Second base is one of those “up-the-middle” positions where defense and being a table setter is important. Chase Utley was the king of second base for a long time before Robinson Cano took over. Now it’s Jose Altuve’s crown to carry. The difference is the amount of mashers behind him, second base is starting to look like first base. There’s a lot of options and even in the tier behind the elite guys. The people with 25 plus homers last season includes: Brian Dozier, Cano, Altuve, Kinsler, Odor, Schoop, and Gyorko. The position is deep and it averages about as 5×5 stats as do the corner infield spots at this point, so despite the depth here make sure you end up with a good, powerful second baseman while you can. You don’t want to end up with a “classic” second baseman when everyone else has a slugger, ti could really kill your offense if you have an otherwise average draft.
- Jose Altuve-The Astros couldn’t have asked for much more out of Altuve, a guy who has always been respected as a good hitter despite his size. He upped his power, doubled his walk rate and hit .330 for the second time in three seasons and the batting average looks to be as safe a bet as anyone’s in the MLB. He’s slowly taking over for Miguel Cabrera in dominating the batting titles (they have won the last six batting titles between them). He still has speed and though he doesn’t have to steal as often now that he has extra base power, there’s no reason why he can’t get 25 this season, let’s just hope he doesn’t have a Trout-like stolen base arch and stop attempting to steal. Altuve has been hitting the ball harder each year and it seems with experience he’s only adding to his abilities, making him one of the best players and easily the best second baseman in baseball by any metric, and has always had a knack for getting on. He is 26 and already has a ton of experience. It’s only looking up for Altuve and he’s already solidified himself as an early first rounder. A realistic expectation for him would be 17 homers, 80 RBI, 100 runs and 25 steals and hitting .320. He could be even better than that too.
- Robinson Cano- Cano hit 27 homers his last season in New York. Then he hit a combined 35 in two seasons in Seattle and started to look like he was on the down side of his career, then he burst out for 39 home runs and a 6 WAR season. It’s not very likely that he’ll repeat the home run total at his age but he’s still a really good hitter with a good approach and it doesn’t look like he’s going to fall off a cliff. It’s reasonable to expect that he only has a few good seasons left, but it’s unlikely that Cano won’t be an impactful fantasy player in 2017. He’s worthy of a late second round or third round pick. I’d expect more like 25-30 homers along with the stats Cano has always put up. He has a good track record with minimal injury trouble and there’s really nothing that can beat that when you pair it up with his sweet left handed swing. He’s still an elite second baseman and player.
- Ian Kinsler– Kinsler is basically in Cano’s shoes. He was solid in his first two years in Detroit but in 2016 he started to return to the form he had when he was going for 30-30 seasons. Kinsler hasn’t been injured since 2013, but he’s got a shorter stature and there’s some worries as Statcast showed he wasn’t barreling balls at a good rate. His swing is designed to loft fly balls and I feel his swing fits left field in Comerica really well, so I don’t expect Kinsler to just start to do badly but it is fair to guess he may regress. He’s going to hit lead-off in front of J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera though, so he’s going to score some runs and he still steals about 10-15 bags a year. His skills will probably still start to regress as Ian is going to be 35, but he still has some skills and the fact he had one of his best seasons at 34 show that Kinsler is not going away that easy and he’s a mixer of every stat that you’d want in a fantasy player and his ADP shows you can snag him at good value. Expect 20 homers, 85 RBI, 100 runs and 10 steals. His average isn’t likely to tank and he shows the ability to hold at least a .280 average.
- Brian Dozier- His power is real, the scariest thing is his pull tendency which is really, really high. As long as he continues to make adjustments to the pitches he sees though he’s a 40 homer threat, we saw Jose Bautista do it with the same approach for many years. He’s not a great hitter, but last year his average started to catch up to his BABIP and when you hit 14 more balls over the fence than ever before that tends to add a few points to your average. You could expect some regression in his average because even though the power is real it’s likely more like 37-38 homer power and his second half is going to be hard to repeat often (it would mean he has 60 homer seasons). He also has some speed and despite being in the Twins line-up, one looking up by the way, he hits at the top of the order and with his homers, lots of counting stats will follow. Overall he’s the top power bat at second. He’s worth an upper-mid round pick and you can expect around 35 homers, 90 RBI, 90 runs and a .250 average with 10-15 steals.
- Dee Gordon– Dee got suspended for PEDs last year and disappointed, but that’s behind him now and he hit one of the greatest home runs ever as tribute to his best friend, Jose Fernandez. Gordon really started to look up in late September after his lost cause of a season in 2016. Gordon is one of maybe three people that should actually hit ground balls in the majors. If Gordon hits more grounders he’s likely to get back on base more often. He’s always a risk because his whole ability for batting average depends on hitting a good mix of grounders and line drives so he has a good average and gets on base so he can steal. Last year his BABIP and grounder rate took a hit and he still hit nearly .270 and I think he can do it again and possibly see a gain in average. Steals are becoming rarer as baseball starts to have another power surge, and Gordon can steal 50 bags and possibly more as long as he gets on base a rate near what he did last year. This of course leads to a lot of runs too. Gordon has nearly no power, but I think he can get back into at least the .280 range and at that point he’s a top five second baseman.
- Dustin Pedroia-Dustin is still really good even at 33 years old. He’s another guy like Kinsler who can fight off falling off a cliff. He’s shown the skills to keep his average right around .300 and the power spike to 15 last season was more because he was healthy and showed his power skills. Now he’s going to hit in front of Mookie Betts and Bogaerts again and he is probably one of the safer bets for scoring 100 runs. Pedroia is like a five tool fantasy player at second base and you’ll get a little bit of everything from him. It’s reasonable to expect a slightly worse 2017 than he had last year, but he’s not going to fall off. Pedroia is a safe pick and he will continue his all-star level offense as long as he can stay healthy.
- Daniel Muprhy- Since October 2015 it’s hard to find a guy who has done much more with the bat than Murphy. Murphy has always been known as a decent hitter, but last year is probably going to stick out as a career year and I don’t think he’s going to hit 25 home runs again. Also if Bryce Harper is healthy again he may start to hog the RBIs that Murphy got last season. The one real thing you’re buying with Murphy is a good batting average though. Throughout his career he’s proven time and time again that he is a good hitter and if you buy Murphy then you are buying into is good hitting ability and he’s basically LeMahieu with more power and quality characteristics that help his fantasy value. The problem with Murphy is that a lot of people are going to buy really high on him and he destined to do worse than his 2016 numbers, even if he continues to be of the top options at the position. Just make sure that you are careful with Murphy and if you get him in the correct spot then you’re getting a .300 hitter with 15-20 homer power and some decent counting stats.
- Rougned Odor– Odor is basically Daniel Murphy just with power, except his power is very real. It’s middle of the order power. With that comes a lot of RBIs too. Odor is basically on the same level with Eddie Rosario and Salvador Perez when it comes to players with a ton of talent just not having an ounce of plate discipline. That’s going to kind of hold Odor back, and honestly .271 might be a little bit on the optimistic side. Odor has a little bit of speed too, which adds to his value, but if you get him you’re chasing his power. He kills the ball and hitting homers is the trait that Odor will always do. He’s still extremely young though and there’s time for him to improve his approach. He hits the ball really hard and if he can cut down on his strikeouts and find a happy medium, then we have a guy who will start many all-star games at second base (or is deserving of that if Altuve wasn’t in the AL). Until then just expect his mega power and some good value in the early middle rounds at second.
- Javier Baez– Baez put on his display in the playoffs and showed that he shouldn’t be forgotten. The Cubs didn’t have a real position for him last year, but it looks as if he will play some second base in 2017 along with his normal moving around the diamond. He cut down his strikeouts but last year he didn’t hit for as much power. We know he has power though and this is likely the year he breaks through. Once again anyone in the line-up that the Cubs have is going to benefit in the counting stats category too. Baez needs to work on elevating the ball as he made too much soft contact on the ground. This is something that I think can be fixed and he will likely becoming the next big slugging second baseman. He has 20-20 potential and he likely could reach that this year. In 2018, Baez could be the biggest gainer on this list. He’s worth a pick in the early middle rounds too and you can expect 20 homers, 15 steals and a .260 average with some good counting stats realistically. The ceiling is much higher for Baez who is finally coming into his own and is the Cubs next superstar.
- D.J. LeMahieu-He finally hit over double digits in homers while playing a full season with Coors Field as his home park and he won a batting title. The year after doing something like that it’s almost nearly impossible to repeat that season. He’s more likely the 2015 version of himself with slightly better power and overall ability. Though his BABIP is high, as long as he plays in Colorado he’s one of those guys who will always outplay his peripheral stats. If you miss out on the elite crop, he’s definitely worth a pick. You can expect a .300 average with 10 homers and 90 runs. He tries to make contact and he succeeds very often and he has a sound hitting approach that will help him be the table setter for Story, Arenado and Cargo in 2017. There’s a lot to like with D.J.
- Jason Kipnis-His 2014 season now seems like an outlier in the data and he’s back to being the solid second base option, except he has been so much more. He became a bit more aggressive, but did it without cutting down much on his walks. He hit 23 homers, a career high by six, though his baserunning runs on FanGraphs suffered another hit. It seems as if he is trading some of that speed for power. He hits very well and is a model of consistency for the Indians and fantasy owners alike. He’s hitting fly balls at a career high rate, so it may be another adjustment Kipnis made or a reason to believe he’s going to hit five less homers in 2017. The moral of the story is that Kipnis is the safe bet with upside and that he may be more elite than people give him credit for. Expect 15 homers, 10 steals, 70 RBI and 90 runs to go with his .280 average.
- Logan Forsythe-He became more aggressive last season and decided to hit for a lot of power and give up some batting average. He was a late bloomer but that was more because the Padres never game him a chance and the Rays realized they had a really well-rounded and soild baseball player. I actually think Forsythe is a pretty safe bet hit .275 and he’s going to make a fine lead-off hitter for the Dodgers and their powerful line-up. He has excellent plate discipline, uses the whole field and waits for the right pitch and usually hits it hard. He’s an underrated player that will become known this year. He has enough in his skill set and a good enough track record to become a good balance of power and average and a reasonable expectation would be 20 homers with a .275-.280 average and likely an uptick in runs scored with 5-10 steals. He’s worth picking.
- Devon Travis-Travis hit really well in the minors for the Tigers and then he was traded for what now looks like a guy who is the next Jason Tyner. He’s rewarded the Jays with two really good seasons to start off his career. His biggest issue has been staying on the field. If he can fix that, he can put up pretty good numbers over a full season. He doesn’t have much in the way of speed and his power will probably top him out around 20 homers, though 15 is more reasonable. He needs to make adjustments in order to not become average though. He needs to hit the ball harder, be more patient and get it up in the air more often (which can only be a good thing in the Rogers Centre). His 2015 rookie season was actually more impressive when it came to those things. No matter what, he can help the Blue Jays and your fantasy team and at worst he’s an average second baseman or middle infielder with a lot of upside still there. I’d expect 15 homers, .280 average with 70 RBI and runs. He’s worth a look and pick.
- Jonathan Schoop-Schoop is another guy with a ton of power but no patience. He hit 64 extra bae hits and 25 homers last season though. He needs to start getting the ball off the ground unless he wants to see a decrease in homers. He hit very well to start the season, but then fell off and he looks to be more of a .260-.270 hitters. If you’re drafting him now, it’s because he has power and will likely hit 20 homers again. He reminds me of Rickie Weeks with less patience at the plate. He’s young enough to make adjustments and has enough talent to still have quality upside. If you draft him, make sure it’s late and you have a good option behind him though because if he has even a slight dip in power he’s not worthy of a roster spot, but if he’s playing like he did in 2016, he’s worth starting at a middle infield slot.
- Neil Walker-Walker took the next step in power last year and had his best walk rate in years (something that usually is a sign of a good hitter). Walker looks like he put everything together for an improved version of his normal self, whom wasn’t a bad player back then either. He just needs to stay healthy and he’s worthy of carrying and using as an option to start at second base. Everything supports a repeat of his 2016 season in 2017. The homers might experience a slight dip, but 23 is pretty accurate considering he missed the last couple weeks of the season. He can do some damage, and his counting stats could be padded if he continues to hit around Cespedes. He’s another safe bet and pick that you know won’t disappoint you. Another interesting thing was that Walker hit lefties a lot better than his career average, whether or not that’s for real it seems everything points to another .280 season.
- Starlin Castro-He had 207 hits in 2011 and hasn’t repeated that season since. Getting traded to the Yankees helped out his power numbers last season. Now he doesn’t seem like he will be a star but he hits the ball hard enough to hit for power and keep a good enough average to be a solid contributor to both his team and yours. Now that he’s with the Yankees homers may be his best tool and average secondary. He’s still extremely young and if he works on being more patient, it’s not unreasonable to think he could go back up to hitting around .300 if he can fix his walk rate and become a more complete hitter. Until then he’s worth a late round flier and you can expect 20 homers and a .275 average.
- Cesar Hernandez-He’s not a big name, but he has speed and he hit very well last year. He just doesn’t get PR because he’s on one of the worst teams in baseball. His speed was limited because he was caught in nearly half of his attempts. It’s reasonable to expect more like 25 steals this season as a correction. I’m not sure he can hit .300 again unless he can become a Dee Gordon like hitter, but with his stolen base potential and the fact that he probably won’t ever go down the tubes offensively means that he has value. He hit had a .363 BABIP so something along the lines of .270 is more reasonable. He’s one of those guys you can draft late when you realize that your team doesn’t have as much speed as you wanted it to and you will be happy with the results. He’s become a logical option.
- Jurickson Profar– Profar was a top prospect and then he got hurt and then the Rangers decided that Odor would start at second base, then Profar came back, a blocked top prospect raking in the minors, then Odor punched Bautista and got suspended for a week, then Profar came out and raked, then he got to stay on the club even when Odor came back, then he stopped hitting. Profar’s career seems like a run on sentence, and it’s been as frustrating as one. We saw him hit some big homers as a rookie and then he got hurt and now he’s at a crossroads. I think the best thing for him would be to give him a full-time position because he still has all the tools that made him one of the best prospects in baseball. He’s a risk, but if he breaks out, he can add to your fantasy team in every category and his power is starting to look upwards. The main thing for him is to get the ball harder and off the ground, that simple thing could lead to more of his first week in the big leagues last year. He’s a good sleeper pick.
- Ryan Schimpf-He was the guy who literally came out of nowhere last season. The power is really real though. The thing about him is that he totally could be a one year wonder (see: Quintin Berry’s 2012 season) with one big tool that is really good, but flaws that limit the ability. Still, to hit as many home runs as he did in just 330 plate appearances is pretty good. He struck out nearly once every three plate appearances though and his already low average doesn’t seem to have room to move. In this era with power options at second and where the Padres stand on the rebuild where guys are starting to come up and make an impact, it might mean a short leash for the 29 year old. He could be a good power bat off the bench in fantasy if he stays equal to his 2016 homer production, if not he could find himself as a big league bench player, or worse. Waiver wire guy for me.
- Brandon Phillips-Phillips has had a gradual fall from a top five fantasy option. After his 2011 season he had small falls in WAR each year while still being productive and even got a 100 RBI season in 2013, solidifying himself as a decent fantasy option still. Now Phillips has reached the player-coach stage of his career where his hometown Braves brought him in a big name to open their stadium while he provides them with a solid season and a mentor for Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies, two young studs Atlanta has that’ll play up the middle. His power isn’t there anymore and hitting 10 homers will be exactly what should be expected from him. He’s becoming more impatient and not hitting the ball as well so a decrease in batting average might be expected. Still, in 2017 he won’t totally be done and if a guy goes down, he’s a solid waiver option that won’t kill your team. He can hit 10 homers, steal 10 bags and hit .280.
- Joe Panik– BABIP isn’t the end all, be all as some guys can sustain it. Panik came up and kept a good BABIP up for his career until it went from the top of roller coaster to the coaster absolute lowest point. He kept up all of his other career numbers pretty well though. So now there’s a dent in expecting him to be a .300 hitter, but he’s certainly a .280 hitter. He’s another one of the table setting, smart, good fielding players that has more value in real life anyways, but if the average comes back he could definitely have some fantasy value.
- Josh Harrison-He has speed, but he’s never going to repeat his career year from 2014, he isn’t Dee Gordon and he tries to be. He has close to no power and is more of a .250-.260 hitter.
- Nick Franklin– He’s going to get a chance and he’s a post hype sleeper, but one with a big risk. He has a good power-speed combo that is sought after in prospects and now he’s shown that he can hit decent enough to stay in the majors. He just needs to make adjustments and he could be a big climber.
- Jedd Gyorko– He has a lot of power, but not much else to offer and his batting average kills it. He’s worth a watch list add, but he needs to start to hit better to retain value and become the player people thought he would be.
- Danny Espinosa– He’s the guy who goes on a power tear and you pick up, only to realize that’s all he has to offer and when it’s over you have to drop him.
- Kolten Wong– Hasn’t lived up to everything, has to learn how to hit well and not be streaky and then we are starting to talk about a solid player,
- Brett Lawrie-He was starting to show power, but flaws have led to his release from Chicago and now he needs a team
- Derek Dietrich
- Whit Merrifield-Has some Kansas City magic and might be worth a pick-up if he can replicate his average and hit the way someone like most of his teammates do.
- Chase Utley
*Yoan Moncada– If he comes up, he passes a lot of guys and is probably a top 10 guy immediately, think of the immediate impact Correa or Lindor had a few years back
*Ozzie Albires- Solid keeper league prospect, may get a chance to help win some of guys a championship at season’s end
SGP Rankings and Projections:
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