Fantasy Baseball

Two to Add and two to Dump: Second Base Edition

As we continue through our two to add and two to dump series, we are reminded that each position can be treated like a stock. So, think of your entire team like a stock portfolio. Like stocks, players go through ebbs and flows of performance throughout the season. The idea is to think of your team in multiple dimensions and one of those is time. What a player has already produced is in the bank. You want to think about what a player is going to produce from here on out.

That obviously cuts both ways. If a player has struggled up to this point that is okay as long as he didn’t struggle for you. You can pick up a struggling player through the waiver wire or trade and bank the performance he gives you from here on out. So, our goal here today is to look at every second baseman with 150 or more plate appearances and find two guys you can add based on their batted ball statistics. We will also identify two players you can easily drop or trade based on those same statistics.

We are including contact rates, chase rates, hard contact rates, and home run per fly ball rates. The whole idea is that a player that makes contact more consistently and doesn’t chase as many balls outside the zone is more likely to have a higher average and hit the ball with authority more consistently. The hard contact rates are a direct measure of that. The home run per flyball rate can be tricky. Players are becoming more cognizant of launch angles and some are able to take advantage of that. In general though, the higher the rate the more troubling for the future. What comes up must go down. Before we get started, we will show you the positional median for each number so that you have a frame of reference in our discussion.

Positional Median

Contact: 79.6%

Chase: 30.7%

Hard Contact: 39.3%

HR/FB: 12.3%

BABIP: .286

Two to Add

Kolten Wong– St. Louis Cardinals

Yahoo: 22%

Contact: 81.4%

Chase: 26.1%

Hard Contact: 39.6%

HR/FB: 10.2%

BABIP: .238

Wong is not significantly better than the median second baseman, but he is a little better in every category. So, you would expect him to be somewhere near the median in batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Sometimes guys are unlucky and sometimes there are other reasons for a lagging BABIP. This is why we look at the batted ball data. We could do a deeper dive to see the nature of the contact, but conventional wisdom says he should rebound some. If he produces the league average BABIP from this point out then his contact rates say his average should also be a little above average.

With the proliferation of injured list additions, it pays to have more than one quality player per position. Even with a BABIP rebound, Wong is probably not good enough to be a regular, but he is a nice guy to have on a bench. This is particularly true in Yahoo leagues where lineups are changed daily. You can always throw him in on a Monday or Thursday when your regular is on an off day or you can play the matchup game and throw him into the lineup when you have a favorable pitching matchup.

Joe Panik– San Francisco Giants

Yahoo: 2%

Contact: 89.1%

Chase: 20.7%

Hard Contact: 40.3%

HR/FB: 6.3%

BABIP: .256

Panik is closer to the median in BABIP, but he is also an elite level contact hitter and has elite plate discipline. That comes into play in six category leagues and could come into play if the Giants start selling. We saw Brandon Belt in the last article and they are similarly undervalued. A part of that is that they have never produced the counting numbers that fantasy players look for. That could all change with a change of scenery.

I’m not sure that Panik will ever be a power hitter, but his home runs per flyball rate could approach positional averages with a move to a different home ballpark. Like Wong, he is not necessarily a fantasy regular, but if you have a deeper bench he might be a nice add come July when deals are more likely to be made. The contact rates make him less susceptible to extended slumps, so he could go in your lineup for a week or so at a time and not kill you.

Two to Dump

Jonathan Villar– Baltimore Orioles

Yahoo: 93%

Contact: 76.4%

Chase: 31.4%

Hard Contact: 24.9%

HR/FB: 14.0%

BABIP: .323

Real baseball and fantasy baseball can be very different at times. Most teams don’t want a Villar on their team. He has mental lapses in the field, doesn’t steal first base enough, and is generally inconsistent. Fantasy players see the 20 home run power and 20+ steal potential and lap him up. The batted ball data demonstrates he is likely to take a step back as the season continues. Of course, you shouldn’t dump him without seeing if you can use him as trade bait first.

You can play up his power and speed and get someone else that is a little more dependable and consistent. This is another good reason to have two solid players at each position if possible. You can use him to upgrade at another spot or on the mound. Someone will bite based on the current production levels and the potential in all five categories. The key is not to oversell it. No one is giving you Trout for Villar.

Michael Chavis– Boston Red Sox

Yahoo: 70%

Contact: 65.9%

Chase: 34.1%

Hard Contact: 36.3%

HR/FB: 29.4%

BABIP: .321

Most players got Chavis for nothing, so it is a lot easier to justify dealing someone you got for zero draft capital. Simply put, he doesn’t make enough contact yet to sustain what he is doing. Add that to an abnormally high home run per flyball rate and you have the recipe for regression. If you are in a dynasty league you can afford to ride out these ebbs and flows, but if you are playing in a standard league it will likely get ugly before it gets better. It almost always does when the league figures out a young player.

Like with Villar, you can afford to shop him around some to see if anyone takes a bite. He is not an elite level fantasy product, but he will be attractive to a number of players in your league. Unlike Villar, he has multi-position flexibility and that could play his value up some. Feel free to package him with someone else to go for an elite level performer. If you have to keep him he should at least provide decent pop.

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Two to add and two to dump: Catcher Edition

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