Don’t overpay. That thought process goes for anything in life, but with the baseball season around the corner, we are concerned with forming your team through the draft. We are left to draft within the confines of the market place, and all it takes is one team (in either direction) to blow things up. Just because the general consensus places a player’s price at a specific ADP, it doesn’t mean it is correct or we have to agree with it.
Under that tenant, let’s take a look at five players with second base eligibility who I project to underperform their ADP (taken from NFBC drafts from February 1st through March 10th) based on a sample size of 234 drafts. I don’t want to strictly use the word “bust” here, because it is very subjective, so instead, it is more of a look at players I won’t be drafting this season. An underlying theme here is the relative scarcity at the position, and that (for better or worse, and I lean worse) does push some second baseman up the draft board when perhaps they shouldn’t be.
Stolen bases are king. In fact, you could say that they are Royal here, but now I’ll see myself out.
Whit Merrifield is entering his age-33 season, and can we really count on him to steal 40 bases again this season? After hitting .282 in the abbreviated 2020 season, Merrifield hit .277 in all 162 games last year and that raises two concerns. Do we really think that we will get another 162 straight season out of Merrifield and it also seems reasonable that we can no longer consider him to be a .300 hitter.
He should flirt with 100 runs again this season (97 last year), but again, that was with Merrifield playing 162 games. There isn’t much power to work with, 10 home runs, although his 74 RBI were solid. With just a 3.5%-barrel rate and 28.6% hard hit rate, that shouldn’t be surprising but Merrifield’s other production is considered reasonable if he steals 40 bases, not 30. And at his draft day price, you need those 40 stolen bases with no other regression from Merrifield as drafting him in the late second or early third round will set you back in the power department.
Early in draft season, Tommy Edman was someone on my radar due to scarcity both at second base and when it comes to stolen bases. Without those precious stolen bases, Edman turns into something that more closely resembles David Fletcher than a sixth-round draft choice, and there is the risk.
Edman did steal 30 bases last year, and 25 of those stolen bases came in the 124 games that he batted lead-off. That is where he is currently slated to hit this season, but with a .308 on-base percentage last year (thanks in part to a 5.5% walk rate), he might not be the best suited player for the role. We do have to take into account though that the Cardinals, at this point, don’t really have many other options.
The quality of Edman’s contact doesn’t jump off the page to say the least, and it’s more likely he finishes closer to 20 stolen bases than 30 this year after finishing 51st in the league in sprint speed last season.
Josh Rojas checks a few boxes as what we could refer to as a “fancy” option. Currently slotted in as Arizona’s lead-off hitter, Rojas is also eligible at the third base and in the outfield, so he proves to be a very useful player from a roster management standpoint. Perhaps more importantly though, Rojas runs as he stole nine bases in 139 games last season and also had success in that department in the minor leagues.
The range of possible outcomes for Rojas this season is likely between 10 and 15 stolen bases with perhaps some upside, but at what price should we target those bags? Before he steals second, Rojas needs to reach first base, and while he did walk 10.5% of the time last season, that also came with a 25% strikeout rate. There’s nothing wrong with a .264 batting average, but after benefiting from a .345 BABIP in 2021, I’m not sure that Rojas reaches that mark again, and .245/.250 is a more likely expectation. We won’t get much power from Rojas and the quality of contact (4.8%-barrel rate) really isn’t there.
While Arizona doesn’t have much invested in Rojas, there also isn’t much (at least halfway through March) behind him either as a threat to the playing time. There is no disputing how critical stolen bases are to find and acquire, but Rojas could very easily lose playing time and/or drop down in the lineup. It is clear that there is a real opportunity cost here to acquiring those stolen bases.
All it takes is one acquisition for the Dodgers, whether it’s Freddie Freeman or not, to knock Gavin Lux out of regular playing time. Of course, injuries can come into play here, but we know the Dodgers aren’t going to stop adding to their major league talent base, and Lux would be the first player to be adversely impacted.
It does say something the Dodgers have held onto Lux while trading multiple prospects, but he had a non-descript 2021 season in Los Angeles batting .242 with seven home runs, 46 RBI, and 49 runs scored in 102 games. We saw plenty of good things from Lux in 2018 and 2019 in the minor leagues so there is pedigree here, but Lux also didn’t show me much at the plate last season. Lux isn’t going to run so we are after the power here, and with a 3.9%-barrel rate last season with an average 11.3-degree launch angle, I don’t feel great about his outlook heading into this season. Until Lux proves otherwise, what we saw last season is what we get, and he is pretty close to replacement level value as his price does take into account some name recognition.
It’s Colorado, so they are always going to do things like bring in José Iglesias to muddy the playing time waters as if they are trolling the fantasy manager. At this point, I am still expecting to see Brendan Rodgers bat towards the top of Colorado’s order as he looks to build on a solid 2021 season in which he hit 15 home runs and drove in 51 runs while batting .284 in 102 games. Rodgers doesn’t walk, 4.6% last season, so he does take a hit in on-base percentage leagues, but there’s nothing to suggest he won’t hit around .280 again this year.
From a splits perspective, Rodgers was actually better on the road (12 home runs and 30 RBI) than at home (three home runs and 21 RBI) in the same number of games, but on an overall basis, I am concerned about the power. Last season, Rodgers had just a 6.3-degree launch angle as well as a 6.2%-barrel rate, and I’m not sure how many more home runs he has in him this year. My concern is that Rodgers is drafted expecting 150 games and also expecting the same home run pace he was on per at-bat last season.
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Fantasy Baseball 2022
- MLB Free Agent Tracker
- First Baseman Fades
- Top-5 Sleepers: Second Baseman
- The Landscape of the 2B Position
- Preseason Rankings