- FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy -

Jurickson Profar’s Injury and the State of Second Base

Preseason injuries have hit the Texas Rangers pretty hard, and Jurickson Profar is the latest member of the team to suffer one.

First things first. If you’ve already drafted, it will be time to hit the waiver wire once the season starts and Profar is eligible to be moved to your DL slot. If Profar was filling your second base slot, here is a list of names from which you should look to replace him in order of my preference (I realize some of these guys will not be available depending on the depth of your league): Anthony Rendon, Kelly Johnson,  Marco Scutaro, Marcus Semien. And if you had Profar in your middle infield slot, here is a list of potential replacements that includes shortstops: Brad Miller, Rendon, Alcides Escobar, Johnson, Scutaro, Zack Cozart, Erick Aybar, Semien. The list of candidates to replace Profar in Texas is fairly long and uninspiring at this point, but in the event that they go with prospect Rougned Odor (unlikely), those of you in keeper leagues might consider a stash.

It’s no surprise that the list of acceptable replacements is thin, but this is also a good time to talk about the state of second base as we head into the last week of fantasy drafts. It would seem that there are four clear tiers of second basemen. Below is a chart showing the four tiers along with each player’s ADP on ESPN.com.

2B Tiers

My strategy has been to wait until tier three to fill my 2B slot. I’ve ignored tier two altogether unless Jose Altuve slips past his ADP and I’ve largely ignored speed up to that point. And while I like Jason Kipnis in the second round, there is almost always a first baseman or outfielder available that I like more than Kipnis. But the loss of Profar from the 2B pool may make Kipnis more attractive.

To do my rankings, I use the Zach Sanders z-score method. The long and short of it is that you assign each hitter a standardized score for each of their roto category contributions when compared to all other hitters and then add them all up to give you a number Zach calls fantasy value above average (FVAAz). You then split up the players by position and adjust their FVAAz for replacement level at the position to give you their fantasy value above replacement (FVARz). To do that, you change the FVAAz to zero for the player at each position that you consider to be replacement level. You then adjust the FVAAz for every other player at the position by the same amount you did to get the replacement level player to zero.

In a twelve team league, I estimate that about 19 second basemen will be owned throughout the season, so I set the FVARz of the 19th second baseman to zero. With Profar included in the pool, Kipnis’ FVARz was just above 7.00, making him the 18th most valuable player in my rankings. But when you take Profar out of the pool and readjust everyone’s FVARz to account for the new 19th best second baseman, Kipnis’ FVARz jumps closer to 8.00 and makes him the 13th most valuable player in my rankings. That pushes him past some of the first basemen and oufielders I had previously preferred to him like Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto and Jacoby Ellsbury.

This is probably a good time to mention that I’m higher on Kipnis than I am on Robinson Cano. It’s only by a hair as I have Cano one spot behind Kipnis in my overall rankings. Cano sees a similar jump in value with the adjusted replacement level, but even with the boost in value, my ranking of Cano does not exceed his ADP. If he were to fall into the second round like Kipnis is, I’d be interested in him. But he’s primarily going in the first round, and I can’t justify taking him there.

Another reason I’m now more likely to consider Kipnis in the second round is that there’s a greater risk that I miss out on the third tier guys and have to somewhat punt the position. I mentioned that I’m avoiding tier two almost completely, but I’m also not a huge fan of the top of tier three. It’s been pretty much Profar or Jedd Gyorko for me in the twelfth round of almost every draft. If I went Kipnis early, Profar and Gyorko would often fill my middle infield slot. With just Gyorko to target, there’s always a chance someone snipes me, and I have to move on to the next tier. I like Brian Dozier just fine, but I’m more comfortable with him at middle infield than I am relying on him as my second baseman. And I also like Neil Walker and Anthony Rendon, but their definitely middle infield only guys in a shallow mixed league.

There’s always a lot of talk about positional scarcity when discussing draft strategy, and Profar’s injury decidedly changes the depth of second base. Kipnis will almost assuredly be available at the top of the second round, and absent an obvious first rounder falling through the cracks, I would recommend you take him there and at any point later in the second if he falls to you.