Good Friday afternoon! Kind of fitting we’re discussing 2B options today with the unfortunate news of Trea Turner hitting the DL with a broken right wrist. The Nationals thought they had problems before with their atrocious bullpen, this one seems to trump that by quite a bit. If you happen to be a Trea Turner owner, pay attention here and nab up one of these guys from the waiver wire, or make a low-value trade to acquire one. They should be able to hold you steady until Turner returns.
You’re all getting a bit of a treat today, we’ve got takes from both myself AND Shane this week! Have a great weekend!
Brandon Phillips vs. Ian Kinsler/Dee Gordon/Scooter Gennett
K- When you mention Brandon Phillips I think of a guy who’s been around for quite awhile, in the midst of his 16th season to be exact, does his job, but isn’t flashy. His season average numbers are 18 HR, 80+ RBI, 18 steals, and a nice .275 average. Those numbers aren’t anything to scoff at by any means, but as I mentioned, they’re not real flashy, so Phillips is a guy to easily overlook in the fantasy realm of things. Phillips had a stretch of 8 straight years hitting at least 17 HR’s. He’s played at least 141 games in 10 of the last 11 seasons. 2014 was the season for “down” numbers with Phillips as he only hit 8 HR, stole 2 bases, and hit .261. Phillips also missed 41 games that year, so I chalk up the “down” year to injury, whether there’s record of that or not! Phillips’ numbers this season are right on par with his career averages, although his RBI number could be a little higher. 28 RBI through 71 games isn’t exactly an ideal ratio. His BaBIP numbers are right in line with his careers numbers (.320 BaBIP this season), so I don’t expect any of that to regress. The strikeout rate and walk rate are, again, right in line with his career numbers for the most part, at least not a big enough difference to catch your eye. We can’t forget that Phillips is in the middle of his age-36 season, so the power numbers are more than likely going to decline a bit, but that shouldn’t affect him hitting for average. Brandon Phillips has always been a rock steady offensive guy, but easily overlooked without the gaudy HR numbers or RBI numbers. Don’t be silly, if you’re in need of a 2B option don’t feel ashamed one bit for slotting Phillips into your daily lineups. He’s obviously not a top ranking guy, but we’ll see how he plays in with the next batch of hitters.
S- Brandon Phillips is a guy it’s tough to get overly excited. This is a player who just turned 36 and is clearly in the twilight of his career, though he does still put up decent enough numbers to be worth a look in many leagues. Throughout his career he’s been the very definition of the word “steady,” with a stretch between 2006 and 2012 where he had at least 17 HR/14 steals/75 RBI and a batting average between .275 and .300 in all but one of those years. 2013 was the first sign of some cracks in the armor. He still managed his 18 homers and 80 RBI, but the batting average was a lower .261 and he only swiped five bases. After a down 2014 where he had single digit steals and HR for the first time since he became an everyday player, he’s created a new benchmark of decent steadiness with an average in the .290s, low double digit homers, around 70 RBI, and a return to stealing bases (23 in 2015 was his most since 2009). This year he’s doing more of the same with an average of .295 and on pace for 15 homers and 15 steals (to go along with 60 RBI). There’s a fairly noticeable drop after the top tier of 2B that includes Daniel Murphy, Jose Altuve, and Jose Ramirez (and, ugh, Anthony Rizzo), but Phillips might have a claim to being among the jumble that is behind them. Let’s see how he compares to three other guys who may or may not belong in that same tier.
K- Whenever my grandpa caught glimpse of Ian Kinsler on tv via highlight or read his name in the newspaper he always told me “Ian Kinsler is the best player that played in Clinton, won the Midwest League MVP and he only played half a season here,” like clockwork, every single time. Ian Kinsler has been exactly that for most of his career, a stud for a 2B option. There aren’t many options out there that you can pencil in for 25+ homers each season, regardless of position. That being said, that was Kinsler in his early days. Ever since the 2013 season Kinsler has averaged 17 HR per season, having the hefty 28 he hit last year holding that average a little higher. Kinsler’s 28 HR last year were his highest since 2011 when he hit 32. From 2013-2016 Kinsler’s HR numbers were on the decline, but his average was on the rise and his RBI numbers remained nearly the same. I contribute that to the increase in his line drive percentage during that time frame. Since 2013 Kinsler has averaged 27.5% line drive rate compared to his 17.2% line drive rate from 2009-2012. Kinsler’s line drive rate is right with his recent run, sitting at 26% this year, but something’s amiss. He’s only hitting .250 this year and only on pace for 54 RBI, which would be his second worse season. Kinsler, like Phillips, is in his mid-30’s, he’s been a guy to get you 615+ AB’s each season, but it appears his numbers are heading in the wrong direction now. Call on the field: I’ve always like Kinsler, probably because of the ties to the hometown minor league team, but I’ve got to take the steady hand of Brandon Phillips.
S- Ian Kinsler is a guy it’s tough to get overly excited. Like Phillips, Kinsler just celebrated his birthday and is a player we’ve generally looked at to be top tier at the keystone. This season, though, he has seen a precipitous decline in his production. Some of his peripherals aren’t too far removed from his career norms, but looking at a babip that is 30 points lower than his career number and an OPS 40 points lower it’s not difficult to imagine that at age 35 this just might be the new normal. Sure, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a stronger second half thanks to some positive regression with the babip and maintaining a walk rate that is his highest since 2011. Last time Kinsler’s average and babip were this low was 2011 but that year he mashed 32 home runs and drove in 77 runs to go along with 30 steals. He isn’t coming close to that this year. Call on the field: Give me the guy doing what he always does over the guy showing serious decline across the board. Phillips it is.
K- When Dee Gordon finally got regular playing time in LA, he brought some excitement with his speed on the bases. If you can steal roughly 60 bases a season, there’s going to be room for you on a fantasy roster, more so in category leagues than points leagues, but regardless there’s room for you. Unfortunately for Gordon, there isn’t much else there other than the steals. Sure the speed helps out in other areas as far as hits and average, but he’s never been a huge power guy with a career high of 4 HR in a season and a whopping 9 for his career. Gordon’s strength is finding the gap and opening up his speed around the bases. With Gordon you essentially know what you’re going to get with him. He’s likely going to hit around .290, rack up about 180 hits, and steal around 50 bags. Sure, that’s nice and appealing, but there are other options out there who can add some power numbers AND steal bases. Call on the field: Dee Gordon is a nice bench stash for an emergency, but I’ll take Brandon Phillips here too. He provides a little bit of pop and some steals as well.
S- Dee Gordon is a guy it’s tough to get overly excited about. He’s somebody who holds plenty of value in roto and category leagues because of his stolen base potential, but what else does he bring to the table besides an empty batting average? Honestly I don’t know what else to say. I am generally averse to speed-only players and Gordon is the cream of that unappealing crop for me. If he brought literally anything else to the table I could see the added appeal, but this is a guy who is barely inside the top 30 at 2B in doubles, doesn’t take a walk, and hasn’t hit a home run all season. The steals give him plenty of perceived value in many formats and he scores a decent amount of runs. I’m not too stubborn to admit there is some value there, but it’s not enough to hide the giant holes in his game. Call on the field: Gordon’s speed is flashier, but give me the rock steadiness of Phillips. Someone will overvalue Gordon’s base stealing, so use that and trade him in order to make your team better.
K- Scooter Gennett, hmm, I don’t have much to say about Scooter. Gennett is a guy who has never excited me in any fashion. Sure he was fine last year for Milwaukee, putting up 14 HR and 56 RBI, but that’s nothing special. I almost thought it was a bit of a flash in the pan, but with regular AB’s this year for the Reds he’s already put up similar numbers to last year (12 HR, 42 RBI). I contribute a lot of that to the park he plays in as Great American Ballpark is a hitters heaven. The Reds have played Scooter all around the diamond this year, so it’s clear they’re doing what they can to get his bat in the lineup and why not, it’s not like they’re going to make a push for the postseason. If the Reds hold true to their word and he can still showcase his bat when Zack Cozart returns then the interest in Gennett should maintain at a high level, but they’ve also got some young guys they’d like to get experience during the rebuild. I don’t dislike Gennett, but there’s not enough there yet to make me like him. If he can continue with the show of power and average he’ll garner much more interest from me. Call on the field: Give me the former Red over the current Red. Phillips has a longer track record of success, putting him over Gennett here.
S- Scooter Gennett is a guy it’s tough to get overly excited about. The most appealing thing about Gennett is his name, but he has had flashes of decency throughout his major league career. Last year he got regular at bats for the Brewers and responded by hitting .262 with 14 homers and 56 RBI. I didn’t expect him to get much playing time once he came over to the Reds, but he’s inexplicably mashed his way to fairly regular at bats, something that the Reds announced would likely continue once Zack Cozart returns from the disabled list. When a guy has 12 homers and a .299 batting average through 184 at bats, it’s hard to keep that bat out of the lineup. I suppose it’s possible that there’s something about Great American Ballpark that has turned Gennett into a new man. It’s also possible he’s just a guy playing way over his head like numerous other players have done for a couple months and we’re going to see some serious regression for an ISO that is nearly 120 points higher than his career number. Gennett has been a fun story – anybody who homers four times in a single game has the potential to be a tricky bar trivia question for years to come – but I don’t see it continuing to quite this degree. If he ends up hitting 25 homers and 80 RBI, he’ll be the most valuable of these four guys. That’s a lot to hope for, though. Call on the field: Once more, I’ll take the guy doing what we expected over the guy punching way out of his weight class. Dat Dude Brandon Phillips it is.
Alright, now you see how we stand on each of the 4 guys and how they compare. It’s not all that surprising that we each value Phillips as the top guy here, but here’s how we broke it down with all 4:
- Brandon Phillips
- Ian Kinsler
- Scooter Gennett
- Dee Gordon
- Brandon Phillips
- Scooter Gennett
- Ian Kinsler
- Dee Gordon
Keep in mind, we wouldn’t recommend rolling with any of these 4 as a primary 2B option, but in the need based on injury or annoyance of your regular guy, these 4 aren’t going to hurt you slotted in there for a temporary fix.
All info courtesy of ESPN.com & baseball-reference.com