2018 Dudes and Don’ts: Second Base
Ah, the sweet keystone. I actually like a lot of the options up and down the Fantrax Second Baseman ADP this year, which means that I’m not prioritizing second base early in drafts. Don’t get me wrong, if I can get my grubby mitts on Jose Altuve, Brian Dozier, or in certain cases even Dee Gordon I’ll do it. That said, there are many options I’m content falling back on. It’s a great year to let the position come to you. On to The Dude!
The Dude – Yoan Moncada
I’ll be honest, my true love at second base this year is Ozzie Albies. However, everyone else has fallen in love, as well, and his ADP is rising like a San Franciscan sourdough. I assume sourdough rises quickly. I am not a baker. Anyway, my point is that while someone in your draft is very likely to be reaching for Albies — which has been my experience in recent drafts — Yoan Moncada lies waiting for you at pick 114. As it stands now, Albies is at 119 overall, and by all means, if he’s there at that price I’m taking him. Where Albies feels like more of a floor pick, though, Moncada has a higher ceiling.
I wrote up Moncada in my Course Correction series earlier in the offseason. As I wrote in my conclusion, I surprised myself with just how optimistic I wound up after my research on him. I entered with no expectations but came out believing he’s got a good shot at a 20/20 season … or better. Given his above average 36% hard-contact rate and friendly home park, I’m optimistic he can repeat his .181 ISO from last year. Over the course of a full season, that’s good for 20+ home runs. Shin splints kept his stolen base attempts down in his stint with the White Sox, but he has the wheels for 20+ steals with upside beyond that.
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He also walks a ton, giving him added appeal in OBP leagues. He maintained double-digit walk rates throughout the minors, and walked 12.6% in his 231 plate appearances with the Sox. A 42.8% swing rate and 26.8% O-swing% assure us he’ll maintain such a walk rate. He makes for an ideal leadoff candidate, and he should hit first or second in Chicago’s lineup all season. The only real knock on him is what could be a low batting average. He struck out 32% of his trips to the dish last year with only a 70.6% contact rate. He’s got the speed to maintain plus BABIPs, though, so I’ll take my chances with the average. If you’re worried about a second baseman, don’t groan … just draft Yoan.
2018 Projection: 650 plate appearances, 100 R, 25 HR, 70 RBI, 25 SB, .250 AVG
The Don’t – Jonathan Schoop
I find myself uninterested in a gallon, pint, or even a single scoop of Schoop. Last year Jonathan Schoop improved in all facets of his game and set career highs across the board. A .293/30/105 line looks pretty darn good in the draft window when you click on his name, but you’re not drafting last year’s numbers. We’re trying to figure out what he’ll be in 2018! If only we had a special kaleido-Schoop that might help us see into the future. Let’s scope out what he might have in store for us. I’ll warn you, you might need some Scope mouthwash to get the taste of his disappointment out of your mouth. Fine, I’m done.
I’m never a fan of hitters who rarely walk, a cadre which Schoop fits squarely into. His 5.2% BB% was a career high in 2017. That makes him less valuable already in points and OBP leagues. He also managed a .330 BABIP, 26 points over his career mark of .304. Schoop is a plodder, so not only is he a near-zero in the stolen base category, his most likely BABIP is closer to that .304 career rate. That number seems even more likely considering the 16% pop-up rate he posted in 2017, which has always been an issue for him. The power is very real, but as the fourth second baseman off the board (62nd overall), I don’t want to draft a non-factor in the SB category who is likely to produce a batting average that will disappoint. Scope out some other options instead.
2018 Projection: 650 plate appearances, 80 R, 28 HR, 85 RBI, .270 AVG
The Deep League Dude – Jose Pirela
One mistake that fantasy players — especially those who pay close attention to prospects — fall victim to is overlooking the incumbent when a tasty prospect is on the brink of the major leagues. Everyone will be clamoring for OBP wunderkind Luis Urias to take over the second base gig in San Diego ASAP, but don’t forget about Jose Pirela. Pirela launched 10 homers over 83 games with the Padres last season (also 25 doubles and four triples), good for a .202 ISO. He had a career-high 34% hard contact rate, and his 13.2% HR/FB% was right at league average. He’s also got some speed, with 12 steals in 18 attempts between Triple-A and the majors in ’17. If he hits like I think he will, he could be the No. 2 hitter in that lineup and actually give you very good R+RBI production as well. Considering his price — 32nd 2B/384 overall — there’s little risk when investing in this combination of power and speed.
2018 Projection: 550 plate appearances, 80 R, 22 HR, 70 RBI, 10 SB, .270 AVG
The Bonus Deep League Dude – Brad Miller
I can’t quit you, generically named athlete. Miller followed up a breakout 2016 with a total dud in ’17, hitting just .201 over 110 games with the Rays. His ISO dropped from .239 in ’16 to .136 in ’17. Multiple injuries derailed him at various points, but assuming he can stay healthy in 2018, he has some major bounce-back potential. Even through the crappiness that was his 2017 campaign, he still walked a whopping 15.5% of PA’s, good for sixth among batters (min. 400 PAs). That alone should put him on your radar in deep OBP leagues. Believe it or not, Miller also put up a career-best 38.4% hard-contact rate last year — 3.3% better than when he hit 30 homers in 2016. He dropped his pull% 8%, though, which explains some of the power drop. If he gets back to pulling the ball at a 40%+ clip, the power will return in a big way. Oh, hey, he’ll also snag you a few bases, too. He might sit against lefties, which caps his upside, but I’m still in on Miller turning you a profit from his 424 ADP (37th 2B).
2018 Projection: 500 plate appearances, 65 R, 20 HR, 65 RBI, 8 SB, .250 AVG