Each week, the Assembly will put together their positional rankings for keeper/dynasty leagues. Players are ranked with the next five years of production in mind, so when you see Javier Baez ranked ahead of Jason Kipnis that does not necessarily mean that we believe Baez will be the superior short-term option. Also, players are only ranked at what is projected to be their primary position heading into 2015.
The second base position is not the deepest position on the diamond, but it is far from a fantasy wasteland. Between up and coming prospects and seasoned vets in the twilight of their careers, owners should have little trouble finding a quality bat to man the keystone for their fake team. This group is so deep that potentially useful veterans like Brandon Phillips and Aaron Hill did not make the cut. Nor did high ranked prospects like Dilson Herrera, Jose Peraza and Jonathan Schoop. Whether you seek a long-term option for the future or short-term producer for 2015 only, you should have plenty of options.
Our 6 experts, with over 100 years combined fantasy baseball experience, each ranked the second base position, and here are the results:
1. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals
Paul– An awesome climb to the top of the rankings, Rendon is a legitimate threat to his 25 HR, score 100 runs, bat .300 and chip in 10-15 steals every year. THIS is why he was a sure #1 overall draft pick prior to injury.
Will– Rendon was top three among major league second basemen in HR, RBI, R and SLG and top ten in everything else for the 2014 season. If there is a hole in his offensive game, I can’t seem to find it and, more importantly, neither can major league pitchers. Oh and he’ll only be 24 on Opening Day 2015.
2. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
Jim– He has lost some power, but the high average is still there which should carry his run and RBI totals even in Seattle.
Tommy– Cano is no longer a lock for 20+ HRs, but owners should expect a few more in 2015. Cano is still one of baseball’s best hitters and is worthy of a top 20 pick in any format, but his days of being a consensus first rounder are likely in the past.
3. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Paul– I’m done doubting Altuve. While 56 stolen bases may seem an outlier, his 91% contact rate means he’ll be spending an awful lot of time on base. With a healthy Springer, an improved Singleton and a franchise talent in Correa just a year away, Altuve may end up being a 100 run guy too.
Ron– Really never thought it would come to this with Altuve but he’s earned the respect.
4. Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jim– We all knew Gordon had the speed, it was his ability to hit for average that was in question. Do it again and I’ll be more of a believer. Gordon could move back to short, but that doesn’t affect his value.
Tommy– Dee Gordon does a good job keeping the ball on the ground and maximizing his speed. His .346 BABIP does not seem that flukey considering his batted ball profile. I like Gordon’s chances of a couple more big seasons, but I do not like investing early in speed only guys.
5. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
Ron– His fall off during the second half is cause for concern. Do we have another Kipnis on our hands?
Will– I like Dozier, but I am not buying him for 20+ dinger seasons going forward. I am not necessarily saying it won’t happen, but I think you’ll generally find him on the other side of 20 longballs, say, mid-to-high teens.
6. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers
Jim– I doubted his abilities with the move from Arlington, but Detroit agrees with him and Cabrera supplies the ultimate protection.
Paul– A very good season for Kinsler in 2014 sitting atop the Tigers lineup. Staying healthy and accumulating 729 plate appearances can really help one’s counting stats. At 33, we may not see this often in the future. Add in a collapsing BB rate and I’m not sure we’ll see 100 runs or 15 stolen bases again.
7. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
Kevin– I’m a Cubs fan, and I want to believe. However, the strikeouts are going to make or break his ability to be a perennial All-Star, and though he may end up with a great career, I don’t see the next few years being kind to him.
Tommy– My Baez ranking has as much to do with his upside as it does my lack of faith in everyone outside the top three. His 41.5% K rate makes Baez a supreme bust candidate, but 30/30 potential is not often found in the middle infield.
8. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
Kevin– He obviously had a down year, which could be explained by his oblique injury. I’m betting on a bounce back, and he’s still in his prime. Don’t set your expectations at 2013, but if healthy he’ll be closer to that than 2014 moving forward.
Paul– The baseball gods giveth, and they taketh away. Kipnis completely fell apart in 2014 (actually since midseason 2013); his K rate is too high and he can’t hit left-handed pitching at all. His .330 SLG is only slightly off the .371 he put up in the 2nd half of 2013. He’s gone from a clear #2 to a late round flier.
9. Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals
Ron– Wong has all the tools to elevate his game to top-five status at the second base position for the foreseeable future.
Will– What you see is what you get with Wong, and there’s nothing wong (had to do it) with that! I expect the batting average to improve and being just 24 come opening day, a lot of his numbers should get a bit better.
10. Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
Paul– Still just 29, Murphy is a yearly threat to hit 10-15 home runs and steal 15-20 bases. An excellent contact hitter, Murphy also had a 28% LD rate in 2014. Last year may not look as good as 2013 did as far as counting stats, but this is still a guy who could be a top 10 performer for the next 5 years.
Tommy– Murphy has excellent contact skills and should produce solid numbers across the board, but 2013 was an outlier year. He will not see HR + SB totals like those again.
11. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Kevin– He’s had a lot of red flags for the last few years, and injuries made sure his season was sunk. He’s a big risk in the short-term, and he won’t get back to his 20/20 glory days. In fact, I’d worry about even reaching 10/10 or 15/15 in 2015.
Ron– His name value usually prices him out of where you should feel comfortable drafting him.
12. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates
Jim– With a fluctuating batting average along with run and RBI totals, I have a hard time trusting Walker despite the ability to hit 20 homers. Keep in mind that over the past 4 seasons, only 3 of Walker’s 64 HRs have come from the right side of the plate. Walker has been somewhere between mediocre and inadequate from that side, so a future platoon could be a possibility.
Kevin– He doesn’t get the love he deserves, and it’s probably due to his hot and cold spells. However, 20+ HR are hard to come by for middle infielders, and he has a respectable BA as well.
13. Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres
Ron– Young enough that we can chalk up a rough, injury riddled 2014 season as part of the break in period. Even calling Petco home, Gyorko still has about as much projectable power you’re going to find at the position over the next five years.
Will– Thus far my favorite thing about Gyorko was using his name to make a Seinfeld-referenced team name, The Gyorko Store. Well, Gyorko is ready for a breakout! Well, at least improvement. Look for him to get closer to 20 dingers in the next couple of seasons.
14. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels
Jim: He’s an older version of Daniel Murphy who just puts up solid steady numbers. Not bad but nothing special.
Kevin: I like him, and he always finds ways to produce, but he never puts up elite numbers. Moving forward, 10+ SB a safer bet than 10+ HR.
15. Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers
Paul: Baseball’s youngest player before Dilson Herrera’s late season call-up, Odor has a nice power/speed combo, but at just 20 years old, he may not peak for another 3-4 years. I wouldn’t pay too much right now, but if you can be patient with him, this may be the lowest cost he’ll come at. Ever.
Will: Odor smells (obviously I wasn’t gonna let that one slide) like a hot prospect. The ’14 season was not spectacular overall but it looked like Rougned started putting some things together in September, where he had an OPS of .826. I’m not saying that he does that over a full season but it’s certainly a good jumping off point, especially since he cannot even legally buy a beer in America, yet.
16. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Free Agent)
Jim: Of all the aging second basemen (Utley, Phillips, Hill), I think Zobrist stays relevant the longest due to his average, health and ability to drive in runs. The old guy still has some years left.
Will: Zobs is getting on in years. You know he’s 33, so some numbers will decline, but not for a few years yet my friends. Especially valuable in OBP leagues, still good for 80 runs and 10-15 swipes for a few more seasons now.
17. Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers
Ron: Where a guy like Carpenter might fizzle out some towards the back-end of the next five years I think Profar will take the opposite path and show his strongest years in the future.
Tommy: I like Profar’s potential, but the shoulder issue makes me nervous enough to drop him outside my top 20. He may not be ready for opening day, but the real concern is that this injury requires surgery and costs Profar even more time. The long-term effect of missing this much time could add years on to his development curve.
18. Alexander Guerrero, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jim: The Dodgers gave him millions to play second, but with Dee Gordon’s breakout it’s a coin flip on who will move to short. His upside gets him ranked in the middle until he proves how good he can be.
Paul: There is a lot of power potential in Guerrero and he could make this ranking look silly if he ever finds a full-time role with the Dodgers. Defense is an issue as well as his strikeout rate. This is too intriguing of a bat though, especially for a second baseman.
18. Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers
Kevin: He’s on the higher AB side of a platoon split, but even if he never plays against lefties, he provides good production. Given his age, there’s room for further improvement.
Tommy: Aside from a strong hit tool and a great line drive swing, there is not a ton to get excited about from a fantasy perspective. Gennett strikes me as an overachiever though, so don’t be surprised if he is posting top 10 numbers in a couple of years.
20. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Ron: In five years Chase Utley will be out of the game. In the meantime he still has value for those playing to win now.
Will: Utley had a nice solid season in 2014, but he is heading to the downswing of his career and should be considered a fill-in guy, in 1-2 years.
Second base appears to be deeper than most infield positions this season, so be patient in your drafts and do not overreact if you miss a position run here. Anthony Rendon would have earned a consensus number 1 ranking, but Jim can be a little stubborn at times. Still, the gap between Rendon, Cano and Altuve is very slight. All three elite options should be off draft boards by the end of round two. Most of us prefer Rendon because of his youth, but I would not be surprised if Cano out-produces Rendon for the next couple years.
Once the top three are gone, I don’t think it is wise to reach too far for anybody else. Unless you are swinging for the fence with a player like Baez, there is very little difference between options four through ten. Even once you get down into the third tier with mid-round selections like Howie Kendrick, Ben Zobrist and Rougned Odor, there is a little something for everybody. You will be able to find a good mix of solid veteran producers and upside prospects.
In drafts, you need to be patient here and wait for a good value, There will be plenty of opportunities to add a strong second baseman as your draft plays out. Keep in mind though, many owners will likely be looking at the keystone to fill their MI position, so don’t ignore second base completely. With keeper decisions, do not be afraid to throw back a veteran like Kinsler if you have difficult decisions. You may be better served by addressing shallower positions if the values are comparable.
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose will be compiling rankings for the 2015 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.