Five Under the Radar Sleeper 2nd Basemen in 2014
In session 1 we talked about 5 under the radar 1st baseman. Welcome to Session 2. Grab a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable. Yesterday, we applied some exposure therapy, mostly due to Ike Davis. I trust you’ve overcome your fear of Mr. Davis. If not, you probably wouldn’t have come back. That’s a very encouraging sign! Today, we’ll try some basic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Essentially, CBT asserts that what you think determines how you feel. And how you feel determines how you behave. If you owned Rickie Weeks or Dan Uggla last year, you likely felt bitter. Our goal today is to help you manage risky emotions and make better decisions. 2B can be a tricky position to navigate, because there are so few multi-tool standouts at the position. That’s why it’s important to use your problem-solving skills and plan ahead.
OK, let’s get started. I see you brought a list of second basemen for us to consider as future keepers. Fortunately, there are no Ike Davises in this bunch. I see Robinson Cano, Jason Kipnis and Dustin Pedroia-- the top dogs-- are owned by others. Brandon Phillips, Chase Utley, Ian Kinsler and Ben Zobrist have reached their peaks in previous seasons and are headed downhill. And you’re aware, of course, that Matt Carpenter is moving to 3B this season (although he’ll still retain 2B eligibility in most formats for 2014). You’re looking for a young riser, a second sacker with the potential to reach the pinnacle of his position and stay there for several years. Let’s take a look.
Jurickson Profar will stake his claim in 2014 as an elite 2B. Grab him now and hold on tight. He’ll be 21 on Opening Day and has a starting position. Batting in a Texas lineup full of pop and speed, tools he also possesses, the young phenom won’t be pressured to produce… but look for him to do it anyway. There isn’t a team in MLB that wouldn’t want this kid in its lineup. You should feel the exact same way-- for the next decade. By 2016, he’ll be one of the top 2B taken on draft day.
After the All Star break last season, rookie Jedd Gyorko led all 2B with 15 HR. He hit 23 for the season, despite missing a month to injury, and finished with a .745 OPS. Only 25, this young 2B will likely bat third in the San Diego lineup. His .237 average at Petco and .184 average with runners in scoring position are concerns, but will improve with experience. Gyorko is a 3B power bat playing 2B. If he stays healthy, he’ll approach 30 HR this season and be among the leaders at his position in power stats. Take notice!
In my Hot Stove report on the Nationals last week, I noted that 2B Anthony Rendon is capable of producing at the top of his position in the future. His peripherals suggest he will one day become a .300 hitter with 15/20 HR potential. 2014 likely won’t be his breakout year, but then again, you never know. Like Gyorko, he’s a 3B bat at a weaker position, production-wise. And he’s only 23. Good things will be happening in Washington this year; Rendon just might be one of them.
Jose Altuve, who turns 24 in May, is a well-known commodity in the fantasy world, particularly due to his speed. But playing for the lowly Astros diminishes his potential. However, Houston is stockpiling young studs and looks to drastically improve in the next few years. Altuve’s value rests in his legs and he has the potential to steal 40 bases a season through 2020. If he remains an Astro, his full fantasy impact may be a few years away. But for now, expect him to hit near .300 and be among the league leaders in swipes.
Finally, let’s talk about a youngster in the deep St. Louis organization. Kolten Wong figures to bump Mark Ellis to a bit role and contribute right away for the Cards. St. Louis traded David Freese to the Angels for Peter Bourjos and moved Carpenter from 2B to 3B to make room for the 23-year-old top prospect. Wong’s speed and above-average power numbers in the minors indicate he will be a fixture in the big club’s lineup for the foreseeable future. Expect 8-10 homers and 15-20 stolen bases in his rookie campaign with even better numbers coming in 2015.
Oh, and here’s some sleeper advice: Keep tabs on Seattle’s Nick Franklin. Cano’s signing, coupled with the presence of Brad Miller at SS, has made Franklin a man without a position. He’ll be 23 on Opening Day, and he showed flashes of power and speed in ’13 (12HR/6SB). Expect an improvement on the .225 BA with full-time work. If he’s traded to a team that gives him a starting job, pay close attention.
Today’s session appeared much more relaxed than yesterday’s, which is a sign of progress. You should be proud of yourself! We’ve covered first and second base in our initial meetings. Next, we’ll knock third base off our list of anxiety-inducers. You’re going to be better in no time! See you tomorrow.