Second Base Outcomes: Reader Mock Draft

So we’ve done a pretty thorough bludgeoning of the recent reader mock draft, looking at almost every round except for the fliers, and covering several of the positions along the way as well. Second base has me particularly concerned headed into 2012, so let’s break down how the readers handled the challenge of staffing their squads at that position.

The following chart is pretty self explanatory – where the player was selected in the reader mock, what their average draft position is over at Mock Draft Central, and the difference between the two to the right:

Player Reader Mock MDC ADP Difference
Robinson Cano 6 11 -5
Dustin Pedroia 17 17  0
Ian Kinsler 28 23 5
Brandon Phillips 44 60 -16
Dan Uggla 59 53 6
Rickie Weeks 70 78 -8
Ben Zobrist 71 80 -9
Chase Utley 80 76 4
Howie Kendrick 92 107 -15
Jason Kipnis 103 162 -59
Dustin Ackley 122 134 -12
Danny Espinosa 126 149 -23
Jemile Weeks 140 152 -12
Neil Walker 145 139 6
Aaron Hill 226 310 -84
Kelly Johnson 227 329 -102
Ryan Roberts 244 197 47
Jose Altuve 274 228 46
Mike Aviles 279 339 -60
Ryan Raburn 294 346 -52
Gordon Beckham 304 318 -14
Daniel Murphy 313 289 24
Brian Roberts 320 350 -30
Alexi Casilla 329 223 106

It’s a bit surprising to see Robinson Cano go 6th overall, passing up the typical boppers like Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, and Prince Fielder but if you really want Robinson Cano on your team and you’re drafting in the 6 hole, you pretty much have to take him there because he’s not going to last until your next pick. It is interesting to note that in passing up the typical first round first basemen, the team drafting Cano wound up with Ryan Howard, selected in the 10th round (142 ADP) who will likely miss at least a month of action, which leaves him with either Carlos Lee or Aubrey Huff at first for some time. Howard very well could return and rake, so that could certainly work out — I’m merely pointing out the consequences. Feel free to discuss the “would you rather have X 2B and Y 1B” scenarios in the comment section.

Ian Kinsler slips a few slots in lieu of four outfielders taken ahead of him in the third round, and team “32” winds up with a pretty nice find at 28. Kinsler’s health is frequently in question as he’s often dinged up, but he managed over 700 plate appearances in 2011 and rewarded owners with some eye-popping counting stats. There will be plenty who avoid him due to the .255 batting average, but you likely know it was wrapped up in particularly rotten batted ball luck and should he regress to career norms there, he’ll be back to .275-.280. In traditional 5×5 Roto leagues – if Kinsler stays on the field – he’s probably the most valuable second basemen. He’s just not the safest.

I actually happen to think the Dan Uggla pick was a very good one – and perhaps it’s just because I don’t frequently draft for the batting average. A second baseman that could almost sleep-walk into 30 home runs, 90 RBI, and 90 runs scored is someone I’d like on my squad. Team “Lucky Strikes” had a pretty nice first five picks, going Justin Upton, Mike Stanton, Starlin Castro, Brett Lawrie, and Dan Uggla — ticking off SS, 3B, and 2B rather judiciously.

The next batch of second basemen all fall pretty much within range of their expected slot save for perhaps Brandon Phillips – but here’s where I get kind of lost in the fog of decent contributors at second. I’m not saying they’re all the same, but check out Bill James projections (and no, I’m not saying Bill James is spot on here, but it helps illustrate a point) for the 4th-10th selected 2B (sans Uggla):

Brandon Phillips 0.279 19 15
Rickie Weeks 0.262 22 12
Ben Zobrist 0.262 18 18
Chase Utley 0.28 21 14
Howie Kendrick 0.287 14 13
Jason Kipnis 0.272 18 18

You can quibble a bit with an extra HR or fewer SB here or there, but this is a pretty strikingly similar group. There are of course the questions of the health of Weeks and Utley, the issue of Kipnis and youth, and perhaps the possibility that Zobrist sees his batting average dip again into the abyss. But if you buy into (a sizable if, I’ll admit) the projections – after the top three are selected, you have a bit of an opportunity to wait around on second basemen and fill other needs until, say, one or two are left — and then you should probably make your move. If you patently can’t stand Howie Kendrick or if you don’t want to worry about Utley’s balky knee, then come up with your own plan – but this is just one of those points in the draft that I think creates a unique situation where you do a mid-draft punt. A pooch kick, maybe? Anyway, you get the point.

Lastly, if you’re really well positioned at batting average, Espinosa is a pretty nice play as he’s pretty likely to hit 20+ home runs and might even push 20 stolen bases, but I’d prefer him more in the MDC range of 149 than having to take him in the 11th round. I’m not sure there’s much in the way of promise that the batting average will top .250, and there’s the very real possibility that it could be .20 points lower, which would get to be a real drag.

Overall, I thought it was pretty interesting that four of the 12 teams pretty much took a “to hell with second base” approach, one taking Neil Walker in the 13th, Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson (back to back) in the 17th and 18th, Jose Altuve in the 23rd, and ahem, Gordon Beckham in the 26th — all ostensibly as starters (with game-time decisions on Hill/Johnson no doubt). I’m not saying it’s good nor bad — just an interesting development that I’m going to keep an eye on in subsequent mocks.

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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

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Probably the most important lesson I learned is unless kinsler or Cano are on the board, wait.

And I like that Beckham pick.