The fantasy baseball second base position is full of players that people really love or it seems they really dislike. You have your usual suspects up top with Jose Altuve, Javy Baez and Whit Merrifield. As you go down the current list of NFBC ADP from January 1st, you see some solid options like Daniel Murphy, mixed in with the likes of Jonathan Villar. On this edition of the Fantasy Baseball Debate, I will debate Scooter Gennett and Robinson Cano in relation to their current draft day price.
Before we start the statistical breakdowns or comparisons, let’s look at the current NFBC ADP. When looking at the Draft Champions ADP since January 1st Gennett is the 8th second baseman off the board at pick 90.74, while Cano is the 11th second baseman off the board at pick 124.52. Travis Shaw and Dee Gordon are the two players going between Gennett and Cano.
Argument for Scooter Gennett
Last season Gennett had a great season for the Cincinnati Reds. Gennett hit a career high .310 while hitting 23 home runs with 92 runs batted in and scored 86 runs. The .310 average beat his career high which he set in 2017 of .295. The last 2 seasons Gennett has hit 27 and 23 home runs, while scoring 80 and 86 runs, driving in 97 and 92 runs while hitting at least .295. All of those numbers make for a very good fantasy baseball second baseman.
Those numbers are very good and many have Gennett putting together another good 2019. THE BAT has Scooter hitting .279 with 27 home runs while driving in 89 and scoring 83 runs. All good numbers again, but it is worth noting that Steamer doesn’t feel so good about Scooter. Steamer has Scooter hitting .262, hitting 19 home runs, driving in 76 runs and scoring 69. Usually these two projection sites are pretty close, so this is worth noting.
Arguments against Scooter Gennett
Besides the contrast in the projections, after all they are just projections, Scooter outperformed a lot of the xStat metrics that can be used to showcase positive or negative regression. When it came to his BA – xBA he was .052, his SLG – xSLG was .085 and his wOBA – xwOBA was .051. According to the xStats Scooter outperformed in a big way in 2018.
A few other stats that can make one scratch their head and ask “how did he do it?” are his barrell rate, his exit velocity and his hard hit rate. According to Baseball Savant, Gennett was below MLB average with a 5.8% barrel rate (MLB avg 6.1%), his EV was 86.7 MPH (MLB avg 87.3MPH) and his hard hit rate of 31.9% (MLB avg 34.1%). Sure all these aren’t super far off the MLB average, but at the same time a player putting up numbers like Gennett should be above these numbers.
Arguments for Robinson Cano
The 36 year old Robinson Cano had quite the 2018 season where he was suspended for 50 games due to the use of PEDs. With his shorten season, Cano played in 80 games where he still hit .303 with 10 home runs while driving in 50 and scoring 44 runs. If anyone was concerned with all the production being pre-PED use, well don’t worry the production was good all year. In the 1H (pre PEDS) Cano played 39 games hitting .287 with 4 home runs while driving in 23 runs and scoring 24; while in the 2H (post PED suspension) he played 41 games and hit .317 with 6 home runs while driving in 27 runs and scoring 20. Basically Cano was the same if not better in the 2H after the suspension.
When we look at a player like Cano we look at a player that is the model of consistency. In the past 9 seasons cano has hit .280 or better, he has hit at least 21 home runs in 8 of the last 9 seasons, he has driven in at least 79 runs and he has scored at least 77 runs. Robinson Cano has been the model of consistency even as he has aged and even as he’s moved from hitter friendly Yankees Stadium to Seattle’s Safeco Field.
In case you were curious of Cano going a 10th straight year of this solid consistency than let’s look at THE BAT and Steamer projections. Both sites project Cano to hit .278 while hitting at least 22 home runs, driving in 81 runs and scoring at least 73 runs. Both sites are nearly identical on the Cano projections…..unlike the Gennett projections.
As we look at the xStats Cano actually underperformed some of the xStats last season. Cano’s BA -xBA wasn’t too bad at -.002, but his SLG -xSLG of -.031 and his wOBA – xwOBA of -.013 are a bit of an eye opener and if anything make analysts like myself a believer in another solid season from Cano despite the age.
One last thing to make some feel all warm and fuzzy about Cano is the fact he set career highs in his barrell rate, exit velocity and hard hit rate. His barrell rate of 8.7% past his previous career high of 7.7% in 2016. Cano’s EV of 93.1 MPH passed his career high of 90.3 MPH in 2017. And his hard hit rate of 51.1% passed his career high 45.9% in 2015. (reminder that the statcast data first started in 2015 and Cano may have had better numbers before 2015)
AND THE WINNER IS…….
Both Scooter Gennett and Robinson Cano are great options for your 2019 fantasy baseball teams. Based on the numbers one would expect Scooter to regress some but still perform quite well. Others would say Cano is getting older and eventually things will start to regress. Scooter will be playing in a great offensive ballpark with a very good supporting cast. While Cano is in not as hitter friendly Citi Field with a good but not great supporting cast. There can be arguments made for both, but in the end the difference of nearly 35 picks is the difference for me……….ROBINSON CANO wins a very close player debate with Scooter Gennett.