Dokken’s Dudes & Don’ts: Second Base Bargains And Busts
Nathan Dokken continues his yearly tradition of Dudes and Don’ts, his annual look at players he is targeting and avoiding. Today he looks into his favorite second base bargains and busts for 2020 fantasy baseball.
As you probably know from previous installments, these calls are all ADP-based. Whether a player is profitable or not based on their cost is everything. Second base is a bit of a wasteland this year, and that makes the ADP that much more important. There are only a handful of options that are considered elite, and they are going early. There is a very large dropoff after that before you’re looking at players who you’d prefer to be your middle infielder but are going to wind up as your starting second baseman. Here are some players whose value could finish much different from their ADP’s.
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Dokken’s Dudes & Don’ts: Second Base Bargains & Busts
The Dude: Cavan Biggio
It’s easy to root for a guy whose name is probably short for Caravan. That’s a tough break. Rather than a van, Cavan Biggio’s skillset is more befitting of a sport utility vehicle. He is versatile and convenient, although his gas mileage probably isn’t great. Uhh, I guess the gas mileage is his batting average? Whatever, this metaphor was a stretch, to begin with.
Biggio was more than useful in his rookie season. Over 100 games, he hit 16 homers with 14 steals. He also walked at a mammoth 16.5% clip. The downside is that he hit just .234 despite a .309 BABIP, with a .240 XBA that offers little hope. However, Biggio also made 75.9% contact in his debut with a very reasonable 8.7% swinging-strike rate. This gives me some confidence that he can really cut down his 28.6% K%. Of course, fly balls that don’t leave the park are often proverbial cans of corn. He will also get shifted a lot as a lefty pull hitter and was already shifted on 75% of the time in 2019. Even if he cuts down on the K’s, his batted ball distribution and the shifts he faces could lead to a BABIP well below .300, keeping his average at .250 or lower.
On the other hand, when you pull a lot of balls in the air, that equals power! The wonderful Alex Chamberlain already did a lot of the heavy lifting for me on Twitter here, so I’ll just link to that and let you peruse the lofty comps that his peripheral stats point towards.
let me tell you: i will go to war for cavan biggio
this is gonna be a THREAD, y’all!!!!!!!
(1) look at this list, simply sorted by statcast’s GB%. look at these names!! and who has the fewest combined ground balls and pop-ups? BIGGIO. no one optimizes launch angle like biggio. pic.twitter.com/YKSGneUR4H
— Alex Chamberlain (@DolphHauldhagen) February 20, 2020
A more aggressive approach in 2020 could lead to a Max Kepler-type breakout. Yoan Moncada also had a huge 2019 by swinging more early and often. Biggio has incredibly strong plate discipline already, which should lead to one of the best walk rates in baseball. If he can be more aggressive on pitches in the zone, he could push his ISO well above .200.
Biggio also stole 19 bases over 143 games between the Jays and Triple-A, so we can reasonably expect double-digit steals over a full season. Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo has already said that he wants to use Biggio in the two-hole this year, which should lead to a ton of R+RBI opportunities. He’ll be better in OBP leagues than standard roto for sure, but either way, he should turn a profit from his 2B13/ADP135 price tag and be one of the better second base bargains for 2020.
Projection: 650 PA, 100 R, 26 HR, 75 RBI, 15 SB, .240 AVG
The Don’t: Jose Altuve
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a cheater. I refuse to have one on my team. Fantasy is all about having fun, and I can’t have fun with a guilty conscience. I’m crossing Jose Altuve off my list and moving on!!
…that is the opinion that some fantasy players might have, and power to them. It sure is not my opinion. In fact, there is often a nice discount built into drafting douchey players. Reap the reward! I was hoping Altuve would come at more of a discount following this cheating scandal, but sadly that is not the case. His ADP is 33 on Fantrax, and even over the past month, he is going at pick 36 in NFBC drafts.
I’m not arguing that Altuve isn’t a very good player at a thin position. Hitting in the middle of a potent Astros lineup ensures plenty of R+RBI opportunities, and he is typically a safe bet to hit .300 or better. That said, he’s creeping up on 30 years old and his contact rate dipped nearly 3% last year to a career-low 80.8%. His .350 xwOBA was also his lowest of the Statcast ERA since 2015 when it was .305. His 23.3% HR/FB% was by far the highest of his career, and that was in spite of his exit velocity, which was a disgusting 12th percentile 86.1 MPH. It’s far more likely he settles back in the mid-20’s for home runs than it is that he repeats the 31 over 124 as he did a year ago.
Speaking of games played, Altuve has been far from the iron man he once was. Over the past two years, he has played 137 and 124 games, respectively, due to various lower body issues. Those injuries have led to fewer stolen base attempts over that span, including just six steals over 11 attempts last year. On the bright side, with AJ Hinch out of town, there will be fewer red lights for Altuve (or so we presume). That could increase his stolen base attempts. If his success rate doesn’t improve, though, we might not get more than 15 or so anyway.
His playing time could also be limited due to more soft tissue injuries, or (dare I say it) a few extra beanballs being thrown his way. It’s hard to see a profit from this early ADP as the first second baseman off of the board. There is a fair bit of downside and risk, as well. Even if I’m attacking second base early, I’ll be looking for Ozzie Albies or Keston Hiura shares instead.
Projection: 600 PA, 85 R, 24 HR, 80 RBI, 12 SB, .290 AVG
The Deep League Dude: Nick Madrigal
We’re digging deep enough here that we have found a guy who might not have a job to begin the season. Nick Madrigal is currently fighting for an Opening Day gig. He has to beat out the likes of Leury Garcia and Danny Mendick. I’m gonna go ahead and say that he has a fighting chance.
The former first-rounder has a diminutive stature that limits his power. That said, speed is at a premium these days, and he’s got it. Across three levels of the minors in 2019, Madrigal hit .311/.377/.414. He hit just four home runs but stole 35 bases over 120 games. He also walked 44 times over 473 at-bats with just 16 strikeouts. Yes, you read that right. He is a contact maven, the way Jose Altuve once was.
As just the 28th second baseman off the board with an ADP of 293, you can treat him as potentially stolen base gravy in a deep league. Perhaps he wins the starting job out of camp. At this point, though, you have to draft as though you’ll be without his services to open the season. He could be a nice source of speed and average when he’s up, although it may come from the bottom half of the order.
Projection: 525 PA, 65 R, 5 HR, 55 RBI, 25 SB, .285 AVG
Are you on board with Nathan’s 2020 Second Base Bargains and Busts? Then you’ll want to check out the Rest of the Dokken Dudes and Don’ts.
For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2020 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!
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