Looking at second base coming into 2018, I feel like there’s not very many true standouts. There are plenty of guys that are fine to start and there are a few really nice potential breakouts as well. On a whole there is just a lot of depth and sameness in the production you can get outside the top tiers.
There is really not much to say here. Altuve is one of the very best players in baseball and arguably the best player in fantasy over the last two to three years.
Jose Ramirez, Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier, and Dee Gordon
Jose Ramirez: I think it’s worth reaching for this emerging stud. 2018 will be his age 25 season and he is coming off an MVP caliber year. He strikes out a mere 10% of the time and plays in a stacked Cleveland lineup. For those reasons, his batting average and counting stats should be good again. Ramirez is also a great bet to steal 15-20 bags in a speed starved environment. I’m not sure the power will repeat as he had a huge spike in HR/FB rate, but low 20s seems reasonable to me. A .300 hitter with 20-20 potential and good counting stats is what we’re looking at here. Only reason he isn’t in the first tier is because 2017 was the first year he was THAT good.
Daniel Murphy: I believe in Daniel Murphy the stud. I would have him in Altuve’s tier if not for injury and age – he’ll be 33 and returning from surgery this season. I love this guy so hope he’s back to form, but have to give just a bit of pause as there are reports he won’t be ready for Spring Training or maybe even Opening Day.
Brian Dozier: He’s streaky but pretty much a stud. Expect 30ish homers and around 180-200 Runs plus RBI. Dozier is turning 31 this year, but his underlying stats were basically the same as his amazing 42 homer season so no reason to doubt much here. He’s also stolen at least 16 bases in each of the last two campaigns. He’s a fantasy standout.
Dee Gordon: He doesn’t really belong with these guys tier wise in real world baseball, but he does in fantasy. It’s nearly impossible to find speed in today’s game, and this guy gives you a chance at 60 SBs from a single source. A move to both the Mariners and the outfield bug me a little, but not enough to actually dock him. Gordon is a steals god and should also help you in runs and average.
Robinson Cano, Matt Carpenter, Jonathan Schoop, Rougned Odor, Eduardo Nunez, Ian Kinsler
And… D.J. LeMahieu, Whit Merrifield, Ozzie Albies, and Yoan Moncada
Robinson Cano: This guy was the best second baseman in the league for a long time and is a likely Hall of Famer. However, he has been pretty average in three of his four years in Seattle. Yes, he hit a career high 39 homers in 2016, but the other three years he hit 14, 23, and 21. He’s 35 years old now. Cano still hits the ball hard so I think the average will be good, but he doesn’t run anymore and is unlikely to hit more than 25 homers. The lineup is still good so there could be decent counting stats. I think there’s still a chance Cano could return to elite status, I just wouldn’t bet on it. He’s in this tier because I believe he’s closer to these guys now than he is to the true studs.
Matt Carpenter: I wrote about him in my first base tiers. If you play in a league where he can be slotted in at 2nd then that is the no brainer place to use him. He still has star potential but is getting a bit older and is becoming an injury problem. Give him a bump in OBP and points leagues.
Jonathan Schoop: I lost in a finals matchup to someone with Schoop as their 2b and bemoaned the fact that he’s “not any good.” After looking under the hood, so to speak, it appears that I was being a bit of a sore loser. While I think a complete repeat of 2017 is unlikely, I believe he’ll be pretty good again in 2018. Schoop hit the ball very hard and only hit the ball on the ground about 40% of the time. That’s a good recipe when you play in Camden yards. The average will likely drop after an inflated BABIP, but the power numbers should be there again this year.
Rougned Odor: He batted a disgusting .204 last year, but he still managed to hit 30 homers with 15 swipes. In 2016 he hit 33 homers with 14 steals and also managed a .271 average. Yes, his K rate spiked to 24.9%, which is too damn high, but he also had a .224 BABIP. I would expect the average to recover a bit. Odor is also going to be just 24 years old this year. I am excited to get some shares of him, hopefully at a discount, in roto.
Eduardo Nunez: I could basically copy and past what I said for Dee Gordon here for Nunez. He doesn’t have 60 steal potential like Gordon, but he did have 40 back in 2016 and managed 24 last year despite playing just 114 games. His 11% K rate and speed also make him likely to have a decent batting average. The only minor drawback is he is currently without a team. I don’t really like Nunez as a real world player but he’s fine in fantasy.
Ian Kinsler: He’s 124 years old, or maybe he’s turning 36 in June – I forget which. Kinsler managed 22 homers and 14 steals along with his normal 90 runs scored. The one big difference was his terrible batting average. I would expect this to bounce back at least a little bit as his BABIP tanked 50 points from his career norm. Some of this might be a result of hitting more fly balls, but he’s still hitting the ball hard and avoiding striking out at a high rate. There’s also a chance that he’ll bat somewhere around Mike Trout for his new team. That might do some good things for the old man as well. He may come cheaper than normal this year, just don’t expect much upside.
D.J. LeMahieu: He plays in Coors and is a safe source of average. Average is almost as hard to get in today’s game as steals. Yes, he only hit 8 homers and had 6 steals last year, but he’s a safe bet for at least a .300 average. He showed near .350 potential when he won the batting title in 2016 and at least went 11-11 that year. LeMahieu is the kind of guy that you can pair with someone like Joey Gallo and have the two of them average out to some pretty solid roto stats.
Whit Merrifield: I’m skeptical here more than anything. He’s not some big name prospect coming off of a breakout – he’s 28 years old. The stolen base potential makes him very draftable, but I definitely don’t buy the power. He hit more homers in 2017 than he did in 2015 and 2016 combined (majors and minors). I would take a chance if he falls far enough, but I’m not paying for last year. Many analysts are ranking him like a bonafide stud, and I simply don’t feel that way. I may change my tune if he repeats, but I am bearish heading into 2018 on Whit.
Ozzie Albies: I’m a bit in love with him as a player. He’s a huge prospect that had an awesome first showing, putting up an .810 OPS in his first 57 games in “the show.” Not bad for a 21-year-old. He has great steals and average potential and I imagine Freddie Freeman might help him score quite a few runs as well.
Yoan Moncada: He still strikes out way too much, but he’s on a rebuilding team that’s going to play him. Moncada has been hyped for years, but this could finally be the year where he becomes a fantasy darling. We’re talking legitimate 25 homer and 50 steal potential. That’s obviously the best case situation, but even STEAMER is projecting 17 and 20. That’s conservative but top-12 numbers if he matches it.
Second base is definitely not my favorite this year as there are not as many established standouts as there seem to be at other position. As I’ve been saying all offseason, I am going to make a point to try and get a difference maker at most of the infield positions. I would definitely try to get one of the top 4-5 guys as I’d rather avoid the players in later tiers as my starter.
As you can see though, if you miss on the top guys then you can basically wait since I find the non-elite tier to be quite bunchy. See who falls to you based on value and team need. I would also prefer to chase the upside of guys like Albies and Moncada as opposed to aging vets like Kinsler or even Cano. I expect the young guns to cost less as well.
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