After each week of positional coverage, we will wrap things up here with our 2016 dynasty/keeper rankings. Players are ranked with the next five years of production in mind, so when you see a player like Rougned Odor ranked ahead of players like Ian Kinsler – that does not mean we believe Odor will be the superior short-term option.
Five years ago, if you looked at the leaderboard for second base, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Phillips, Chase Utley, Dan Uggla, Rickie Weeks and Kelly Johnson were all names to know and own. Fast forward to 2015 and only Cano is relevant. Pedroia is still around, but injuries and declining numbers have knocked him from the top of the pack and into that group of leftover guys to grab in the mid-rounds.
Taking those players’ places at the top are speedsters like Altuve and Gordon, along with power/speed guys like Kinsler (who is aging), Dozier and Kipnis. You also have some up-and-comers like Wong, Odor and Travis who could easily move up the ranks in a year or so. Prospects like Yoan Moncada, Jose Peraza and Alan Hanson could be regulars in the majors as well in the next year or so. On top of that, there are a slew of middle-of-the-road players that could easily hold down the position for you if you fail to own one of the above players. Guys like Murphy, Panik, Walker, Kendrick and even Ben Zobrist can give you solid production at second. And every year there are a handful of guys that step up and surprise us; LeMahieu and Forsythe immediately come to mind for this season.
The point here is that second base is full of talent so if you don’t own one of those names at the top, there are a number of other guys who won’t hurt you that you can roster until something better comes along. While it is a nice luxury to own one of those younger plug-and-play options at the top, it is not a necessity. If you are in a keeper or dynasty league and looking to trade for one of them, I would not advise you not to, but I wouldn’t break the bank to do so. Maybe shoot for one of those lower ranked players with the potential of moving up and use an average option in the meantime. With that said, lets take a look at the dynasty rankings.
Taking part in our dynasty rankings will be Paul Hartman, Kevin Jebens, Jim Finch, Will Emerson, Ron Vackar and Michael Zakhar. Our six experts each ranked their top 20 second basemen. Players marked N/R were not ranked inside the top 20 by that particular person, Here are the results along with last year’s overall rankings.
Jose Altuve is the unanimous choice for the top spot, and for good reason. He’s a 4 category stud who will chip in 10 or so homers. Dee Gordon is very similar to Altuve, but with a tad less power and a little more speed. Brian Dozier isn’t much for batting average, but the mix of power and speed combined with above average numbers in runs and RBIs make him a great 4 category player to own. Robinson Cano held down the top spot for years, and while his numbers have declined since the move to Seattle, he can still contribute strong numbers in four categories and will throw in a handful of steals.
As for the remaining players, our panel shares their thoughts on each below.
5. Jason Kipnis – Indians
- Zak: He changed his approach last year by going to the opposite field more; this helped his average at the expense of power. That’s not what we want to see in fantasy, but I like that he is still working to improve. His tendency to pour all his production into a month or two is frustrating, but Kipnis is a certain plus in some categories (I like his chances to score 100 runs next year) and can help in all five of them. I’m giving this another year or two before I just scream “Tease!”
- Kevin: The home runs stayed low, and the stolen bases dropped more, but he managed a .300 BA to help offset that. Part of it seems to be a new approach, with more line drives but fewer fly balls. A likely projection for 2016 is .280, 10 HR, 15 SB. In any given year, he could hit 15 HR, or steal 20 SB again, but there’s no guarantee, and no certainty he’ll put it all together in one year like he did in 2013, which may be an outlier. He’s a likely top-10 any year, but I can’t bring myself to rank him in the top five without more consistency.
6. Rougned Odor – Rangers
- Ron: After getting caught stealing 7 times in 13 tries this past season, I am not confident in Odor’s ability to contribute stolen bases going forward. After that, he is basically a 10-17 home run bat, and as a low OBP player he is not likely to be trusted at the top of the lineup which will limit his run and RBI production.
- Paul: At 21-years-old, Odor hit 12 HR in the second half of 2015. To put that in perspective, he’s 3 years younger than Rob Refsnyder and was already the 6th best 2B in the second half with a .350 wOBA. He hits LHP as well as RHP and makes solid contact to all fields. He was a top prospect, and will only get better.
7. Ian Kinsler – Tigers
- Will: Ian is on the wrong side of 30, but he has kept his wOBA fairly consistent over the past four seasons and should remain in the top ten at the position for at least four more. The 30 homer, 100 run seasons are in the past, but for consistent offensive production from the keystone, there are not many better.
- Jim: I like him for the next few years, but he turns 34 in June. The speed has declined and the power should follow; when that happens you’ll be left with a Ben Zobrist clone, except he’ll only qualify for one position. Enjoy him while you can, but start looking around for a replacement.
8. Kolten Wong – Cardinals
- Zak: Ignore players with power and speed who are in their mid-20s at your own peril. A 2015 sleeper list staple, Wong was on track to fulfill your 20-20 dreams before he suffered through a poor second half. It’s not uncommon for young players to tire out during the season-long grind. I still see what the hype is about, and I’d be trying to acquire him from an impatient owner.
- Kevin: No one really expected the power surge he displayed in 2014, and it fell some in 2015. Despite a decent contact rate and LD% in 2015, his BA wasn’t as high as I’d expect. The stolen bases are down as well. I don’t see any signs noting great future improvements. He may be stuck at a .270 BA, 15/15 level going forward, which is certainly helpful, but he won’t break into the top five.
9. Devon Travis – Blue Jays
- Zak: He is not guaranteed a spot at the top of the lineup, he seems injury prone (He had well-documented shoulder issues in 2015 and he dealt with an oblique injury in 2014.), and I want to see more power-wise than one hot month. Travis may be a bit of an overachiever, but I don’t think he is a cornerstone.
- Kevin: He’s no sure thing, especially for 2016 due to his shoulder. But he seems likely to have a high batting average floor with the ability to hit for 15+ homers. The home runs can be found elsewhere, but a good average is getting harder to find. Goins doesn’t have enough offense to keep Travis from starting if healthy.
10. Starlin Castro –
Cubs: Traded to Yankees
- Paul: It’s easy to forget just how young Castro is (25 years old) with 6 seasons under his belt. He had a .783 OPS in the second half which would have ranked him 4th among second baseman for the year. In 33 games at second base last year he hit an incredible .339/.358/.583. He could easily be a top 5 option at second base if he takes a step forward, but it can’t necessarily be assumed.
- Jim: Castro can produce stat worthy numbers for a second baseman, but here’s the problem – he’s a shortstop. The Cubs moved him to make room for the new blood, but there are still a few players that need a position (Baez being one) and trade winds are swirling around. He makes a suitable short-term second base guy, but once traded he’ll go back to his natural shortstop position. If he was guaranteed to stick at second, I’d slide him into the bottom half of my top 12.
11. Dustin Pedroia – Red Sox
- Will: I understand injuries (known to the public or not) have derailed the Laser Show a bit, but in his limited time this season Pedroia had a .150 ISO and a .347 wOBA. Pedroia’s aggressive play is always a factor, and with aging comes slower healing time (trust me, I know), but I think he is ready to bounce back to being a consistent top ten second baseman.
- Paul: Pedroia hit pretty well in his 93 games played last year, with a .296/.351/.441 line. I’m not sure how sustainable that is with a HR/FB % that more than doubled from 2013 and 2014 and a hard hit rate that was his lowest since 2009. He doesn’t produce many stolen bases anymore, so with 10-12 home runs there just isn’t a ton of upside – especially when you add in the age factor. While he may still end up a top 12 option for another year or two, he won’t be in 2020.
12. Daniel Murphy – Nationals
- Zak: Oh man, I have to write unkind things about Murphy now? He’s on fire, but let’s take the long view. Dependable batting average, yes. Ok power for position, yes. He’s no longer contributing in steals, his counting stats have always been limited, and I think we’ve seen his best full season as he enters his thirties. He was never special to begin with, and I’m looking for someone to make an impact on some categories. Murphy will help you tread water. Now cool it down Murph and stop making me sound stupid.
- Jim: Murphy is a younger version of Howie Kendrick; a little power and speed with solid numbers in the batting average, run and RBI department. There is no upside here, but there is little downside, he’s a safe bet to own until something better comes along.
13. Joe Panik – Giants
- Will: I don’t just like Panik, because I love a team name of Panic at the Frisco. Panik’s early 2016 projections would be good for 11th this season at the second base position, and he is only 24!
- Ron: I get the Omar Infante vibe from Joe Panik, as in he will hit for a respectable average and that is about it. Year to year it will be a struggle for Panik to produce double-digit home runs and/or stolen bases.
14. Brett Lawrie – A’s
- Paul: Lawrie is just 25 years old, coming off of a 16 HR, 5 SB season at the keystone position. There are 20 home run seasons ahead for Lawrie, with very few other second basemen that are capable of that. As a third basemen you could do much better, but with his move to second, Lawrie becomes a solid long-term option.
- Will: Maybe my low ranking of Lawrie is somewhat out of spite and disappointment from owning him a couple of seasons ago? Well, whatever. What I do know is Brett has a high K%, low BB% and a 2015 wOBA of only .306. Granted he is only 25, but he has burned bridges with me, so he needs to prove something to me now.
15. DJ LeMahieu – Rockies
- Ron: With an OBP on the rise and success in 23 or 26 stolen base attempts, I like this Colorado second baseman to continue to produce seasons like he gave us in 2015.
- Jim: First off, he’s not the .300 hitter we saw in 2015 (.280 at best). He’s a Coors player, but he doesn’t have power; he’s a speed guy so home field plays no advantage. The problem is, despite the 23 steals in 2015, he’s not that fast (100 steals in 3,281 at bats – major & minor, caught 47 times). Knock a few points off the average, take away a few steals and you’ve got Alcides Escobar.
16. Neil Walker – Mets
- Kevin: For 5×5, he was the #10 second basemen in 2015, among those who will qualify there in 2016. He has a history of being in or near the top-12. After a power outage in the first half of 2015, his second half HR/FB was in line with his strong 2014 rate, when he hit 23 homers. It’s not a sure thing, but .280, 25 HR is his upside.
- Jim: I see Walker in the same light I see Daniel Murphy; a solid contributor in runs and RBIs, decent power numbers for a middle infield guy, and a batting average you can live with. He’s not sexy, he has no upside, but he’s a solid player. Streaky, but solid.
17. Logan Forsythe – Rays
- Zak: James did most of the legwork for me; check it out. The short version: Forsythe’s 2015 reeks of a career year, and there’s no reason to make a bad bet for a repeat when there are players with a more promising future at a similar cost. If you can find a believe, trade away.
- Paul: I’ll bet you didn’t know that Forsythe had the 2nd highest offensive WAR among all 2B in 2015. With improved BB and K rates, the former first round pick is making good on some of his long-ago promise. He may not duplicate his 2015 again, but even 15 HR with 10 SB (with a good average) puts him in select company at second base.
18. Jonathan Schoop – Orioles
- Kevin: He seems to be a candidate for 20+ home runs, but the batting average was likely aided by luck, and I worry it could as easily fall below .250 as be above it. He doesn’t run or walk which hurts his game a bit. He’s young enough to improve, but I’m not sure I see a .270 BA, 20 HR season in 2016.
- Jim: He has always had the power, and in 2015 he took a big step ahead in the batting average department. Walks are still an issue. but he’s only 24 and displayed patience through AA. If he improves the plate discipline some you’re looking at a Neil Walker type guy; a solid bat you’d like to own if you can’t own one of the top players.
19. Howie Kendrick – f/a
- Will: Kendrick’s advanced stats actually remained pretty consistent to his norm, but a lot of his value depends on where he lands going forward. He had under 500 PA in 2015 and if that continues to drop, so does his value.
- Ron: Only out of character injuries kept Howie Kendrick from tallying a combined 140 runs and RBIs in 2015. Going into the 2016 season, only seven second base eligible players can say they made that mark a season ago.
20. Rob Refsnyder – Yankees
- Paul: There’s some wishful thinking in this ranking of mine, as Refsnyder needs to do a better job defensively to secure the starting second base job with the Yankees. If he does though, he has a solid bat with very good discipline and could put up some very nice counting stats in that lineup. He doesn’t have a lot of power, but did put up a .302/.348/.512 line in 48 big league plate appearances.
- Ron: Who is the last homegrown talent the Yankees trusted to run with a starting job in their lineup? Brett Gardner is the answer, and the year was 2010 when they fully launched him. Gardner had to earn his time before that with 141 PA’s in 2008, followed by 284 PA’s in 2009. The Yankees like veterans. Buckle up for some frustrating years owning Refsnyder knowing he should be getting more of an opportunity than he will be given in the early going.
Outside of the top 20, there were a few players that were ranked who did not make this list. Jose Peraza, Ben Zobrist and Brandon Phillips each appeared on two sets of rankings. Dilson Herrera and Yoan Moncada only made it onto one list each, but that does not mean they are not worth stashing for their future potential. Jedd Gyorko was the final player ranked, but he only received one vote (at #20) so it’s safe to say the panel has given up on him. Cesar Hernandez, Micah Johnson and Chris Owings were not ranked by anyone; they can be left for larger leagues (more than 14 teams) that use a MI slot until they prove otherwise.
That wraps up our second base rankings. Tomorrow begins our third base coverage which will wrap up next Sunday with the top 20 third basemen.
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose will be compiling rankings for the 2016 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.