Will Jose Lopez Be A Bust Or Steal In 2010?

Jose Lopez is a player who is seemingly gaining a lot of attention as we head into 2010.  He currently has an ADP of around 121, meaning he’s going right at the tail end of the tenth round in 12-team mixed formats.  There’s no questioning that he is a solid player, but I have to wonder, however, why he’s gained so much traction.

Before we get into that, let’s take a look at how he produced in 2009:

613 At Bats
.272 Batting Average (167 Hits)
25 Home Runs
96 RBI
69 Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.303 On Base Percentage
.463 Slugging Percentage
.274 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The power is nice, but is it something that we can expect him to be able to replicate?  He’s had at least 524 at bats since 2006 and has seen a steady increase in his HR/FB rate:

  • 2006 – 5.7%
  • 2007 – 6.4%
  • 2008 – 8.2%
  • 2009 – 11.1%

At 26-years old, that’s not an unreasonable number, but he also saw a fairly significant jump in his flyball rate.  In 2008 he was at 35.6%, but saw the number rise to 40.8% last season.  Can we expect him to be able to continue to put significantly more balls in the air?

The other issue to look at is his home/road split.  Of his 25 home runs, 17 of them came away from Safeco Field.  We all know that Safeco is not the best hitters park in the league, but it is hard to imagine him maintaining that big of a discrepancy.

I don’t fully believe the power surge he showed, so it would not be surprising to see him regress a little bit in that area.

With less power you would think would come fewer RBI, but that may not be the case with Lopez.  He spent the majority of his time last season in the third spot, where he should continue to hit this season.  The Mariners big offensive acquisition was Chone Figgins, who only improves Lopez’ RBI potential.

He’ll be hitting behind Figgins and Ichiro Suzuki, who should both consistently be on base and set things up for Lopez to drive them in.  Someone has to dive in runs and given the other options in the lineup, it’s very realistic to see Lopez reach 90 once again.

Scoring runs, however, is another story.  It’s great that he can drive them in, but he is on base so infrequently that it is impossible for him to score enough runs to justify using him.

While his average should improve a little bit (though that is not a guarantee, considering his career BABIP is at .288), he has walked just 111 times in 2,781 career at bats.  That’s a pathetic rate, to say the least, and gives him fewer opportunities to score.

Of second baseman with at least 450 plate appearances in 2009, he ranked sixteenth behind players like Luis Castillo, Skip Schumaker and Felipe Lopez in runs scored.  Considering players like Dustin Pedroia, Brian Roberts, Ian Kinsler and others were scoring over 100 runs, his struggles here put his owners at a huge disadvantage.

Weighing all of that, here are my 2010 projections for Lopez:

.283 (170-600), 20 HR, 85 RBI, 70 R, 5 SB, .292 BABIP, .313 OBP, .450 SLG

At this point, players with ADPs immediately following Lopez include Jason Kubel, Jay Bruce and Chad Billingsley.  Those are all players with significantly more value to me than Jose Lopez.  If I miss out on the better second baseman in the league, I’m not going to reach on Lopez in the tenth round simply because I need a 2B.  I’d much rather wait and take the gamble on Howie Kendrick or Rickie Weeks or Scott Sizemore later in the draft.

It just doesn’t make sense to me to reach on a mediocre second baseman, especially one that puts you at a sizable disadvantage in runs scored.

What are your thoughts on Lopez?  Is he a player you want to own?  Would you select him in the tenth round?

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5 comments

  1. I was liking him until I read your post. If he slips a few rounds, I’ll give him a shot, but more likely I’ll let someone else deal with his lack of runs.

  2. Miles says:

    I’ve had Pedroia and Lopez as second basemen on a keeper team and feel comfortable Lopez as my #2 second basemen. Your assessment of him looks solid to me.

    I had Weeks for last 2+ years in another keeper team and traded him heads up for Broxton. I was more than happy with this trade and let another owner gamble with his staying healthy. I think Kendrick is primed to “break out” this year.

  3. Tim Lawrence says:

    Be careful not to sell Lopez too short. Perhaps I’m a little biased, as Seattle is my home team, but he has all the skills for a repeat of last season’s power, and I think that it’s even possible for a little bit more. People forget how young he is – this will be his age 26 season. His contact ratio is elite, and I think he has the upside of a .300 hitter with 25+ home runs. He’s always been underated even when he was coming up the minors. He was an offensive force in AAA at age 20 and 21 – his 840’s OPS don’t sound like a lot, but Tacoma is death on hitters, unlike the rest of the PCL. And Safeco Field is one of the worst places to hit for a right-hander, especially one whose power is to the gaps. If he maintains, or even slightly increases his fly ball rate, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 30 home run season in the next few years.

    My worry is that he’ll be moved off second base sooner rather than later, as he’s not much more than adequate with the glove. Seattle is trying to convert their top 2009 pick, Dustin Ackley to second base. If he takes to that position, Lopez gets dealt. If in that deal he goes to a hitter’s ballpark, watch out.

  4. BLAZE says:

    Lopez is a pretty boring player for my taste as i usually get me a good 2B pretty early to avoid guys like this. The power is nice but the avg isnt anything to brag on and the lack of runs (as you stated) make him nothing to brag about. Add lack of SB’s and i dont want the guy on my teams. He cant take a walk (25% of his BB’s are HPB in 09) that says it all there. He’s not on base enough to score alot of runs.

    Pass…

  5. C BASS says:

    I had lopez last season. he had a huge 2nd half. I think he’s valuable for a team who drafts speed and runs early and needs to make up for power later in the draft. For a team built around power already he can solidify you without killing your average.

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