Four Overrated Second Baseman to Avoid in Drafts

Throughout life, we encounter many things that, for your health’s sake, you should actively avoid if you want to live a good, clean life.

There’s that guy on the subway with the runny nose who is sneezing every 30 seconds. Give that man a wide berth. Any reality show set south of the Mason-Dixon line? Just change that channel. Making your way to the dance floor at a family wedding after hitting the champagne too hard? Please, for your dignity’s sake, sit down and keep that tie off your head. Snakes? No sir, they’re called nope ropes for a reason. Drafting an overrated second baseman? Talk about bad for your health.

Oftentimes in draft prep articles such as this one, you’ll hear a lot of the focus turned toward finding the underrated second baseman, the guys who give you great return on investment and can win you your league. Trust me, we’ll get to those guys. The thing is everyone focuses on finding that positive ROI, and I would like to argue that one of the keys to leading a happy and healthy fantasy life is avoiding those players who are going to give you negative ROI, aka the overrated.

Here are four overrated second baseman who I will be avoiding in drafts if for no other reason than to give my blood pressure a rest. I’ve broken them up into tiers based on things I tend to avoid like the plague.

 

The Reality TV Division

 

Adalberto Mondesi

NFBC ADP  41; Pitcher List staff consensus  70; my rank  93

 

Jonathan Villar

NFBC ADP  81; Pitcher List staff consensus  111; my rank  145

 

I will be the first to admit I want to believe in Adalberto Mondesi. I really do. Just as I want to believe that everyone on The Bachelor is really there to find true love or that everyone on Survivor is a terrible person. But let’s face it: We all know they’re probably terrible people.

At first glance, Mondesi’s numbers look like something borne of the Jose Ramirez/Javier Baez mold, only Mondesi is so much faster than either of those two players. We’re talking about a guy who was on pace for 30 home runs, and 69 stolen bases if played out over a full season. That sounds fantastic, and if he manages to put that up over a full season, we’re debating Mondesi or Mookie Betts next year in the first round.

So why am I down on him you ask? I just don’t see it being sustainable in any way over a full season. First, here are some of the advanced stats from Mondesi’s 2018 season and a quick comparison with a mystery player:

 

Player AVG K% BABIP wOBA wRC+ BB% Zone% SwStr% O-Swing% Contact%
Adalberto Mondesi .276 26.5% .335 .341 114 3.8% 47.4% 18.2% 38.4% 67.4%
Mystery Player X .260 26.8% .339 .312 94 8.0% 47.2% 13.4% 30.8% 72.2%

 

A few things jump out at me right away as red flags.

First, that nice .276 batting average is being propped up by a .335 BABIP, whereas Mystery Player X has a similar BABIP but worse results. Now, given Mondesi’s speed (Mystery Player X is pretty fast too) and how hard he hits the ball, that BABIP might well be legit, but it would still be the third-highest BABIP of his career, and over three different stints in the majors since 2016, he has never had a BABIP over .300, let alone .335. The strikeout rate isn’t godawful these days, but for me, every single strikeout is an at-bat where Mondesi doesn’t get to use his greatest weapon: his legs. Ditto for Mystery Player X.

It’s also worth noting that even if you think his roto hitting stats were spectacular, wOBA and wRC+ tell us a different story. I understand that neither of those stats are fantasy stats, but personally, I can’t justify taking a player who was only above average in wOBA and only 14% better than the average hitter by wRC+.  That’s not to belittle the numbers he put up, but I think that those measures are really important, especially in points leagues, as they give us a better picture of how they’ll contribute across the board as opposed to having their value skewed by a single category.

In case you haven’t noticed, Mystery Player X is the other batter I’m going to recommend avoiding in this tier, and that hitter is Jonathan Villar.

This brings me to the real elephant in the room: Mondesi and Villar’s plate discipline stats. A 3.8% walk rate for Mondesi is atrocious by any measure, but then when you factor in the plate discipline numbers, it gets even worse. Mondesi swung at 38.4% of pitches outside of the zone, which is problematic by itself but even worse when you factor in that pitchers threw chase pitches at Mondesi more than half the time. If you add in a truly ugly 18.2% swinging-strike rate and a 67.4% contact rate, I just don’t see how he can get on base enough to put up the numbers you’re expecting him to in the fourth round.

Villar’s are better but not by much. He doesn’t chase pitches nearly as often or whiff as much, but either way, he just doesn’t anywhere near enough contact. Have speedsters found success with that kind of walk rate? The comparisons that come to mind right away are guys such asDee Gordon back in 2017.  I’ve included Villar’s numbers from his 2016 season, when he stole 62 bases, for reference.

 

Player AVG SB K% BABIP wOBA wRC+ BB% Zone% SwStr% O-Swing% Contact%
Adalberto Mondesi 2018 .276 32 26.5% .335 .341 114 3.8% 47.4% 18.2% 38.4% 67.4%
Jonathan Villar 2016 .285 62 25.6% .373 .356 120 11.6% 47.1 10.6% 24.1% 75.2%
Dee Gordon 2017 .308 60 13.4% .351 .312 94 3.6% 45.0% 6.9% 36.6% 86.85%

 

But before we dive into their similarities, let’s look at Gordon’s 2017 real quick. At the end of the day, stealing bases is all about opportunity and desire. Sure, Gordon’s walk rate lines up nicely with Mondesi, but the similarities end there. Basically, if you aren’t going to walk your way to first base, then you better darn well hit the ball as much as possible. Even then, you are pretty much leaving your fate up to your legs and the BABIP Gods (who are mostly cruel and super judgy). Mondesi and Villar simply don’t hit the ball enough for me to expect their BABIPs to stay at that level.

By the way, check out the .373 BABIP Villar required to put up his legendary 2016 fantasy season. That’s insane. It took a BABIP nearly 40 points higher than Mondesi’s to get to 60-plus stolen bases!

Let’s also look at this comparison from one more angle: earned times on base (eTOB), aka every time they got on base that wasn’t the result of an error or fielder’s choice. The only way you can steal a base is to end up on base. It’s really that simple. So let’s compare the eTOB data for these players as well. Note that I have scaled Mondesi’s numbers to Gordon’s season total of 550 at-bats

 

Player Hits BB eTOB eTOB at 1st or 2B SB TOB/SB
Adalberto Mondesi 2018 (Prorated) 151 22 173 160 60 2.67
Jonathan Villar 2016 168 79 247 229 62 3.69
Dee Gordon 2017 201 25 226 190 60 3.17

 

As you can see, Gordon had exactly 30 more eTOBs than Mondesi would have over a 550 at-bat sample, and Villar had 69 more, which obviously raises their stolen base floors considerably. Mondesi is going to need to attempt to steal bases at a much greater rate than Gordon or Villar did to make up for those lost opportunities if he wants to get to the 50-60 stolen bases we need him to get to justify taking him in the fourth round.

Why not 40 to 50 stolen bases for both of these guys? Because I have massive concerns about both their batting averages. Mondesi doesn’t have the walk rate to keep him getting on base, which costs him stolen base opportunities, and he needs to make the most of them. Villar doesn’t make nearly enough contact to make me believe he can consistently get on base enough to ever even come close to stealing 50-plus bags. Suddenly they’re not nearly as valuable as we thought they were.

Let’s take a look at what the projections say about Mondesi. Note nTOB/SB is the how often he would need to attempt to steal a base to reach 60 stolen bases.

 

System ABs AVG Hits 1B 2B BB eTOB SB eTOB/SB neTOB/SB HR R
Steamer 549 .253 139 85 27 30 142 41 3.46 2.33 24 73
THEBAT 580 .241 140 84 27 35 146 35 4.17 2.44 22 80
ZIPS 437 .261 114 68 22 20 108 39 2.76 1.8 18 62
Average 522 .251 131 79 25 28 132 38 3.47 2.2 21 72

 

OK, so take a look at that average row. We’re talking about a player who isn’t even projected for a full season of at-bats and is going to hit .251/21 HR/72 R/38 SBs. It just doesn’t strike me as a player I can afford to take in the fourth round.

To round things out, though, I want to note one last number in that average row. Note that 2.20 neTOB/SB? That means in order to reach that hallowed 60-stolen base mark, he would pretty much have to attempt a stolen base every other time he ended up on first or second base, which seems like a nearly impossible mark for him to hit. I feel like taking Mondesi anywhere before the eighth round is paying the price for that 60-stolen base ceiling instead of paying for his floor, and that’s a price I’m not willing to pay. Now, what about Villar?

 

System ABs AVG Hits 1B 2B BB eTOB SB eTOB/SB neTOB/SB HR R
Steamer 554 .250 139 96 25 55 176 33 5.30 2.93 16 77
THEBAT 506 .245 124 85 21 47 153 33 4.63 2.55 16 71
ZIPS 494 .245 121 84 20 46 150 39 3.84 2.50 15 62
Average 518 .247 128 88 22 49 160 35 4.59 2.66 16 70

 

Much like Mondesi, observe the average row. No one is going nuts over a .247 batting average, no matter how many bases the player steals. Villar’s ability to walk at a league average rate certainly saves him here, but just like Mondesi, I just can’t see him getting on base nearly enough to even come close to stealing enough bases to make up for the red flags and other flaws in his profile.

Also, given where he is being drafted, we’re seeing Villar projected on average as an active detriment to average, home runs, RBI (mainly because he’s leading off) and runs! Let them drag down someone else’s team on draft day.

 

The Drunken Wedding Dance Division

 

Rougned Odor

NFBC ADP  126; Pitcher List staff consensus 119; my rank 161

 

Here’s an interesting twist: Rougned Odor made some big improvements this past year in a lot of important places. He lowered his strikeout rate to 23.7% and managed to nearly double his walk rate to 8.0%. If Odor is ever going to have continued success in the majors, he’s going to have to maintain that walk rate and continue to show growth. Odor’s only 25, so there’s still a lot of time for him to make that leap.

So wait, it sounds like I’m not all that down on Odor, so why is he in the overrated article? I feel that by taking him at his ADP in the 10th round, you are paying for him as if that continued growth has already happened, and much like that person who stops you from going out on the dance floor when you’ve had too much champagne, I can’t let you pay for Odor’s ceiling just yet. I mean, you know I love a guy who walks, but he’s merely reaching the league average. It’s not like he’s Joey Votto out there (no one is Joseph Daniel Votto in my eyes #BAE4LYFE) or anything, but it is encouraging. Despite all that, I have some concerns.

First, let’s take a look at Odor’s line from this past year and make another blind comparison.

 

Player AVG HR R RBI SB ADP
Rougned Odor .253 18 76 63 12 126
Mystery Player X .230 18 65 75 7 345

 

Lines up pretty nicely right?  It is worth noting that Mystery Player X did get about 125 more plate appearances, but even if you account for the plate appearance discrepancy, it still holds up as xStats states that Odor got gifted a few home runs, so it all likely comes out in the wash either way.

In case you haven’t figured it out, Mystery Player X is Indians second baseman, Jason Kipnis.

Now, of course, I’ll be the first to admit that Odor has way more upside, but still, no sees Kipnis’ numbers and thinks to himself, “That’s production that I just have to have on my team.” Even if you prorate those numbers for the missing 140 plate appearances, we’re still only talking about 23 home runs and 15 stolen bases. That’s better but certainly not worth taking in the 11th round.

So why are we so excited for Odor? He’s only 25. There’s always the chance he figures it out and we end up with the 27 home run/20 stolen base guy we’ve been promised since he first came up back in 2015. If this were the 2020 season, I’d be on board maybe with taking that risk, but I think Odor still has at least one more season of incremental improvement before we can start looking for that breakout. While his plate discipline numbers improved greatly in 2018, almost all of his Statcast numbers stayed pretty much the same or regressed downward, which is not what you want to see from someone who you are expecting to break out this year and especially from someone I’m drafting in the 11th round.

To finish up the Wedding Dance Division, let’s real quick take a deeper look at that 11th-round ADP. According to NFBC, that ADP means he’s going up about a round after notable second basemen Gordon and Scooter Gennett while he’s currently going ahead of Robinson Cano (who is currently forecasted to bat third in the Mets lineup) and Brian Dozier (a player on a rebound season with a much greater track record of success and potentially more upside)! I would much rather bet my 2019 on either of those two players than pay up for the possibility Odor breaks out without any real evidence to support it.

Draft day in fantasy is always about creating value and then maintaining that value. With Cano and Dozier, you are paying for their respective floors. I will always support paying that price as it maintains any value you’ve already created/will create while raising the floor of your team’s potential. Heck, I’ll pay a little extra for a player’s upside. I just can’t support the cost of buying a player on draft day at the cost of his ceiling. That takes any value you’ve created or will create AND lowers your margin for error drastically.  Get it wrong and you’ll spend your entire season trying to fix that mistake.

Much like I’ve spent the past few years trying to destroy all pictures from my cousin-in-law’s wedding and that time no one stopped me from finding that dreaded dance floor.

 

The Nope Rope Division

 

Snakes are just bad news, OK?  I don’t care if they qualify at second base and are a sneaky yet popular sleeper pick, snakes are terrifying.  Avoid them at all costs.

 

The Sick Man on the Subway Division

 

Jonathan Schoop

NFBC ADP  183; Pitcher List staff consensus  159; my rankings  180

 

Like the sick man on the bus, Jonathan Schoop should be a pretty easy player to avoid as every single telltale sniffle (peripheral stats) or sneeze (his 2018 season) screams at you to stay far, far away from grabbing Schoop. I don’t care if it’s to fill your middle infield slot, I’d still rather wait a few rounds later and take a shot at Nick Senzel, Garrett Hampson, Marwin Gonzalez, or Asdrubal Cabrera.

It’s honestly not even the 183 ADP price tag that’s the problem. That’s the 15th round. I just don’t believe in Schoop. Let’s take a look at the whole picture that is Schoop starting with his season stats and working our way down the list. Here is how Schoop has performed every year since 2016. For you points-leaguers I have also included doubles, walk rate, and strikeout rate as those numbers help us get an idea of points-league value as well. I like using walk rate and strikeout rate because it scales for plate appearances so you know if their walks are going to be useful to you or their strikeouts harmful to you regardless of their playing time. League average walk rate is roughly 8.0% while really any strikeout rate below 20.0% is considered above average.

 

Year PA AVG HR R RBI SB 2B BB% K% SwStr% Contact% O-Swing%
2016 647 .267 25 82 82 1 38 3.2% 21.2% 16.2% 73.1% 43.8%
2017 675 .293 32 92 105 1 35 5.2% 21.0% 13.8% 73.6% 35.9%
2018 501 .233 21 61 61 1 22 3.8% 23.0% 15.1% 73.0% 40.6%

 

So Schoop is below average when it comes to walk rate and strikeout rate. This drastically lowers Schoop’s margin for error. Everything has to go right for him to succeed. In points leagues that give negative points for strikeouts, he’s practically unusable.

Think about this way: In most standard points formats, walks are worth one point, right? Over the past three years, Schoop has averaged 25 walks per season. Most of these leagues also subtract a half point for strikeouts. Over that same time period, Schoop averaged 131 strikeouts, which would have lost you 65 points, meaning that overall Schoop cost himself a net 40 points on average over that three year period with his terrible plate discipline. If the league happens to penalize players a full point? Now we’re talking about more than 100 points just taken right off the board.

I know at times I can be a bit redundant by fixating on walk rate, but this is the perfect example as to why. Players such as Schoop actively negate any positives they bring to the table because of these damaging peripheral stats. To make matters worse, he whiffs at an alarming rate while chasing way too many pitches out of the zone and making way too little contact for us to have a reasonable expectation that he will mix the issue.

Now, I don’t really like piling on players, which is why I usually don’t write too many negative pieces, but just in case I haven’t fully made my case for avoiding Schoop this draft season, let’s take a look at Schoop’s xStats data as they do not paint a pretty picture either. Let’s saunter over and check what they can tell us about his 2018 season.

 

Year AVG HR wOBA xSLG OUTs wOBA+
2018 Actual .233 21.0 .291 82 -.098 69.7
2018 xStats .235 15.4 .279 105 -0.98 69.7

 

Yikes.  The xHRs actually show that according to his batted-ball data, he got gifted nearly six home runs! I know he had a hurt oblique, but we all know you wouldn’t even be considering Schoop this season if he had hit 15 home runs instead of 21.

Look at that xwOBA as well. That .279 mark would have easily been one of the worst in the league by a long shot, and his wOBA+ bears that out. 100 is considered a league average wOBA, and each additional point above or below is a percentage better or worse. In other words, Schoop’s .297 wOBA was 30.0% worse than a league average hitter. Can you imagine how bad it would have been if it was 12 points lower as his xwOBA indicates it should have been?

This is the hard part about Schoop. There just seems to be red flag after red flag with the upside being few and far between, much like shaking hands with that guy on the subway who just can’t stop sneezing. I’d suggest making sure Schoop is on someone else’s team on draft day … and you should probably buy some hand sanitizer.

(Photo by: Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)

Daniel Port

Daniel is a Fantasy Baseball writer, Brewer, and Theatrical Technician, located in Denver, Colorado. A lifelong fan of baseball and the Cleveland Indians since before Albert Belle tried to murder Fernando Vina, he used to tell his Mom he loved her using Sammy Sosa's home run salute, has a perfectly reasonable amount of love for Joey Votto and believes everything in life should be announced using bat flips. If you want to talk baseball, beer, or really anything at all you can find him on twitter at @DanielJPort !

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Comments


Daniel Port

Hey! Thanks for reading. When I considered my overrated player choices I wasn’t just sticking with NFBC ADP but also to my colleagues’ consensus rankings as well, where I have Schoop ranked almost 21 picks later than they do so that’s where the overrated status is coming from, I do greatly apologize if I wasn’t clear about that.

ds

hi, thanks for your article!

what are your thoughts on Cesar Hernandez with an adp somewhere around pick 150-160?

Daniel Port

You’re welcome! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I love Hernandez as a player. Gets on base a ton and has started to find some power. My only concern is that he ends up batting at the end of Phillies lineup instead of leading off but if he leads off especially, I would recommend grabbing him in that range as much as possible. If you’re drafting before we find that out I still say go for it just for the potential. He’ll still be super valuable!

Charlie

Thanks for writing this up!
I highly recommend the reality show The Challenge. It’s greaterrible. I watched it as a joke at first and now I’m hooked. I can’t tell if I really love it or not. Kind of like Mondesi.

If I can keep Mondesi for a 13, probably worth it, yeah?

Daniel Port

So confession time. I am a full-time The Challenge addict. I love it so much lol. That’s how I got hooked on it too, my GF was watching it one day and I was like “This show is dumb but it’ll be fun to make fun of it” Haven’t missed an episode in three years since haha. Thanks for the recommendation I’m glad there are other The Challenge fans out there. It needs a fantasy league though.
Absolutely, at 13 I think Mondesi is great value! There’s risk in pretty much everyone after round 10 and I would definitely keep him at that cost for sure.

Steve

In the two years before he improved his BB and K rates, Odor went 30/15 with solid counting stats, albeit that 2017 AVG was abysmal.

His walk rate has gone up two years in a row and in 2018 he walked 11 more times in 120 less PAs.

I dunno, even if those gains don’t hold this guy can still provide a ton of value. All the projection systems have him with ~25 HR and 15ish SB. Should have the R/RBI to go with it. If he can manage to hit even .250 that’s a really nice player at 2B.

Daniel Port

Hey Steve! Thanks for reading. I was actually just talking about a few people with this and one that I believe about Odor is that he does eventually get there. There’s too much talent there and I love the improvements that he’s making. I just think it’s 2020 we see the breakout happening as it’s like one year we see the power but the average sucks, the next year his average and plate discipline are average but the power drops off. And I think we’re just playing out the string until a manager lets him know that he sucks at stealing bases and has to stop. It has me worried we see a .250 23 HR guy with single digit steals. So I like the player but I can’t take him in front of Cano or Dozier until I see him consistently put all the aspects of his game together. And as stated below the Rangers stink so I don’t know that those R/RBI numbers are going to be good. I’m just gonna need to see it all at the same time before I invest in his potential instead of grabbing proven guys like Cano or Dozier who are both in better situations as well. As a fan of his no one would be happier if he proves me wrong this year.

Aaron Sauceda

Enjoyed the analysis, Daniel! Fun twist to bring in the reality show tiers. And definitely agreed that we also need to look out for who those “landmines” might be. Although one thing that made me do a double take was this:

“Mondesi is going to need to attempt to steal bases at a much greater rate than Gordon or Villar did to make up for those lost opportunities if he wants to get to the 50-60 stolen bases we need him to get to justify taking him in the fourth round.”

I know Mondesi has been one of the most divisive players this draft season and I’m not a huge fan either, but I’m not sure that statement is actually true — namely the part about him needing 50-60 SBs to justify his 4th round price tag.

I have Mondesi’s 5×5 projections as 0.251, 19 HR, 76 runs, 61 RBI and 41 SB (in 552 PA). When running this through an auction calculator ($300 budget), I get a valuation of $24 — good for 45th overall. Now, quibble all you want with the projection and risk that is or isn’t baked into that, but my point being I don’t think he *needs* 50-60 SBs to return 4th round value.

Daniel Port

Thanks for reading Aaron I’m really glad you like the article and the tiers! I think your project is totally fair. I’m a little more skeptical about his power sticking than you are but I think it’s a great projection. I love using Auction values to give me an idea as to where to value players as well so I think you’re right on the money (so to say). To elaborate a bit more on the statement in question. One of my mantras for the first five rounds is that they can’t win you a league but they absolutely can lose you a league. I really value dependability in those first five rounds. I really have to know what I’m getting there for me to feel they have accurate value on draft day. So I’ll admit I docked him a few rounds on that alone. I think the other thing is he’s pretty much a drain on every other category which is tough to make up for in the rest of your draft and in any points league that counts Ks as a penalty (which I believe most do) he is nearly untouchable because the Ks negate any bonus his SBs bring about. That’s at least my thought process. I think you raise a really great point though and can’t fault your reasoning at all, even if I’m more pessimistic.

theKraken

I love me some Schoop at his ADP. Its hard to knock anyone near 200. At least he has done something significant before. I don’t like him because of anything he did last year, but his career before that point. Plate discipline has always been what held him back. Most of what you are pointing out is rooted in BB rate, which IMO has become overvalued – its weighted too highly and baked into most advanced metrics. In reality a player with pop, like Schoop, that doesn’t have severe K issues has a lot more going for him that something like wOBA gives him credit for. The upside is significant, just go back one year for an AVG of .290+ and 30+ HR. You don’t need to draft him as a starter and as a flier he is a good one if for no other reason that nobody else wants him. If he was injured (possible), then you have all these advanced stats which appear to make a strong case against him, but it could be as simple as something that hindered his ability to swing the bat. Most metrics are redundant. There is also the reality that he got traded mid-season to a team that used him off the bench – it is easy to understand how that probably didn’t help him get on track from the injury. He was MUCH worse with MIL, which gets totally lost when you look at players as EOY metrics. There is no way that should not be considered in his overall performance. Am I expecting anything good? No, but there are only so many guys you can draft that late that can help as much as good Schoop.

Johnny Utah

Hi Dan, great article… I was considering taking villar at pick 9.5 in 10 teamer roto because I need steals. Seems to me like I should wait. Where should I look to address steals later on in draft?

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