Clone Wars: Ian Stewart and Mark Reynolds

Ian Stewart won’t last at second base with such bad range and costing his team more than four runs in 18 games on defense. The good news is he will have the 20 games required for most leagues to have him second base eligible in 2010. His numbers so far have some similarities to Mark Reynolds, but could be a lower-average version of Chase Utley for 2010.

Name            GP   AB   R    HR   RBI  SB   CS   K%     BB%   BABIP  HR/F  P/PA
Ian Stewart     77  221   37   15   42    6    2  27.6%   7.9%  0.228  16.5%  4.1
Mark Reynolds   80  301   53   24   61   13    5  36.9%  11.2%  0.343  26.7%  4.1
Chase Utley     77  279   56   18   55    8    0  19.0%  15.2%  0.317  15.3%  4.1

Ian Stewart

name
MLB: APR 19 Rockies at Dodgers
APRIL 19, 2009: Rockies 9 Ian Stewart during a major league baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies played at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles California during the day. (Icon/SMI)

So far Stewart has not been enhanced by the Coors Field effect. His tOPS+ in Coors has been 97 with an OPS of .765 for a career OPS of .777. This is only 242 ABs at Coors, but his numbers look fairly solid home and away. So before we suspect his power is a factor of Coors Field, we can say his HR/F so far is a solid rate and should hold up.

Stewart had a tough time getting playing time before this year and when he did he was showing a K% over 35%. This year, though, his ABs have been much more consistent and so his strikeout rate has settled to an improved rate of 27.6%. So far this hasn’t helped his batting average in 2009 at .217, but with a BABIP of .228 that should be expected to turn around in the second half. His K% in Triple-A was a bit better at 22%, so more improvement could be seen.

The team knows they can’t keep him at second base and will look to move Garrett Atkins to free third base and give it to Stewart. Atkins is going to be entering his final year of arbitration and is already earning $7 million this year. Expect Atkins to be somewhere else in 2010 and Stewart to enter the season as the starting third baseman.

Mark Reynolds

The first comparison for Stewart is to Mark Reynolds as a high strikeout guy with lots of power. In his first 530 ABs Stewart has 26 homers while Mark Reynolds was at 28 homers in his first 549 ABs. Reynolds also has played in a home stadium that has been more friendly to home runs, just like Stewart.

Reynolds still has league-leading totals in strikeouts, but with an OPS of .922 his value is clear and he has a wOBA of .394 that so far is 21 in the league overall. Stewart is trailing in this with only a .331 in his first full year at 24 years old, but in Mark Reynolds’ age 24 year he had a .340.

As I covered earlier this week, Reynolds may be hitting over his head right now, but Stewart and Reynolds appear to be very similar hitters. They have solid walk rates with elevated strikeout rates. They can both top 30 homers, but also supply a surprising amount of steals. Look for Ian Stewart to have a Reynolds-type breakout in 2010 and finish 2009 with similar numbers to previous Reynolds years.

Chase Utley

Stewart isn’t going to push Chase Utley from the top of the board, but his fantasy value will be a potential second place to Utley. Much like Mark Reynolds this year, he seems like the type who will slip through drafts and fall to you much later than his value will supply.

Utley has shown an elite eye this year with a walk rate of 15.2%, but in his age 24 year he had a 7.6% in his first year and has averaged 9.6% so far in his career. On the other hand he has averaged an 18.2% strikeout rate and has never finished a season over 20.1%. This gives him a clear advantage over Stewart and has him as a solid bet to beat him in all fantasy categories from this. PECOTA, though, has some amount of agreement on this comparison as Utley is ranked sixth on Stewart’s most comparable players.

Conclusion

It’s a solid bet that Utley finishes 2010 as the No. 1 second baseman again, but Stewart will be eligible there, have plenty of power and has numbers comparable to Reynolds and Utley. Looking at ISO, Stewart had the best rate of the three in their age 24 season. His season is still under way and could change, but he is your sleeper at second base for 2010 with one season of eligibility there left. Once he gets to third base, though, you still have a 30/10 player with an improving lineup to help him out.

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