Fantasy baseball managers are in the prediction business. Ultimately, we are trying to build a team that is better than our competitors, which is based on our predictions or projections. It is then our assumption that we drafted the best players and the best team possible.
Some of these predictions are quite obvious while some are bolder than others and, for better or worse, put you out there on an island. Here are some of my predictions for players with second base eligibility for the 2022 MLB and fantasy baseball season. They run the gamut from bold to dull, but that is what we are here for. Some of these predictions in March during Spring Training could look ridiculous a month later, but that is where all the fun is.
Of course, you want to be right, but you also need to stick with your convictions.
At this point, it’s easy to have run out of superlatives to interject when talking about the Dodgers’ lineup. Trea Turner sits atop the loaded batting order and, if he stays healthy, the sky truly is the limit for him. I mean, after all, there is a good reason why he's currently the first player off the board in the majority of fantasy baseball drafts.
We do have to admit that a big reason why Turner is coming off the board so early is the 32 bases he stole last year, but that is just one piece of it. He consistently bats over .300 and expecting him to score 100-plus runs for a third straight season isn’t that crazy of a prediction. Instead, let’s be a little bold here and put Turner down for 120 runs scored and a 30/30 season as well. After hitting 28 home runs last year, it’s not that big of a jump to reach 30 – even if his previous career-high was 19 bombs. The Dodgers’ lineup is so good that Turner will likely be coming to the plate with runners on base after the first inning and, with the heavy hitters behind him, it will behoove pitchers to give him something good to hit.
Strikeouts are always going to be an issue for Jazz Chisholm Jr. However, he did improve his strikeout rate from 31.8% in the first half of last season to a more manageable 24.6% in the second half. The rookie stole 23 bases in 124 games last year, but let’s take things up a notch to 30 for this season.
Stolen bases aren’t as prevalent in today’s game as they used to be, but there are reasons for optimism on Chisholm. If we figure he has a little better luck in the health department to get about 15 more games out of him, and combine that with a bit more comfort at the big-league level – then it’s really not that large of a leap to have seven more steals than a season ago. Plus, with sprint speed in the 94th percentile, we know that Chisholm is fast.
I’m not expecting a sophomore slump here for Jonathan India. If we are going to measure it by wRC+, I’d expect him to be in for at least a 10% increase from last year’s mark of 122. India will be back in the lead-off spot for Cincinnati and, while the lineup isn’t as good as a year ago, we're banking on India being better himself.
You get a nice mix of power and speed out of India and, with 15 home runs in the second half of last season, he already started taking the next steps. Everything in India’s profile suggests that what we saw last year is repeatable and he owns these skills. It also would not be surprising to me if he is drafted within the first five rounds of 15-team leagues in 2023.
From a fantasy perspective, we don’t care that Eduardo Escobar is going to get the majority (if not all) of his playing time at third base. His eligibility at second base is certainly useful still. Previously, Escobar broke the 100 RBI mark once in his career with 118 in 2019. However, I expect this to be the second season crossing the century mark of runs batted in. A full slate of 150 games is quite feasible for Escobar between his leadership skills, defensive abilities, and the fact that the Mets will likely make a trade to thin out their playing time situation.
Escobar has proven to be a capable and reliable run-producer throughout his career and he drove in 90 runs 146 games for a much worse Arizona team last season.
While the logic seemed to be odd, the addition of Kris Bryant for Colorado does make the lineup better (obviously). One beneficiary of the signing is Ryan McMahon, who is currently slated to bat third for the Rockies between Bryant and CJ Cron. That should ensure McMahon gets plenty of pitches to hit as he will be in a prime run-producing spot in the lineup. After driving in 86 runs in 151 games last season, let’s see McMahon take the next step to the century mark in 2022.
Washington’s signing of Cesar Hernandez likely didn’t receive much (if any) buzz, but I can see him finishing the season as a top-25 fantasy second baseman. While that might not sound high, Hernandez has been the 36th 2B off the board with an ADP of 37 in 280 drafts between February 1st and March 20th.
He is slotted in to bat leadoff for the Nationals and shouldn’t have a problem scoring runs with Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Bell coming up behind him. While Hernandez is no longer a stolen base threat, he did score 84 runs last season to go along with 21 home runs and 62 RBI in 149 games. If we are going to get into the prediction business here, let’s go for 100 runs scored.
There was a fair amount of buzz surrounding Ha-Seong Kim last season, but his debut season in the major leagues turned out to be a complete bust. He hit just .202 in 117 games and 298 plate appearances last season.
Kim was a forgotten entity this draft season until news broke that Fernando Tatis Jr. will be out for a few months. Now, he finds himself starting at shortstop for the Padres. Having eligibility at three positions (2B, SS, 3B) helps with roster construction, and it is important to remember that this will still be his age 26 season. Adjusting to playing in a new league, and country, is never an easy thing – and doing it in a pandemic is only harder.
With eight homers and six steals last season, Kim has a solid skill set of both power and speed. If he proves himself during Tatis’ absence, he should retain playing time upon his return and I can see him finishing the season as a top-25 second baseman.
It's possible that you strongly disagree with some of the opinions expressed above, but now let’s take things up a notch. Every year there are things that transpire over the six months of a baseball season that we never saw coming in March. Let's try to pinpoint some!
After Rougned Odor’s quick fall from grace in Texas, he now finds himself starting for Baltimore in his age 28 season. It wasn’t that long ago that Odor was an All-Star, and he has three seasons of 30 home runs under his belt. I could go bold and say that this year will be his fourth, which is possible with regular playing time. Let's instead go with 25 home runs and 75 RBI for Odor this season to make some allowances for his recent struggles. He’s still going to strike out close to 30% of the time and not hit much more than .210 or .215 – so you have to decide how much the playing time and power is worth.
It’s easy to forget about Robinson Canó after he missed all of last season due to suspension. However, he still figures to be a key part of the Mets’ lineup this season. The DH in the National League helps here, as does the fact that New York still owes him a lot of money over the next two years.
In 49 games in 2020, Cano was still more than a capable hitter as he had a .316 batting average along with 10 home runs and 30 RBI. The fact that Cano doesn’t strike out often should help him hit at least .280 even if he does take a few steps back. If we mark him down for about 120 games (which I think could be a little conservative if he hits but is also way more than the projections systems) – who says no to 20 home runs and 70 RBI?
I’m not sure if you heard, but the A’s have taken a step back from competing this season. However, that doesn’t mean we should completely forget about them from a fantasy perspective – and Tony Kemp is one of the reasons why.
Kemp is currently being drafted with an ADP of around 450 and behind 40 others with second base eligibility, so cost is not an issue. He is still projected to bat lead-off for Oakland, and he did steal eight bases while hitting .279 last year. If we get the same batting average along with 15 stolen bases this season, Kemp then becomes a viable option.
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