TDG 2022 PLAYERS TO TARGET: SECOND BASEMEN
Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals
MLB targets for me are players who allow you to reach on some other wants or sit back for other needs. They may not be the top-ranked at the given position, although they are someone who gives value to the team you’re creating during a draft. So, who better to be your second base target than good ol’ Steady T.Eddy? Although what is steady about 15 stolen bases in 2019 (which was 92 games and Edman’s first taste of the bigs) to 2 SBs during the 2020 short season, and then back again to 30 bags this past year? He even has a new manager for 2022, so questions will continue to arise about his stolen base totals entering 2022.
Set aside the SB fluctuations, a look back to Edman’s 2021 season stats show he produced steadily throughout the year. Month over month, he consistently produced similar run, RBI and home run totals. As a switch hitter, Edman produced similar walk and K-rates from both sides of the plate (5.7% vs 5.1% walk and 13.4% vs 14% K). Maintaining these K% gains from his previous seasons will help him minimize any prolonged skids throughout the course of a season too. This adds value to him in H2H leagues where you can’t afford to start someone at risk of bottoming out multiple scoring categories.
If you’re looking for thump, Edman isn’t a second baseman who’s going to knock the cover off the ball. He pulled the ball almost 45% of the time but ended up in the bottom 25% of the league in both HardHit% and Average Exit Velocity. While his Barrel Rate of 4.2% was even lower in the league, he surprisingly had an excellent Max EV of 112.9 MPH. That Max EV makes me think 15 homers could be attainable once or twice in upcoming seasons, especially as he’s only 26 years old on Opening Day this year.
But you’re not looking for power if you’re targeting Steady T.Eddy. You’re looking for a good batting average, consistent results of counting stats, and the potential to be among the league leaders of stolen bases. Edman brings all that and is definitely worth the return of being the roughly 10th second baseman drafted.
Abraham Toro, Seattle Mariners
When it comes to mid-draft dynasty targets, I like Abraham Toro. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be looking for him as my primary second base option but he is ready to be rostered as a solid middle infield option this year with potential for more. My optimism really comes down to opportunity for Toro, something he hasn’t had much of until this past season.
After Alex Bregman’s June IL stint, Toro finally got a starting role in Houston and after being traded to Seattle he was immediately named their starting second baseman. From June 17th until the end of the season, he was a league-average player with a wRC+ of 99. This included 11 home runs, 45 runs, and 46 RBI in over 360 plate appearances. Nothing to write home to mom about but paired with his good plate approach (14.4% K-rate, 8.3% walk rate) those full season’s worth of plate appearances turn Toro into a good counting stat accumulator. His power potential is suspect thus far with low exit velocities. He did flash some streaky power last year with 4 homers in 4 games at the trade deadline – including a shot against his former team the day he was traded to the Mariners. Additionally, he’s no slouch on the basepaths either. His 76th percentile Sprint Speed could be better utilized over the course of a full year to allow him near double-digit steal totals.
All in all, I think Toro finally getting the chance to play a full year will change many people’s outlook on him. I don’t like using projections as true predictions but the full season Steamer projections for Toro and Jake Cronenworth are eerily similar. It projects Cronenworth with a wOBA of .332 and a wRC+ of 111 versus Toro’s projections of .328 and 112. Further, after prorating both batters to 600 ABs, Toro is projected for roughly 4 more home runs and 3 more stolen bases than Cronenworth. This helps to emphasize the value you should get when you’re able to take Toro well over 100 picks after the CroneZone is typically off the board.
Felix Valerio, Milwaukee Brewers
There are two types of deep prospects that I get really excited about: those with dreamy power/speed combinations and those with highly graded hit tools such as Felix Valerio. In his first two and a half years in professional baseball, he never batted below .300 and was promoted to High-A Wisconsin as a 20-year-old. Unfortunately, he struggled there initially and his calling-card batting average ended at .229 for his final month-plus of the season.
Valerio walked more than he struck out (14.3% vs 13%) in early 2021, but when was promoted those numbers swapped and trended poorly. His end-of-season line for High-A included a strike-out rate of 16.4%. That is a career-high K-rate of 16.4%, a number many current prospects dream of. Despite striking out more, he still got on base at a .321 clip in those 134 High-A at bats. A plus hit tool and an excellent walk rate (MiLB career 12.1%) make him a great target for both OBP and BA dynasty leagues.
The diminutive Valerio appears to have been trying to incorporate more power into his swing even while facing players 2.5 years older. His line-drive rate plummeted while his fly ball rate jumped, both to career levels. Additionally, while in Wisconsin he hit 5 home runs in 134 plate appearances (versus the 6 he hit in 377 plate appearances in Low-A). An isolated power of .237 was almost 100 points higher than his previous career numbers. It could have been he was outmatched versus older competition, but his continued excellent approach combined with these advanced numbers shows to me that was just trying to hit the ball hard.
Valerio’s hit tool, OBP bump, and power potential aren’t the only reasons to like Felix as a dynasty target. Adding further intrigue, he stole 31 of 39 bases in 2021. It is tough to predict SBs as he progresses up the development ladder, but it’s good to understand that he is fast and Milwaukee isn’t a team that traditionally holds back runners. The team was in the top half of steals in 2021 while also a top-5 team in steals twice since Craig Counsell took the helm.
Felix Valerio’s great bat skills and already advanced eye will give him a solid floor to continue to tinker and add power as he continues to progress up to Milwaukee. These types of profiles don’t tend to fly through systems, although he’s not blocked by any long-term players currently. So he may not get his cup of coffee until 2023, but I think you’ll start to hear his name in fantasy prospect discussions much sooner.