I love pouring over ADP data in the dead of winter to see how the next season’s market is shaping up. I didn’t touch on this in the first base/catcher review last time out, but I should mention that ADP is merely a guide and a partially blind one at that. It only takes one other person in your league to throw everything off.
This is where knowing your league is very important because if you know that most of the league takes their cues from ADP, it can be especially helpful. But if you play with a group of folks who march to their own drum – and it doesn’t even have to be the whole league, it can be just 2-3 people – then you’re getting very general information from it at best.
Anyway, I just wanted to make that clear before continuing this series. If anything, this is a jumping off point to give some thoughts on a handful of players at every position. We all know that this is a living, breathing market that is in its infancy for the 2017 season. Enough preamble, let’s get into the middle infield.
SECOND BASE (click through for ADP data)
- Jose Altuve (pick 4) has a remarkably narrow spread early on with a minimum pick of 3 and maximum of 7. He will go 2nd overall in some drafts by the end of draft season, too.
- I just don’t see another 40-homer season from Brian Dozier (29) and even though a return to his pre-2016 level of .240/25 HR/15 SB would be perfectly useful, I find that too likely of an outcome to pay a second round pick.
- Daniel Murphy’s (34) breakout really began in August of 2015 with an .853 OPS over his final 50 games and he went on to lead the NL with a .985 OPS in 2016.
- Dating back to August 1st, 2015, Murphy’s .950 OPS is 6th-best in baseball, ahead of Kris Bryant (.946), Miguel Cabrera (.938), Freddie Freeman (.936), and Nolan Arenado (.932) to name a few. If he wasn’t going into his age-32 season, he’d be a late-first, early-second round pick. Instead, he’s a third-rounder and someone I’ll be targeting, even with an expected drop off from his ’16 perch.
- On the one hand, I see some red flags in Rougned Odor’s (39) big breakout season: sub-.300 OBP, 3% BB, 17% HR/FB, and his meager success rate on the bases, but at the same time he’s a 23-year old with pedigree, who also upped his flyball rate and crushed the ball (35%… average for 2B was 31%).
- I probably won’t pay up for Odor, but it’s more because of my comfort with the depth at this position than a total lack of belief in Odor.
- Jean Segura (49) may have made some changes he’ll take with him to Seattle, but Safeco is unlikely to offer the .891 OPS of Chase Field and his non-Coors road work yielded a .798 OPS so he’s unlikely to pick up the slack in a host of neutral or pitcher-friendly AL West parks.
- DJ LeMahieu’s (90) feels low, though there’s no one at the position that I think he obviously needs to leapfrog, so maybe it’s just the depth offering a bargain. Being batting average-dependent yields some volatility, but it’s mitigated by playing half of his games in Coors, where batting average thrives.
- Ian Kinsler (75) and Jason Kipnis (96) have flipped in the market where Kipnis is now the generic-priced version of Kinsler. For a few years, Kipnis was the overpriced name-brand version.
- Kinsler is a having rock-solid 30s, but I’m just not sure he’s cost-efficient at this position right now.
- Dustin Pedroia (138) and Ben Zobrist (161) are a similar pairing. If you want Pedroia, just wait a little and get Zobrist cheaper. Unless you really need the batting average because I think Pedroia will continue to hold an edge there. Or you could really wait and get a Pedroia-lite after pick 320. More on who that is in a moment.
- Jose Peraza’s (141) gaudy .361 BABIP might scream regression for his .324 AVG, but his super-high contact, groundball/line drive approach paired with his elite speed have been churning out big BABIPs for a while. It could come down some, but I don’t think projecting something around .335+ is out of bounds.
- Jonathan Schoop (180) is similar in that I don’t think he’s massively out of place in respect to his position, but I’m more than willing to pay this price given the power we’ve seen from the 25-year old.
- What might a full season of Devon Travis (214) look like? I’ll pick up a few shares to find out if it’s similar to his career line which has essentially totaled a full season (163 gms, 671 PA) of .301/.342/.469 with 19 HR, 85 RBI, 92 R, and 7 SB.
- There isn’t a ton of difference between Jedd Gyorko (230), Starlin Castro (242), Logan Forsythe (243), and Neil Walker (247) and the market certainly agrees with a 17-pick split.
- However, Sean Rodriguez (306) also looked a lot like them in his limited time last year so if his changes stick and you’re looking for that kind of .270/mid-20s HR guy to slot in at MI, he might be your best bet. I don’t buy Jace Peterson (490) as a true roadblock to full-time work for Rodriguez, either.
- One of my favorite late targets at the position is the forgotten Joe Panik (325). This is the Pedroia alternative I mentioned earlier. Panik had a tough ’16, but an assessment of the skills really does wind up pointing to a lot of bad luck over anything else. He also suffered a concussion, but the issues were the same before and after. The two compared favorably in 2015 and I expect Panik’s AVG to soar back toward .300 in 2017.
- One of my main takeaways is that I’m just not taking Pedroia this year.
- Ryan Schimpf (309) is a bargain priced Gyorko, but you must have AVG protection around him.
- I can’t completely quit Jurickson Profar (371), but thankfully I’m not being taxed for that devotion with his price way down.
- Of the infield positions, SS is tied with 1B and 2B for the most picks within the first three rounds (top 45 picks) at six. C has just one (Posey) while 3B has four. For those curious, OF has nine.
- The difference between Carlos Correa (16) and Corey Seager (18) really seems to be a tradeoff of SBs and AVG, though I think Correa is far more likely to add to his AVG than Seager is to add SBs. Love both, but give me Correa rather easily.
- I’m generally buying what we saw out of Jonathan Villar (21). He didn’t quite show the .171 ISO/19 HR pop we saw this past year during his minor league days, but he showed enough punch to believe he could be a double-digit HR guy with his gaudy SB totals (stole 53/600 PA in the minors).
- Bring Villar’s HR/FB rate down toward league average and he’s more of a 12-14 HR guy, but paired with 45 SBs, a .275 AVG, and 80 runs, it works.
- Bake in some pullback, but Xander Bogaerts (28) and Francisco Lindor (31) should sit around their 2016 level (give-or-take 10%) for the next few seasons.
- It’s a substantial drop-off after the sixth of those guys, though, with 84 picks separating Trevor Story (32) and Eduardo Nunez (116).
- Story’s thumb injury should be fully healed by Spring Training (it typically has about a 3-4 month turnaround and the surgery was in August) and I’m absolutely willing to buy. We saw how well the power played in Coors, now imagine if he adds the speed he had in the minors (25 SB/600 PA) to what we saw in ’16.
- Even though the full breakout didn’t come in ’16, I remain completely in on Addison Russell (131). On average, the price is actually down despite a 21 HR/95 RBI campaign.
- Aledmys Diaz (145) had a .402 AVG through his first 28 games, but even a full season of his cool-down phase would play very well at his price: .269/.350/.455 with 12 HR, 49 RBI, 48 R, and 3 SB in 362 PA (83 games, so essentially a half-season).
- Troy Tulowitzki (156) is an 11th round pick on average. Troy. Tulowitzki. Eleventh. Round.
- Not saying he shouldn’t be, he does have just a .769 OPS the last two years. However, there is a tinge of “fountain of youth” upside here at this cost where even if he doesn’t, you’re not taking a massive hit.
- I mentioned him at second base, but Gyorko also qualifies here (as well as third) and I’m not sure why you’d take Brad Miller (149) 81 picks earlier.
- They are the same. The playing time difference and 6 SBs aren’t worth five rounds.
- Why pay a premium for Elvis Andrus (156) when Jose Reyes (309) and Alcides Escobar (331) offer the same kind of skillset waaaay later?
- Maybe you don’t want to go quite that cheap, but I’d still rather wait about two rounds and gamble on up-and-comer Tim Anderson (182).
- Dansby Swanson’s (192) “jack of all trades, master of none” profile coming up may have him underrated on the fantasy landscape, somewhat similar to how Lindor was before bursting onto the scene. He’s unlikely to reach Lindor’s heights immediately, but a double-double with a .270 AVG is plenty useful in the 12-14th round range.
- If that offense plays more like the second half than the first, Swanson could be a sneaky runs asset batting second.
- Brandon Crawford’s (243) HR/FB rate was cut in half and took nine homers away, but he added 20 points of batting average in its which might’ve actually been more useful considering how plentiful HRs were last year. I think he’s too low here.
- I was not a fan coming into this past season, but I could see Chase Field breathing some life into Ketel Marte’s (311) bat similar to how it did with Segura and all of a sudden, he’s a bargain Andrus as well. Bottom line: I’m not drafting Andrus.
- Freddy Galvis (338) was 3 SBs shy of a 20-20 season, so there’s that. Clearly the market is calling “bullshit” on that and I agree. Hard pass.
Alright, it’s once again your turn. Who are your prime targets and favorite bargains at each of these positions?
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