About a month ago, after completing my position rankings, I saw that my rankings for certain players at each position were quite different from Ray's rankings. With that in mind, I reached out to him to see if he had interest in collaborating on a series, the Rankings Rumble, where we would each explain why we a ranked a certain player higher/lower than the other.
Today, the series continues, where we state our case on why you should/should not draft Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong this season.
Player: Kolten Wong
Case For Kolten Wong (Presented by Ray Guilfoyle):
I ranked Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong as my 9th ranked fantasy second baseman heading into the 2015 season. Wong is coming off a solid rookie season, where he hit .249-.292-.388 with 12 home runs, 52 runs scored, 42 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 433 plate appearances in 2014. He struggled to start the season, leading to a demotion to AAA after hitting .225 in 71 April at bats. He came back in late May and was hitting well before a shoulder injury in early June impacted his performance at the plate, eventually landing him on the disabled list. Upon his return, he went on a second half tear where he hit 11 home runs and stole 11 bases in the last three months of the season. Wong showed off more of his power in the playoffs, hitting three home runs in 36 post season at bats.
I see Wong hitting for a better average at the plate in 2015, as he never hit below .287 in the minors, with 12-15 home runs and 25+ stolen bases in a full season of at bats. I also see him increasing his walk rate as well, so he has a chance to steal 30+ bases. He should hit atop the Cardinals lineup, possibly in the two spot in their order, so he could score 80+ runs in the coming season. Should he hit in the lower third of their lineup, the runs scored will be reduced, but he should still provide solid pop, stolen base totals and could see a bump in RBI, as a result.
Case Against Kolten Wong (Presented by Brian Creagh):
Prior to being called up to St. Louis, Wong was largely viewed as a "high-floor" prospect with an across-the-board skill set. The power was below average, the hit tool was plus, and speed was average. After a 2014 season where Wong hit .249/.292/.388 and 12 HRs and 20 SBs, fantasy owners seem to be throwing his initial scouting report out the window. They believe in the power and speed and think the AVG will bump up a few points. I do give Wong credit for elite basestealing instincts so he’ll get the most out of his 50 grade speed, but to expect 25+ SBs seems a little too optimistic for me.
Wong’s AVG should certainly improve in 2015 since his .275 BABIP last year is well below his .334 minor league average. The part I don’t get is the expectation for similar or more power in 2015. Wong maxed out at 10 HRs in one year in the minors. The 12 HRs seem to be a little more of an aberration and I expect the power to regress next season. Another point going against Wong is his place in the Cardinals order. With Carpenter and Heyward sitting atop the order, Wong will be relegated to the 7th or 8th spot in the lineup hitting in front of the pitcher. This could help his steals chances as they may choose to force some action with the pitcher batting, but overall his counting stats will suffer as a result.