This week at Harper Wallbanger, I'm sorting through the Big Board for 12-team 5x5 leagues to find the must-draft and must-avoid players at each position. Continuing around the horn, here's second base!
STATE OF THE POSITION
2B is home to a few young exciting players at the top (Altuve, Turner, Odor) as well as a ton of 30+ year olds in the middle rounds (Kipnis, Kinsler, Pedroia, etc.). The real winners and losers of this position might actually be decided by which of the old men end up hurt. But keep in mind that the easily-projected, reliable type guys on your roster are also the ones that allow you to take risks at other spots. Below I've got two low-risk guys that fit that profile well, as well as one guy that used to be the standard-bearer for reliability, but now might be getting pushed to part-time work by more exciting youngsters.
TARGET: Daniel Murphy
615 PA, 23 HR, 85 R, 85 RBI, 5 SB, .317 AVG
The standard projections have been slow to turn around on "New Murphy", but I have not. You'll notice the Big Board projection pumps him up quite a bit. The reason Murphy is so exciting is that his 2016 power surge didn't sap his batting average at all, so now we have one of the most consistent high contact hitters in baseball with 25-30 HR upside tacked on. xFantasy from last year has him for a .305 xAVG (a bit of regression) and 28 xHR over 600 PA (even more power than he showed!). There are still Murphy doubters, but savvy owners are doubling down. Be one of them and reap the profits.
When to target: Round 2.
Risk profile: Low.
TARGET: DJ Lemahieu
630 PA, 11 HR, 90 R, 60 RBI, 13 SB, .300 AVG
DJ LeMahieu has all those hits but I can't name a single one of his songs. After winning the batting title last year, DJ has locked himself in as one of the best bets for batting average thanks to his high contact rate and friendly home park. He'll toss in a non-zero in HR and SB, which is nice. There used to be real concerns about him losing playing time and being sort of a utility-type player, but I can't see it happening in '17. Maybe in '18 or later, he gets traded or pushed off due to the youngsters coming up for the Rockies. Take yourself a higher risk player elsewhere, or a high-power/low-AVG type (Sano, Davis, etc.) and balance it out with DJ.
When to target: After the first two tiers of 2B are gone, Lemahieu is the best available by quite a bit. Should be gettable in late Round 5 or Round 6 in CBS/ESPN. You can wait a bit longer at Yahoo, where he should be easily had in late Round 7 or Round 8.
Risk profile: Low.
AVOID: Ben Zobrist
578 PA, 14 HR, 75 R, 61 RBI, 6 SB, .266 AVG
To be clear, I love Ben Zobrist. But the thing that he does in fantasy, where he gives you slightly above average production in all categories, only works if he plays full time, or if you can platoon his spot during his off days. With Baez pushing for time at 2B, Schwarber playing in LF, and Heyward in RF, the playing time projections for any of these four players will be hard to peg, and I could see Zobrist being the one that ends up with something closer to 500 or 550 PA if we see a real breakout for Javy Baez. He'll still be a nice player and I'd like to have him on my team, but I think he's going a few rounds too early for a part-time player.
Risk profile: Medium.