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Daily Fantasy Strategy: Second Base

Heath explores the second base position for MLB DFS purposes.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Already in the books for MLB DFS are catchers and first basemen. Today, it is time to dissect the keystone. Just a heads-up, if I pull numbers for a post they almost always come from Fangraphs. If you aren’t familiar with that site, you should be. Now let’s jump in.

Batting Average is a plus, sort of

Here are the three positions covered in these DFS pieces thus far (BA over the last three years):

C: .238, .242, .245

1B: .259, .255, .261

2B: .261, .270, .263

What sticks out to me is how closely first basemen compare to the keystone in the batting average department, with 2016 as the lone exception. Still, it does seem like the keystone offers slightly more BA upside than first basemen, and far more than catchers. As I’ve said in previous DFS-centric pieces, my goal here is to get an overview of each position in my head.

Trendsetters, but in a bad way

Every position in the MLB has seen its isolated power numbers rise or hold steady over the last three years—every position except for second base. Check out leaguewide ISO marks over the last three years:

C: .138, .150, .161

1B: .185, .192, .211

2B: .131, .154, .146

SS: .119, .145, .147

3B: .160, .178, .182

OF: .158, .165, .176

And the overall MLB numbers over that timeframe are: .150, .162, and .171. Man, first basemen can mash, can’t they?

I took this to mean that second base used to be a little more fruitful with regard to power than shortstop. But the advent of guys like Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager have altered that landscape dramatically. You can now find power at the shortstop position. This may alter the MLB DFS landscape a bit in 2018. Whereas previously you may have been spending more at second and consistently punting shortstop, now you will have to determine if it is advantageous to fade these powerful young shortstops. Second base could fall further behind short with regard to power in 2018, so we might need more viable punts at the keystone to make things work this year. Hopefully we can find a few in the splits section below...

Get Your Speed Here

15 second basemen stole at least 10 bags last year, compared to zero catchers, five first basemen, six third basemen and 18 shortstops. Of those fifteen second basemen, only five of them were a plus in the BB% department. Those five were: Jose Altuve (8.8%), Jose Ramirez (8.1%), Brian Dozier (11.1%), Cesar Hernandez (10.6%) and Ian Kinsler (9.0%). How about that for a Cesar Hernandez sighting?!?

There were 50 outfielders who reached 10 or more bags in 2017, but each team starts three of them so we expect that there would be far more outfielders meeting that arbitrary endpoint. The fact is, you are far more apt to find speed at shortstop and second base than you are at catcher, first, or third. In summation: the keystone compares favorably to catcher, first, and third—but again trails shortstop slightly.

As for outfielders, I will address that beast whenever we get to that positional week here at Fake Teams.

The Splits

The righty vs. lefty split is one that most DFSers chase after. In the second base ranks we have some obvious names and a few surprises. Here are the 10 most powerful second basemen against left-handed pitchers last year, according to ISO:

Top 10 Second Basemen vs. LHP in 2017 (sorted by ISO)

Player Name PA BB% K% OBP SLG ISO wOBA wRC+
Player Name PA BB% K% OBP SLG ISO wOBA wRC+
Brian Dozier 168 12.50% 19.00% 0.423 0.634 0.303 0.437 176
Jonathan Schoop 166 8.40% 24.10% 0.361 0.593 0.293 0.397 150
Javier Baez 133 6.00% 25.60% 0.353 0.581 0.266 0.378 132
Ian Kinsler 129 10.10% 10.90% 0.357 0.539 0.261 0.374 133
Austin Barnes 129 13.20% 15.50% 0.372 0.514 0.257 0.377 136
Jose Ramirez 229 6.60% 10.90% 0.371 0.582 0.254 0.395 147
Jose Altuve 155 9.00% 12.90% 0.416 0.561 0.209 0.412 164
Whit Merrifield 131 6.10% 15.30% 0.321 0.479 0.207 0.337 109
Ian Happ 113 4.40% 28.30% 0.313 0.476 0.2 0.326 98
Josh Harrison 128 7.80% 16.40% 0.375 0.482 0.196 0.365 125

Some of these names are obvious. Any time Dozier faces a left-handed pitcher, you will see his ownership percentage skyrocket. Jose Altuve, too, gets plenty of internets love when facing a southpaw. Ian Kinsler, slated to bat first ahead of Mike Trout and Justin Upton, looks like a cash game lock with that healthy walk rate and minuscule strikeout rate.

Unfortunately for Austin Barnes, the Dodgers have named Yasmani Grandal their primary catcher for 2018. Fortunately for us, perhaps his price will be depressed on a site like FanDuel that leans more heavily on recent play and hot/cold streaks for pricing.

Ozzie Albies (.192 ISO, .396 wOBA), DJ LeMahieu (.178 ISO, .406 wOBA), and Logan Forsythe (.161 ISO, .381 wOBA) all fared well against southpaws last year, too. They just didn’t make the Top 10 in ISO. Albies seems to be an extremely popular pick already this year. His ownership percentage will probably be high from the jump, especially if he is batting second behind Ender Inciarte and in front of Freddie Freeman, as Roster Resource has him projected.

Against right-handed pitching, here are your Top 10 options from 2017:

Top 10 Second Basemen vs. RHP in 2017 (sorted by ISO)

Player Name PA BB% K% OBP SLG ISO wOBA wRC+
Player Name PA BB% K% OBP SLG ISO wOBA wRC+
Ian Happ 300 11.30% 32.30% 0.334 0.529 0.286 0.357 118
Jose Ramirez 416 8.90% 10.60% 0.375 0.583 0.272 0.397 149
Scooter Gennett 382 6.50% 20.90% 0.359 0.571 0.261 0.388 138
Daniel Murphy 456 9.60% 10.70% 0.397 0.563 0.231 0.396 143
Franklin Barreto 51 3.90% 33.30% 0.275 0.469 0.224 0.31 93
Rougned Odor 481 5.60% 24.90% 0.27 0.449 0.223 0.297 78
Yoan Moncada 157 14.60% 32.50% 0.357 0.447 0.212 0.348 118
Robinson Cano 455 8.40% 11.60% 0.371 0.519 0.208 0.373 138
Brian Dozier 537 10.60% 20.30% 0.339 0.456 0.203 0.339 109
Jason Kipnis 239 7.10% 19.70% 0.298 0.445 0.2 0.316 93
Jose Altuve 507 8.70% 12.60% 0.408 0.543 0.2 0.403 158

Okay, actually there are 11 hitters on that list, but I had to include Altuve. Happ, Ramirez, and Moncada are switch hitters, so they are approaching right-handed pitchers from the left side—as are Gennett, Murphy, Odor, Cano, and Kipnis, who are all left-handed.

That leaves Franklin Barreto, Brian Dozier, and Jose Altuve as your “sneakier” options in the righty vs. righty split. Like I said earlier, many DFSers look for that RvL split. So if you can find RvR or LvL options with upside, you’ll be differentiating yourself right away. A little further down the list you would see Brandon Drury as an example of RvR crime. Drury (.186 ISO, .329 wOBA) slots in alongside popular plays like Javier Baez (.186 ISO, .307 wOBA) and Jonathan Schoop (.184 ISO, .341 wOBA). He will probably bat eighth in a loaded Yankees lineup, making him a prime candidate for your wraparound stacks.

I was late getting this look at second base out. I hope to have shortstop out tomorrow, as third base week begins on Monday.

One final note: in the splits part, I removed hitters who had less than 50 PA. From my point of view, there were no major names left out, and I wanted a decent sample to work from—even though Barreto’s 51 isn’t large at all.

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @HeathCapps or via email at heathcapps19 at gmail dot com with any questions or comments. Happy weekend, ladies and gents.