2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Second Basemen
It’s certainly interesting looking at fantasy baseball through the prism of disappointments. Obviously there are disappointments at every position, but it is also interesting that some positions disappoint as a whole. Nowhere is that more true than second base (and third base which we will see next). While every position has its Jose Altuve, we certainly see more disappointments in the offing than we do surprises. Moreover, surprises are usually guys added in the late rounds or even in free agency. Anyone can nab those guys and so anyone can see their fortunes go from rags to riches.
The flip side is much more cruel. Our disappointments were picked and earmarked as starters. In some cases, they were picked among the first five rounds. It isn’t impossible to overcome drafting a disappointing player, but it’s difficult to be sure. If you find yourself nabbing more than one, you can almost guarantee a season outside the playoff hunt. That happened to more than a few of us this season. The best we can do is do an autopsy on the season to determine what happened and whether it is likely to happen again. So, here are the top three disappointments from the 2014 season.
Jason Kipnis— Cleveland Indians
(.240 AVG, 6 HR, 61 Runs, 41 RBI, 22 SB)
On a long enough timeline the survival rate drops to zero. If player performance could be easily plotted on a chart moving sideways or steadily upward then everyone would be a scout or player executive. Every player sees ebs and flows in their performance, but even this was a bit outside the norm. Kipnis wasn’t completely useless because of the steals, but players that picked him among the top three or four second basemen were very disappointed. It is likely that he will bounce back to hit 15 or more home runs with more runs scored and more runs driven in. He might end up slipping to the fifth or sixth second baseman taken, though.
What about 2015?
Like I said, I’d expect somewhat of a bounce back campaign from Kipnis. Take away Michael Brantley and it was a disappointing campaign all the way around for the Indians offense. However, Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes brought enough firepower to keep them in the playoff hunt. Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher should have bounce back campaigns as well. If that happens then Kipnis will have to drive in and score more runs purely on accident.
Brandon Phillips— Cincinnati Reds
(.266 AVG, 8 HR, 44 Runs, 51 RBI, 2 SB)
There is a saying that goes that you are who your record says you are. Then there are guys like Phillips. He had eight consecutive seasons with at least 17 home runs. He had four seasons with 18 home runs. Some fantasy fans assumed they could pencil him in for 18 home runs and 75 or more RBI. Yet the signs of decay were there. Walt Jocketty tried to deal him and no one bit. Even the Yankees rejected him and they were ready to go to war with the dynamic duo that was Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. The strikeout rate was steadily increasing and the walk rate was slowly declining. 2013 also saw him steal fewer than 10 bases for the first time in a full season. That trend continued. Yes, he was injured, but with a shade under 500 plate appearances, that dog won’t hunt.
What about 2015?
He is signed for nearly ten million a season through 2017. Surely Jocketty will go back to work trying to deal him this offseason. Something tells me that Phillips won’t be going anywhere. With more health, Phillips will likely surpass 10 home runs on the season and a full complement of at bats means a full complement of runs and RBI. Still, you are looking at a player that is not only seeing his average dip, but also his on base percentage and stolen bases. He’s had an OBP north of .332 exactly once in his career anyway. Doesn’t run, doesn’t hit for power, and doesn’t get on base? What do you do?
Aaron Hill— Arizona Diamondbacks
(.244, 10 HR, 52 Runs, 60 RBI, 4 SB)
The boat usually rises to meet the tide. When there is high tide (like 2012) things look good. In the surrounding seasons it doesn’t look so good. His OPS scores for the last five seasons are as follows: .665, .655, .882, .818, .654. Which of these do not belong? The second consecutive season over .800 probably lulled some into a false sense of security. 2012 couldn’t be a fluke because he did it again in 2013. Of course, 2013 was an injury shortened season, so it wasn’t as if he completely rekindled the magic. All told, he has ten seasons in the big leagues and only three of them have seen OPS scores better than .800. Disappointment might be stretching it a bit. As the tide of the Diamondbacks went down, so did he.
What about 2015?
There is a new sheriff in town. Chip Hale is bound to be more laid back than Kirk Gibson was, but who wouldn’t be? Dave Stewart takes over for the embattled Kevin Towers. There is bound to be some kind of improvement. That may very well help Aaron Hill out as well. Then again, he may be dealt. You never know with new regimes. If he is staying then you can bet on the club adding some better players. Hill always seems to be the kind of guy that plays well when those around him play well. That makes him a complementary player.