Fantasy baseball season is in full swing here at Fake Teams, as we continue our study of the keystone with some bold predictions!
1. We see 100 fewer homers from the second base position leaguewide, while also seeing their batting average go up 10 points.
Justification: Last year saw a spike in home runs, up a full 40% from 2018. Meanwhile, the batting average went down from .263 to .254. I think we see the pendulum shift back as the likes of Ozzie Albies, Keston Hiura, Jose Altuve, Jonathan Villar, Whit Merrifield, Jeff McNeil and Tommy Edman see the lion’s share of second base at-bats. That is a handful of guys with .275+ batting average capability, most of whom had fewer than 30 homers.
2. Starlin Castro is top three second baseman in hits and top 10 in runs and RBIs.
Justification: Starlin seemed to be turn things around in Miami, and this was not lost on Washington, who awarded him with two years and $12MM during the offseason. He has seen his hit total rise for three consecutive years, his hard contact rate continues to increase, and his fly ball rate does too. He’s also seeing a continuing decline in strikeout rate, and if he continues batting 4th and 5th (which he did for 78% of his AB last season) he will get an added bump with the World Series champions hitting around him.
3. Robinson Cano is a top 10 second baseman in runs and RBIs.
Justification: I’m not sold on him being done yet. Sure, he’s 37 years old. But over his last two seasons he had a half season suspension and last year he battled time on the IL. If you annualized his 2018 season, he ends up with 88 runs and 100 RBIs. And last year an annualized amount gets him 69 runs and 59 RBIs with 20 homers, all while he was hurt. I could see injuries being the new normal, but his average home run distance is top 16, his exit velocity is top five among second basemen, and his BABIP last season of .280 was a career low.
4. Ketel Marte falls outside the top 10 second basemen.
Justification: Ketel Marte, after years of speculation of him being a great prospect, really delivered in 2019. He fell just short of 100 RBIs and runs, and he had 32 home runs and an insane .329 batting average. According to Baseball Savant, Marte’s swing speed is on the lower end of second basemen and his average distance was also on the lower end. If the ball is adjusted again, Marte will take a hit on his numbers. Also, his numbers as a second baseman (.287 BA, 24 runs, and 27 RBIs across 74 games) are much worse than his numbers in center field, where he was at a .361 BA with 64 RBIs and 69 runs across 92 games.
5. Gavin Lux finishes in the top 10 in RBIs but also finishes in the top three in strikeouts among second basemen.
Justification: His nine RBIs across 23 games was impressive last year, but so were his 24 strikeouts in those same 23 games. At that pace he will sit with Rougned Odor and Jonathan Villar, who were the top two in strikeouts last year (178 and 176), AND the only two to average more than 162 strikeouts on the year. Gavin is a fantastic prospect and talent but his 29.3 strikeout rate is concerning.
2019 (Last Year’s) Bold Second Basemen Predictions
1 . Javier Baez does NOT exceed 80 runs, 80 RBIs, or 20 steals this year.
Result: Javier started off amazing, batting .289 with 59 runs and 62 RBIs through the first half of the year. Then he hurt his thumb and what was a promising start had him just barely cross two of those thresholds with 89 runs, 85 RBIs and 11 steals. (Incorrect).
2. Yoan Moncada finishes Top 5 in runs and steals.
Result: Yoan finished 7th in runs with 83 (just behind Jose Altuve and Gleyber Torres) and 10th in stolen bases with 10 (just behind Rougned Odor and Niko Goodrum) in what was definitely his breakout year. Almost prediction.
3. Daniel Murphy has over 100 RBIs and posts a batting average over .315.
Result: Daniel Murphy had the 8th most RBIs with 78 (right behind Yoan Moncada) but his batting average was woefully low by Daniel Murphy standards at .279. Incorrect prediction.
4. Devon Travis finishes with 60+ runs and RBIs for the first time in his career.
Result: I know in hindsight this seems crazy, but Devon entered Spring Training seemingly healthy and ready to help bolster the Blue Jays 2019 season. Instead he would hurt his knee in spring training and go through surgery to repair a torn meniscus ending his 2019 season. Incorrect prediction.
5. Ian Kinsler is a Top 10 second baseman.
Result: I was very much on a branch all by myself on this one. I really thought he could rebound for a year. Instead, his time on the Padres was bleak with a .217 average, 28 runs, and 22 RBIs. Incorrect prediction.