I may have jumped the gun on Jurickson Profar last year, but I’m ready to pull the trigger again in 2014. In the past two seasons, the big contracts to both Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler confused me and most other observers. However, the fog was cleared when Kinsler was shipped to Detroit for Prince Fielder in the recent offseason. Now, there is room for Profar to flourish with the Rangers as the full-time second baseman. In his 286 at-bats last year, Profar hit .258 against lefties and only .188 against right-handed pitchers. Both averages should improve with more reps and experience at the Major League level. Just look out for Russell Wilson to steal the position.
Alexander Guerrero, Dodgers
The Dodgers are hoping to have struck oil again with the signing of yet another Cuban ball player. Alexander Guerrero inked a four-year deal worth $28 million with Los Angeles last October. The biggest issue is that Guerrero is a shortstop and the Dodgers already have one in Hanley Ramirez. So, this spring, Guerrero is practicing his skills at second base. In his last year in Cuba, he batted .290 with 21 homers in 328 plate appearances and average one strikeout per 11 PAs. With Robinson Cano in a tier of his own, if you happen to miss out on Jason Kipnis and Dustin Pedroia early, I’d wait for Guerrero to fall later. Currently, he is the 18th-highest drafted second baseman with an average draft slot of 261.
John Halpin says…
Emilio Bonifacio, Cubs
Bonifacio doesn’t have a job right now, but he never seems to have a job entering the season, and he’s averaged 33 stolen bases over the last three years. He’s more likely to get playing time at the expense of one of the Cubs’ mediocre outfielders – hello, Ryan Sweeney and Justin Ruggiano! – than he is to take at bats away from slick-fielding 2B Darwin Barney. Also, with all the National League double-switch overthinking, er, strategy, Bonifacio could add some swipes as a pinch runner.
You don’t need to draft Bonifacio in 12-team mixed leagues, but keep him on your radar as a potential speed replacement. His dual eligibility at 2B/OF makes him more interesting in daily lineup leagues.
DJ LeMahieu or Josh Rutledge, Rockies
LeMahieu is battling Rutledge for the Rockies’ second-base job, and LeMahieu’s defense may give him the real-life edge. But you don’t want to hear about defense, right?
If LeMahieu wins the job, he’ll probably bat a Coors Field-fueled .280 with 20 stolen bases, and be moderately useful in deeper mixed leagues. If Rutledge emerges victorious, remember that in 161 games as a major leaguer, he has 15 home runs and 19 steals. You should be rooting for Rutledge, as an everyday role will make him rosterable in all formats.