January 28, 2014
Fantasy Tiered Rankings
To read the previous editions of this series, follow the links below:
Fantasy Tier Rankings: Second Base
Today, our positional tier rankings series continues with a look at second base.
Players at each position are divided into five tiers, represented by a numerical star rating. Five-star players are the studs at their respective position. In general, they are the players that will be nabbed in the first couple of rounds of the draft, and they'll fetch auction bids in excess of $30. Four-star players are a cut below the studs at the position. They will also be early-round selections, and they are projected to be worth more than $20 in most cases. Three-star players are the last tier in which players are projected to provide double-digit dollar value in auctions, and two-star players are projected to earn single digits in dollar value in auctions. One-star players are late round sleepers and roster placeholders. The positional tiers aren't simply a regurgitation of last year’s values but rather try to offer some insights into what we expect will happen in 2014.
We retained last year's roster requirements for the positional tier series. Dollar values come from last year’s PFM using a 12-team, standard 5x5 scoring format, with 23-man rosters and the following positions: C (2) 1B (1) 2B (1) 3B (1) SS (1) CI (1) MI (1) OF (5) UT (1) P (9). The minimum bid for players is $1, and, as we did last year, we allocate $180 of a $260 budget to hitters. Players needed to play in 20 games at a position to qualify there. The PFM is customizable, so if your league uses a different format, you can adjust it to match your league settings and see how it impacts players’ dollar values.
While our standard has been not to include multi-position guys because they’ll be listed with their most valuable position, at second base the players eligible tend to be middle infielders, and the lack of depth up the middle means you could well start a Ben Zobrist or Jed Lowrie at second base. Because of that, they are being included in this ranking.
It’s lonely at the top. Cano is likely to see some negative side effects of his pilgrimage to the Pacific Northwest, and no I’m not talking beards and flannel. Well, I’m not talking flannel, anyway. The move from a hitter/home-run-friendly home ballpark to one that is… not that, is going to take a toll, to be sure. Still, Safeco isn’t as hard on left-handed power as is it on right-handed power, and Cano still has the best overall skillset at the position. Aside from the home field though, the context around him isn’t that drastically different. The 2013 Yankees were not exactly a dynamic offense, and with Seattle’s other improvements (Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, a full season of Brad Miller), there’s hope that the Mariners surrounding Cano can at least be competent, allowing him to shine as he always has.
Five-Star Value Pick: Duh
Four-Star Value Pick: Dustin Pedroia
If there’s a theme to the third tier, it’s that there is no theme. Rendon is at the start of his career and injury prone, Utley is towards the end… and also injury prone. Hill is coming off a significant injury, but has been a steady producer in recent years while Carpenter came out of nowhere to post a tremendous season. Zobrist and Kinsler are consistent performers with limited upside at this point. Kinsler’s move to Detroit could be harmful to a running game that’s already in decline. Zobrist gets listed at second base as, unlike with other multi-position guys, there’s a good chance you’re playing him at the keystone if you have him.
There’s an argument that this is an aggressive ranking for Rendon, but he was league average at the position as a rookie, comes with substantial pedigree, and finally stayed healthy. 2014 is a big year, and putting him in tier three probably robs him of some value, but his substantial offensive upside was enough to eke him into the bottom of this grouping.
Three-Star Value Pick: Chase Utley
This tier has everything. Declining stars, rising stars, stolen base threats, Jeds, and even Jedds. Phillips got some love as a three-star option, but ultimately the deterioration of his power combined with Shin-Soo Choo’s absence and a reliance on context stats leaves him at the top of this block, with more downside than up. Profar has a ton of breakout potential and the ability to contribute in every category but carries the risk that he performs like he did last season where he was worth negative value. Altuve generates his value almost exclusively on stolen bases and a solid batting average, but don’t let that sway you from realizing how much value that is.
Infante, Prado, Kendrick, and Walker all provide varying levels of the same style of play: limited stolen bases and moderate contributions elsewhere. Lowrie is something of a poor man’s Utley. Good production across the board with considerable health risks.
Two-Star Value Pick: Daniel Murphy
This is where the depth of the second base continues to show through. It might not be pretty in general, but this grouping isn’t remarkably different from those in the tier above. There’s upside to be had in Franklin, though playing time is a concern at the present time. Guerrero is a complete wildcard and any upside is at least equaled if not exceeded by his potential downside. Wong and Gennett have prospect pedigree on their side, with Gennett performing exceedingly well in a small sample. Playing time concerns abound with this group, with Gennett and Franklin in position battles, and Guerrero with a presumably short leash.
One-Star Value Pick: Marco Scutaro