TDG 2022 PLAYERS TO AVOID: SECOND BASEMAN
Historically speaking, second base has been one of the most challenging positions to fill in fantasy baseball. After catcher, second basemen typically had the worst offensive stats. That seems to be changing as the position has become quite deep. Among qualified hitters in 2021, 16 second basemen had wRC+ over 100. Fifteen players had ten or more stolen bases. Even with the position becoming deeper than it has been, there are at least two-second basemen that I will be avoiding this year.
Luis García, Washington Nationals
If you’ve spent any time on Twitter or fantasy baseball sites this off-season, you’ve likely seen Luis García mentioned. Mostly it’s about how he’s in line for a breakout season or that he’s a sleeper for 2022. In the minor leagues last year, García put up great numbers, hitting .303/.371/.599 with 13 home runs. The plate discipline was also solid, 9% BB% and 16% K%. His 70 game sample in the MLB wasn’t as good, only hitting for a .686 OPS. That’s not a cause for concern; he’s only 21 years old facing MLB pitchers. There’s expected to be a learning curve.
The big red flag I see with García is his potential power output. His launch angle has been too low his whole career to hit for power consistently. In his four seasons in the minors, he’s never had a groundball rate below 50%. In the MLB this past season, he could only achieve a 4.1-degree launch angle. To state it simply, García is putting the ball on the ground too much. That launch angle needs to be lifted by quite a bit. His 86.8 average exit velocity and 5% barrel rate also are not ideal for above-average power output.
García posted a career-high BB% in 2021 with 9% in the minors. Typically he only walks 3% to 6% of the time. He only walked at a 4.5% rate in the MLB, which is closer to his career MiLB average. His chase rate was almost 10% higher than the league average (39% O-Swing, 31% league average). Is it possible he improved his plate discipline in the minors? Is it also possible to adjust his swing and lift the ball more? Yes, to both. He’s young and still has room to grow. Unfortunately, there is much work to be done, and I do not think 2022 is the year he breaks out.
Nick Madrigal, Chicago Cubs
Nick Madrigal has always been a divisive player since he was drafted. He’s always been known as a contact hitter who can steal bases. He’s averaged a .335 batting average and 41 stolen bases during his time in college and the minor leagues. The only issue is he has done that with little to no power, averaging only five home runs per season. Some believe there is a fantasy superstar here, and power can be added, becoming a 20/20 player with elite batting averages. Others don’t believe in any power increase, and Madrigal will just be a high batting average hitter who steals bases.
I cannot say for sure if Madrigal can or will add power. But I can say that he has shown little to no power at the MLB level. His max exit velocity in 2021 was 105.4 mph, well below average. So with little power output expected, Madrigal’s value is coming from stolen bases, and he is simply not running enough. In 83 games, he has only attempted to steal a base six times. And he’s only had three successful stolen bases. It’s possible the hamstring injury this past season hurt his willingness to run. But what could have been the reason he didn’t attempt many steals in 2020? Madrigal can only help you with batting average and possibly runs with no stolen bases to count on. I would much rather roster a hitter who can help you in more than two categories.