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Tiered Second Base Rankings Analysis

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Brian Creagh digs deeper into the projections to find the implied tiers in second base rankings.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Second Base Week rolls on with my favorite article of the week—implied tiers analysis. If you missed this same article from Catcher Week, I would recommend giving the overview a quick read. The concept remains the same: using a relatively vanilla projection model (Steamer) we discern the implied tiers where production makes a big drop from one player to the next. Furthermore, looking at current ADP values (via FanGraphs) we discover where it may be advantageous to take a second baseman in drafts.

For each position, we will only rank as many players as are typically owned in your standard 5x5, 12-man league. For second base, this means approximately 27 players since your 28th and 29th second basemen are likely going undrafted in this format. So without further ado, here are the implied tiers for second base:

Again, a few explanations—zSUM is the sum of all a player’s z-scores for each of the 5 categories. It is not the be-all and end-all definition of a player’s value, because a player’s worth to a team is dependent to the construction of that specific team (i.e. Billy Hamilton doesn’t mean as much to a team that already has Dee Gordon). It is an excellent approximation of a player’s general value compared to the rest of the position and a helpful metric for organizing similar expected output.

Tiers are represented by the solid black line and were generated subjectively by looking at both zSUM and current ADP. The double black line beneath Ian Kinsler represents the average production at the position—players above the line are “above-average” and players below the line are “below-average”. It is my goal to leave every draft with an above-average player at each position, so having this break-even point in mind is extremely helpful.

Next we need to compare this zSUM metric to where each player is currently being drafted. If we can wait a round or two and get the same production as an earlier pick, we are setting ourselves up for success. The graph below plots each player’s zSUM vs. their current ADP with a trend line running through the scatter plot. A simple way of interpreting the chart is: players above the line represent good value, while players below the line represent poor value at their current ADP.

(click on image to zoom)


Observations

Draft second basemen early. There’s a ton of value up front with the first six players. After that it becomes a hodgepodge of similar 15 HR/10 SB upside.

I’m convinced Rougned Odor is going to win me a few leagues. He’s going so overlooked with a current ADP of Round 10 and is primed for a huge bounce-back season. His profile is so BABIP-dependent and 2017 was a bad BABIP year for him. He’s going to rebound in 2018 and carry me to multiple championships

Dee Gordon grades out poorly in this analysis, and I’m not sure I 100% agree with it. Second base is the home of a lot of stolen base production, so the value of Dee Gordon is minimized slightly when only compared to his keystone peers. I don’t know that I’m on board with his current 28th overall (early 3rd round) ADP, but I will gladly take him over Daniel Murphy or Robinson Cano in almost any format this draft season.

Ian Kinsler looks like the next best option if I miss out on the top six options. I love him in that new Angels lineup, and I think pairing him with a late round option like Ben Zobrist or Devon Travis is a great way to get 600+ PAs from the second base position.

If you have any questions or comments or just want to chat further about your league, please don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter @BrianCreagh or via email bcreagh119@gmail.com.