Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Middle Infield

Jose Altuve finished the year atop the ESPN Player Rater & now being taken at pick 11 on average. Is that too steep?
Jose Altuve finished the year atop the ESPN Player Rater

In the midst of thinking that middle infield would be a tough position to forecast in 2014, three middle infielders made the top 20 on ESPN’s Player Rater. However, it did not include top-twelve selections Robinson Cano, Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez. This seems to be carrying over to early ADP’s as people are reacting to the strong performances by Jose Altuve and Anthony Rendon who finished 1st and 17th respectively last season. Early on, each player is being taken in the top 15 in NFBC money drafts. The third player to finish in this company was Dee Gordon, who is not enjoying the early love as his other brethren due to questions of regression. But is Gordon really that much more of a question mark than the other two? That remains to be seen. At first glance, second base seems much deeper than in the past.

Troy Tulowitzki is still the top drafted SS but his home/road splits in 2014 bear watching. Home SLG - .748, Road - .447 along with averaging just over 100 Games the past five seasons.
Tulo is still the top drafted SS but his home/road splits from 2014 bear watching

As for shortstop, rankings always begin with Troy Tulowitzki. This is not a knock on Tulo (or maybe it is), but he has averaged just 105.8 games played over the last five seasons. If you select him with eyes wide open, that is fine, but even with less than 100 games in 2014, Tulowitzki still finished 8th on the Player Rater at his position. It seems like Hanley Ramirez falls under the same category, but he will be learning a new position in Boston. HanRam has averaged 121 games over the last five years, but should see a bump in production playing in Boston if he can handle playing the outfield. Add in Jose Reyes and you have an instance in which three of the top four ranked shortstops are a risk for injury. While everyone is an injury risk, the checkered health of this talented trio makes it difficult to draft them since it comes at a cost that is rarely returned. Dee Gordon finished 2014 as the top fantasy shortstop but will not retain eligibility this year. Let’s transition to the average draft positions at second base for 2015 in NFBC money drafts:

2B ADP's

I was a proponent of Jose Altuve last year and enjoyed the returns of owning him in my home AL-only league. While I think he can repeat some of his numbers, it stands to reason that he will regress a little in 2015. Batting average is the hardest statistic to predict so when it is one of the main reasons driving a player’s value, that makes taking him in the first round risky. With the dearth of power in the league, I find it hard to justify taking a base-stealing second baseman in the top 10. I also loved Anthony Rendon as my editor will be happy to tell you (Editor’s note: It’s true, he did). But with Rendon being taken at pick number 14 that again neutralizes his value. I think he is very talented and capable of repeating his numbers in 2015 but his home run tracker lists 12 of his 21 home runs last year as “just enough”. What if half of those do not go over the wall this year? That drops him home runs from 21 to 15 which is worth making note of. Meanwhile, Seattle signed Nelson Cruz for Robinson Cano. This is very important since Cano has had little protection since moving to the Mariners. I think he is due for a big bounce back season and with his ADP slipping into the twenties, now is the time to pounce. Two other players I like this year are Jason Kipnis and Kolten Wong at their present draft spots. Kipnis’ power numbers are limited by an inability to hit fly balls, but all he needs is health to rebound. Wong had a strong finish to 2014 and looks to build upon that this year. Like the blind profile with projections, here are some interesting ones courtesy of Steamer:

Player A: 72 R, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 20 SB, .254/.331/.387
Player B: 56 R, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 19 SB, .245/.295/.392

It is easy to see that player B has a noticeable drop in runs scored and just 9 points in batting average, but he is going to be an interesting player to watch develop. While I prefer player A in drafts, if he is taken ahead of where I want him, player B is an intriguing fallback option. Here is one more comparison:

Player C: 59 R, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 9 SB, .279/.316/.398
Player D: 71 R, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 8 SB, .262/.349/.400
Player E: 66 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, .241/.319/.395

While two of the players above are now teammates, it will be interesting to see how their at bats work out. The third player in the comparison really came on in 2014 and looks to build upon that this year in anonymity since he is not going in the top 200 thus far. Here are the their identities:

Player A: Jason Kipnis
Player B: Arismendy Alcantara
Player C: Scooter Gennett
Player D: Ben Zobrist
Player E: Marcus Semien

Projections do not tell the whole story but when the names are taken out of the process, it allows us to look at them objectively. Other players of note are Chase Utley, Jedd Gyorko, Nick Franklin and Rougned Odor. Second base is not a fantasy gold mine, but it is definitely as deep as it has been in recent memory. Here are the steamer projections of the players taken in the top 200:

2B Steamer Projection Chart

Due to the ADP’s in clear tiers, drafting shortstop will depend on an owner’s preference. Those who want a premium player at a volatile position will be taking Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez or Ian Desmond in the top 30. After that though it is sort of spread out. Only two shortstops are being taken between picks 50-100 but then five go off the board between picks 105 – 138. Almost a whole round lapses then four more shortstops are being selected between picks 150-180 in the NFBC top 200. Here are the players with their ADP’s included:

SS NFBC ADP's

As much as shortstop will be in transition, especially with the move of Hanley Ramirez to the outfield in Boston, there is hope. Continuing the blind profile exercise, here are some interesting ones I found using the Steamer projections:

Player A: 63 R, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 8 SB, .274/.320/.409
Player B: 66 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 8 SB, .251/.316/.397
Player C: 63 R, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 9 SB, .252/.314/.395

Only one of the above players is being taken inside of the NFBC’s top 200 in money drafts. Showing that while there is depth at shortstop, it seems as though there are many at the same statistical level. Continuing on that theme, here are three more in the same exact circumstance:

Player D: 50 R, 14 HR, 57 RBI, 3 SB, .255/.296/.401
Player E: 64 R, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 2 SB, .253/.298/.392
Player F: 59 R, 15 HR, 64 RBI, 3 SB, .256/.323/.402

There aren’t many discernible differences in either group. Player A does have a big advantage in batting average which enhances his value but that is also the one statistic with the largest variance. In the second group any one of the three players listed could out-produce the other with a bump in one category. Curious?

Player A: Starlin Castro
Player B: Asdrubel Cabrera
Player C: Brad Miller
Player D: Wilmer Flores
Player E: J.J. Hardy
Player F: Jhonny Peralta

Only Starlin Castro and Jhonny Peralta are being drafted inside the top 200 but I think those picks are better spent on pitchers or players with more upside than guys like Peralta. There are plenty of similar options available. Before I forget, here are the Steamer projections for the shortstops inside the top 200:

SS Steamer Projection Chart

Intriguing undrafted shortstops include Erick Aybar, Chris Owings and Alcides Escobar. I can see a bounce back by Jean Segura who endured a very tough season not only in his adjustments, but personally as well. Danny Santana is due to regress but how much? If he can steal 20 bases and score 80 runs then he still has value. Yes his average will drop to the .270 range but it depends on need. Javier Baez will be a very tough player to own since he will be streaky and may not break out until the second half. I think he is talented but to reach for him at pick 106 would be unwise. There are options if you do your research, just do not wait too long or you will find yourself with Jed Lowrie.

Middle infield will have depth and some value to share this year. I think you can be successful without reaching or paying for career years. It will take patience but early knowledge of how players are being valued helps determine where to get them. Tomorrow I will take a look at the outfield.

If you think there is variance in the middle infield, just wait.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.go.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/ONnSIi (Altuve), http://goo.gl/6cSfy1 (Tulowitzki)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

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

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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)

Post Break Preview: 2B

Altuve steals his way into fantasy owner's hearts
Jose Altuve has stolen his way into the hearts of gamers

While there seemed to be safety in getting one of the “big three” in pre-season drafts (Cano, Kipnis, Pedroia), there has been upheaval thus far at the position with none of the top-tier appearing in the top five on the player rater. As of this writing, not only is Jose Altuve the top option at the position, but he is the top rated player in fantasy. This is a precipitous climb for someone who is listed at 5’ 5”. Because of his hot first half and the stolen base accomplishments of Dee Gordon, they not only lead the majors in stolen bases, but assume the top two spots at second base. In an effort to streamline the data, I have listed the top 20 second basemen on the player rater below along with their stats from the last 365 days to underscore what they have done. The results may surprise you:

1. Jose Altuve – 159 G, 77 R, 4 HR, 51 RBI, 55 SB 315/349/410
2. Dee Gordon – 110 G, 55 R, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 48 SB 297/348/397
3. Ian Kinsler – 160 G, 110 R, 15 HR, 87 RBI, 21 SB 287/330/432
4. Brian Dozier – 160 G, 104 R, 28 HR, 77 RBI, 22 SB 246/327/439
5. Anthony Rendon – 145 G, 85 R, 16 HR, 75 RBI, 8 SB 270/332/442
6. Robinson Cano – 158 G, 77 R, 13 HR, 101 RBI, 8 SB 333/388/474
7. Daniel Murphy –164 G, 97 R, 14 HR, 77 RBI, 25 SB 298/340/492
8. Howie Kendrick – 124 G, 67 R, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 11 SB 287/336/385
9. Chase Utley – 158 G, 85 R, 15 HR, 85 RBI, 6 SB 293/354/447
10. Scooter Gennett –136 G, 65 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 7 SB 325/359/492
11. Neil Walker –142 G, 72 R, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 2 SB 266/33/449
12. Josh Harrison – 125 G, 46 R, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 13 SB 291/330/448
13. Dustin Pedroia-159 G, 83 R, 7 HR, 49 RBI, 6 SB 280/343/382
14. DJ LeMahieu –148 G, 66 R, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 15 SB 282/321/354
15. Omar Infante –114 G, 47 R, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 5 SB 297/330/408
16. Brandon Phillips – 152 G, 68 R, 13 HR, 72 RBI, 5 SB 264/303/384
17. Jason Kipnis – 135 G, 69 R, 7 HR, 54 RBI, 23 SB 265/344/368
18. Ben Zobrist – 150 G, 72 R, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 10 SB 275/354/407
19. Martin Prado –158 G, 70 R, 10 HR, 82 RBI, 4 SB 291/328/412
20. Kolten Wong – 85 G, 28 R, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 15 SB 220/274/339

It appears the concern over Dustin Pedroia’s power numbers in decline are more than people bargained for. With only seven home runs since last July it looks like this is who he is moving forward. It will be hard to list him in the top five next year. If you laughed at guys riding a Scooter, the one in Milwaukee has proven to be a fantasy factor off the waiver wire displacing Rickie Weeks and hitting in the top two of the Brewers lineup. A player in the midst of breakout is Anthony Rendon but he seems to be overshadowed in Washington due to the angst and attention that Bryce Harper commands. But his numbers from the last year have been rock solid and he is only getting better. One of the biggest questions has been where Robinson Cano’s power has gone. With only 13 home runs over the last year, this may be who he is going forward but like a struggling Chris Davis, Cano can hit them in bunches if he gets hot. Injuries have limited Jason Kipnis in the first half and his second half struggles have been well documented. Feeling lucky? Like Cano, his power numbers have been in a steep decline with only seven in his last 135 games. With all this in mind, here are the ZiPS ROS projections according to Fangraphs to see how player are thought to finish the season:

ZiPS ROS Projections:

Runs:
1. Ian Kinsler 38
2. Brian Dozier 35
3. Robinson Cano 32
4. Jason Kipnis
5. Dustin Pedroia 31
6. Jose Altuve 31
7. Daniel Murphy 31
8. Anthony Rendon 30
9. Ben Zobrist 30
10. Neil Walker/Howie Kendrick 29

Home Runs:
1. Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Neil Walker, Brian Dozier, Dan Uggla 7
2. Anthony Rendon, Chase Utley, Jason Kipnis, Kelly Johnson, Jonathan Schoop 6

RBI:
1. Robinson Cano 35
2. Ian Kinsler 31
3. Neil Walker 29
4. Jason Kipnis 29
5. Dustin Pedroia 28
6. Anthony Rendon 27
7. Howie Kendrick 27
8. Daniel Murphy 27
9. Aaron Hill 26
10. Brian Dozier 26

Stolen Bases:
1. Dee Gordon 19
2. Jose Altuve 17
3. Emilio Bonifacio 11
4. Jason Kipnis 9
5. Leury Garcia 9
6. Arismendy Alcanatara 8
7. Ian Kinsler 7
8. Brian Dozier 7
9. Josh Harrison, Howie Kendrick, Daniel Murphy, Roughned Odor 6

Batting Average:
1. Jose Altuve .301
2. Robinson Cano .300
3. Daniel Murphy .284
4. Scooter Gennett .284
5. DJ LeMahieu .284
6. Dustin Pedroia .281
7. Marco Scutero .281
8. Tommy LaStella .281
9. Ian Kinsler .279

Mark it down Rendon is a top 5 second baseman in the second half and going forward
Book it: Anthony Rendon is a top five option at 2B

While these projections are far from perfect, it does give fantasy owners an idea of how players could finish out the season. It also helps to predict how they will finish the year in the rankings. Going forward, here are my top 20 fantasy second baseman for the season’s second half:

1. Jose Altuve – Never thought I would type this but why can’t he keep the top spot all year? He is going to hit for average, will steal bases and the Astros can score runs
2. Ian Kinsler – I underestimated him in the preseason and his motivation to show the Rangers they made a mistake has definitely made a difference. The surrounding offense doesn’t hurt, either
3. Robinson Cano – He is still a top option but the first round is a reach next year
4. Anthony Rendon – I am all in with him and next year he may bust out even further
5. Dee Gordon – Stolen bases provide huge value and he is still providing them, the average will regress but the speed is here to stay
6. Brian Dozier – His average can be a drain but the power and speed combo are too hard to ignore
7. Daniel Murphy – Unlike David Wright, he is undervalued at his position
8. Jason Kipnis – The talent is there but his plate discipline and lack of power in the last calender year are concerning
9. Chase Utley – Could a trade really boost his value in the second half? Absolutely
10. Ben Zobrist – See Utley above, he is warming up
11. Scooter Gennett – Hits at the top of the lineup against righties and helps in all five categories
12. Neil Walker – Still has power and will be in play as the Pirates push for the playoffs
13. Howie Kendrick – Has been healthy and solid
14. Dustin Pedroia – As I am typing this he is 0 for 4 in a game that Boston has scored 14 runs. I love his heart and hustle, but his name buoyed his draft position. Look at his last 365 stats above
15. Kolten Wong – Upside late and he could leapfrog a couple of the names above him if he can stay healthy. Has stolen base and runs upside
16. Arismendy Alcanatara – Why not? He has been solid in his debut and if the Cubs leave him in the second spot in the lineup he can provide double digit steals in the second half
17. Aaron Hill – He has to get better this year. Just in case though, I am leaving him here
18. Martin Prado – Does a little bit of everything but like Aaron Hill, he’s been a disappointment
19. Rougned Odor – Again, upside play and this kid plays older than his age but the Rangers are burying him by hitting him last. Move him up please, Ron
20. Josh Harrison – Has eligibility in leagues and he is a spark plug in this offense

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

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ZiPS Projections
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/nnHCNt (Altuve), http://goo.gl/90NPMB (Rendon)

5 Questions surrounding Fantasy Baseball 2nd baseman

The MLB season is upon us which means it is time for the Fantasy Baseball season. We here at the Sports Script want to do everything possible in setting you up for draft day and helping you throughout the season to win a Fantasy Baseball Championship. We are gathering a team of Sports Script writers as well as some special guest to answer 5 key questions about each position for the upcoming 2014 Fantasy Baseball Season. Today we have gathered myself (Ricky Valero), Matt Bell and Matt Wincherauk as we are going to take a look at the 2nd base.

5 Questions surrounding Fantasy 2nd baseman

1 – Which player or players are you targeting?

Matt Bell – I would be more than happy if I can snag Robinson Cano or Dustin Pedroia for my 2nd baseman this year, but I don’t like to use my early pick at this positions. The guy I’ll be targeting a few rounds later will be Matt Carpenter who hit .318 last year for the Cardinals. He’s still 2nd base eligible on most sites despite moving to 3B this year for the Cardinals. I really like what he can do for the Cardinals in the leadoff spot and can total up runs and RBIs given the Cardinals line up.

Matt Wincherauk – I’m looking to grab Jose Altuve this year. He’s a part of an emerging Astros team that has a ton of young talent. A great stolen base threat, and hopefully this will be the year that the rest of his offensive game takes off.

Ricky – I am targeting Daniel Murphy. He was awesome in the 2nd half of the season hitting .307 after the break. We saw a nice bump in his stolen bases, while I don’t think he repeats that but he is a rare 5 category 2nd baseman. He has huge upside heading into this year and you can more than likely find him on all my fantasy squads this season.

2 – Which player are you staying away from?

Matt Bell – I’ll be staying away from this year at 2nd base is going to be Brandon Phillips. He’s declined in average every year over the last 3 seasons and was only able to steal 5 bases last year down from 15 the previous season. He’s just getting older and I see decline in his future.

Matt Wincherauk – Brandon Phillips is who I’m going to try to avoid this year. He’s already in a decline, and it doesn’t seem likely that he will be bouncing back to the Phillips of old anytime soon. He’s a guy who’ll get a lot of middle round looks based off name alone.

Ricky – Robinson Cano – 1st round guy and moving to an unfavorable stadium (in Seattle) just equates to disappointment for me this season. He will produce but just not the numbers we are used to seeing or the numbers need to produce being worthy of a 1st round choice.

3 – Who is the biggest sleeper heading into 2014?

Matt Bell – The Rangers traded away Ian Kinsler making room for Jurickson Profar to become the everyday starter for the Rangers at 2nd baseman. He’s got some major tools for a 2nd baseman as he can steal bases, hit for power, and just get on base. I really think Profar has a ton of value for a later round pick at 2nd base.

Matt Wincherauk – I honestly feel like this is the year that we see Jurickson Profar take off, and be the star that we all think he will be. He’ll be getting a lot more regular time with Ian Kinsler in Detroit and should be ready to be a big time part of an explosive Rangers offense.

Ricky – Chase Utley – I really like what he did in the final month of last season. He hit .349 with a pair of homers and 17 RBIs. I look for him to try to start 2014 as he finished 2013.

4 – Which player will be a bust for Fantasy owners?

Matt Bell – I hate to do this, but I feel like people are going to ignore what I say about Brandon Phillips for my answer to question 2 therefore I think he will be the biggest bust at 2nd base. I’ve already given all the reason I don’t like him this year, but he’s just to high ranked on most sites and will be taken way to early by many fantasy teams.

Matt Wincherauk – Ian Kinsler shouldn’t be a major bust, but moving from Arlington to Detroit should take some getting used to. Besides just moving to a more pitcher’s ballpark, he’s also entering his mid-30s and isn’t the same player he used to be.

Ricky – Brandon Phillips – While he celebrated a career high in RBIs, he saw his batting average, on-base percentage and runs continue on a 3 year decline. Owners will overpay and be disappointed in the result.

5 – Give a bold prediction for one player.

Matt Bell – I haven’t mentioned his name yet in my questions, but another 2nd baseman I really like is Jose Altuve. I’ll actually go out and make the bold prediction that he will be a top 3 second baseman this year.

Matt Wincherauk – Despite a drop off in power numbers, Robinson Cano will see a rise in his average, and will be an MVP type player despite leaving the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.

Ricky – Ian Kinsler will hit 20+ HRs and steal over 20 SBs. Kinsler moving over to the Tigers and hitting in that potent lineup should have some great results for fantasy owners.

If you have any questions about the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season make sure to hope on over to twitter and ask. You can follow me @rickygangster @mattbell211 & @TheMattyWin and we will answer any and all questions.

Want to help support the Sports Script? You ever buy anything from Amazon? Just use our link and we get a little kick back to support the site! Sports Script Amazon Link

2014 Fantasy Baseball 2nd Base Rankings

MLB season is upon us and Fantasy Baseball is back and better than ever! Over the next few weeks we are planning on getting you ready for any of the upcoming Fantasy drafts that you have. This week we are sending out our initial 2014 rankings that will be updated as Spring Training progresses. The week after we are going to answer 5 questions about each position as well as giving you some insight into some players that we like as well. Matt Bell is joining me today as we rank 2nd Baseman as well as take a look at one guy we like higher than his ADP and one we have lower than his ADP.

2014 Fantasy Baseball 2nd Base Rankings (as of 02/19/14)

Rank Ricky Valero Matt Bell 
1 Robinson Cano Robinson Cano
2 Jason Kipnis Dustin Pedroia
3 Dustin Pedroia Matt Carpenter
4 Ian Kinsler Ian Kinsler
5 Matt Carpenter Jason Kipnis
6 Ben Zobrist Jose Altuve
7 Brandon Phillips Aaron Hill
8 Jose Altuve  Jedd Gyorko
9 Daniel Murphy Ben Zobrist
10 Chase Utley Daniel Murphy
11 Martin Prado Brandon Phillips
12 Jed Lowrie Jurickson Profar
13 Howie Kendrick Chase Utley
14 Aaron Hill  Martin Prado
15 Jedd Gyorko Jed Lowrie
16 Omar Infante Howie Kendrick
17 Jurickson Profar Anthony Rendon
18 Brian Dozier Neil Walker
19 Anthony Rendon Omar Infante
20 Neil Walker Brian Dozier
21 Kelly Johnson Alexander Guerrero
22 Alexander Guerrero Kolten Wong
23 Gordon Beckham Kelly Johnson
24 Marco Scutaro Marco Scutaro
25 Josh Rutledge Gordon Beckham
26 Kolten Wong  Josh Rutledge
27 Dustin Ackley Dustin Ackley
28 Dan Uggla Dan Uggla
29 Rickie Weeks Rickie Weeks

Why I ranked (blank) higher than his Current ADP (ADP average comes from the rankings at Fantasypros.com)

Ricky – Daniel Murphy – Current ADP 14 – I ranked him 9th – Murphy is one of my big-time sleepers heading in the 2014 fantasy season. While his OBP isn’t great the rest of his 2013 stats were pretty impressive. He is a 5 category player (career high 23 stolen bases last year) and you honestly won’t get that from many other 2nd baseman. I believe he hits .280 with 13 HRs, 75 RBIs, 80 Rs and 15 SBs.

Matt Bell – Ben Zobrist has an ADP of 6, but I’ve got him ranked 9th as I feel like he’s a bit of risk to be taken very highly. Last season he had a higher average batting wise, but saw a decrease in home runs, stolen bases, and RBI’s. They are slight decreases as I noted, but it as he gets older it’s just worth watching and I think there are better 2nd baseman behind him.

Why I ranked (blank) lower than his current ADP.

Ricky – Aaron Hill – ADP 10 – I ranked him 14 – I have seen him as high as 6 on the rankings and I just don’t see it. His stats have been all over the place since 2011. You don’t know which Aaron Hill you are going to get. And the one stat (Stolen bases) that he provided an extra pop in, he only had 1 in 87 games last season. I just don’t trust him.

Matt Bell – Jose Altuve is a guy I’ll be targeting in just about all my drafts as he has an ADP of  7, but you will see him ranked slightly higher at 6 in mine. I know that’s not a big difference, but I feel he could be even higher among 2B this year. Altuve gets a little lost in drafts because he plays for Houston, but he’s young and has a ton of speed on the base paths.

This week we already unleashed our Catchers & 1st baseman and you can find them here:  (C) http://wp.me/p2MUTr-BY & here: (1st)http://wp.me/p2MUTr-BZ

If you have any questions about the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season make sure to hope on over to twitter and ask. You can follow me @rickygangster and I will answer any and all questions.

Want to help support the Sports Script? You ever buy anything from Amazon? Just use our link and we get a little kick back to support the site! Sports Script Amazon Link

10 Predictions & Questions Heading Into The All-Star Break

We’ve had a great 1st half of baseball this year! The Sports Script asked Ricky and me 10 questions regarding the 1st half of the season. We’ll be talking about what’s happened so far this year, as well as predict how the season will finish.

1. Who is the biggest surprise team? The Pittsburgh Pirates.

After finishing the last 20 years on the wrong side of .500, the Pittsburgh Pirates have seemed to amass a winning formula. Known for draft picks that didn’t pan out and veteran signings that fell through, this season the pieces appear to be falling into place. With acquisitions such as Francisco Liriano and Jeff Locke, joining A. J. Burnett and Gerrit Cole in the rotation and a talented bullpen, the pitching has been the heart and soul of the Pirates’ success. Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte’s outfield performances have been electrifying. With the fourth lowest payroll in the majors, GM Neal Huntington’s bargain shopping appears to be paying off.

2. Who is the biggest disappointment? The Toronto Blue Jays

The splashiest moves in the off-season don’t always translate into regular season success. The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays are a prime example. After the trade for shortstop Jose Reyes, left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle, right-handed pitcher Josh Johnson, catcher John Buck, the acquisition of free agent Melky Cabrera and knuckleballer R. A. Dickey from the New York Mets, the Jays were an early favorite to win the division. With a division-worst 45-48 record, they are falling miserably flat. Following a poor start to the season, the Jays recovered slightly but in the midst of a strong A.L. East, there is no room for mediocrity. With a sorely under-producing rotation, in order to contend with the Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles, the New York Yankees, and surging Tampa Bay Rays, their acquisitions will have to produce.

3. Who is the MVP? AL: Miguel Cabrera. NL: Yadier Molina

Although still early in the debate, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is a runaway favorite for MVP consideration. Aside from Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, there is no other major league player whose numbers even come close to touching Cabrera’s. With an impressive 95 RBI’s, 30 HR’s and batting an average of .365, his production in the Tigers’ line up is extraordinary. In the NL, Catcher Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals isn’t a “typical” MVP candidate. With only 7 HR’s in 2013, he isn’t your power-hitter, however, his real strength comes in his batting average at .341 (with 49 RBI’s) on the year. He has thrown out 45% of attempted base-stealers. With a 4.0 WAR rating, Molina ranks second only to Cabrera and has started behind the plate in nearly every game, proving his durability. Perhaps most importantly, Molina is the backbone of the division-leading Cardinals.

4. Who is the CY Young? American League: Max Scherzer National League: Adam Wainwright

Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers finally lost his first game of the season this past weekend but still leads the majors with only 1 loss. While wins-losses can be overrated, they are not meaningless. With an ERA of 3.19, Scherzer leads the league in strikeouts with 152. Adam Wainright of the St. Louis Cardinals has 12 wins and 5 losses, an ERA of 2.30, and is second in the National League with 126 strikeouts. Wainwright has had 2 shutouts on the year and an impressive 14 walks in 19 games.

5. Who is the Least Valuable Player? B.J. Upton

This past off-season the Atlanta Braves signed B.J. Upton to a 5-year, $75.25 million deal, the biggest contract in franchise history. Hitting a dismal .177/.266/.300 on the year, Upton is looking like a poor investment. He is struggling at the plate with 102 strikeouts half way through the season. His timing is poor, he shows too much movement in his swing, and any adjustments he has tried to make haven’t proven effective. In fact, Upton appears to be regressing as a hitter. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez admitted he considered asking Upton to work out his struggles in a minor league assignment. Currently Upton has been placed on the 15-day DL with a right adductor muscle strain.

6. Which team needs to make a move at the deadline? Philadelphia Phillies

Throughout the season many have speculated whether the Phillies would be sellers before the deadline with the likes of Chase Utley, Michael Young, and Carlos Ruiz. However following a strong July outing, General Manager Ruben Amaro reportedly announced the Phillies could be buyers, not sellers. With the Atlanta Braves, who started the 2013 season red-hot, slightly slowing down their pace and the Washington Nationals falling short of expectations, a strong addition to the roster could give the Phillies a push for the post-season, if any is to be had. If the Phillies go the selling route, there could be great value for Utley, Young, or Ruiz in the trade market.

7. Which team is most likely to bounce back in the 2nd half? Los Angeles Angels

With a record of 44-49 the Angels are heading into the All-Star break below .500 and 12 games out of first place in the NL West. However, they have the ability to recover. If they are going to gain ground in the second half of the season they need a boost from their pitching staff (particularly ace Jered Weaver); the offense needs to live up to its potential and they need to win the games they are supposed to win. This season against the less than stellar Astros, the Angels have gone just 6-7 included being swept by Houston in a 4 game series. Their big off-season acquisition, Josh Hamilton, had a bleak start to the season but heading into the weekend has hit .346 in his last 14 games with 12 runs and 4 HR’s. Hamilton needs to break out in the second half. Injury-riddled Albert Pujols has also had a weak first half of the season but if last season is any indication (slugging jumped from .460 to .581 in the second half), he should start to improve. His bat returning to previous form will provide a much-needed bolster to the Angels’ line-up.

AL 8. Will Miguel Cabrera win the Triple Crown for a 2nd year in a row? No.

While Cabrera is certainly making a case for a repeat Triple Crown the one category that will hinder him is power-hitting. Cabrera has 30 HR’s heading into the All-Star break, second to Chris Davis’ 37. While either hitter could slow down in the 2nd half, it will be difficult to top Davis’ power. With Davis finishing out the 1st half with 93 RBI’s, 37 HR’s, and a batting average of .315, he may also be a Triple Crown contender. At the very least, his numbers will threaten Cabrera’s.

NL 8. Who will finish with the most HRs in the NL? Carlos Gonzalez

The National League does not boast the same power-hitting numbers as the American League. Currently Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies leads the NL with 25 HR’s, Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates has 24, and Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies has 23. While the HR leader at the close of the season is a toss-up, Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies is known for being a home-run friendly ballpark due to the high altitude, which could give Gonzalez an advantage.

9. Which 5 teams are making the playoffs?

AL East: Boston Red Sox

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

AL West: Oakland A’s

Wild Card: Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles

NL East: Atlanta Braves

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks

Wild Card: Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals

10. Who is representing the AL & NL in the World Series? Detroit Tigers & St. Louis Cardinals

Twitter: MissMaria_88

10 Predictions & Questions Heading Into The All-Star Break

We’ve had a great 1st half of baseball this year! The Sports Script asked Maria and me 10 questions regarding what took place during the 1st half of the year and predictions for the rest of the season.

1. Who is the biggest surprise team?

The Pittsburgh Pirates – They have had one impressive 1st half of the season. Their pitching has been unbelievable; they have the #1 ERA in all of baseball right now. What’s even more surprising is the fact they are winning so many games in spite of how badly they’re hitting this year.

2. Who is the biggest disappointment?

At the beginning of June this would’ve easily been the Dodgers, but now it has to be the Nationals. They are only 1 game above .500 and just haven’t been playing the best baseball. They just aren’t hitting at all and they’re ranked in the bottom half of every major hitting category.

3. Who is the MVP?

Miguel Cabrera – Chris Davis gets an honorable mention in this but nobody is playing as well as Miggy. He is hitting .365 with 30 HRs & 95 RBIs. He could be on his way to winning his 2nd Triple Crown and MVP in a row.

4. Who is the CY Young?

I would say there are 4 or 5 names that could be tossed into conversation, but I am going with Patrick Corbin. He is 11-1 with a 2.35 ERA, 109 SO, and a 1.00 WHIP. He has only given up more than 3 runs twice in 19 starts, and has held teams to 2 runs or less in 15 of those. While others can still stake their claim, give me Corbin right now.

Max Scherzer – This guy is 13-1 with a 3.19 ERA, 152 SO & a 0.98 WHIP. There really is no other choice here to be made.

5. Who is the Least Valuable Player?

The Upton Brothers –

After starting the season hot, Justin has hit a cold streak, while his brother B.J., has just been terrible all season long. They have struck out a combined 202 times. The Braves have invested a lot of money in the pair and they haven’t produced the way they should’ve.

6. Which team needs to make a move at the deadline?

The Tigers –

They need a closer and they need one right now. If they do not trade for a dominant closer, this team will not go to the World Series this year.

7. Which team is most likely to bounce back in the 2nd half?

The Nationals –

They aren’t playing anywhere near what they are capable of. I think they are poised for a good 2nd half where they will overtake the Braves and win the NL East.

8a. Will Miguel Cabrera win the Triple Crown for a 2nd year in a row?

I believe he will. I think Chris Davis is going to hit a wall in the 2nd half (Like Jose Bautista did in 2010). This will give Cabrera the opportunity to overtake him in the HR race.

8b.Who will finish with the most HRs in the NL?

This is a race to keep an eye on. Gonzalez, Brown, Alvarez, and Goldschmidt are all within 4 HRs of each other. Beltran and Bruce aren’t far off either. If he is healthy, Cargo will end the season with 42 HRs, which will lead the NL.

9. Which 5 teams are making the playoffs?

NL –

East: Nationals

Central: Cardinals,

West: Diamondbacks,

Wild Cards: Dodgers & Braves.

AL –

East: Rays

Central: Tigers

West: A’s

Wild Cards: Yankees & Angels.

10. Who is representing the NL & AL in the World Series?

I originally picked the Braves to not only represent the NL in the World Series but to win it as well. Well, time for me to take my comment back. The Braves have too many questions surrounding them, the D’Backs aren’t there yet, the Dodgers aren’t unless they trade for Lee, and the Nationals aren’t ready for it yet. So, with the experience and talent, the Cardinals will be in the World Series for the 4th time since 2010.

At the beginning of the season I had the Tigers representing the AL. I will stand by that pick now as well. The Rays I think have the right amount of pitching to make it, but not sure they have the hitting together. The A’s always seem to get there but can never make that final push. Yankees aren’t good enough, and the Angels could go, but aren’t deep enough in the rotation to make it. So that leaves me with the Tigers, and I think that is by default as well. They have been really solid with their Starting Pitchers, but their bullpen has been atrocious this year. As I said, they will fix this issue and trade for one at the deadline, to take home the Crown in the AL.