Today we begin second base week and that means a look back at my Pod’s Picks at the position. It wasn’t that crazy a season with most of the usual suspects atop the value list and only a couple of true surprises. Let’s see how my rankings compared to the actual ones.
My Preseason Rank: 13 | Preseason Consensus: 18 | Actual Rank: 10
The biggest question surrounding Utley for the past several years was how healthy he was going to remain and how many times he would come to the plate. I figured my optimistic ranking was fueled by a difference in playing time expectations and it helped that I projected 450 at-bats, which would have been his highest total since 2009. He actually exceeded that mark by 26, which boosted his counting stats and made him a solid all-around contributor.
My Preseason Rank: 16 | Preseason Consensus: 21 | Actual Rank: 27
Haha. For what it’s worth, I began my initial write-up with “this surprises me greatly”, referring to his appearance on the bullish side of the coin. While his home run power rebounded a bit, his combination of too few line drives, along with too many pop-ups and an excessive rate of fly balls killed his BABIP to the tune of a .225 mark, a new career low. Furthermore, his already already poor contact ability deteriorated even further, leading to a batting average below the Mendoza line.
My Preseason Rank: 5 | Preseason Consensus: 9 | Actual Rank: 23 (CBS)
Hill actually missed the minimum plate appearance cutoff to make the official rankings, but he ranked 23rd among all second basemen on CBS. A broken hand suffered just over a week into the season caused him to miss over two months and limited him to just 362 plate appearances. While the majority of his counting stats and underlying skills remained intact, his speed contributions were a disappointment. After stealing double digit bases the previous two seasons, he swiped just one this year and was caught four times. Given his lack of stolen base prowess prior to 2011, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll ever be back in the double digits again.
My Preseason Rank: 21 | Preseason Consensus: 16 | Actual Rank: 4
Whoops. One of the few big surprises at the position is one of the two that was placed in my bearish category. Initially I wondered what even got him here in the first place as my projections were right in line with the rest of the systems. Although he did enjoy a slight uptick in home run rate, the biggest driver of his value was the 23 steals, something I don’t think anyone saw coming. He was also only caught three times, which is pretty amazing for a guy no one considers a speedster. In addition, the sheer volume of plate appearances helped his counting stats as he came to the plate 697 times, which tied for 14th among all hitters.
My Preseason Rank: 20 | Preseason Consensus: 17 | Actual Rank: 34
After an awful April and May, Ackley was demoted to the minors and eventually returned as an outfielder and some time second baseman. There is nothing in his statistical profile that screams bad luck, which is a bit scary given that he posted just a .296 wOBA. At the very least, most figured he would enjoy a step up in power driven by the friendlier park dimensions and the effects of aging. Instead, his power flat-lined and actually dipped below .100, a level reserved for the Eric Youngs and Gregor Blancos of the world. His future in Seattle is now cloudier than ever.