2015 Ottoneu Position Outlook: 2B

Welcome to the 1st annual Ottoneu Position Outlook (2015).  

While there’s no shortage of fantasy baseball resources (rankings, projections, opinions) available on the interwebs today, this review is dedicated entirely to the growing fantasy format of Ottoneu, the creation of founder Niv Shah.  In other words, this is your go-to resource for custom, Ottoneu-style dynasty baseball preparation for 2015.  If you aren’t familiar with Ottoneu, you can check out more information here, or join the new #ottoneucommunity on Slack.

The positional reviews that follow are specifically tailored to Ottoneu “FanGraphs Points” leagues, so you’ll want to keep this linear weights scoring format in mind as you digest the information below and prepare for your own Ottoneu draft/league in 2015.  

The (new) setup is pretty standard: 

  • A quick review of the position from 2014
  • A player “box” full of key stats and three year scoring averages
  • A lot of words about a lot of players
  • A recommended player ranking for each position

In addition to the format above, you may find a few graphs for quick reference, as well as an open invitation to comment for further feedback.  Keep in mind that rankings, strategies, and player evaluations are opinion only, so this is best used as a general guide.  

Just in case you missed it, you can check out the 1B review here

2015 Position Outlook: 2B

2014 Top 20 2B Total Points2014 Top 20 2B PPG

  • Robinson Cano: Ottoneu Profile

    Robinson Cano: Ottoneu Profile

  • Age 31.  Safeco.  The 2nd lowest HR/FB ratio of his career.  The perfect storm came as expected in 2014, sinking Robinson Cano to his lowest scoring total in three years.  Gone are the day of 1,000+ point seasons, so that $46 average salary is going to be an albatross for owners planning to carry Cano into 2015.  Despite the decline, Cano is still the likely highest scoring 2B next year, and his consistency and name recognition (strong Contact, BABIP, a few extra SB) will demand a high dollar if you want to make him the cornerstone of your MI.  Don’t pay up for that 3 year average, but don’t let 2014 be the only input into your evaluation either.  Steamer projects 18 HR and 853 points for 2015. That’s not worth $45+, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cano reach for an extra gear in 2015 and settle in at a level much closer to 6 P/G for what looks like a much more competitive SEA team.
  • Anthony Rendon: Ottoneu Profile

    Anthony Rendon: Ottoneu Profile

  • Anthony Rendon won’t turn 25 until June 2015, but it’s already clear he’s the new serious contender for Ottoneu’s title of “best 2B” in the game.  With a full, healthy, productive 6+ P/G season putting the injury prone tag a little further behind him, the only real question surrounding Rendon heading into 2015 is whether he’ll stick at 2B for 2016 and beyond, or settle in permanently at 3B.  Rendon has the pedigree to not only maintain his gains but improve upon them in 2015, so that $17 average salary won’t stick around long as new auctions likely buy in the $30+ range.  Rendon makes excellent hard contact with emerging power and OBP skills, so it’s very possible he enters elite territory next season.  Big aggressively, and take the over on Steamer’s 821 projected points.
  • Jose Altuve: Ottoneu Profile

    Jose Altuve: Ottoneu Profile

  • Congratulations, Jose Altuve – you were the highest scoring second basemen of 2014.  A true breakout at age 24, Altuve increased his P/G by more than 50% over 2013 while narrowly outpacing both Cano and Rendon with a .363 wOBA.  Amazingly, Altuve made these huge strides while also improving his contact rate to a career best 91%, so despite the skepticism most scouts expressed throughout his early development, it appears likely that Altuve’s hit tool is going to keep him productive for the foreseeable future.  But everyone’s hit tool looks a little better when it’s propped up by a .360 BABIP, so even with the steady LD%, expect that BABIP to fall in 2015, and his average (and hits) along with it.  Altuve value is hard to quantify for 2015, and while 3 year averages aren’t always the best measure, they may work well here for Altuve because of his wide swings in production over the same time period.  A 2B approaching 5.20 P/G should make his $19 average salary look comfortable on most teams, but don’t pay for a 2015 repeat if he’s somehow available in your auction.  His wheels obviously play up on roto leagues.
  • Ben Zobrist: Ottoneu Profile

    Ben Zobrist: Ottoneu Profile

  • On the surface the 2014 version of Ben Zobrist was very similar to the 2013 version.  Playing in a few less games hurt his total scoring, but he was remarkably consistent.  Zobrist will move to a different pitcher’s park in 2015, so don’t change your approach too much based on his venue when targeting Zobrist in 2015.  His multi-position eligibility is a critical element to his value, and with Steamer projecting a slight bounce back in power (.759 OPS), he ranks 3rd among SS with 755 points projected.  Sure, we’re seeing the decline of the Zorilla, but at 34 he’s still plenty valuable and a good bet to make good on a $25 investment.  Zobrist had played in over 150 games in each of the five seasons prior to 2014 (146), so factor in that durability when evaluating him against other MI options, which is where he needs to be playing for your team to bring the most value.
  • Ian Kinsler: Ottoneu Profile

    Ian Kinsler: Ottoneu Profile

  • Despite matching many of his 2013 rates (CT%, ISO, HR/FB%, SB), most of Ian Kinsler’s solid 2014 season can be attributed to just one: games played.   Kinsler played nearly a full season in 2014, adding 25 games to his count over the previous year.  Kinsler will exit 2015 at just 33 years old, so if his recent durability holds, he’s a good bet to deliver another top 7 performance in 2015 (Steamer ranks him 5th with 736 points) and a safe return on investment in the low $20’s.  Kinsler’s contact rates remain strong, so don’t hesitate to target the veteran 2B after some of the younger, flashier names are gone.
  • Dustin Pedroia: Ottoneu Profile

    Dustin Pedroia: Ottoneu Profile

  • Dustin Pedroia was worth 1.01 P/PA for your team in 2014.  He had a 99 wRC+.  He was a disaster, and likely the target of frustration for many owners who were expecting a solidified MI with one of the more consistent 2B’s in the business.  Despite a disappointing 2014, Pedroia will play most of 2015 at the age of just 31, so he’s clearly still in his prime (though those nagging injuries certainly make him *feel* older than he is).  Pedroia is a big gamble at his current average price of $34, so you’ll want someone else to take on that risk at such a steep price.  However, if Pedroia somehow falls in the low $20 range, you shouldn’t forget him.  For what it’s worth, Bill James sees a nice bounceback.
  • Neil Walker: Ottoneu Profile

    Neil Walker: Ottoneu Profile

  • In 2014 the top 12 2B played an average of 151 games.  At a rate of 5.39 P/G, Neil Walker would have ranked 5th among 2B (between Dozier and Kinsler) with 814 points.  The only problem here is that Walker didn’t play 151 games.  For the 3rd season in a row he played less than 140.  That’s really the key here with Walker, who has the track record and recent power gains to remain a top 2B target for 2015 as his ISO, contact, and scoring averages are all trending in the right direction.  Though he’s 28, don’t expect a breakout, but I’d bet on production closer to 2014 than his three year averages here, and at $11 you have one of the better MI contracts in the game.  Walker isn’t under the radar any longer, and he’s one of the better MI investments you should target in 2015.
  • Josh Harrison: Ottoneu Profile

    Josh Harrison: Ottoneu Profile

  • If you currently own Josh Harrison for an average price of $5, congratulations, as he was one of the true breakout players of 2014.  Dubbed the new “Zobrist” by many, his 2B/3B/OF eligibility only adds to his value as a versatile MI option you can play occasionally as an OF5 or spot start at 3B.  Unfortunately, we have limited information for which to gauge Harrison heading into 2015.  The crowd will call for massive regression, and you can be sure some of it is coming after posting a .353 BABIP, but I’m not sure the downfall is going to be as large as what most expect.  Harrison appears to have sold out some contact in 2014 for extra power, and with sneaky wheels and a well-earned full time gig at 3B for PIT, Harrison is a valuable asset in any league at just $5, even if he settles all the way down to 10 or 15 percent above league average.  That said, Harrison probably isn’t a guy to rebuild around, so if you have a a contender in your league willing to pay the 2014 price tag for Harrison because of his versatility, I’d consider selling.  Harrison is a true hacker, swinging at the first pitch in almost Puig-like fashion, so he’ll be one of the more interesting players to watch in 2015 as pitchers make that obvious adjustment.
  • Chase Utley: Ottoneu Profile

    Chase Utley: Ottoneu Profile

  • Chase Utley is what he is at this point in his excellent career, and at 35 y/o don’t expect anything above and beyond his surprisingly productive 2014, which was supported more than anything by his 155 games played.  Despite a a three year best LD rate (24.6%), Utley’s HR/FB% in 2014 sticks out like a sore thumb, so if he can play 145 games at 5.25 P/G in 2015, you’re still looking at a 750+ point 2B who seems to be priced perfectly in the $15 range.
  • Brian Dozier: Ottoneu Profile

    Brian Dozier: Ottoneu Profile

  • Maintaining similar core stats such as ISO, LD%, and Contact, Brian Dozier used a few extra games played and an improved HR/FB rate to exceed even the most optimistic 2014 expectations after locking down a full time 2B gig in MIN in 2013.  Dozier was 18% better than league average last year and continues to show the power/speed combination that propelled him to the 4th overall ranking among 2B in 2014.  Will Dozier improve even more in 2015? That’s a lot to ask, but I think we’re finally at the point where Dozier should be considered a lock as a 5.0 P/G, 750-800 point 2B that can easily form the core of your MI.  His 2013 under the radar season still has him underpriced at an average price of just $7, so hold tight if you’re fielding offers that don’t treat him like a top 5 option.
  • Martin Prado: Ottoneu Profile

    Martin Prado: Ottoneu Profile

  • Martin Prado had a tale of two seasons in 2014, finding new life only after getting traded to a NYY ballpark that barely helped push his production above league average.  Unfortunately, he’ll leave NYY for one of the largest ballparks in MLB in MIA, but it’s really Prado’s versatility (2B/3B/OF) that makes him a difficult player to evaluate heading into 2015.  At an average price of $16, he’s going to make you cross your fingers before you decide to carry him beyond January 31st, and if you’re planning to play him anywhere but 2B you’re suppressing what value he has remaining.  That said, Prado has a more productive history than someone like Josh Harrison, and his ISO, Contact, and LD rates have remained remarkably consistent.  As a best case scenario, I’d view Prado as a roughly 700 point 2B in 2015 in strong downside risk, so pay accordingly.
  • Jason Kipnis: Ottoneu Profile

    Jason Kipnis: Ottoneu Profile

  • The biggest question about Jason Kipnis heading into 2015 is whether 2013 (.168 ISO; 12% HR/FB, .345 BABIP, 5.99 P/G) should be considered the outlier? Kipnis is extremely difficult to peg for 2015, as injuries (oblique, hamstring) likely played a role in his disappointing campaign.  Questions remain: Can he hit LHP (44 wRC+ in 2014; 138 wRC+ in 2013; 66 wRC+ in 2012; 88 wRC+ career)? Can he stay healthy? What’s a realistic BABIP? Will he continue to give up contact for an attempt at power? With all those questions left unanswered heading into 2015, I’d set my expectations at that 3 year average mark of 4.94 P/G and hope for the best, though I’d be very hesitant to hit the $20 mark for his services when 2B feels a bit deeper with multiple ~ 700 point options.  For what it’s worth, Steamer projects 1.07 P/PA with 13 HR and a .320 wOBA.  That looks an awful lot like his 2012.  Final note: it’s not impossible that Kipnis moves to the OF in late 2015 as CLE continues to improve their MI defensive unit.
  • Daniel Murphy: Ottoneu Profile

    Daniel Murphy: Ottoneu Profile

  • The number suggest that Daniel Murphy would rival Alex Gordon as one of the most consistent players in MLB over the past couple of seasons, so there’s nothing revelatory to say here.  He’s a ~ 700 point 2B who can occasionally spot start at 3B.  While his value could rise with a move outside NYM, I wouldn’t factor that into your auction plans.  He’s a $10-$12 2B and will probably once again land at the very bottom of the top 12 2B rankings come October 2015.
  • Brett Lawrie: Ottoneu Profile

    Brett Lawrie: Ottoneu Profile

  • Brett Lawrie has robbed fantasy owners of hope and joy for three straight years now, consistently producing at a below average rate while maintaining well below average playing time (100 GP/year).  At an average $17 salary, are you prepared to let him do it again? Despite the relative optimism from Steamer (17 HR, .751 OPS, .332 wOBA), Lawrie is a risky bet to pay off as a staring 3B in 2015.  Thankfully, he finds himself here in the 2B rankings, which gives him a slight boost in value and a chance for redemption as he moves from TOR to OAK.  At age 25, Lawrie is a good bet to show some improvement in 2015, but you shouldn’t pay as if growth is guaranteed.  Plan for 1.15 P/PA, with a 600 PA season the best case scenario, or roughly 675-700 points.  You’ll need to downgrade him significantly because of his injury history, so if you’re holding or planning to pay more than about $7, you should consider looking elsewhere.  Lawrie has the talent to deliver valuable production at a premium position, but don’t buy the hype unless the price clearly offsets the risk.
  • Javier Baez: Ottoneu Profile

    Javier Baez: Ottoneu Profile

  • Perhaps one of the most difficult players to evaluate in Ottoneu heading into 2015, Javier Baez is going to play a critical role for owners next season one way or another as either a championship-caliber MI, or a massive bust that sinks your 2B/SS position to the waiver wire.  In other words, Baez is still boom or bust, and though he possesses elite power for MI option, his plate discipline (lack of) works against him in a format like linear weights.  Steamer seems to understand this perfectly, projecting 27 HR (which would have led all MI in 2014), but just a .304 wOBA that is pressured by a .276 OBP (.20 BB/K).  There’s no doubt that Baez possesses some elite skills, and because he’s shown an ability to make big adjustments on multiple occasions in the minors, there’s still hope that he pulls it together quickly to be a force in 2015.  The odds, however, suggest he’s still a few seasons away from becoming bankable MI option, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see more season at AAA in 2015 with all the options CHC has and their ramped up competitive timeline.  While it’s too early to give up on Baez, it is time to be realistic about expectations over the next season or two, and the reality is that he’ll likely deliver more value to your team as a trade chip now than by plugging him into your lineup in April.  By wary of re-buying the hype if/when Baez dominates in spring training.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera: Ottoneu Profile

    Asdrubal Cabrera: Ottoneu Profile

  • Asdrubal Cabrera hit 25 HR in 2011.  It’s been all downhill since, and moving to TB won’t help things much in 2015.  Cabrera *feels* like a league average player, so it’s not surprising to see his wOBA hover just above .300 for the last couple of seasons.  Steamer projects 587 points at just 0.98 P/PA, but with the SS landscape in shambles, Cabrera may still sneak his way into being at top 12 MI after your SS and 2B are filled out.  At an average price of $12 you should be selling; it makes more sense to lump Cabrera in with SS options like Aybar, Hardy, and Alexei, so target him to deliver about $6 in value.
  • Jedd Gyorko: Ottoneu Profile

    Jedd Gyorko: Ottoneu Profile

  • After an utterly disastrous start to the 2014 season that was likely influenced by a painful case of plantar fasciitis, Jedd Gyorko made some decent steps forward in the 2nd half of the season that offer a bit of hope heading into 2015.  This is your classic “post-hype” player, who’s 23 HR in 2013 are almost completely forgotten now by his abysmal showing last year.  Gyorko’s power and batting eye (11% BB rate) saw dramatic improvements in the 2nd half, and his K% dropped below 20% for the first time in his career.  With added luck (just .253 BABIP) in 2015, Gyorko likely finds his way back into a starting MI for most Ottoneu teams, and as of this writing I’d say the FG Fans may have it right with a 115 wRC+ and .330 wOBA.  A $7 investment is likely to pay off better here than many others as 700 points is within reach.
  • Howie Kendrick: Ottoneu Profile

    Howie Kendrick: Ottoneu Profile

  • As one of the more underrated 2B’s in Ottoneu last year Howie Kendrick, now almost 32, quietly hit is way into the 8th best 2B option of 2014 with 755 points.  He lost many of his power gains from the previous few seasons, but compensated by managing a career best BB/K rate and another consistently high BABIP.  Kendrick hit all 7 of his 2014 HR away from LAA (93), so keep that in mind now that he’s in LAD (100), which plays slightly better for RH HR.  Kendrick has always been known for having a great hit tool (and he hits LHP very well), so it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him keep his BB/K gains in the later part of his career and age fairly well.  He’s a solid but unspectacular investment in the $10-$12 range that should give you the confidence to spend more heavily elsewhere in your lineup.
  • Scooter Gennett: Ottoneu Profile

    Scooter Gennett: Ottoneu Profile

  • With Weeks finally out of his shadow, the big question heading into 2015 for the man called Scooter is whether he finally cements himself as a full time MLB 2B, or should still be considered the better side of an Ottoneu platoon.  He hasn’t had much time to prove his value vs. LHP, but he’s completely missed the opportunities he’s been given, as a -18 wRC+ (2013) and -39 wRC+ (2014) vs. LHP scream danger.  That’s pretty much all you need to know about Gennett for this upcoming season, so if you’re planning to utilize him in a way that doesn’t provide insurance with another 2B bat off the bench, your middle infield is going to be hurting on those days against southpaws.  It’s entirely possible Gennett could take a step forward in 2015 (he’ll play at 25), but don’t pay more than $4 in your auction to ensure that he does.
  • Brandon Phillips: Ottoneu Profile

    Brandon Phillips: Ottoneu Profile

  • Brandon Phillips feels like a somewhat forgotten man heading into 2015, but much of that is self-inflicted, as a 457 point, .300 wOBA season put him clearly on the waiver wire in many leagues last season.  Before 2014, Phillips was on a downward trend, but he wasn’t without value, and I’d suspect a very small, late draft investment of $3-$5 could bring a nice return from a player that hit exactly 18 HR in each of the previous four consecutive seasons (2010 – 2013).  He still plays in a nice hitter’s ballpark, and CIN doesn’t have many options behind him, so he’ll get his chances if healthy.  There’s little risk here at the right, deflated price, so don’t overlook Phillips as a last ditch option as you fill out your bench in March or April.
  • Kolten Wong: Ottoneu Profile

    Kolten Wong: Ottoneu Profile

  • Without looking, how many HR did Kolten Wong hit in 2014? Hint: He has zero on June 1st.  From an eye-test standpoint, Wong looks like an emerging player:  He’s got a nice swing and comes the pedigree and work ethic needed maximize his to hit tool going forward.  But there is some noise in the numbers that suggest growing pains are still ahead.  For one, while he hit .315 vs LHP (.234 vs RHP), he didn’t walk once vs. LHP.  Not once.  It’s a small sample for sure (just 76 PA), but it will be interesting to see if he becomes a more complete hitter vs. same side pitching in 2015.  Speaking of walk rates, Wong’s BB% decreased at the season went on, with his K% nearly doubling to just over 20% in the 2nd half.  Clearly pitchers were figuring him out, so he’ll need to make adjustments to be a starting MI option for your team in 2015.  Wong is likely to see some improvement, but be careful not to overestimate his upside.  At best he may become a 15/20 guy but his low BB rates may play down a bit in linear weights.  I’d try to stay well under $10 if you’re buying the hype in March.  Wong hit 12 HR in 2014.
  • Mookie Betts: Ottoneu Profile

    Mookie Betts: Ottoneu Profile

  • If you were required to start one rookie in your Ottoneu lineup in 2015, who would you prefer? Most would probably say Kris Bryant, but he smart money (and the projections) say Mookie Betts is the guy to bank on.  The “out of nowhere” breakout story of Betts’ ascension last year is well publicized, but he came on so late (and so strong) that many owners likely find themselves with a bargain 2B/OF heading into 2015, even after attracting serious arbitration allocations this winter.  Betts is owned for just $6 on average in Ottoneu as of this writing, so it’s almost assured he will deliver surplus value on that investment, even without a clear path to regular playing time in BOS.  It’s Betts’ excellent OBP skills (and a combination of a great hit tool with useable power/speed) that makes him a great gamble out of the gate in 2015, and it’s also very possible he picks up multi-position eligibility with spot starts at 2B and even SS.  The hype is sky high right now for Betts (you won’t get him for $6 in your auction), but unless someone is offering you a massive haul for him, you’ve got to hold to see what you actually have for 2015 and the future.  A hedge somewhere between Steamer’s .344 wOBA and the Fans .357 wOBA is probably realistic, which is likely and 800 point 2B.  Invest.
  • Nick Franklin: Ottoneu Profile

    Nick Franklin: Ottoneu Profile

  • With Zobrist shipped off to OAK, Nick Franklin may finally (maybe) find his way into a full time 2B gig with TB in 2015.  Franklin is difficult assess, as he’s had intermittent periods of success that color both his short MLB career and his MiLB numbers.  It’s not a secret that he can’t hit right handed very well, so that switch-hitting concern may linger long enough to push him into a platoon role for 2015 at least, though his top prospect billing and relative youth work in his favor.  His SS eligibility helps too, so if you’re snagging him for a bench option that might deliver some surplus value later in the year, you’re probably on the right track as long as you can keep the initial investment to the $5-$7 range.
  • Rougned Odor: Ottoneu Profile

    Rougned Odor: Ottoneu Profile

  • Roughed Odor hit MLB last season after just 282 PA at the AA level, and he held his own (.306 wOBA) in 2014 at just 20 years old, which in context should be considered a success.  In fact, his .142 ISO ranked him ahead of notable 2B’s such as Zobrist, Utley, and even Robinson Cano, and his age 20 .698 OPS was better than that of Trammell, Renteria, Sheffield, Yount and Profar at the same age. Odor doesn’t walk much, so his value is in making contact, and in that way he resembles a little bit of Howie Kendrick.  He closed out 2014 with noticeable improvement, hitting .296/.345/.481 in September (.362 wOBA), so the combination of youth, MiLB success, and prospect pedigree gives hope that Odor may emerge as a starting 2B for 2015 and beyond.  Odor is an aggressive hitter that will likely have his ups and downs in 2015, but you shouldn’t ever underestimate the year to year growth potential of a player with a “70” hit tool.

2B Position Review

So who’s your pick for 2B in 2015? Sleeper? Breakout? Best buy? Let’s discuss in the comments.

 

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