FANTASY BASEBALL – 2016 2B Rankings: Comeback Cano
by Garion Thorne | 6:00 am, January 8th, 2016
Thorne’s 2016 MLB Fantasy Preview
Divisional Break-Downs: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West
Podcasts: ’16 Strategy w/ Fred Zinkie
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Thorne’s 2016 2B Rankings
- Jose Altuve, Houston
- Dee Gordon, Miami
- Robinson Cano, Seattle – As I wrote on June 23rd of last season, Robinson Cano was due for some normalization. The HR/FB ratio was down. The BABIP was low despite the hard contact being up from 2014. It didn’t make a lot of sense. Cano would hit two home runs in the four days after that article was posted. He also finished the year on a 16 game hitting-streak. Basically he looked like the Cano of old and the numbers back it up. Over the second half of 2015, Cano hit .331, and posted Top 20 rates in wOBA (.395) and wRC+ (157). You’ll have to mine speed somewhere else, but Cano’s in the circle of trust yet again.
- Matt Carpenter, St. Louis – Full disclosure: I was not a fan of Carpenter’s fantasy prospects coming into 2015. With little power, next to no speed, and most of his relevance tied to hitting atop an offence blessed with BABIP magic – I didn’t get the buzz. Then Carpenter hit 28 home runs. Now, generally, I’m wary of these one year outliers. Its not often a player’s ISO jumps 130 points between seasons, especially at age 30. However, Carpenter made drastic and noticeable changes to his approach in 2015 which might legitimize the power spike. À la Marlon Byrd, the Cardinal’s strikeout rate rose with the home runs, going from 15.7% in 2014 to 22.7% last season. This might seem like a negative (and it is), but it’s lessened by the fact that while Carpenter is making less contract and swinging more – the contact is harder, his 11.2% soft contact rate was sixth lowest in baseball, and his 22.8% O-Swing is still miniscule. With his current philosophy, Carpenter should hit 20 home runs again in 2016.
- Brian Dozier, Minnesota
- Jason Kipnis, Cleveland
- Rougned Odor, Texas
- Ian Kinsler, Detroit
- Anthony Rendon, Washington – I’m of the belief that a big part of draft strategy this season will pin on where you’re willing to take Rendon and his fall from grace co-pilot Carlos Gomez. However, even with his NFBC ADP dropping 49 spots from 22 to 71, the National still might be going a little high for my taste. That’s not to say 2014 is all of the sudden an aberration – its hard to call outlier on a season when the player in question has yet to surpass 1,500 plate appearances and his prior season was injury plagued, but 2015 was concerning. 17 stolen bases down to one. A home run just once every 62.2 at bats. Heck, the injuries themselves. There’s a good chance Rendon bounces back in 2016, but, if I had to pick between the two, give me Gomez’s track record.
- DJ LeMahieu, Colorado
- Dustin Pedroia, Boston
- Ben Zobrist, Chicago
- Kolten Wong, St. Louis
- Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore – Look down. There lies the somewhat unremarkable, safe section of the rankings. Yet here, at this moment, welcome to the high-end, but higher variance club, where Jonathan Schoop is king. Its not as if the Oriole doesn’t have obvious skill – a home run every 25.9 plate appearances is impressive even without context for a back-end middle infielder, but consider even Kris Bryant only mustered a single shot every 25 PAs. However, Schoop also has the lowest BB/K ratio (0.11) of any player with at least 800 plate appearances since the beginning of 2014. A little well-roundedness might be around the corner though. Schoop’s average shot up 70 points last season – the direct result of more and, honestly, sustainable amounts of hard contact and line drives. Of the group of players hovering around the Top 15, Schoop’s the most likely to break into the Top 10.
- Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
- Daniel Murphy, Washington
- Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles – Dealing with hamstring injuries throughout the season, 2015 was the first year since 2009 that Kendrick didn’t reach 500 plate appearances. His counting stats suffered accordingly, but, at .291, the former Dodger still ranks 31st among the 335 qualified hitters in average the past five seasons – unsurprisingly tied with Daniel Murphy (see above). Honestly, Kendrick and Murphy are part of a quartet of 2Bs, with Neil Walker and Starlin Castro, that should all conceivably bat somewhere between .270 to .290 while hitting 10 to 15 home runs. Its not flashy, but people will pay for consistency.
- Neil Walker, New York
- Addison Russell, Chicago
- Starlin Castro, New York
- Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay
- Yangervis Solarte, San Diego
- Javier Baez, Chicago
- Devon Travis, Toronto – He’d be coming into this season as the rollover lead-off hitter (ninth) for the league’s highest scoring offence. He’d be coming off a season where his .370 wOBA had bested all qualified second baseman and only Brian Dozier could claim a higher ISO than his .194 figure. He’d be one of the most popular “sleepers” in fantasy baseball. Sadly, he’s also recovering from shoulder surgery with no real timetable to continue baseball activities. Still, in DL leagues with a MI slot, Travis is definitely worth a late round stash.
- Brett Lawrie, Chicago
- Joe Panik – San Francisco
- Kike Hernandez, Los Angeles – 87 plate appearances is not a particularly large sample size with which to draw opinions, but Hernandez sure took advantage of his opportunities against left-handed pitching in 2015. The Dodger’s .423 average and .507 wOBA both led all players with at least 80 plate appearances versus southpaws, making the former Astro farmhand a DFS darling. Still, with the aforementioned Kendrick rejecting Los Angeles’ qualifying offer this winter, Hernandez is currently projected to be not just the Dodgers everyday second baseman, but also their leadoff hitter. Keep an eye on this situation as we get closer to the spring.
- Jurickson Profar, Texas
- Jace Peterson, Atlanta
- Jose Peraza, Cincinnati