Points Leagues Second Basemen: Overvalued and Undervalued

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As we’ve discussed, points leagues are a bit of a different animal from the more popular head-to-head and rotisserie formats. One of the easiest and best ways to ensure that you’re making a smooth transition between these disparate styles is to identify players whose values change most.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be offering my thoughts on potential points league bargains and busts at every position.

Today we're looking at some potential second base sleepers and busts, or draft targets and avoids in points leagues.

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Overvalued for Points Leagues

Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers

Odor broke out in a big way in 2016, hitting .271 with 33 homers, 89 runs, 88 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. He also made a few other headlines. Still only 23, Odor is understandably a hot commodity in fantasy drafts this year. If you’re playing in a points league, though, he’s a less attractive asset. As good as his surface stats were last season, they masked some troubling trends in his plate discipline. Odor’s swinging strike rate shot up by four percentage points, and his already middling walk rate fell even further. He still has a bright future and is unlikely to be a total bust, but don’t overpay in points formats.

 

Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins

Like most players whose value is tied to their legs, Gordon loses some shine in this format. The fantasy community at large seems unperturbed by Gordon’s PED suspension and uninspiring performance last year. While I also expect a rebound, he’s not without risk. Gordon has never been a guy to take many walks, so if his batting average doesn’t tick back up, he’ll struggle to get on base. That means fewer runs scored and fewer stolen base opportunities in addition to a mediocre batting average. With no power to speak of, Gordon’s value in points leagues may not match the price you’ll need to pay to acquire his services.

 

Jean Segura, Seattle Mariners

Even the pros have blind spots, and it’s entirely possible that Segura is one of mine. Skepticism caused me to miss out on his excellent 2016, but I’m doubling down this year. Looking at his underlying numbers, it’s tough to see him repeating that performance. While Safeco Field doesn’t play as pitcher-friendly as it used to, it’s still not Chase Field. Segura did the bulk of his damage there and at Coors, hitting 40 points higher at those two parks than anywhere else, and 13 of his 20 home runs. He was one of the worst hitters in baseball for two and a half years before last season, and it’s hard to completely forget that. His plate discipline didn’t really change at all, meaning his value is still heavily tied to batting average.

 

Undervalued for Points Leagues

DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies

LeMahieu was one of the biggest bargains in fantasy baseball last season. Treated as an afterthought in most drafts, he won a batting title with a .348 average, scored 104 runs, and posted double digit totals in both home runs and stolen bases. He also increased his walk rate and cut down on strikeouts for the third year in a row. It may be too much to expect him to maintain a .388 BABIP again, but he does make a lot of quality contact. Along with speed and the Coors effect, that should help him avoid too much regression. Those attributes also help him rack up a ton of doubles and triples, giving his points league value a boost.

 

Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

Only six players hit better than Pedroia’s .318 mark last season. For his career, the veteran is a .301 hitter who walks nearly as often as he strikes out. This makes him a fantastic points league target despite modest pop. Pedroia’s price is low partly because of his injury history, but he’s also probably fallen victim to Boring Vet Syndrome, especially with the number of shiny new toys in the middle infield. Assuming health, though, you can set your watch by his production. He’ll bat leadoff for the stacked Red Sox lineup, making 100 runs an excellent bet.

 

Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs

Another player whose price tag is suppressed by a combination of ageism and his well-rounded nature, Zobrist is coming off a fantastic first season in Chicago. In addition to winning World Series MVP honors, Zobrist hit .272 with 18 homers, 94 runs, 76 RBI, and six stolen bases. He posted the best walk rate of his career and was one of only two players to walk more than he struck out. Surprisingly enough, he actually hit much worse at Wrigley than on the road, something unlikely to continue in 2017. When everyone else is gambling on unproven upside, grab Zobrist at a bargain price and enjoy the profit.

 

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