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Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve

José Carlos Altuve AstrosJose Altuve is coming off a solid first full season that saw him bat .290 with 80 R and 33 SB. Those are very solid numbers for a 22-year-old player who had just 221 AB before the start of 2012, especially in the pitiful Houston Astros lineup, and we saw that Altuve is a very talented play with great upside. But we at RotoBaller also feel that fantasy owners are a little too high on Altuve and should tread lightly. Altuve's current ADP ranges between rounds seven and nine. He's the eighth 2B off the board, based on his plus speed and plate skills at a shallow 2B position. However, with minus power and run-production, alongside question marks about his ability to score runs, we feel that Altuve might be a bit risky to bank on in 2013.

Runs could be a challenge in a weak Houston Astros lineup that lacks any real threat outside of an aged Carlos Pena. The BA is much more likely to be sustainable. In 2012, though, he was aided by a .321 BABIP, which included 29 infield hits and a terrific 2:1 groundball/flyball rate - all of which which means he is taking advantage of his speed and keeping the ball on the ground. This is certainly one way to sustain a better-than-average BABIP. Considering he had a .167 average on flyballs (league avg is .224), it is imperative Altuve keep the ball down (he batted .277 on GB, league average .234). Yet, for someone who relies on his speed, it was disappointing to see that he had zero bunt hits (out of nine attempts) in 2012. This is a matter of coaching and developing his game. We feel that he could go anywhere between .280 to .300 if he maintains his GB/FB rate.

The plus part of his game that he should maintain in 2013 is his base-stealing skills. His 33 SB in 2012 were good for a 75% success rate, and that is his best fantasy attribute. In a terrible lineup that will have trouble generating runs, the Astros may just give Altuve the green light the entire season. But beyond the basepaths, Altuve may not provide much else: he only hit 2 HR after the 2012 All-Star break, so you won't see any power from him. Expect something like 7 HR and 50 RBI.
Net Net:

There are more reliable 2B (like Martin Prado) and higher-upside 2B (like Rickie Weeks) options who are being drafted 4-5 rounds later than Altuve. Weeks gives you very solid HR and RBI if he stays healthy. If you take Prado, you’ll get consistency and position flexibility. Altuve is entering just his second full season, with some nice upside, but plays in a terrible lineup. He could go either way, but without power numbers his upside really isn't THAT high: plus speed, BA and run-scoring. And if any of these categories fall off, then you are stuck with a league-average player and would have been just as good picking up Juan Pierre off waivers. Draft with caution unless he falls past the 12th round, at which point he can bring home a nice draft day profit.

For more 2B analysis, check out our full 2013 fantasy baseball Second Base rankings.