Second Base may not be full of power hitters or elite bats, but it is deep with solid hitters that can provide help in at least three categories. The top 5 are obviously the ones you want, but the next 5 make excellent substitutions should you not want to reach. If you don’t end up with a top 10 option, no need to panic. There are enough reliable names scattered through the 11-20 range to choose from in the later rounds provided your league does not use a MI slot. If it does you might want to act a little early once the top 10 are gone, and if not you can wait on your second baseman like you would the catcher position. Unless you are dead set on having a player like Rendon, Cano or Altuve on your team, there is no need to waste an early pick at second base.
As always, I will not be doing these early rankings alone and have brought in some help. Joining me for these early rankings (along with where you can find them) are:
Seth Klein (@SethDaSportsMan) from Fantasy Pros and contributor at RazzBall
Doug Anderson (@rotodaddy) from Fantasy Sports Network
Timothy King (@TKing978) from The Sports Script and host of Fantasy Forecaster on Blog Talk Radio.
Chris Meyers (@FantsyChillpony) from David Gonos and contributor for Fake Teams.
David Kerr (@AskROTObaseball) from Fantasy Squads and host of the Ask ROTO baseball Livecast
Each week we will be bringing you our top (and bottom) players at each position for those baseball junkies who crave fantasy baseball all year round. Before we get to the rankings, lets take a look at this year’s free agent class. Emilio Bonifacio, Brandon Hicks, Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts. Ben Zobrist has a 7.5 million dollar club option so odds are he will not be going anywhere. Rickie Weeks has an 11.5 million dollar vesting option, but with the emergence of Scooter Gennett I expect Weeks to be elsewhere in 2015. As far as free agent second basemen go, there really is nothing to see here, real life or fantasy. This makes things nice and simple for fantasy owners. Whoever you saw at second base last year for your team will more than likely be there in 2015.
The rankings below represent the top 20 Second Basemen for the 2015 season. We used a 20 game minimum for games played to qualify and while there may be some players that did not meet the 20 game minimum, none of those players would have been ranked in the top 20 anyway.
On with the rankings.
Just like the previous rankings, we may not agree where everyone should be ranked, but the general consensus is that the players ranked 1-16 should be ranked in the top 20. It’s those last few players that we don’t agree upon and it comes down to personal preferences. Scooter Gennett and Brett Lawrie were both left off two of our rankers’ lists. Rougned Odor, Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara were each left off three lists and finished in a 3-way tie for the 19th spot.
Because this was a top 20, several players who were ranked did not make the cut but are still worth mentioning. Tim and Seth both had Martin Prado at number 17. Chris and David had Aaron Hill at 14 and 20 respectively. Jim was the only one to rank Tommy La Stella, but at number 20 he was nothing more than a late round flyer anyway. The Two biggest surprises were the lone rankings by Chris Meyers of Jurickson Profar (12) and Tim King’s with Asdrubal Cabrera (13).
Player(s) that you would reach for in the draft
Seth: Jason Kipnis – Fantasy owners who took the Indians’ second basemen in the second round of this year’s drafts were thoroughly disappointed. The hate got pretty bad on Twitter, so as an opportunistic owner, why not take advantage of this? Sure, he’s no longer a top five guy, but one would think he should improve from his terrible 2014 campaign. He dealt with an oblique injury early on, and even he admitted it was something that bothered him all season. Ignoring his big drop in power, Kipnis still stole 22 bases and lowered his K-rate by 3.7 percent, which are both positives. A healthy Kipnis could hit 15 HR with 25+ SB in 2015. That’s something I’d be okay reaching for in the middle rounds. Also considered: Daniel Murphy
Doug: Javier Baez – At each rung he’s struggled in his first exposure and then conquers it. I think he hits above .250 and he just might lead all 2B in HR. Also very high on Kolten Wong.
Tim: Many of us in the fantasy industry were dead wrong last year when we advised gamers to stay away from Ian Kinsler. After a down 2013 and move to a less hitter-friendly park, it looked like Kinsler would fail to provide return on investment. However, Kinsler returned with a vengeance, hitting his way into the top 3 at his position in a potent Tigers offense. I expect more of the same in 2015; Kinsler should once again be a daily stat sheet stuffer. I’d be completely comfortable taking him once the top options are off the board. Who knows, you may even be able to score Kinsler at a value.
Chris: Jason Kipnis – I think last season was a fluke and kipnis will return to top 3 in 2015
Jim: Anthony Rendon – I love 20/20 players, especially ones that will hit for average. While I wouldn’t mind having Brian Dozier on my team, I’d prefer the guy who was going to hit in the .290 range over the guy batting .250. Rendon took a big step forward in 2014 and I expect additional improvement in 2015, especially with a healthier surrounding cast (fingers crossed on that one). The only reason he didn’t get my number one rankings is I want to see him repeat his numbers one more time before elevating his status. I also like Kolten Wong. I don’t think I will have to reach for him; I still would probably take him a few rounds earlier than he should be, even if I had an established man at second. The upside intrigues me.
Player(s) you will avoid drafting
Seth: Dee Gordon – It’s not that I wouldn’t like to have Gordon on my team, it’s that he’s nowhere near as valuable as his 2015 price tag will likely suggest. I’m not one to overpay for steals, and if you take Gordon with an early round pick, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing. Gordon’s league-leading 64 stolen bases is certainly a nice thing to add to any fantasy team, but not when it comes with two home runs and 34 RBI. If he hit .320, maybe, but .289 just ain’t cutting it for me. He will also lose his shortstop eligibility next year. Grab your steals later in the draft or on the wire, where they will still be plentiful. Other considerations are Dustin Pedroia, Asdrubal Cabrera and Chase Utley
Doug: Brian Dozier – 5 HR & 5 SB in second half. That’s closer to the real Brian Dozier.
Tim: As a Boston native and Red Sox fan, it pains me to say that we are witnessing the decline of Dustin Pedroia. I’d avoid him in 2015. Pedroia is just a better real life player than fantasy one right now. Never to be mistaken for a power hitter or speedster, his power and stolen base numbers have declined considerably over the last two seasons. To be fair though, he has dealt with a variety of injuries during that time, which has definitely played a role in his offensive downturn. Pedroia always guts it out and never wants to come out of the lineup. For fantasy purposes though, we wish he’d sit out a few games or take a trip to the DL once in a while to get his health in order.
Chris: Dustin Pedroia – I think we may see Betts there eventually.
Jim: Dustin Pedroia – I think he can turn things around and have a productive season, but I also think his name has him being taken earlier than he should be. There are younger players with more upside I would jump on first and some that could be gotten later in the draft that could produce similar numbers to Pedroia. Brandon Phillips is another former top star I would avoid. Like with Pedroia, there are younger options available with more upside that I would rather gamble on. He’s gone from star player that you reach for to average Joe that you settle for.
Average Joe, the player that you would wait on and settle for.
Seth: Brett Lawrie – Lawrie will likely be a forgotten man come draft day, but he is worth snapping up in the later rounds. He’s always tantalized us with a blend of power and speed, but injuries and his own personal demons have derailed his career. Still just 24, there’s still plenty of time for him to turn things around. With a full season’s worth of at-bats, Lawrie could land owners a potential 20/15 player who will also qualify at 3B. Also considered are Scooter Gennett, Omar Infante, Aaron Hill, Joe Panik and Jonathan Schoop.
Doug: Ben Zobrist – The power and speed are slowly eroding, but he still plays every day and the position eligibility is a huge help.
Tim: Second base is likely a position I will wait on next season. A 20-homer season from Neil Walker has been a long time coming, and one of the predictions I hit on prior to the 2014 season. I’m comfortable taking him in the middle rounds of my draft and installing him as my 2nd baseman. Walker is never going to provide flashy numbers, but he is as solid as they come, hitting in the middle of a good Pirates lineup. I expect Walker to hit for a solid batting average with healthy homer and RBI totals next year.
Chris: Jurickson Profar – His lost 2014 will drop his stock, but Profar is still an elite prospect. Also Daniel Murphy who is Blah, but consistent.
Jim: Howie Kendrick – There isn’t a player at second base that exemplifies the term “average joe” more than Kendrick. Each year you can count on about 60 runs and RBIs, 10 home runs and 13 stolen bases and an average close to .290. Average and uninspiring numbers, but they pay the bills. And, like we saw in 2014, on a good year you can get bonus numbers in runs and RBIs. Ben Zobrist would be my other choice. His power decline has scared off many owners, but his runs and RBIs are still solid, the average has been .269 or higher since 2011 and he can still give you 10 home runs and stolen bases.
Late round pick that could make an impact
Seth: Jedd Gyorko – Okay, Gyorko was pretty awful in 2014, but we can at least expect some improvement in 2015, and that would make him a palatable selection towards the end of drafts. Coming off a 23-homer rookie season, Gyorko disappointed fantasy owners everywhere, but there are still reasons to be optimistic. Gyorko won’t turn 27 till next September and has shown the ability to hit for power, something you look for when taking middle infielders late in drafts. He dealt with plantar fasciitis during the first half of the season, an injury that can completely sap a player’s ability at the plate. Prior to the All-Star break, he hit an abysmal .162/.213/.270, but after the break he posted a reasonable .260/.347/.398. His power numbers were nearly identical, with five home runs in each half, but it was his plate discipline that really helped turn things around for the native West Virginian. During the second half of the season, Gyorko increased his walk rate from 5.4 percent to 10.8 percent and reduced his K-rate from 25.3 to 19.8 – and doing so in the same amount of plate appearances (well, sorta – 221 to 222). If sustained, those numbers would be better than the ones he compiled during his breakout rookie year. Gyorko should easily top 20 homers and drive in 70+ runs in 2015. Other considerations are Arismendy Alcantara, Rougned Odor, Jurickson Profar and Luis Valbuena.
Doug: Jedd Gyorko – Didn’t I say this last year… Still offers very good power and looked like a better hitter late in the year. He likely will never hit over .275, but his potential power at a middle infield slot keeps me coming back.
Tim: Rougned Odor is my late round target, I’m sure like others in this panel. The Rangers’ top prospect has very good speed and enough pop to be relevant. Odor hit the ball very well over the last month of the season and is a very interesting option to consider near the end of your 2015 draft.
Chris: Jedd Gyorko – I still love Gyorko, and his power is still there. Injuries barred his 2014 campaign. He will be back, and I AM ALL IN ONCE AGAIN!
Jim: Brett Lawrie – He’s a post-post-post hype sleeper. Much of the hype has died down now for Lawrie, to the point that he should be dirt cheep come draft day. The injuries have sunk his value and the huge power everyone was expecting hasn’t shown through yet. I’m not sure if it will this year, and other than a career year I am skeptical that it ever will. He will be only 25 years old though so there is still a chance he could step up and or break out (health permitting). I would throw a dart at him in the final rounds of the draft if he was available and I had a less than desirable option at second or third.
Early 2015 Rankings
Want to hear more about the players ranked here, listen to David, Seth, Doug, Tim, Chris and Jim discuss their rankings every Wednesday on FantasySquads Radio – AskROTObaseball Livecast hosted by David Kerr.
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.