The second base position has gotten deeper over the last few seasons. The elite are still few but there are a lot of good to great ones to draft in the late rounds.
Second base used to be a hard position to draft. You either drafted one of the top two or three guys or wait until the end when you needed to fill that position. Over the last couple of seasons, things have changed.
There have been a more than a few second basemen that had their breakout season and are making a case to be top 10 or even top five. If you miss out on the Jose Altuve’s or Daniel Murphy’s of the fantasy baseball world, it’s okay. There are still guys like Whit Merrifield and Jonathan Schoop that will have a great return on investment.
Most fantasy players would draft one starting second baseman and a backup in case of injury. Maybe. Now, with the depth at the position, you can draft two top-20 players and start them both, as long as your league as a middle infield or enough utility spots.
Even with the value of the top guys, second base will still be a position I target later in drafts. It’s like the tight end position. Sure, the production from the top guys is great but I can still find value late and not worry about starting a bust every week.
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Before we get to the crux of the rankings, here are a few players that missed the cut but could have value in some leagues.
Josh Harrison (PIT) – The subject of trade rumors, Harrison had a good season. In 128 games, he hit 16 home runs, 47 RBI and .271. He hit .283 with just four home runs and 59 RBI. While he hit for more power, his batting average didn’t go down the tubes as a result. The loss of Andrew McCutchen will hurt all of the other hitters. However, Harrison will hit atop the Pirates lineup and with Starling Marte and Josh Bell behind him, he’ll be able to get on base and score some runs.
Scooter Gennett (CIN) – Gennett had a surprising season. After four average years in Milwaukee, he broke out in his first year with Cincinnati. He hit 27 homers, 97 RBI and .295 in 141 games. He also had a four-home-run game on June 6. Gennett will hit in the heart of the Reds lineup, increasing his chances for RBIs. I just wouldn’t expect 27 home runs again.
Chris Owings (ARI) – Owings is listed at the Diamondbacks starting second baseman but he could lose playing time to Brandon Drury. As of now, though, he’s the starter. Owings hit 12 home runs and stole 12 bases with a .268 average. That’s not a bad line from my No. 23 second baseman. If you play in a Roto league, those extra home runs and steals could come in handy down the stretch.
Jose Peraza (CIN) – Peraza will start the season as the Reds shortstop. Yet, he will carry over second base eligibility in 2018. He isn’t the best hitter, career eight home runs and .277 average, but when he gets on base, you better expect him to run. Peraza stole 23 bases after stealing 21 in the season prior. He may not provide you with numbers in the other offensive categories, but he can be a late pick for speed.
Cesar Hernandez (PHI) – Hernandez missed 30 games last season but was able to increase his power numbers while maintaining a consistent batting average. In that span, he hit nine homers, 34 RBI and .294 with 15 steals. He saw an increase in his fly ball rate while lowering his ground ball rate by two percent. The potential for double-digit home runs and steals is there, making him a top-10 second baseman in NL-only leagues.
Here are my top 20 second basemen for the 2018 season.
Jonathan Villar (MIL) – Villar regressed last season. His numbers were down across the board. He stole just 23 bases. I say just because he stole 62 the year before. Villar hit 11 home runs, 40 RBI and .241 in 122 games. The Brewers improved their lineup by adding Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, as they will hit one-two in the lineup. With Villar likely batting eighth, he’ll be on base for those guys to drive him on. And maybe he’ll steal another 30 bases.
Jason Kipnis (CLE) – Kipnis is another second baseman with a down season. He played in just 90 games and hit 12 home runs, 35 RBI and .232. Kipnis will turn 31 in the first week of the season. The Indians still have one of the best offenses in the American League. While I don’t think Kipnis hits 30 home runs and steals 30 bases, he should bounce back with a 20 HR/15 SB/.270 line.
Starlin Castro (MIA) – When Castro was first traded the Miami, I said he would still be a top-20 second baseman. That was before two more of their star hitters (Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich) were traded. I almost put him in my honorable mention but with JT Realmuto and Justin Bour still on the team, Castro will be a serviceable second baseman in deeper leagues.
Ian Kinsler (LAA) – I wrote about Kinsler being traded to the Angels. The Angels improved their roster in a lot of ways this offseason. My colleague Gavin Tramps called Kinsler a 35-year-old sleeper, and I agree. He is still a productive player and could fall to the late teens in drafts.
Ian Happ (CHC) – I wrote about Happ back in November. I labeled him one of my breakout players of 2018. Read to find out why.
Ozzie Albies (ATL) – Albies spent little time in the majors last season. In just 57 games, he hit .286 with six home runs, 28 RBI and eight steals. On an Atlanta team that is rebuilding, Albies is one of those players you may want to stash on your bench. Over a full season, he should hit in the high .270s with 11 home runs and 20 steals, and I may be undercutting him a bit.
Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) – Gonzalez won’t touch second base much this season, because of obvious reasons, but he played enough to be eligible there this season. He will also be eligible at shortstop, first base and outfield. Gonzalez hit 23 homers, 90 RBI and .303 in 134 games. As long as he has consistent playing time, something that hindered him in his first three seasons, Gonzalez will be a value pick for whatever position you draft him for.
Javier Baez (CHC) – The second Cubs second baseman on the list, Baez will be the one starting. He made great strides at the plate. While his groundball rate went up a few points, his HR/FB rate went up seven points. With the increase in power, Baez maintained a .273 average with three more games played. He will hit at the bottom of the lineup, limited his at-bats but he’ll get his share of hits.
Yoan Moncada (CWS) – The young White Sox second baseman ended the season strong. I wrote that Moncada was showing off for his future fantasy owners here. He hit .276 with five home runs and 11 RBI in his final 24 games. The overall numbers don’t look great but with his display over the final month, good things are expected from Moncada. He’s another young player worth stashing and wait for the breakout month.
Eduardo Nunez (FA) – Nunez is still a free agent but there are a lot of teams that can use his services, like his former New York Yankees. A good hitter with multi-position eligibility. He had another good season while playing for the Giants and Red Sox. In just 114 games, Nunez hit 12 home runs, 58 RBI and .313. He also stole 24 bases in 31 attempts. Regardless of the team he signs with, Nunez will be worth drafting for his contributions to the offensive categories and ability to play at least three positions.
Rougned Odor (TEX) – My colleague Brad Kelly wrote a piece on Odor, asking if he’s a player to avoid in 2018. Without giving too much away, he may hurt more than help your team.
Whit Merrifield (KC) – Merrifield was one of those breakout players I mentioned in the introduction. As I result I asked if he was a top-tier second baseman here. While I may be jumping the gun, there is a lot to look forward to from Merrifield. Even without Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, he will have a 20 HR/35 SB/.285 line this season. He will compete for a top-five spot.
DJ LeMahieu (COL) – The former batting champ constantly goes underrated in fantasy drafts. Tramps wrote about LeMahieu’s 2018 outlook here. Hitting at the top of this Rockies lineup bodes well for the 29-year-old. Plus, hitting in Coors Field for half of his games doesn’t hurt. His speed has gone down from 23 in 2015 to just six in 2017. If he can get that back, having a .310/15 SB second baseman in your lineup is a nice treat. He’ll be available in the eighth round.
Jonathan Schoop (BAL) – Schoop may be the best power-hitting second baseman in the league. He had a 37.2 fly ball, 17.7 HR/FB and 36.1 hard-hit rates, all putting him in the top 10 among his contemporaries. He also led all second basemen with 105 RBI and finished second with 32 homers.Schoop will hit third, between Manny Machado and Adam Jones, giving him plenty of opportunities for RBIs, runs and hits.
Robinson Cano (SEA) – Cano will still be the Mariners starting second baseman, despite the trade they made this offseason. He’s been consistent since joining the team back in 2014. He averages 24 home runs and 90 RBI with a .295 average in each season. Even though he’s 35 years old, Cano is still one of the elites at the position. While a fifth-round pick may be a bit high, he’ll give you good numbers in four of the five hitting stats.
The Mets made a big mistake letting Daniel Murphy go, especially to a division rival. In his two seasons in Washington, Murphy averages 24 home runs, 98 RBI and a .334 average per season.
He has great power, hitting a total of 90 doubles in his last two seasons. The only thing Murphy doesn’t do is run. He has nine combined steals over the last three years.
The Nationals have a top-three lineup in the league. We all know about Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon but the team will also be getting back Adam Eaton and Trea Turner will be healthy for a full season.
Murphy will likely hit fifth behind Harper and Rendon. After pitchers try to avoid Harper, they will need to pitch to at least one of the batters after him. Murphy will have his fair share of pitches to hit and drive in runs.
As a potential seventh-round pick in standard leagues, Murphy is one of the few top-tier second basemen worth drafting before Round 10.
Brian Dozier was just one of two second basemen to hit for at least 30 home runs while stealing at least 15 bases. He hit .271 with 34 home runs and 93 RBI.
Dozier is pretty reliable as well. He’s played at least 152 games in four straight seasons. Drafting a player, for any position, and not having to worry about significant time missed is rare. Granted, injuries can happen at any point, but Dozier has done a good job avoiding them so far.,
Hitting first on a team that has a young heart of the order will benefit everyone involved. Dozier gets on base, Miguel Sano or Eddie Rosario drive him on and the cycle continues. Dozier gets a hit and runs scored and his teammate earns an RBI. This Twins team could make it back to the playoffs with this current group.
In three fewer games, Dozier hit eight fewer home runs while increasing his batting average and on-base percentage. The combination of power, contact and speed makes Dozier a special player and elite second baseman.
Tramps debated between Jose Ramirez and Aaron Judge on which player you should draft next season. He even questioned if Ramirez is a second-round pick this season. While I wouldn’t go that far, I get why the question was asked.
Let’s take a look at Ramirez’s 2017 season (I’ll look at Judge when I rank outfielders). He hit 29 home runs, 83 RBI and .318 in 152 games.
After spending time at both second and third base, Ramirez will rank in the top four in both positions. He will be the Indians starting third baseman though. I talked about Kipnis earlier, but don’t like him enough to put him higher than No. 19.
Ramirez combined his power and contact with nice speed, something a lot of the top-10 options have in common. He stole 17 bases in 22 attempts. Ramirez was the second player I hinted at with the 30-15 line in the previous slide.
Without bringing up Judge, it will hard to pass on Ramirez in fantasy drafts. He’ll cost you a low-second, high-third round pick.
Kelly wrote a reaction piece to Dee Gordon being traded to the Seattle Mariners. The news was certainly shocking as the Mariners already had a second baseman in Cano. But if a star player like Gordon is available, if you’re the Seattle front office, you’ll find a spot for him.
As it seems, Gordon will move to center field. He will not earn outfield eligibility until after his 10th game in most leagues. Check your specific league settings though. He will still be a valuable second baseman in drafts
Gordon hit .308 with two homers, 33 RBI and 114 runs scored last season. He also stole 60 bases, his second time reaching that plateau in four seasons. With Jean Segura, Cano and Nelson Cruz hitting behind him, Gordon may break his career high runs total.
I do think he tones it down with his steals. I think 40-45 steals is more likely for the soon-to-be 30-year-old.
Because of the lack in power, Gordon may fall in your draft. Though, there are a handful of runners that can steal close to 60 bases and that will inflate Gordon’s draft stock in 2018.
For the longest time, Mike Trout was the consensus No. 1 pick in fantasy baseball. That might still be true this season. But Jose Altuve is making a great case for himself to be the top pick in fantasy drafts.
Altuve is clearly the best second baseman in the league. The American League MVP finished with a .346 batting average, 24 home runs, 32 RBI and 112 runs scored. He also stole 32 bases. Some batters can’t even reach a .346 on-base percentage.
Like most of the top 10, Altuve hit 20-plus homers and 30-plus bases. That is alone to be valuable in fantasy but add a .330 average to the mix, you have one of the best hitters in the league, let alone just second basemen.
The Astros have one of the best lineups in the league. The first four batters scored a combined 394 runs last season, Altuve and George Springer led the pack with 112 runs each.
ESPN ranks Altuve as the No. 1 overall player. FantasyPros has him at No. 2. There isn’t much of a difference between the two spots. The upside is that if you have the second pick, you don’t have a tough decision to make. Whoever of Altuve or Trout is left, that’s your pick.
Altuve is fun to watch and will be more fun on your fantasy team.
As you can see, this position is rife with talent. The top five options are in their own tier for a reason but if you miss on them, you have plenty of other players worth drafting to your team.
Whit Merrifield is a known commodity now but he’s still valuable at his current ADP. Altuve and Gordon are at the top because of their contact and speed. Jose Ramirez does the same but adds power to the mix.
Second base used to be a wasteland but is now full of fantasy stars.