Is Jose Altuve Really the 6th Best 2nd Baseman Right Now?

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Two weeks to the day after I wrote Astros in your Fantasy Part 4: Jose Altuve, the debate starts between fantasy value versus actual real-life value. On Thursday night, the MLB Network ran their Top 10 Second Baseman Right Now. Astros fans are used to having players not make these lists, but that changed Thursday night when the Astros best player was not shown a little love by MLB Network.

Yes, there is an anti-Astro feeling from the national media, but is Jose Altuve REALLY the 6th best second baseman right now? The MLB Networks “Shredder” thinks so, so who are we to argue with the arch-nemesis of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

MLB Networks Top Second Basemen 

1. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners

2. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

3. Ben Zobrist, Oakland Athletics

4. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates

5. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers

6. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

7. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Dodgers

8. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

9. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

10. Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers

Normally I would treat the guys words at MLB Network as gospel, but this time I would have to disagree with the words at this point. I understand that the “Shredder” takes into consideration “ninja skills”, defensive skills, and offensive skills, however fantasy ranks have him as number one or two top second basemen. Maybe the MLB Network is selling Altuve’s skills a little “short!”

Fantasy Baseball versus Real Life Rankings

For starters, I know that fantasy baseball is not real. But I feel that I am a good rater of talent through my experience with fantasy baseball. I was able to use some of my ranking skills as a little league coach during a little league baseball draft. Because of my coaching skills, I might be better suited to being on the GM’s staff.

Fantasy baseball in general, does not take the defensive stats or leadership skills into consideration. I found out during a Podcast with @sportstimeradio that some leagues do include errors as categories. The “Shredder” however does take everything into consideration, which is where the above list comes from.

Let’s look at the early ADP (Average Draft Position) from Fantasy Pros.

1. Jose Altuve

2. Anthony Rendon (Even though he’s 3rd baseman)

3. Robinson Cano

4. Ian Kinsler

5. Dee Gordon

6. Brian Dozier

7. Jason Kipnis

8. Dustin Pedroia

9. Josh Harrison (Even though he’s 3rd Baseman)

10. Mookie Betts

11. Ben Zobrist

12. Neil Walker

This is a list that I normally see as a fantasy baseball guy, with the exception of Altuve who should be second and Cano first, for now. Cano is entering the second year playing at Safeco Field with the Mariners. Last season he hit 48% less home runs than he did with the Yankees (14 vrs 27). However, most of Cano other numbers stayed consistent last year. But any way you look at it, Altuve and Cano should both be in the top three in any order, with the third one being Pedroia because of the Boston biases.

Lets look a little at the other guys in between Cano and Altuve

Dustin Pedroia: He plays for Boston, case closed. Besides that, he has not been the same guy who helped lead the Red Sox through the playoffs years ago. He is an old 31 years old, due to hand and wrist injuries. However his leadership ability seems to factor in, and that he did win AL MVP in 2008.

Ben Zobrsit: He is a “super utility” player who can play many positions. A practitioner of many positions is a master of none of them. I kid, Zobrist has been as steady as they can be over the years. His power has declined, but you can still count on him for .270/ 10 HR/ 10 SB, even with him being 33 years old.

Neil Walker: Raise your hand if you know who Neil Walker is. Put your hand down, unless you are a fantasy baseball guy or gal. He plays in Pittsburgh, but like Altuve busted on the scene in 2014. He increased his home runs from 18 to 23 and RBI’s increase from 53 to 76. But he has the questions surround whether he can stay healthy and duplicate last year. Walker is 29 years old, so he is still young.

Ian Kinsler:  Prior to last season, Kinsler was on a decline in production at the plate. However, after joining the Detroit Tigers, he rejuvenated his career. He is 32, for he has seemed to find a home in detroit. He may never be the 20-30 threat he used to be, last year he did hit 0.275/ 16 HR/ 92 RBI/ 15 SB.

Is it the Defense?

Looking at the Defense side of things, it should be Kinsler, Pedroia, Zobrist, Cano, Walker, and Altuve. That’s interesting, I never considered that Altuve may not be as good on defense as you might think. Altuve had the worst defensive war with negative 0.1, and as a math teacher, I saw something that’s not supposed to exist. According to Baseball Reference, Neil Walker had a negative zero dWAR. A zero is not negative or positive, but I’m going off on a tangent.

Why is Altuve Getting Little Respect?

Altuve is coming off his career season where he won the batting title by hitting 0.341, which was 21% increase from his 2013 batting average of 0.283. People may not be sold on that Atuve is for real. Maybe if he hits as well as he did last year in 2015, he will get a little more love next year. Altuve also plays for the Houston Astros, which is already a strike against him. Put Altuve in New York or Boston and he’s ranked number one.

One thing to point out is that Dee Gordon did not even make the Top 10 Second Baseman Right Now list. Gordon, like Altuve’s game is based on speed and average. Is there a hidden bias against the one trick ponies in baseball like Gordon and Altuve?

As Astros prospect Preston Tucker said in an interview, rankings don’t change how you play ball, it just shows how popular you are. The Fantasy Rankings show him near the top, but if he can duplicate or improve his numbers, next year he might be top dog.

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Based on WAR, my picks would be

Altuve, Cano, Kinsler, Zobrist, Pedroia, and Walker.

Top Three for sure. Is there a little bias there? Probably but that’s OK because the people who program the “shredder” have their own biases. I’m sure the MLB Network will redo their Top 10 Second Baseman Right Now at some point during the year, where will Altuve rank then?

Next: Astros in Your Fantasy: Jose Altuve

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