My positional ranking series,
by Mike Kurland
So as I sat down with excitement to start reviewing second base I realized, second base is actually worse than first base! No way there’s a position worse than first base right? I did not think this was possible. Well I was dead wrong because second base is in fact worse than first base this year. We will get through this! I believe we can do it…. maybe… hopefully. Yeah, my confidence in this position is definitely wavering.
I am giving you my top 25 second basemen rankings based on players CURRENTLY eligible to play second base. I like to reference NFBC for player’s eligibility. Keep in ind players like Moustakas, who will be eligible at second base early in the season. I love me some Mike Moustakas this season and would of loved to include him, but he does not fit the players currently eligible. So let’s dive in, shall we?
1: Jose Altuve – He’s my number 1 at the position and it isn’t close for me. There is some concern coming off injury last year, but I think he’s an absolute value where he’s going in drafts. I think he has another 20 steal season in him among the other production expected from him hitting middle of one of the best lineups. I don’t believe the injury will slow him down this year and I’d say he will be a first round talent by end of season.
2: Whit Merrifield – To some this may be a surprise but Whit is my #2 second baseman. He offers a solid floor for runs and steals and that is hard to come by. I would love to see him traded to a contender, but regardless he’s a solid player and provides safety and solid production in 2 of the hardest categories to fill. Not only does he manage to give you a high floor, but any player who offers me the steals and good batting average without sacrificing the rest of my categorical output I’m all over.
3: Javier Baez – I’m a bit down on Baez coming into this year. Well, I’m not down on him, I just believe he is being over drafted and at his current cost I won’t have any shares this year. He does offer power and speed but his poor plate discipline is always a concern and last year could’ve been his career year. I do like his multi-position eligibility and he provides solid 5 category production. I just would prefer if his price wasn’t so high.
4: Daniel Murphy – I love me some Murphy this year. He is coming off a down year, mostly caused by injury. Even on a lost year, he still hit .299 and had a decent end to the season. Now he comes into 2019 healthy and ready to roll. He’s taking that hit tool and bringing it to Coors Field! If that isn’t exciting, or enticing, then I don’t know what is. He has a high, solid floor and I could see him winning the battle title this year. He is a great player to have on your team and is typically dependable.
5: Ozzie Albies – Albies started the year on absolute fire last year. He hit 9 home runs in March and April of last year. The power declined from there and he came back down to earth. He is hitting in a great lineup. He offers a bit of power and definitely speed upside. A 20/20 season is definitely a possibility. My only real concern is a potential sophomore slump. There’s definitely a high ceiling for Albies but the floor can be pretty low. You need to also be aware he’s projected to hit in the bottom half of the lineup so that certainly hurts his upside and value a bit.
6: Gleyber Torres – Torres is in this same conversation and has a similar ADP as Albies. He’s going to likely be hitting in the bottom half of the lineup. Although it’s one of the best lineups in baseball, anytime you bat bottom half of a lineup it definitely caps your upside. He came up swinging a hot bat last season before eventually coming back down to earth. I’d expect 20-25 home runs with a full season of at bats and double digit steals. However, just like with Albies, just have to watch out for a sophomore slump.
7: Johnathan Villar – This is a guy I really like this year. He’s relatively inexpensive and offers you some steals without killing you in all other categories. In 2016 he had that 19 home run and 62 steal season. Now, I’m obviously not expecting that, but it is a reminder of what his ceiling is. He is going to hit top two in the batting order for the Orioles this year. He should not have to worry about playing time. I’d expect around 10 or so home runs with 30 or so steals. This feels like a safe estimate, and he offers the chance to out produce those numbers for sure. He’s a solid target at second base in the mid rounds.
8: Travis Shaw – I am a big fan of Travis Shaw. He isn’t flashy, but he gets you the numbers you need. He has at least 30 home runs and 80 RBI the last two season. In 2018, he had big improvements in BB% and K% from 2017. He calls Miller Park his home And that’s never a bad thing I’d say. He’s just a solid contributor overall and you shouldn’t shy away from him on draft day.
9: Scooter Gennett – Ever since his breakout I’ve had a hard believing in him. He just continues to prove me wrong. Over the last two years he has hit over 20 home runs and over 90 RBI while hitting .295 or better on the year. It never hurts when a player is projected to hit cleanup, which he is per Roster Resource. He is also another player who has a very favorable home field in Great American Ball Park. The lineup as a whole has become stronger with the acquisitions they’ve made this offseason and also some young talent coming up. I think he’s in for another solid year and he’s one of the final guys on this list I have full confidence in.
10: Dee Gordon – Flash Gordon had a bad year last year. He was having a decent start, but was then derailed by injury and was not the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if he bounced back and stole 40 bags this year and hit closer to .280 or so. He’s a steals specialist but you’re getting him at a good value. Upside is limited but could return to form and be closer to what he was expected to be last season.
11: Robinson Cano – Oh, how the mighty have fallen. He once was at the top of the position and even a top player in fantasy. Now he’s slightly above average. He’s another year older, but I think there’s still some upside with him. He came off the PED suspension last season and had a solid end to the year. He’s in a good lineup and should hit right in the middle of it. I think there’s another year or two left in that tank. The best way to describe Cano, he’s like the Miguel Cabrera of second base this season.
12: Rougned Odor – I feel like Odor has been around forever and forget he’s only 25 years old. He is almost forgotten about this year compared to previous seasons. There is still upside to be had here. He almost doubled his walk rate in 2018 compared to 2016 and 2017. He’s been a free swinger over the years but with his power potential, if he developed better plate discipline he could be a real steal here. I need him to prove to me that the walk rate isn’t a fluke before I buy in to his new approach. The power and speed numbers are there so if he improves that plate approach he can be a dangerous hitter to face and provide solid fantasy upside.
13: Brian Dozier – Here is the guy who always starts slow and then, BOOM! He has a huge second half. Well, then last year happened and never bounced back and he didn’t give the big second half he typically does. That is very concerning for him and his fantasy outlook coming into 2019. If there is one good thing about him, it is his price. He is cheap and could easily bounce back. We know the ceiling is high, but the floor is also low enough that he can be dropped. With that said, it is all baked into his price and he is worth the gamble.
14: Yoan Moncada – I have no idea what to expect anymore from Moncada. He is aggressive at the plate and it shows in the numbers. The power/ speed combination is always appealing and this year you aren’t paying the price that comes with the hype. If he can put it together, finally, there’s a chance for a huge payoff here. He has 20/20 upside for sure but I’d bet he falls short. I don’t have much confidence in the breakout but it is low risk, high reward with Moncaada. He could have the breakout year or he could be dropped by May. Either outcome would not surprise me.
15: Nick Senzel – It is about time Senzel gets a shot. I feel I have been waiting since late 2017 for his shot or at least a cup of coffee. Well, 2019 is the year it SHOULD happen. Of course I am assuming no injury set backs or anything. He has solid power/ speed upside. I love his upside and he will likely get eligibility in the OF as well. He is one of the cheaper rookies in redraft and could be up sooner than most. He is an absolute discount compared to other rookies and I would keep an eye on him through spring training and early part of the season.
16: Cesar Hernandez – Hernandez is projected to hit at the bottom of the Phillies lineup. Although it is one of the best lineups in baseball, going from lead off to bottom of a lineup is just terrible for any players value. If he earns his way to lead off or gets the spot unexpectedly his value would greatly improve. I’d keep an eye on him. He has some speed and batting average which can be hard to come by late in drafts. He has a decent floor with a low ceiling. His price on draft day is appropriate.
17: Johnathan Schoop – What happened to Schoop last year? I don’t understand why he fell off a cliff essentially. I think there’s a good chance he returns to form. He has 2 seasons, as recent as 2016 and 2017, of 25 or more home runs and 80 or more RBI. His down year last year he still managed 21 home runs and 61 RBI in only 501 plate appearances. His lack of walks and patience at the plate is a concern. We know what he is capable of and I would think in Minnesota there is no threat to playing time.
18: Jeff McNeil – He made my deep sleeper list this year with an ADP outside the top 300 a few weeks ago. With injuries piling up for the Mets already, he now has a spot for sure to start the year. He doesn’t offer much for power, but his speed is legit and hits for a solid average. Those are 2 categories owners always look to find late and he seems to offer both. He has a solid track record in minors of hitting for good average and came up last year and flashed that same skill. He has also shown he can sustain a solid OBP. He is a late round target for me and I recommend all should get on board.
19: Marwin Gonzalez – He is becoming a common player I am finding at the bottom of all these lists. He is not flashy what-so-ever, but he produces. The multi-position eligibility is a big reason for his value. The twins have a sneaky good lineup and he will likely find steady playing time throughout the season through injury or poor performance from other players.
20: Ketel Marte – Here is another guy I will not quit on. He came in, with what would’ve been, a firm grip on the lead off spot in the lineup and the every day CF job. Then Adam Jones was signed in recent days and now I am not totally sure what to expect. There are talks of Marte being this super utility type of player for the Twins. He could be fighting for an every day spot. I am honestly unsure. I had him higher up prior to the Jones signing. I still am a believer. I still think he will lead most, if not all games and gain multi-position eligibility. He could Hit 10- 15 home runs and has legitimate 20 steal potential with his speed. He was another one of my sleeper picks this year and I am standing by it.
21: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – Gurriel Jr. has been touted by his own brother as being a better hitter than himself. That is interesting considering we all know how solid his brother is at hitting. Gurriel Jr. came up last season and hit .281 with 11 home runs. I’d say thats not too bad. He did have a K% of 22.4% but the concerning number is the BB% of just 3.4%. The biggest issue may be playing time by mid season. The Blue Jays have a stout minor league system and have Vlad, Biggio and Bichette working their way up. If he does not hit, he could be out of a job by the ASB.
22: Joey Wendle – He came up last year and people surprised a little bit. He wasn’t a stud or big time player by any means, but was a nice boost to batting average and steals. In 139 games he hit .300 and stole 16 bags. Brandon Lowe is working his way up and if Wendle struggles, he could be the odd man out. There is not a whole lot of upside here but he is not going to sink you either.
23: Adam Frazier – Frazier is quietly projected to hit leadoff for the Pirates. He has a very low ceiling but can hit for average and anytime you get a leadoff hitter you will get some decent return from them. The top half of the Pirates lineup is pretty solid so if he can get on base, he will be a cheap source of runs. The batting average and on base skills are there and he has double digit steal seasons in the minor leagues. 2018 was his first season with double digit home runs with 10, so I don’t expect much power production from him. He’s not a bad middle infield target in deeper leagues.
24: Luis Urias – He is only being looked at in the deepest of leagues and it is totally understandable as well. He has a solid hit tool and will get on base plenty, but offers little power or speed. A lot of guys come up to majors and add some pop to their game and that’s part of what I’m hoping for. Not to mention, he’s in a lineup that isn’t nearly as bad as it’s been in previous years and if he hits he could end up leading off for this team. The ceiling seems pretty low, but with any young player, there’s always a chance for some unlocked potential.
25: Asdrubal Cabrera – Here we are, its 2019 and somehow Asdrubal is still relevant! He is starting for the Texas Rangers and has multi-position eligibility. That’s a big deal in the leagues you’re likely rostering him. He is who he is by now. He is not going to break out at this point in his career , but he is going to provide safe numbers and could be a good injury fill in for your fantasy team.
The left overs…
These few players are guys I considered placing here at the end. If you wanted to put them inside the #20 – #25 spots I wouldn’t argue with. There are 3 names that just missed my list and they are Brandon Lowe, Jed Lowrie and Josh Harrison.
Brandon Lowe – He offers plenty of upside but most projection systems want him only have him projected for roughly 250 AB. He has competition for playing time and projected to hit 9th per Roster Resource. His upside and potential is capped by where he’s hitting in lineup but if he performs it could change and value could rise. There are a ton of options here in Tampa with Yandi Diaz and Daniel Robertson still hanging around. Any of which could steal and every day job from Lowe.
Jed Lowrie – He was originally in my top 25. I loved him as a starter for the Mets and he was going to hit middle of lineup. My only concern is his injury and I am unsure when he will return from injury. If he was healthy he’d be in my top 25, but because he’s not there’s not enough upside there to put him over Cabrera or Frazier. He’s definitely a solid value once he’s back and healthy so keep an eye on him.
Josh Harrison – For some reason that I can’t explain, I really like Josh Harrison. He was recently signed by the Tigers and is expected to leadoff. Getting a leadoff hitter this late is never a bad idea. I’m thinking he could hit 10 home runs, grab 10 bags and hit around .270. Nothing special but going as late as he is, you can’t really ask for much more.
Well, there you have it folks. This is by far the most shallow position coming into the season in my opinion, so I would plan accordingly. I hope this helps you plan for your drafts coming.
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Next article will be covering the shortstop position so stay tuned!