Part II of my frugal 2015 options will go over the rest of the infield. I’ll still be using the Fantasy Pros average rankings, but Yahoo! and ESPN updated their rankings over the weekend and Fantasy Pros hasn’t updated there ADP accordingly, making it harder for me to recommend some undervalued players through their rankings. Yahoo! and ESPN rankings will be given precedence over the others.
A relatively weak position outside of some early selections, 2B gets dicey really quickly. I like Brian Dozier a lot more in OBP leagues, while Dee Gordon drops down a little in OBP leagues. We still have the annual tradition between most boring 2B in Howie Kendrick and Martin Prado. Kendrick was in one of the best offenses last year and he still ended up with forgetful stats and Martin Prado is just as bad.
Who I’m Targeting
I’ kind of cheating here, but I really like #12 Josh Harrison, unfortunately he doesn’t have 2B eligibility on ESPN. He has multiple position eligibility adding 3B/OF to his resume and last year he finally broke out when given playing time. He ended up an All Star last year, but he actually performed better in the 2nd half. He’ll be turning 28 in July so he’s still in his prime and he’s projected to bat lead off for a solid Pirates team. He’s not a .315 average hitter or even an .347 OBP guy and I suspect his high LD% increase had something to do with his high .353 BABIP. People yell regression, and yeah that’ll happen, but besides batting average I’m seeing everything else looks more than sustainable. In ESPN I would target #13 Neil Walker, someone who can provide 20 HRs with decent counting stats batting clean up for the Pirates.
Somehow Daniel Murphy is ranked ahead of Neil Walker… I wouldn’t draft Murph over Walker and I’m a Mets fan. #20 Roughned Odor has one of the most unusual names in baseball and managed a respectable 9 HRs and 4 SBs in 417 PAs last year, but that’s not impressive you say? He was only 20 last year! He’ll bat in an improved Texas lineup and he finished the year strong. Hopefully he can improve on SBs; I mean he had 7 CS…that’s not good. #21 Brett Lawrie is moving from a hitter friendly park and lineup to a warmer environment. He has 3B eligibility and Billy Beane magic going for him. He had 12 HRs in only 282 PAs last year! If he could just stay healthy…maybe we can get a magical season out of him. #25 Marcus Semien also landed himself on Billy Beane’s team, has eligibility at 3B as well, and will get SS relatively quickly; for position eligibility alone he’s worth a flier. I wouldn’t let his subpar trial run in Chicago dissuade you too much. #38 Luis Valbuena had a decent year before getting shipped to Houston for Dexter Fowler, he could provide sneaky good value, who also has 3B eligibility, and his OBP is surprisingly high.
The same things I said for 2B hold true here, middle infield positions are notoriously weak. There are some very strong players at the top of the SS 2015 class, but with them come injury concerns. If anyone’s “bold” prediction is that Troy Tulowitzki will remain healthy for an entire year, that’s a bogus and lazy prediction, that person’s just pulling wishful thinking out of their ass. I wouldn’t waste a pick on higher ranked guys Alexei Ramirez, Starlin Castro, or Elvis Andrus who won’t give you any substantial difference with players going later.
Who I’m Targeting
I’ve been cycling between these 3 players depending on what my team needs. Any of them falling in ADP also influences my decision.
Need Speed: Jean Segura (238 Y! and 207 ESPN)
After that amazing 1st half in 2013 where he produced 11 HRS, 27 SBs, and a .327 AVG, Jean Segura hasn’t been too great. As a prospect he was more highly regarded for his defense than his bat, so I wouldn’t expect him to get into double digit HRs again, but I do expect the steals to come back. He had 44 steals his first year as a rookie and I could easily see him getting 40 SBs again. What’s truly killing his potential is the Brewers insistence to slot him at the bottom of the order, but Anthony Rendon was slated 8th for the Nationals at the beginning of last year, batting orders change. Braun bashed Segura’s face and his son died last year, he’s just 25 and could totally provide value again.
Need Power: Xander Boegarts (Y! 174 and ESPN 181)
He was meant to be the next Hanley Ramirez for the Sox, so they brought back Hanley to inspire young Xander… Okay. Boegarts went through some crazy peaks and valleys last year, he batted .135 and .123 during two months last year, yuck, but he hit .313 with 4 HRs in September. The Red Sox basically gave up last year so I’m tossing out 2014 as his learning period. This year they’re much better on offense and he’s young and talented enough that we should see some major improvements. If he can get even a little bit more consistent you may have drafted a guy that could hit 20 HRs with great counting stats in Boston.
Both: Danny Santana (Y! 209 and ESPN 210)
I mean all three guys are in the top 12 at their position, so I’m not exactly going out on a limb. Am I getting redundant with these Minnesota hitter endorsements? I feel like I’m hyping up a Twinkie in every one of my fantasy posts. “He had a .405 BABIP, regression!!!” – Most Drafters. Okay, but did you know in 2013 he had a .353 BABIP in Double A and a .377 BABIP in Triple A before being called up? Fast players usually have higher BABIPs and I’m expecting a decent ~.275 AVG from him at worst. He’s 24 and projected to bat atop the order for an underrated Twins offense. Santana had a much better SB success rate in the majors and I’m going to read between the lines here and guess coach Paul Molitor played a large role in that success. Brain Dozier credited Molitor with his SB success and frequency, and now Molitor is the head coach so expect the good times to roll.
On the Orioles #18 JJ Hardy has averaged 25.67 HRs before last year’s dud 9 HR performance. Camden Yards is still a great hitters park and he’s only 32, so I don’t think he’s done. #37 Wilmer Flores is the starting SS for the Mets. He had 20+ power in the minors and I’m guessing outside of Met fans no one knows who he is. Draft him for that sweet upside and pray Sandy gives him a fair shot at playing time. #26 Chris Owings has the potential to bounceback from a down year and the same can be said about #33 Brad Miller. #19 Jung-Ho Kang hasn’t had a great spring, but the Pirates didn’t pay him all that money to sit on the bench and he had video game numbers in Korea.
Usually a pretty solid position, 3B feels weaker than normal this year. I usually try getting an elite 3B early, but there are plenty of late round bargains. Drafters will have to play full price for Nolan Arenado now as his “sleeper” status has gone out the window. I’d take a gamble on Chris Davis in OBP leagues because he’ll probably hit better than last year, but I’d be less inclined to take him in leagues that still use average.
Who I’m Targeting
Dumping out the guys who have 3B eligibility and who will actually be drafted to be played at the hot corner, we’re left with less true 3B. I think everyone I recommended during the 2B paragraph had 3B eligibility… I like David Wright on ESPN, he’s the 12th true 3B off the board (13th if Bryant goes ahead of him) and he’s reasonable ranked #124 overall. I may be biased for Wright, but he’s 1 years removed from a 18 HRs and 17 SBs season. I don’t think Chase Headley will eclipse his 31 HR season in SD, but he sported a 28/6/17/.262/.371 as a Yankee. While the Yankees aren’t as good as they once were, it’s still a haven for left handed hitters and Headley is a pretty talented switch hitter. He’s going ranked #245 on Yahoo! and #246 on ESPN. He’ll be an absolute steal in OBP leagues too, the dude knows how to take a walk.
Yasmani Tomás has had a brutal spring training and by all accounts looks terrible defensively at 3B. He’s still getting paid too much money for the DIAMONDBACKS, debatably the worst team in baseball, to bench him but he may not get 3B eligibility in ESPN if they shove him in the OF. I mean this team already starts Mark Trumbo in the OF, so apparently their OF can get worse defensively. He’s expected to be a great power hitter and he’s ranked above 200 in both Y! and ESPN. I’m not expecting Abreu like numbers, but he’s more experienced than the average rookie and the team wants him to play.
#42 Lonnie Chisenhall had a monster 3 HR game last year and I started him in 2 of my leagues that day! He’s just 26 and could easily hit 15 HRs this year. He’s going at 329 on Y! and 271 on ESPN. Trevor Plouffe actually improved his plate discipline last year, but his HR/FB% was a little lower than normal. I think he could hit 20 HRs again with more than respectable counting stats and averages and I think he’s just entering his prime. I’m not even kidding, Arod could provide some value this year.
The Kris Bryant Dilemma
He’s killing it in spring training. I think he’s up to 8 hundred HRs now, but he won’t be called up until after the Super 2 deadline. Every HR he swats should get him closer to the starting line up, but Scott Boras is his agent, every HR he swats actually pushes him further from the opening day line up. Maybe if his agent wasn’t Scott Boras we’d get a George Springer or Evan Longoria like early April call up, but Bryant’s stock is so high right now I can’t see him signing a long term team friendly contract. “But when he gets called up he’s going to be amazing!” – Most Drafters. Maybe, but maybe not. Bryant hit 43 HRs across Double and Triple A last year to go along with amazing numbers and had showcasing his talents in spring training now, but they don’t necessarily translate at MLB levels. In 2010 there was a highly regarded 3B prospect that hit 36 HRs between Double and Triple A and that player was Mike Moustakas. Okay that’s unfair, Moustakas stinks and Kris Bryant is amazing! Yes Bryant still had better numbers overall than Moosehead, I’m just saying it’s hard hitting in the majors and unless Bryant is the next Pujols or Trout, he won’t immediately be amazing. I’m guessing the Cubs hold back Bryant until June and he’ll have some adjustment periods throughout the year. I think he’ll be a great player eventually, go grab him in keeper leagues!, but I’m not spending a top 100 pick for him to occupy my bench spot for 2 months. I’m not buying into the hype.