Three weeks down, three position reviews in the books. Before we move onto our third base review this week, take a minute and look back at our second base review, complete with 5 Surprises, an intriguing Blind Resume, and a visual representation of the offensive decline of the position over the last half-decade.
Time for 12 thoughts on 2012 (which sounds better if you say it as “twenty-twelve”).
- After an abysmal first two months (.158 BA, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB), Rickie Weeks was left for dead in most fantasy leagues. Three more months of improved-yet-marginal play did little to sway fantasy owners, and then Weeks erupted for 8 HR and 7 SB in September. There’s just one thing I can guarantee about Weeks going forward: He’s going to be one of the players I most dread ranking for 2013.
- Howie Kendrick is yet another example of regression to the mean. After homering 18 times in 2011, Kendrick hit just 8 four-baggers in 2012. His HR/FB rate fell from 16.5% to 8.9%. Kendrick’s career HR/FB rate entering 2012? 8.9%.
- I’m slightly optimistic about Dustin Ackley‘s fantasy prospects. He isn’t a top second baseman by any means, but he did hit 12 homers, steal 13 bases, and score 84 runs despite batting just .226. His strikeout rate was down from his rookie year (21.0% to 18.6%), and his .265 BABIP was undeservedly low given his 19.6% line-drive rate.
- My gut reaction is to give Dan Uggla a mulligan. Note: He won’t hit for a good average (meaning above .250), but he’s just 32 and I’d be willing to draft him as a starting second baseman in 2013. And at a nice discount.
- Danny Espinosa will be a popular draft pick in 2013 with his 20/20 potential, but he’ll be lucky to approach .247 next year with his strikeout rate topping 28% last year and his infield fly (12.6%), swing (52.0%) and contact rates (70.7%) well-below league averages (10.0%, 45.3%, 79.6%, respectively).
- Jemile Weeks doesn’t look like a viable fantasy option. His ISO in 2011 was a pretty-pathetic .118, and it still fell 25 points in 2012. Unless he’s on pace for 40+ steals after April, I’m staying away.
- When trying to quantify the decline of second base play last year, consider this. From 2007-2011, second basemen combined to post a WAR of at least 90.3 each year. Last year they combined to post a WAR of 77.7.
- Second basemen combined to post a wRC+ (runs created compared to league average) of 88, the position’s lowest mark since 2003.
- There might be hope for Gordon Beckham after all! The 26-year-old homered 16 times, cut his strikeout rate down to 15.3% and finished half a percentage point shy of a second straight 20%+ line-drive rate season. His .234 BA was the product of an unlucky .254 BABIP. Slight improvements across the board could make him very valuable next year.
- Where the hell did Jason Kipnis‘ 31 steals come from? I didn’t see that one coming. Of course, I didn’t see his .257 BA coming either, but that should correct itself. He’s a .270+ hitter.
- Brandon Phillips is emerging as one of the most stable second tier options at second base, something I never thought I’d say after he appeared to be in rapid decline. With three straight seasons of exactly 18 homers, and stolen base totals of 16, 14, and 15, he seems like a pretty safe bet.
- I can’t go a whole dozen thoughts without mentioning Jose Altuve! My thought on the ‘Stros second baseman? He’s everything we thought Jemile Weeks could be, and he won’t come nearly as cheap in 2013.