StrategyJanuary 11, 2008


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Two Up, Two Down ‘08: 2B

By Chris Routledge

Going into the 2007 draft, common opinion was that for second base, Chase Utley was so far beyond the rest that if you didn’t draft him, you could wait several rounds and get any one of a number of guys who would put up similar numbers to one another. That was true to a point, although anyone who drafted Josh Barfield over Brandon Phillips may care to disagree!

In 2008, Utley is still the clear-cut number one, but not perhaps, by such a great distance. The aforementioned Phillips has been going as early as the third round in early mock drafts, with the 2B-eligible BJ Upton also a high flyer, along with Roberts & Cano. But is there anyone at this position who can provide excellent draft value? And who is the Barfield of 2008? A few names to consider…

UP

Jeff Kent, Dodgers

What’s this? A 39-year-old veteran in the ‘Up’ section? Well, yes, because if early ranking lists and drafts are anything to go by, Kent is being seriously undervalued this year. Examples include an experts draft on Mock Draft Central, where he was the 11th second baseman off the board (after Orlando Hudson & Kaz Matsui). In fact, on that same site, his average draft position as I write this is 202, as the 18th second baseman off the board! That is how poorly people are valuing him this year!

Of course, he is on the decline, but not so badly that I want to draft Freddy Sanchez, Asdrubal Cabrera, or Dustin Pedroia before I take Kent! And yet, on average, they are all being drafted earlier! Well, let’s remember that Kent went 78-20-79 with a .302 AVG last year, in a line-up which has added Andruw Jones as well as having solid hitters in Furcal, Martin, Kemp, and more. He won’t return to the glory days of the past, but if you miss out on the top tier, you could do a lot, lot worse.

Aaron Hill, Blue Jays

Hill had a nicely productive 2007 which went largely under-the-radar. A line of 87-17-78 and an average of .291 was a significant improvement on 2006, cementing his role as the starting 2B for the Blue Jays. How productive he will be in 2008 depends a lot on what happens in the next couple of months: will he hit second, as rumors suggest, or will he remain near the bottom of the line-up? Will Alex Rios stay or be traded? For me, Hill is on the borderline of the top 12 right now, but he could easily be in the top 10 by season’s end.

DOWN

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

Rookie of the Year he may be, but Pedroia is your classic example of a better real-life baseball player than fantasy baseball player. He hits for a good average, and scores a lot of runs thanks to the line-up behind him, and that’s about it, fantasy-wise. I can see him possibly reaching 100 runs this year (86 in 2007), but that’s not enough for me to want him as my starting 2B, when he will contribute little in HR, RBI, or SB. Let someone else be blinded by his ROTY award, whilst you go for the guy who will help your fantasy team to an award of its own.

Dan Uggla, Marlins

This isn’t so much a “down” as a “won’t go any higher”! It’s true that many of us (including the writer of last year’s Two Up, Two Down for 2B) expected Uggla to suffer a sophomore slump last year. Instead, he hit more home runs, scored more runs than in 2006, whilst the RBI total remained steady. However, his batting average did see a decline, falling from .282 to a miserable .245 in 2007.

The question in 2008 is how significant Miguel Cabrera’s departure will be to Uggla & the rest of the Marlins. He will still get to hit behind Hanley, but there is suddenly a void afterwards. Unless someone like Hermida steps up, the Marlins look like a significantly worse team without Miggy’s bat. The power numbers may remain constant, but the runs scored could easily take a nosedive.

Uggla is currently being ranked in the 6-9 spot, alongside Kinsler, Kendrick, & Weeks. The others still have a great deal of upside, but I feel Uggla has already reached his ceiling. In other words, whilst drafting any of these will involve a risk, Uggla will at best give you the value at which you draft him, whilst the others could easily out-perform their draft positions. And that is how leagues are won. Again, just ask those who drafted Brandon Phillips last year…

 

 
Chris Routledge is one of a growing number of Brits infiltrating the Cafe, and is the historic 3-time champion of the H2H World Series, which makes up a little for the constant frustration that comes with being a Mets fan. Catch up with him in the Cafe under the username of chris8.
 
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