2014 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Dumpster Diving — Second Base Part One

semien land

This is the third week we have done the dumpster diving series and each week we alter our approach a little as needs arrive. Second base is full of under the radar guys, so we will be dividing this position into two separate articles to help fantasy fans peruse through the garbage. As someone once said, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. All of the players profiled are owned in less than 15 percent of Yahoo leagues as of May 2nd. All statistics will also be as of that date.

The first edition of the dumpster diving series will focus on the younger players at the position. Second base seems to be evolving with a new wave of players. There are an unprecedented number of players under the age of 25. Many of these players are already featured prominently on fantasy teams on multiple platforms, so I was able to boil down this crowd to three prominent young players.

Owned

PA

AVG

HR

R

RBI

SB

Scooter Gennett

10

99

.300

1

7

9

3

Jonathan Schoop

3

86

.235

2

9

10

0

Marcus Semien

15

130

.225

3

19

15

3

By themselves, the basic five fantasy categories only tell us what they have done up to this point. They aren’t necessarily a good point of departure to look at what will happen in the future. Yet, if anyone has been following MLB.com’s prospect rankings over the past few years, they will have recognized Gennett and Schoop’s name before they made their debut. Semien’s name is relatively new, but his stat sheet looks similar to Jason Kipnis when he first came up.

Even without the batting average, he seems to fill up a stat sheet more than the other two. Gennett has done nothing but hit since he’s come up, but the results seem to be disappointing beyond the batting average. Schoop seems to be a marriage between the two as he has a little more pop than Gennett, but does not bring the speed that Semien and Gennett do. We could stop the article here and just go with Semien, but we really should look at their plate discipline and batted ball statistics before making any final determinations.

BABIP

SO%

BB%

Oswing

Contact

Scooter Gennett

.342

13.1

5.1

36.0

86.3

Jonathan Schoop

.321

30.2

1.2

41.4

69.6

Marcus Semien

.304

29.2

7.7

23.2

76.8

 

Seeing that this is Schoop’s first action in the big leagues, I wouldn’t want to making any overarching characterizations about his game, but at this point he appears to be over his head. He is swinging at almost everything and making way too little contact to be good over the long haul. Like with any other young player, this bears watching, but I wouldn’t touch him at this point. Gennett and Semien are obviously in different categories.

Plate discipline is obviously an elusive topic to define. On the one hand, someone that strikes out a lot, but walks a lot could be said to have good plate discipline because they are selective. Semien comes closer to matching that description, but he still doesn’t walk enough to qualify as a truly disciplined hitter. Yet, he swings at fewer than 25 percent of pitches out of the zone. That is well below the league average and bodes well for the future. His relatively low contact rate is a bit of conundrum, but it speaks more to a lesser hit tool than anything in the discipline department. On the other hand, Gennett does not strike out and makes excellent contact in spite of a higher percent of swings on balls outside the zone. Go figure. In terms of pure discipline, I’d bet more on a guy like Semien in the long-term, but someone like Gennett likely will end up hitting for higher average.

Of course, there is making contact and then there is the kind of contact made. This is where the batted ball numbers come in and these probably give us the best long range bet on what type of BABIP a player can expect to have. We can be alarmed with the higher BABIPs of Schoop and Gennett, but sometimes those can be explained with favorable batted ball statistics.

ISO

LD%

GB%

FB%

HR/FB

Scooter Gennett

.100

22.1

33.7

44.2

3.7

Jonathan Schoop

.160

12.7

49.1

38.2

9.5

Marcus Semien

.142

18.8

42.5

38.8

9.7

 

If I were a betting man, I would bet that Schoop would end up being demoted at some point this season. He has a lower average and that comes with a BABIP that can’t possibly be supported with the numbers above. Of course, a number of players have failed in their first go around in the big leagues. The question is what you do from there. Gennett and Semien appear to be here to stay, but they don’t look like studs.

Then again, Semien is on pace to hit more than 15 home runs and steal more than 15 bases. That should be accompanied by 80 or so runs and 60 or so RBIs. That’s not half bad for a second baseman in his rookie season. Sabermetrics will never be able to explain everything and it can’t explain why some players seem to be produce more in those categories than their other numbers suggest they should. Even if we can’t explain it, we are foolish if we ignore it. So, if I had to bet on any of these guys in the long term I would bet on Semien.

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