This has been a really fun exercise for me to open 2020. While the projections don’t encapsulate every aspect of the game, they are often smarter than we are as players. They remove our biases, and that has opened my eyes to the raw numbers some players could reasonably produce. Last time out we covered Overvalued First Basemen. Let’s head to the keystone for this edition and mine some potential second base values.
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Second Base Values According To Fantrax Projections
Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers
Fantrax Projection: 638 PA, 96 R, 33 HR, 89 RBI, 13 SB, .278/.346/.531
Keston Hiura is the top-ranked second baseman via Fantrax projected Score. He isn’t exactly a bargain with an ADP of 51, though. He was very impressive in his 2019 debut, hitting 19 HR with 9 SB and a .303 average over 348 plate appearances. If we extrapolate that over a full season, that’s nearly a 40/20/.300 player. Clearly no one is buying that, or Hiura would be a first-round player. However, the projections are lofty. They are saying that even as the sixth drafted second baseman, he’s one of the better second base values. Can he really be a value with an ADP of 51?
With only a half-season of inflated production to source from, the projection can only regress so much. Hiura’s projected 33 HR isn’t too far regressed from his 2019 .268 ISO pace. While he did have an 88th percentile xSLG, it’s going to be hard to repeat a 24.1% HR/FB%. 25-30 HR is pretty likely, but 33 is on the optimistic side of what we should reasonably expect.
Considering Hiura’s hideous 65.8% contact rate and 30.7% K%, there is no way we can anticipate another .300+ average. He rode a .402 BABIP in 2019, a number that should drop at least .50 points. That would lead to more of a .270 average, which is closer to his .266 XBA from 2019. He doesn’t draw a lot of walks either, so that could impact his run-scoring ability a bit.
That said, 180 R+RBI is attainable and very valuable. Hiura should be hitting in the heart of the Brewers lineup nearly every day, either ahead or behind Christian Yelich. That ain’t a bad spot to be. He also stole 18 bases between Triple-A and the Brewers in 2019, so he could out-produce his projected 13 steals.
Keston Hiura’s lack of contact ability could lead to some prolonged slumps. However, his power/speed blend gives him a nice combination of floor and upside. I wouldn’t reach higher than his current ADP to acquire his services, but his current price is very justified by the projection.
Mike Moustakas, Cincinnati Reds
Fantrax Projection: 607 PA, 76 R, 36 HR, 92 RBI, 2 SB, .272/.334/.527
The 10th ranked 2B-eligible player via Fantrax projected Score is Mike Moustakas. That ranks him a bit higher than his 12th 2B ADP. He is coming off his second 35+ HR campaign and now has “Great American Small Park” to call his home. That bodes well for a power repeat, as does his likely spot in the Reds order. He is their probable every-day cleanup hitter, so the R+RBI projection is quite attainable.
Moustakas does seem to be perennially underrated for some reason or another. However, the .272 projected average is curious. Moose has a career .252 average and has hit over .270 just twice in his 9-year career. His 2019 XBA was .263 and he hit an actual .254. The projections give him a .270 BABIP, slightly higher than his .263 career mark. His extreme fly ball profile doesn’t lend to even a league-average BABIP. Even if he hits .250, however, his ADP is justifiable. If he hits .270+, he should turn a nice profit from his 120 ADP.
Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays
Fantrax Projection: 621 PA, 88 R, 24 HR, 74 RBI, 16 SB, .250/.365/.448
For starters, let’s get OBP leagues out of the way. The 2B15/142ADP price for Biggio is the king of second base values in OBP formats. With his projected numbers, he grades out as the 9th best second baseman via Fantrax projected Score in OBP. His tremendous eye at the plate allowed him to walk at an elite 16.5% rate in his rookie season. His projected 15% BB% Scores him ahead of Eduardo Escobar, Jeff McNeil, and the aforementioned Mike Moustakas in OBP leagues.
Standard roto is another story entirely. Biggio struck out at a very high 28.6% clip over his first 100 games and was able to hit only .234. However, his 75.9% contact rate wasn’t bad, and his 8.7% SwStr% was downright good. That portends well for his future batting average, even if it only rises to that projected .250 range. He could perhaps be well served to take a more aggressive approach a la what we saw from Max Kepler in 2019, which led to his breakout.
Biggio stole 19 bases between Triple-A and the Jays in 2019, going a perfect 14-14 in SBA in the majors. He could push 20 SB over a full season, giving him true 20/20 potential. He has always been a player who has excelled in his second go-round at a level, so perhaps he takes another step forward in 2020. There is the downside of a sophomore slump, of course, but his ADP just inside the top 150 mitigates a lot of the risk. I’ll buy him as a value even in standard 5×5.
Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
Fantrax Projection: 560 PA, 74 R, 27 HR, 83 RBI, 7 SB, .258/.327/.491
After signing his extension with the Rays, Brandon Lowe was limited to 82 games in 2019 due to a deep bone bruise in his shin. He hit a strong .270 with 17 HR and 5 SB over roughly that half-season. The projections expect largely more of the same. 27 HR is a lofty total for a player with a 177 ADP who doesn’t hurt you in any other category. So why aren’t drafters buying in?
The reason for the skepticism lies largely in his exorbitant 34.6% K%. His 64.8% contact rate is also sketchier than hot yoga the morning after spicy chili night. Lowe’s 19.1% SwStr% was the fourth-highest mark among batters with at least 300 PA. Regressing his .377 BABIP as well, there is little chance Lowe posts anything close to another .270 average. Even the projected .258 mark seems pretty lofty – a Biggio-like .240 average could very well be in play here.
Given the Rays propensity to platoon anyone and everyone, Lowe could also struggle to muster 560 PA, impacting his projected R+RBI count. Rays fans, I swear I don’t hate your team! This is all just a coincidence (look here if you are unsure of what I mean). I’m a lot closer to the ADP than the projection with Lowe, and even at the 2B17/177ADP, I’m not interested.
Freddy Galvis, Cincinnatti Reds
Fantrax Projection: 607 PA, 73 R, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 5 SB, .249/.295/.425
Now here’s a fun one! Our second Reds player of the day, Galvis actually slots into the Cincinnatti lineup as their primary shortstop. Galvis has always been somewhat of a fantasy doormat, known more for his real-life defensive skills. He is now two years removed from his last double-digit steal season and doesn’t hit for much average. So why do the projections like him so much?
This partially feeds into the lack of depth at second base in 2020. There are simply a lot of blisteringly mediocre projections at the keystone. A lot of the value of this projection also lies in the R+RBI. 148 is a lofty number. With the signing of Shogo Akiyama, Galvis is going to be relegated to the bottom half of the order on a regular basis. His career .291 OBP doesn’t bode well for that 73 runs scored number, and the Reds lineup frankly doesn’t warrant 75 RBI from a bottom-half bat with a career .136 ISO. His contact rate is trending in the wrong direction and his 2019 14.5% HR/FB% was easily a career-high. Even though he deserves better than a 349 ADP, I’ll take the under on the projected R/HR/RBI and ignore him outside of very deep leagues.
Who are your favorite second base values for 2020? Let us know in the comments below!
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