Pod’s Picks June Update: Second Base

Today is the next installing of my updated Pod’s Picks, comparing my rank versus the other three RotoGraphers. We’re now up to the second basemen, of which the consensus rankings published two weeks ago can be found here. I’ll generally only consider those second basemen that I ranked within the top 20 for the bullish category and those the rest of the crew ranked in the top 20 for the bearish category.

Bullish

Ben Zobrist

My Rank: 6 | Their Rank: 19

I guess this was mostly me being too stubborn to believe that the decline trend is continuing. Zobrist missed some time due to injury, which has hurt his counting stats, but extrapolated over his normal full season would still put him on a pace for 14 homers and about 11 steals. His batted ball distance is virtually the same as it’s always been, but his HR/FB rate has really bounced around. That said, his career rate stands at just above 10%, and given that his distance is similar, one might expect his home runs to pick up a bit, perhaps push into a pace of a mid to upper teen total.

He doesn’t seem to be interested in running as often as he used to, but he has attempted six steals so far, which can’t be ignored. The Rays offense has been terribly disappointing this year, ranking just 26th in runs scored, and that’s hampering Zobrist’s runs scored and batted in totals. You have to assume the offense as a whole improves, though losing Myers will make it more difficult to do so. Perhaps my ranking of six was silly, but I think 19 is certainly too far on the pessimistic side.

Martin Prado/Matt Carpenter

My Rank: 8/9 | Their Rank: 15/16

Funny, Carpenter appeared on my bearish list in the preseason, and now after he’s doing essentially exactly what I expected, he flips over to my bullish list. My ranking of him went from 10 to nine, probably because someone dropped out, but the rest of the crew has grown more pessimistic.

I lumped these two together because they are very similar players. Their ranking underscores the value of batting average, which is a category I believe to be routinely undervalued. Or I should say incorrectly valued. Although Carpenter’s strikeout rate is up, his SwStk% is down and Contact% is up. Prado’s SwStk% is up slightly, but still fantastic and suggests better contact moving forward. Essentially, I’m betting on these two performing just about what I expected from them in the preseason over the rest of the way.

Bearish

Howie Kendrick

My Rank: 179 | Their Rank: 8

Kendrick’s already stolen a surprising nine bases, but at nearly 31 years old, it’s hard to believe that this pace will continue. His home run power has really yo-yo’d up and down, but it doesn’t really matter since he’s hitting a ridiculous 68% of his batted balls on the ground. With a fly ball rate of just above 16%, he has little chance of breaking into double digit home run territory. He has always relied on a high BABIP to contribute positive batting average value, but for some reason both projection systems expect him to post just a .275 average the rest of the way.

Brian Dozier

My Rank: 16 | Their Rank: 7

Who saw this coming? Last year was a surprising offensive performance in itself and Dozier has actually improved again. But his batted ball distance is just about league average, yet his HR/FB rate is nearly 18%. Something doesn’t add up. He has also never been a big base stealer in the minors and he’s not exactly a speedster. So this all just smells like a career two and a half months to me. It’s also easy to look at the .245 BABIP and figure that will rebound, but he’s a fly ball hitter who hits too many pop-ups. He’s not going to be an asset in batting average.



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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. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.


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Emcee Peepants
Guest
Emcee Peepants

179 seems a little low for Kendrick.

jfree
Member
jfree

I had no idea second base was that deep

Sean
Guest
Sean

We’re talking better choices in High A than Kendrick.

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