Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank 2B

Altuve is stealing his owners fantasy titles this year
Jose Altuve is stealing his owners’ fantasy titles this year

While there was surprising depth at catcher and first base, my research of second basemen shows much more of a chasm between the players to target against pitching splits in daily fantasy. This will also reflect in rankings for next year as players like Dustin Pedroia continue to lose traction in the ranks. It also underscores just how good Scooter Gennett has been this year as both he and Neil Walker rank ahead of Robinson Cano based upon the advanced statistics used to rank performance in this article. For instance, would you think that Steve Tolleson has been better against left-handed pitching than Dustin Pedroia?

Before I get into the splits rankings, here are the five categories I am using:

wOBA: Weighted On Base Average represents all the ways a player gets on base (HBP counts in this metric). It is used to measure a player’s overall offensive value.

ISO: Isolated Power  is simply a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average.

OPS: On base plus Slugging is exactly what it’s surname suggests, adding together both statistics (OBP and SLG%). In the daily game being getting on base via the extra base hit is preferred.

AB/HR: A simple stat. How many homers does a player hit between each at bat? The fewer the better.

wRC+: Weighted Runs Created Plus A measure of how many runs a player creates. The “+” accounts for differing ballpark factors. So a player who’s home park is Coors is weighted to equal one in Citi Field, for example.

2B versus Left-Handed Pitchers (minimum of 70 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Jose Altuve .433
2. Steve Tolleson .428
3. Ben Zobrist .410
4. Anthony Rendon .394
5. Howie Kendrick .372
6. Daniel Murphy .363
7. Gordon Beckham .357
8. Brian Dozier .339
9. Rickie Weeks .338
10. Dustin Pedroia .334
11. Robinson Cano .320
12. Dee Gordon .319
13. Aaron Hill .319

ISO:
1. Steve Tolleson .224
2. Brian Dozier .219
3. Danny Espinosa .192
4. Anthony Rendon .188
5. Rickie Weeks .185
6. Gordon Beckham .159
7. Ben Zobrist .149
8. Dustin Pedroia .149
9. Logan Forsythe .138
10. Aaron Hill .125
11. Howie Kendrick .124
12. Daniel Murphy .124

OPS:
1. Steve Tolleson .991
2. Jose Altuve .989
3. Ben Zobrist .941
4. Anthony Rendon .907
5. Howie Kendrick .850
6. Gordon Beckham .831
7. Daniel Murphy .827
8. Danny Espinosa .827
9. Brian Dozier .774
10. Rickie Weeks .757
11. Dustin Pedroia .753
12. Robinson Cano .735

AB/HR:
1. Brian Dozier 19
2. Steve Tolleson 25.3
3. Rickie Weeks 30.7
4. Danny Espinosa 36.5
5. Aaron Hill 40
6. Gordon Beckham 41
7. Ben Zobrist 47
8. Logan Forsythe 47
9. Daniel Murphy 48.5
10. Howie Kendrick 56.5
11. Chase Utley 57
12. Jose Altuve 57

wRC+:
1. Jose Altuve 181
2. Steve Tolleson 174
3. Ben Zobrist 170
4. Anthony Rendon 154
5. Howie Kendrick 143
6. Daniel Murphy 136
7. Danny Espinosa 126
8. Gordon Beckham 125
9. Brian Dozier 115
10. Rickie Weeks 113
11. Dustin Pedroia 109
12. Dee Gordon 106

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages:
1. Steve Tolleson – 76 AB, 8 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 355/412/579
2. Ben Zobrist – 95 AB, 13 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB, 358/426/505
3. Anthony Rendon – 102 AB, 22 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 4 SB, 333/378/520
4. Brian Dozier – 114 AB, 17 R, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB, 246/310/465
5. Jose Altuve – 114 AB, 16 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 SB, 421/445/544
6. Danny Espinosa – 74 AB, 11 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 SB, 284/369/473
7. Gordon Beckham – 92 AB, 13 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 317/356/476
8. Howie Kendrick – 113 AB, 16 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, 336/390/460
9. Daniel Murphy – 98 AB, 5 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB, 327/370/449
10. Rickie Weeks – 92 AB, 13 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 239/333/424
11. Dustin Pedroia – 121 AB, 22 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB, 256/348/405
12. Aaron Hill – 80 AB, 9 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 275/318/400

Count me among those daily fantasy players who did not realize how good Steve Tolleson is against left-handed pitchers. It will be interesting to see if he can still get at bats against lefties once Brett Lawrie returns from the disabled list. The acquisition of Danny Valencia suggests a platoon with he and Juan Francisco at 3B may be in order. This would push Lawrie to a 2B role, which would limit Tolleson’s reps moving forward. On a positive note, Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rendon are two options to target against southpaws moving forward. If you subscribe to the notion that “speed never slumps”, Jose Altuve is another great 2B to have in lineups against lefties with his 11 stolen bases and .421 batting average. Seeing Aaron Hill and Dustin Pedroia at the bottom of this list just exacerbates how they have struggled in 2014. By the way, where is Robinson Cano? Daniel Murphy made the top ten against lefties.

2B versus Right Handed Pitching (minimum 100 at bats):

wOBa:
1. Robinson Cano .393
2. Scooter Gennett .381
3. Neil Walker .372
4. Chase Utley .357
5. Ian Kinsler .342
6. Jose Altuve .341
7. Anthony Rendon .335
8. Dee Gordon .334
9. Jason Kipnis .332
10. Roughned Odor .330
11. Brian Dozier .326
12. Daniel Murphy .322

ISO:
1. Neil Walker .211
2. Scooter Gennett .195
3. Anthony Rendon .185
4. Brian Dozier .175
5. Ian Kinsler .169
6. Roughned Odor .159
7. Chase Utley .149
8. Jonathan Schoop .147
9. Robinson Cano .140
10. Kolten Wong .140
11. Ben Zobrist .138
12. Brian Roberts .136
13. Aaron Hill .136

OPS:
1. Robinson Cano .909
2. Scooter Gennett .889
3. Neil Walker .847
4. Chase Utley .877
5. Ian Kinsler .786
6. Jose Altuve .773
7. Anthony Rendon .767
8. Roughned Odor .764
9. Dee Gordon .755
10. Jason Kipnis .742
11. Daniel Murphy .730
12. Brian Dozier .729

AB/HR:
1. Neil Walker 19
2. Brian Dozier 22
3. Jonathan Schoop 26.4
4. Scooter Gennett 32.8
5. Jedd Gyorko 32.8
6. Ian Kinsler 34.1
7. Kolten Wong 35.6
8. Ben Zobrist 42.2
9. Chase Utley 46.8
10. Gordon Beckham 47.6
11. Danny Espinosa 48.3
12. Robinson Cano 48.4

wRC+:
1. Robinson Cano 155
2. Scooter Gennett 142
3. Neil Walker 141
4. Chase Utley 128
5. Jose Altuve 117
6. Dee Gordon 116
7. Ian Kinsler 115
8. Anthony Rendon 113
9. Jason Kipnis 113
10. Daniel Murphy 108
11. Brian Dozier 107
12. Ben Zobrist 104

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages:
1. Neil Walker – 268 AB, 40 R, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 2 SB, 280/352/489
2. Scooter Gennett – 265 AB, 41 R, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 5 SB, 325/363/517
3. Robinson Cano – 242 AB, 34 R, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB, 351/417/492
4. Ian Kinsler – 307 AB, 51 R, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 8 SB, 290/326/459
5. Chase Utley – 281 AB, 41 R, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB, 310/368/459
6. Anthony Rendon – 301 AB, 52 R, 10 HR, 41 RBI, 6 SB, 262/324/445
7. Brian Dozier – 286 AB, 55 R, 13 HR, 34 RBI, 14 SB, 224/330/399
8. Jose Altuve – 320 AB, 40 R, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 31 SB, 316/354/416
9. Dee Gordon – 316 AB, 47 R, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 41 SB 297/316/446
10. Roughned Odor – 141 AB, 14 R, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 2 SB, 291/316/446
11. Jonathan Schoop – 211 AB, 23 R, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 218/250/365
12. Jason Kipnis – 200 AB, 30 R, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 12 SB, 260/352/390

Scooter is asserting himself in 2014 as a 2B to be targeted going foward
Scooter is asserting himself this season as a 2B option to keep an eye on moving forward

In daily and year-long fantasy, the seasons by Neil Walker and Scooter Gennett have gone under the radar but by these guidelines they are the highest ranked second baseman against right-handed pitching this year. Robinson Cano’s slash lines are nothing to look down upon, but the surrounding lineup has more to do with his suppressed counting stats than the ballpark. In fantasy where a player bats is also vastly underrated, look at players like Jonathan Schoop and Roughned Odor. Their slash lines are not far off from Brian Dozier and Jason Kipnis but they bat 8th and 9th respectively in their team’s lineups. This matters for DFS as well, since more at bats mean more chances to score valuable points. As noted earlier, Dee Gordon and Jose Altuve have stolen a combined 72 bags  so if the power hitting 2B do not have good matchups, target the speedsters instead. A base hit, stolen base and run scored are equal to a home run in daily play and are easier to predict. Like Pedroia above, this list underscores how much Jason Kipnis has struggled in 2014. Kipnis will either be a steal if his value is suppressed in drafts, or this is who he might be looking ahead. The remainder of the second half (Kipnis has struggled in second halves before) will help fantasy gamers better gauge his value. Last note: only Jose Altuve, Brian Dozer and Anthony Rendon qualified in the top 12 splits against both righties and lefties.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/MNUckp (Gennett), http://goo.gl/VbjFON (Altuve)

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