When we checked the second base position on Thursday, it seemed that the position offered a lot of empty batting average place holders that can be scooped up late in a draft. Freddy Sanchez, Skip Schumaker and possibly Placido Polanco (once he gets himself a new job) all should hit over .300 next year and also won’t do anything else for you. They key is to find a guy that can give you something other than a bucketful of singles that you can draft in the same neighborhood.
Is Martin Prado that man? Prado could be the rare player that puts up better results in the major leagues than he ever did in the minors. He amassed over 2100 plate appearances in the minors, with a .393 slugging percentage. 850+ plate appearances into his big league career, he’s sporting a .450+ slugging percentage. Will the good times continue for the man that was just declared the starting second baseman for the Braves in 2010?
The good news is that his power profile actually took a step forward last year. His HR/FB went up (from 2.8 to 7.6%) while hitting more fly balls (from 35.3% to 36.5%). His ISO went up from .140 to .158, too. Also heartening is the fact that these numbers, though modest, have stayed relatively steady while in the majors. His BABIP looks a little high (.339 lifetime) but his xBABIP for his career (.316) is also above-average, and his high line drive rates (20.4% career) are healthy as well. We also know that Prado can handle the most common pitch in baseball (+15 runs on the fastball). Although it’s a little nerve-wracking to look at his anemic minor league numbers, Prado is a good bet to hit over .300 with 15 home runs in a full season of starter’s innings.
A newly minted position battle in Kansas City should produce one good sleeper out of two very different players. You own Chris Getz for steals and Alberto Callaspo for a little pop and batting average (a lot like Prado, actually).
Callaspo has a lot going for him. He repeated his good Royals debut in 2009 and instantly went on 2010 sleeper lists. He’s a high-contact hitter (91% career contact rate) with sneaky wheels (4.1 career speed score) and a good line drive stroke (19.3% career), so a good batting average is a steady part of the package he brings to the table. The biggest positive in 2009 was that he added a little power by vastly improving his fly ball rate (from 27.5% to 41.9%), but it’s the power that goes in and out for him. Just check his oscillating slugging percentage and fly ball rate for proof.
Defense will have to be part of the discussion, and Callaspo suffers by both not being great at second base (-7.5 UZR/150) and also by being capable all around the infield (400+ innings of positive UZR at SS and 3B). Getz was better defensively at second and also doesn’t boast the same history of utility play. It’s hard to see how much the Royals value defense, but this has to be a chip in Getz’ favor.
It’s not like Getz doesn’t have his own things going for him on offense. Obviously, he has plus speed (26/29 stolen bases in 117 career games), but he needs to put up a solid batting average to win the position because his slugging ability is inferior to Callaspo’s. In the high minors since 2006, Getz has walked close to 10% of the time, and when he had a BABIP near .280, he had a batting average like his poor 2009 season. But when he had a BABIP over .320, his batting average jumped to .300. Give Getz a .300 batting average and five or six steals in spring training and I believe you are looking at your new Royals starting second baseman. Callaspo may still have value as the org’s super-utility guy, especially since there are other holes on the infield (1B and SS) and also some oft-injured guys on that squad. In any case, Getz’ speed is the only plus fantasy tool between these two players, so therefore he is a step ahead for fantasy purposes.
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