Fantasy baseball News & Notes: Is Pedroia still an elite fantasy 2B?
In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.
Former MVP Dustin Pedroia had a pretty terrific season a year ago. He hit .301, scored 91, drove in 84 and stole 17 bases; however, he only hit nine home runs. He played through a torn ligament in his thumb, which seemed to zap most of power.
He's off to a severely weak start this year, hitting only .236 with no homers and one RBI through 12 games. Now that he's dealing with a wrist injury, it's not unfair to wonder whether Red Sox second baseman should still be considered an elite fantasy option at second base.
Pedroia has never hit less than .288 since he became the Red Sox' starting second baseman in 2007; there's no doubt in my mind that he'll be able to turn things around at some point, injury or otherwise. Still, think about how much cache he has, and how expensive he was going for in fantasy drafts. Even if he does pick it up by the end of the year, he won't be worth his value if he once again can't get to double-digit home runs.
At second base, the separation between the elite and the non-elite in fantasy is very slim. After Robinson Cano and Jason Kipnis, it's a never-ending stream of players who at any given time can be as valuable as another: Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips, Jed Gyorko, Matt Carpenter, Chase Utley, Jed Lowrie, Daniel Murphy, Ian Kinsler, Jose Altuve, Martin Prado, Aaron Hill, Brian Dozier and so on. And now, add the second basemen who are suddenly in the mixed league discussion for this year: Dee Gordon, Emilio Bonifacio, Anthony Rendon and Brad Miller (Not to mention Javier Baez, who's primed to get second base eligibility when he gets called up at some point).
Between the two categories, it's pretty clear that Pedroia fits into the latter at this point in his career. He's still a great player, but he's not so great that he completely distances himself from the average second baseman in the way Cano and Kipnis do. And for this reason, I think he's an optimal sell-high target. As the high-profile starter on a team like the Red Sox, he can feasibly be swapped for any number of players without necessarily creating a protest from the other people in the league. If you can somehow acquire one of the aforementioned second baseman I just listed, I say trade Pedroia, live with a player who's 70 or 80 percent as good as him, and use his clout to acquire someone of greater impact to your fantasy team. (Example: a Yasiel Puig or a Jose Abreu.)
For your consideration
• So here are some words I never expected to string together again: Aaron Harang is worth owning in fantasy leagues. The new Braves starter gave up only one run in six innings, and through three starts, Harang has a 0.96 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP and 17 strikeouts. But I don't trust this start for a second. It's reminiscent of when Derrick Lowe had a 1.82 ERA four starts into the 2011 season with the Braves; Lowe then completely melted down, finishing the year with a 5.05 ERA and a league-high 17 losses. Harang, who's three years younger than Lowe was in 2011, has very similar career numbers, and while it's admittedly specious reasoning to compare one player to another player and conclude that their similarities is proof that the one player won't hold up... that's exactly what I'm going to do. He faces the Mets this week, so this silliness could continue for a little while longer, but I'm doubtful that he'll still be worth using as we get into May.
• Adam LaRoche hit a home run yesterday and now has three homers and 10 RBI to go with a .311 average. He's been locked in at plate and is the one Nationals hitter who hasn't moved around much in their constantly evolving lineup. After a disappointing 2013, LaRoche looks much more like the player he was in 2012, when he also got off to a hot start and finished with 33 home runs and 100 RBI. He's absolutely worthy of an add in standard leagues.
• With Ryan Zimmerman out with a fractured thumb for the next 4-6 weeks of action, Anthony Rendon will move to third base. This move also resurrects the relatively forgotten Danny Espinosa, who will now gets regular at-bats at second base for the first time in almost a year. Espinosa possesses a unique combination of speed and power that's offset by a pretty awful batting average. All the same, he collected 17 homers and 20 steals just two years ago, so while you shouldn't be rushing out to get him, there's a chance he could at least be better than he was a year ago. (Conversely, if you happen to be a Zimmerman owner and you're looking for a short-term replacement, possibly available candidates for you to choose from -- who wouldn't be terrible -- might be Kelly Johnson, David Freese, Trevor Plouffe, Marcus Semien and Mark Reynolds. Mike Moustakas is probably also available, but if you'd have to be insane to start him with the way he's hitting right now.)
• Casey McGehee appears to have careened off the tracks. He went 2-4 with an RBI yesterday, but in his last eight games, he has no runs, no homers and just that one RBI. I'll admit that I really want McGehee to succeed this year, but all good things must come to an end, and McGehee simply isn't worth owning in standard leagues at this point.