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Overrated/Underrated Week 7: Second Basemen

Week 1 (OF/SP) | Week 2 (OF/SP) | Week 3 (SS) | Week 4 (1B) | Week 5 | Week 6 (SP)

* * *

We're a few weeks in so you know the drill by now. A big part of winning your fantasy baseball league is recognizing the market inefficiencies that arise during the season. Players are not always properly valued, and it's these discrepancies in valuation that can be exploited for personal gain. It sounds malicious when put like that, but you know what I mean.

This week focuses on second basemen. Ironically, it's a position that looks pretty solid in terms of ownership rates. But there are still some questionable names both farther up and down the list that should probably be swapped.

 

Overrated

Kolten Wong, STL
57% owned, via Fleaflicker

This is kind of a bummer because I had long been a Wong proponent. There are just too many factors not favoring him presently. He generally doesn't hit the ball hard and has fared worse than ever this year. He also doesn't hit the ball in the air. Perhaps worst of all, he doesn't play every day anymore. The Cardinals are losing faith in his bat, and I think they see his relatively weak performance against left-handed pitching and see a platoon hitter.

It's a shame, because his minor-league speed, power and plate discipline signaled an underrated middle infielder who could eventually rise to the top of the position in fantasy terms. The power could reemerge this season, but he's on pace to attempt only 13 stolen bases, way down from last season. And that's a full-season pace, something Wong obviously won't achieve the way Mike Matheny uses him.

Unless the league is incredibly deep, there's really no reason to own Wong at this point. He doesn't contribute much, and his peripherals don't support any kind of special breakout on the horizon.

Howie Kendrick, LAD
43% owned, via Fleaflicker

Kendrick also is no longer an everyday player. His plate discipline has regressed into something rather unsightly, and he's sporting a putrid .011 ISO (isolated power) through 94 plate appearances. There's evidence to support some kind of bump in production -- Kendrick, historically a high-BABIP guy, is sporting the worst mark of his career by far. And his hard-hit rate (Hard%), while not astounding, is not so low that you'd think he shouldn't be hitting for at least a bit more power, too.

The 66.2-percent ground ball rate (GB%), though, is atrocious. At 32 years old, Kendrick is too old to be making that kind of weak contact and expect to succeed. He could still hit .290 by season's end, and that would be a nice wave to ride as he surges. But he won't hit home runs, and he'll barely steal. It's the definition of an empty batting average, and I could point you to a dozen other players who can provide the same kind of value and a dozen more who could provide substantially more.

 

Underrated

Brandon Phillips, CIN
39% owned, via Fleaflicker

This one kind of blows my mind because a trend has kind of carried over from 2015. Last year, everyone thought Phillips would be toast. He had a lackluster 2014 season and, entering his mid-30s, it was reasonable to expect the decline was imminent. Yet while the power remained suppressed, Phillips stole bases at a rate unseen since his early glory days in Cincinnati. It was good enough to make him a top-3 second baseman last year.

Here we are, again, and Phillips isn't even a top-20 second baseman in terms of ownership despite near-top-10 performance. He's hitting the ball more authoritatively than ever before, as evidenced by his early-season power display, and he's on pace to attempt as many stolen bases as last season. That he actually succeeds as frequently is highly unlikely, given he has already been caught as many times as last season. But even a coin-flip success rate would still net him 15 steals.

In other words, Phillips could be a post another season of double-digit home runs and stolen bases. Moreover, his runs and RBI haven't suffered from hitting amid a weak Cincinnati Reds lineup. When the abnormal performances slow down -- looking at you, Neil Walker -- Phillips' name could rise even further.

Jonathan Schoop, BAL
18% owned, via Fleaflicker

Schoop will always have his issues. As a high-strikeout, low-walk guy, he's like a poor man's Adam Jones at second base. (Funny that they both play for Baltimore.) But boy, does Schoop hit the ball hard. He has legitimate 25-homer power, which helps offset his liability in the batting average department. He doesn't run very often, so it's essentially all-or-nothing power. He's like Brian Dozier, a top-10 second baseman by ownership, who doesn't run as often. Schoop is essentially Mitch Moreland but at a weaker offensive position and currently less-owned. Sometimes, all you need is context.

Chris Owings, ARI
9% owned, via Fleaflicker

Owings plays full-time, whether as an infielder or in center field, as part of the collateral damage of A.J. Pollock's season-ending injury. He boasts the best plate discipline of his career and is on pace to swipe almost 30 bags. He doesn't have a ton of pop, but a fly ball or two should eventually clear an outfield fence, too. A post-hype hitter, Owings is finally making good on some of his promise and could conceivably finish the season among the top 10 in stolen bases.

 

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