2017 Keeper Values: Second Base Rankings - Tier Three

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What's up RotoBallers. Welcome back to my series on keeper leagues. Today I'll be taking a look at second basemen keeper values for fantasy baseball (tier three)  for those of you deciding what players to keep for your teams.

Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft round in order to keep a player into the up-coming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values". In the marketing world, Value can be defined as: the extent to which a good or service (player) is perceived by its customer (fantasy owner) to meet his/her needs or wants.

For these specific rankings, 12 team, 5x5 scoring, 23 man roster, Rotisserie league settings were used. If you play in a custom league with non-standard configurations, are thinking of keeping a player not on this list, or want to compare players on your team, follow me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB or contact me via the RotoBaller Chat Rooms.

Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.

 

How My Keeper Valuation Formula Works

The Keeper Values are derived from my 15 step Keeper Valuation Formula. The product is a quanitative depiction of a players ability to meet/exceed fantasy owners needs based on the cost they payed for the player in the previous season (2016 ADP). The higher the score, the higher the return the fantasy owner will receive from the player, keeping him at his associated cost. Approaching Keeper selections with this "value" based attitude, will greatly increase the effectiveness of a fantasy owner's draft in a Keeper League.

TIER SCORE EXPLANATION
1 >75 Finders Keepers! These are the Elite Keeper Values. MUST BE KEPT.
2 50-75 Great Keeper values. Unless you have a full load of Tier 1 players, these guys need to be kept.
3 25-49 You are gaining value with these players, but not as much as your opponents are, potentially. Consider if your options are limited.
4 0-24 Break even point. Minimal value. Only consider if you have a large quantity of Keeper selections.
5 -99-0 Keeping these players will hurt your overall draft, as you are not adding any value. Dont waste a Keeper selection here.
6 <-100 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.

 
 

2017 Top Second Basemen Keeper Values: #9-14

14. Jason Kipnis, CLE (Seventh Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 25.17

After failing to reach double digit homers in back to back years, I thought the power department was depleted for Jason Kipnis. Then 2016 happened, and he smacked a career high 23 HR for the American League Champs. It was a classic power transition at the plate, as Kipnis hit fewer groundballs than any other season (38.9 GB%), hit more flyballs (duh), pulled the ball more, and set a career high for hard contact (35.7 Hard%). The biggest improvement Kipnis made to juice up his numbers was the ability to hit left handed pitching. For his career, he owns a .254/.313/.374 slash with a .120 ISO against LHP. In 2016, he hit .282/.326/.464 with a .182 ISO off southpaws.

At this point, Jason Kipnis may be one of the safest-unsafe fantasy players at the keystone. Since his first full big league season in 2012, he has been the seventh most valuable second baseman in terms of WAR. But since 2012, we have seen these HR/SB combinations from Kipnis: 14/31, 17/30, 6/22, 9/12, and 23/15. I've never seen such a 20/2o capable player try so hard to not be a 20/20 player. Kipnis is slated to again hold down the two hole in the explosive Indians offense that recently added Edwin Encarnacion to its arsenal. This could make a 100+ run projection for 2017 very feasible, and Kip is going to give you a decent BA and a good combo of pop and speed. What the hell that combo is going to look like is basically a blind dart throw, but you have a range of 6-23 HR and 12-31 SB to look forward to. But in all seriousness, a 15/15 second baseman scoring oodles of runs carries value everywhere.

 

13. Devon Travis, TOR (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 26.76

Both of the two seasons under the belt of Devon Travis have been disappointingly shortened due to injuries. 2015 was due to a shoulder injury after a scorcher off the bat of Brandon Moss took a bad hop. So all in all, the 25 year old has 670 MLB plate appearances. In those 670 PA, Travis has 19 HR, 92 R, 85 RBI, seven SB, a .301 BA, and a 119 wRC+. His wRC+ and 4.8 WAR place him directly in Jason Kipnis circa 2016 territory. Not too shabby for a dude that went undrafted in last years drafts and is only ranked as a 17th rounder for 2017. 

As I mentioned, we don't have much to go off when projecting Devon Travis. But he is healthy, and I can confidently say I don't expect him to be sidelined from an errant ground ball again in 2017. The Blue Jays will rely on Travis heavily for run scoring at the top of their lineup with the departures of Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders this off-season, and after Kevin Pillar failed to follow through on my 2016 sleeper-label at the plate.

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If he can perform at the same rate that he has through his first 163 games, he will be a steal for fantasy owners that can secure him in the late rounds.

 

12. Ben Zobrist, CHC (12th Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 27.66

The poster child of multi-position eligibility, Zorilla did his usual thing on his way to winning a World Series title in 2016 and earning his third All-Star appearance. Even at the age of 35 he hit 18 HR, scored 94 R, and earned a 124 wRC+ while retaining fantasy eligibility at 2B and OF for the Cubbies. The switch-hitter posted a 1.17 BB/K ratio that was the highest in the league, his second consecutive season over 1.00, and had the third lowest SwStr% at a locked-in 4.1%. To be honest, that plate discipline and on-base ability is all one needs to have fantasy relevance in that lineup.

It was nice to see the power-sap we saw from Zobrist in his last two years with the Rays vanish, as he went from a 61 PA/HR rate in 2013-2014 to a much more manageable 37 PA/HR rate over the past two seasons. He may not have too many valuable seasons left in the bigs but with the elite plate discipline hitting atop of the league's rowdiest lineup, and OF eligibility, He is still plenty young enough to return some value at a middle-round ADP.

 

11. Ian Kinsler, DET (Seventh Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 28.30

How about another second baseman still killing it in the middle of his fourth decade on the planet? Ian Kinsler went out and had himself his best season since smashing 32 HR with the Rangers in 2011. He finished 2016 with 28 HR, 14 SB, and a .288/.348/.484 slash. His 117 R ranked fifth best in the league and first at his position. Since 2006, Kinsler has scored more runs than any player in the league, besides his teammate Miggy. With the Tigers entering 2017 with a clean bill of health for Castellanos and J.D. Martinez, and Upton riding a hot second half from last season, Kinsler should once again lead second baseman in one of the most underrated fantasy scoring categories.

The power resurgence Kinsler enjoyed in 2016 came with a 12.5 HR/FB% that he has reached only one other time in his career, that 2011 gem mentioned above. Even though he hit the ball harder than he ever has (34.0 Hard%), that HR/FB ratio should certainly dip closer to his career average of 9.1. But since he is squaring the ball up so well and hitting far fewer groundballs at this point in his career, see FanGraphs comparison from 2015 below, one can still reasonably expect a 18/12 season with 100 R from a guy who hasn't hit below .275 in the past four seasons.

 

10. Jonathan Schoop, BAL (19th Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 31.99

During his half-season in the bigs in 2015, Schoop flashed a glimpse of some serious pop to fantasy owners at a position that was starving for it. Hit smacked 15 HR in 321 PA with an impressive .203 ISO. This caused a bit of a stir in 2016 fantasy drafts and Schoop was dubbed a top sleeper pick by many experts. The result was a 25 HR season while scoring 82 R and RBI thanks to being moved around in the Baltimore lineup.

2016 was a year of minor improvements for Schoop at the plate even though most the percentages say otherwise. For the third consecutive season, his BB% increased and his K% decreased even though he still owns the second worst BB/K ratio in the league (baby steps). The power certainly simmered down after '15, with his ISO dropping to a more reasonable .187 and his Hard% dropping nearly 10 points. This led to a HR/FB% dip from 17.4% to 14.9%, and yet he still hit 25 HR, proving the pop is real and could fluctuate over 30 any given season. If he continues the positive trend in BB/K ratio, gets that OBP over .300, and figures out lefties (.688 OPS vs LHP), Schoop can grow into a top ten second baseman. For now, RotoBaller ranks Schoop at 15th among 2B and as a 15th round pick heading into the 2017 season.

 

9. Javier Baez, CHC (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 37.71

We have been impatiently awaiting the break out of this powerful infielder selected in the first round of the 2011 draft. While he was a lock in your daily fantasy lineups when facing a southpaw all season, .311 BA and 124 wRC+ vs LHP, we didn't quite see how special Baez could be until the magical playoff run by the Cubbies. The youngster went 6-16 at the plate with a HR in the NLDS versus the Giants, and proceeded to win the NLCS MVP award after going 7-22 with four doubles, five RBI, and two SB against the Dodgers. The kid  even stole home.

Baez finished the season with 14 HR, 12 SB, and a .273/.314/.423 line in 450 PA. He has made vast improvement trimming down his strikeouts, although it is still hindering his upside. During his first stint in the bigs in 2014, he struck out at an amazing 41.5% rate in 52 games, but managed to lower that to a more respectable 24.0% in 2016. When he makes contact, Baez posses a rare speed and power combination, put on full display across two levels of the minors in 2013 when he hit 37 HR and stole 20 bases, and again in 2014 going 32/21.

In true Joe Maddon fashion, Baez played six different positions in 2016, and gained (or maintained) fantasy eligibility for 2B, 3B, and SS. Obviously shortstop and third base are locked down for a long time in Chicago, so the path to at-bats for Baez is at the keystone position. He excelled defensively at second last season, posting 11 Defensive Runs Saved in only 383 innings. That 11 DRS ranked third in the league among second basemen. The two players tied with the highest, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler, both saved 12 in over 1,200 innings. The incumbent Ben Zobrist posted a -3.

If any other manager was in charge of the Cubs, maybe I would be worried about Baez getting enough plate appearances for fantasy relevance in 2017. But thanks to Joe, and the entire Cubs projected OF being left handed hitters, the man is going to get plenty of opportunity to live up to the hype this year. If this last postseason was any indication, he's ready to do it.

This has no relevance to anything in this article, but daggum it's awesome.

 

Keeper Value Articles: 

Catcher Rankings: Tier 1

Catcher Rankings: Tier 2

Catcher Rankings: Tier 3

First Base Rankings: Tier 1

First Base Rankings: Tier 2

First Base Rankings: Tiers 3-4