated potential to give a little in every category, but we’re still waiting on elite work in any one category (except save perhaps Puig’s batting average so far). The fact that these two outfielders are 22 years old can’t be lost, though. They’re looking up at their peaks and have already shown enough to be useful if they don’t improve. But picking them here assumes improvement — which is fair.
The pitcher creep continues with Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale jumping into the second round. As Chris Cwik said about Clayton Kershaw in the first round, these are great picks if you assume health. I just can’t assume that, and so you’ll see me pick my ace later (Johnny Cueto at 5.52). Maybe Felix Hernandez has earned the benefit of the doubt, but absolutely Chris Sale has not done that for me. He’s already hit the DL for an elbow strain.
You might make the duckface at some of the younger players picked here. Anthony Rendon might not — probably won’t — steal as many bags next year, ditto Jose Altuve, and maybe even Anthony Rizzo hasn’t done it long enough for you. But look at the veterans. Adam Jones is turning 30 this year and just stole a career-low in bags and had a three-year low in power. If he hits .280/25/5 this year, he probably won’t be a top-20 guy in year-end value. Hanley Ramirez is 31 and has averaged 475 plate appearances over the last four years. And there’s little evidence that the outfield treats you better than the infield.
It’s a good round to put something into focus: there’s risk everywhere. If you pick a young player, you’re risking that they won’t improve and that you’ve already seen their best. And with an old player, you’re risking the swift declines of the post-PED environment. If you’re taking a pitcher, there’s the injury risk.
Obviously Anthony Rizzo was the pick of the round because he falls into all the right buckets for these risk factors, right?
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.