StrategyMarch 17, 2010


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2 Up, 2 Down – Second Base Edition

By Tom Huffman

Back in 2007 I wrote a 2 Up, 2 Down about second basemen and my, how things have changed. A barren landscape no more, second-base offers a variety of options this year. However, just because there are more options doesn’t mean there are a lot of good options. One still needs to be careful which player to reach for and which player to avoid. Let’s take a look around second base and see which two are up and which two are down.

Up:

Asdrubal Cabrera – Cleveland Indians

Cabrera is the type of player I think gets underrated in fantasy circles because none of his numbers jump out as outstanding. His MDP is currently around 135 which means he should be available in the 11th to 12th round depending on how much your league mates like him. Cabrera is penciled in at the leadoff spot for the Indians. He has enough pop to reach double-digit Home Runs, enough speed to steal 20 bases, and should also hit for a good batting average; I’m counting on .290+. Combine those numbers with his ability to take a walk from the lead off spot and I’m expecting around 100 runs. Also, one has to love the 2B/SS eligibility, giving some extra flexibility. Solid numbers all around from a player that can be picked up later in most drafts.

Martin Prado – Atlanta Braves

Prado isn’t going to blow you away, but with his 220 MDP he doesn’t have to. On average Prado can be had for the cost of an 18th round pick. He solidified himself as the Braves everyday second baseman last year with 64 R, 11 HR, 49 RBI and a .307 BA in 128 games. This year he is expected to bat second in the lineup, and I expect more of that .300 BA with more runs scored. He doesn’t run much so don’t expect a large number of stolen bases. With more AB in 2010 Prado should be able to reach double digit HR numbers again, while contributing a decent amount of RBI as well. Prado’s return will be well worth the investment at season’s end.

Down:

Brian Roberts – Baltimore Orioles

Roberts has been a fantasy staple for many years now, providing SB and runs while not doing damage in the other categories. According to his MDP, Roberts is being selected near the 47th pick which is pretty much in line with what he did last year…so why am I down on Brian Roberts? One reason is the SB. Going from 2007-09 his stolen base numbers have gradually decreased 50-40-30. This is not something one wants to see from a 4th round pick that is being drafted for his speed.  Roberts power numbers from last season (16 HR & 79 RBI, both career highs) are not something I believe in either. Looking at his HR/FB ratio, there was a leap last year to 7.3% (up from 4.9% in 2008) from his 5.5% career average. That career average includes his monstrous 2005 season where his HR/FB ratio soared to 10.2%. Last but not least, is Roberts back trouble. He was diagnosed with a herniated disk in February and has yet to see any action in Spring Training. Back injuries have a way of sapping speed and power while lingering, making it very difficult to play on a regular. I personally wold pass on the 32-year old with diminishing SB numbers nursing a back injury and spend my 4th/5th round pick elsewhere.

Aaron Hill – Toronto Blue Jays

Has Aaron Hill gone from underrated to overrated in the course of one year? In one word: Yes. Hill’s MDP sits at 49.3, meaning if you want him, you are going to have to pull the trigger within the first 5 rounds. I’ve seen some posts about Hill’s HR/FB ratio being unsustainable, to which I both agree and disagree. Hill is an extreme pull hitter. Take a look at his 2009 numbers: balls to LF – 1.198 OPS, CF – .735 OPS, RF – .556 OPS. Hill murdered anything on the inner half of the plate last year which was a huge key to his success. On the flip side, he looked awful against pitches on the outer third of the plate. Looking at his pitch type value only reinforces this. He was great against fastballs but struggled against sliders and curveballs. While he could keep up the HR/FB ratio if he keeps seeing fastballs on the inside, I don’t expect many pitchers to give him the opportunity. One would expect most teams to consistently pitch him on the outside with a heavy dose of breaking balls. Until Hill proves he can be more than a pull hitter I wouldn’t expect or pay for a repeat of last year.

Second base is top heavy this year, with seven of the top choices are projected to be off the board by the end of the fifth round. Unless one of these guys slips and lands in my lap, I prefer to wait it out and grab one of these other choices later in the draft. No matter what your drafting style happens to be, steer clear of Roberts and Hill early and instead think about Cabrera and Prado later on if you end up not getting one of the top tier players.

Keep an eye out for the rest of the 2 Up, 2 Down series before the season starts and come back for some more great articles to help you during the fantasy baseball season.

 
Tom Huffman is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Tom in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Pogotheostrich.
 
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