Jose Altuve tops the list
As the MLB season approaches, it's time for fantasy baseball players to prepare for their draft. Here's a look at the best second basemen for your fantasy baseball team, along with tiers to help you prioritize during your draft.
1. JOSE ALTUVE, ASTROS
If you think you’ve never seen anything like Altuve, you’d be correct. No other player in the history of baseball has delivered the goods in all five fantasy categories over a five-year period to his degree. He was his customary force of nature in 2018 until betrayed by a since surgically repaired knee in the second half. We’ve seen the last of his 35-SB seasons, but not of his .330 AVGs and cornucopia of other riches.
2. JAVIER BAEZ, CUBS
Baez did .290-34-111-101-21 — one of only four such lines over the past decade — despite swelling his horrific 4.80 SO/BB ratio to an ultra-horrific 5.76. Imagine what’s possible when he learns zone geography. Chances are he’ll open at shortstop, then move back to the keystone when Addison Russell’s 40-game suspension ends.
3. WHIT MERRIFIELD, ROYALS
Merrifield couldn’t possibly have another season like he did in 2017, right? Right. It was better. The late-blooming 30-year-old led MLB in the ever-dwindling stolen base category with 45 and raked .304. His Statcast measurements are poor and BABIP high, hinting that he’s been statistically charmed, but if the second time was a charm, a third would be a trend.
4. OZZIE ALBIES, BRAVES
Albies’ .281-20-55-74-9 before the All-Star break alone was a line equaled among second basemen by only Baez over the full season. That he crumbled over the final two months was not alarming for a 21-year-old, especially for one of his diminutive build. With time comes endurance, and with his talent comes brilliance — in time.
5. GLEYBER TORRES, YANKEES
Torres is a stronger Albies, but with less twitch. He’s the same age, and he endured a similar second-half droop. Ozzie is more aggressive (at the plate and on the paths) and makes more contact. Torres takes a lot of strikes while waiting to do damage. Which to favor? There’s no wrong answer.
6. SCOOTER GENNETT, REDS
After Merrifield made a deal with the devil to become a star at an advanced age, he apparently gave Old Scratch’s phone number to Gennett. Scooter, too, defied cynics by succeeding a breakout with a worthy replica. Some suspicion is cast on his .290 AVGs by high BABIPs, as well as on the resilience of his pop by a large dip in his ISO (isolated power).
7. ROUGNED ODOR, RANGERS
Odor’s swing was once as untamed as his beard, but his strides of 2018 were significant, if schizo. Evil Rougie: .203-2-17-19-3, 4.7 SO/BB in April/May/September; Righteous Rougie: .289-16-46-57-9, 2.3 in between. The lesson in plate discipline therein is obvious; if learned, he could take another step.
8. CESAR HERNANDEZ, PHILLIES
Hernandez’s career has vectored off again. Originally just a punchless speedster, he shape-shifted into a near-.300 hitter with fair pop and patience. Last year his AVG dipped to .253 while his “three true outcome” numbers took flight. Regardless of his approach in 2019, he’s an annual candidate to score 100 runs and thieve 20 bags.
9. YOAN MONCADA, WHITE SOX
Moncada is doing his best Juan Samuel impression at the plate at this career juncture. The former uber-prospect either de-stitches the baseball or misses it completely. That he had only 14 more total bases than strikeouts over 650 PAs is a mind-bender. Since he’s still a baby, the door remains open for something special if you’re willing to spit in the eye of peril.
10. ROBINSON CANO, METS
Cano is the still-reliable flip-phone at a position heaped with one iPhone XS after another. He’s got maybe 20 percent of his charge left. Now that he’s 36, pay what you will for a projected .285-20-75-70-0.
11. JURICKSON PROFAR, A’S
Back in 2012, Profar was everybody’s No. 1 prospect. For five seasons, he ricocheted around the Rangers roster, Triple-A and medical clinics. Last year, still just 25 and finally healthy, his .254-20-77-82-10 might herald a warm-up for something much more.
12. DEE GORDON, MARINERS
Gordon, whose first name pretty much sums up his grade for 2018, had the lowest average exit velocity of anyone with substantial playing time. That triggered a 50-point drop in his BABIP, and only two other players in history amassed more PAs with fewer than 10 walks. Those were unsurvivable events for what have always been his high-value categories (AVG, Rs, SBs). Draft for steals and send him a box of Wheaties.
13. KETEL MARTE, DIAMONDBACKS
He’s not Starling — he’s not even a star — but Marte has evolved into a nice little player. Don’t underestimate what a string of “Cs” can mean for your roster if the price is right. Filling five columns acceptably with limited risk gives license to some judicious dice-rolling elsewhere.
14. BRIAN DOZIER, NATIONALS
Nothing much in Dozier’s peripherals or advanced metrics changed, making his reversion to the just-ok player he was in 2014-15 bewildering. If he’s the player we saw in 2016-17, you’re getting a Baez-like .270-38-100-100-15, but that’s a big ask.
15. STARLIN CASTRO, MARLINS
Hard to believe, but Castro is just 29, and if he protracts his pace for the next decade, he’ll be a 3,000-hit man. For our purposes, this isn’t very exciting because none of his annual stat lines are very exciting. His every season is an encore, if only one of banality.
16. JONATHAN SCHOOP, TWINS
If Schoop strikes out three times before he walks twice this year, he’ll be the first player since 19th century hacker Pud Galvin with 600 of one and fewer than 100 of the other. His imprudence caught up with him last year, when he disintegrated from superb young player to enigmatic flop.
17. JONATHAN VILLAR, ORIOLES
Villar is among a handful of players who can cover your stolen base category, but his playing time and on-base percentages have been all over the place. He may end up at shortstop, where he doesn’t qualify from 2018.
18. DJ LEMAHIEU, YANKEES
Had he stayed put, LeMahieu was a top-10 second baseman. Here’s his lifetime line prorated to 550 ABs in Coors Field play: .330-7-63-98-15. Here it is in ballparks that don’t have the exosphere of Mercury: .264-9-48-61-9.
19. JEFF MCNEIL, METS
It’s odd that the Mets deemed Cano a must-have when they had this late-bloomer. McNeil still can be a nifty roster piece for you if they use him as what has now been certified as an official position: “Marwin Gonzalez-type.”
20. JOEY WENDLE, RAYS
He was a great eval by Tampa Bay, where he’s called “Joey Ballgame” and went from disuse in Oakland to eighth in the AL batting race.
21. Jed Lowrie, Mets
22. Jason Kipnis, Indians
23. Niko Goodrum, Tigers
24. Adam Frazier, Pirates
25. Nick Senzel, Reds
26. Eduardo Nunez, Red Sox
27. Ian Kinsler, Padres
28. Kike Hernandez, Dodgers
29. Kolten Wong, Cardinals
30. Devon Travis, Blue Jays
31. Asdrubal Cabrera, Rangers
32. Joe Panik, Giants
33. Hernan Perez, Brewers
34. Daniel Robertson, Rays
35. Garrett Hampson, Rockies
36. Josh Harrison, Tigers
37. David Fletcher, Angels
38. Keston Hiura, Brewers
39. Cory Spangenberg, Brewers
40. Howie Kendrick, Nationals