I’ve already covered catcher and first base, and things aren’t exactly sunshine and rainbows for the those two positions. Second base has got to be better, right? Well… it is but it isn’t. While Second base doesn’t offer a wide variety of stars, what it lacks in quality in more than makes up for in quantity.
Nobody will argue with either of the top two players and few disparaging words will be spoken about either of them. Jose Altuve lost a step last year setting up a discount in 2019. He may not return to being a 20/30 threat, but with a 15/15/.300+ floor there is a lot to like. Jose Ramirez, should he qualify for second base in your league (16 games started) is an elite third baseman but holds far more value at second base.
By all rights the name Javier Baez belongs right up there with those to players. Some may be skeptical, but not enough to seriously fade him in early mock drafts. There is some debate between Whit Merrifield and the next man on the list, but he is basically Jose Altuve light. While he did hit 19 home runs in 2017 he’s more a 12-15 guy. However, the potential .300 average with 30 plus steals and strong run totals makes him a solid choice.
Like Jose Ramirez above, Matt Carpenter may or may not qualify in your league (11 games started). If he does, though, he sits right there below Merrifield. I’m not a fan of Carpenter the first baseman or Carpenter the third baseman, but if he were my choice for second I’d be more than happy with him (as would most of you).
Now should you choose to pursue Ramirez it means you have a very high pick in the draft – he’s worth it. If Altuve or Baez are your choice it will take a late first/early second pick – to me both worth it as well, but I can also make a case for waiting. Merrifield has gone as high as Altuve and Baez, but on average has slipped 15 picks. Carpenter can be had later than all these men with an average ADP of 71 – an OK number for a corner man but somewhat highway robbery if he’s your second baseman.
Here is where our site rankings and NFBC rankings part ways – at least as far as rank and value, but overall the assessment for each player remains the same – hence they are somewhat interchangeable. This is also where some of your players come with an inherent risk.
Our staff prefers Travis Shaw to Ozzie Albies, probably even more so given that Shaw is going almost 40 picks later. Shaw has finished in the NL’s top-12 for home runs in back to back seasons and will rack up the counting stats in Milwaukee. Albies can offer just as much, albeit with less power and some speed thrown in. The risk with Albies is that the average regresses (he was demoted to the bottom half of the lineup in the second half). If that happens he is an obvious overpay just outside the top-50 and one I would avoid.
Seven players in and we just hit my first avoid – that speaks to the volume of talent at second base early on and through the first seven round of a 12 team draft. But wait… there’s more. I year ago I snubbed Scooter Gennett despite being a fan of his upside in Milwaukee. While he did show less power than he did in 2017, everything else stuck giving him a solid baseline to work with this year – strong fallback option. Speaking of fallback, we have Adelberto Mondesi ranked 8 but NFBC drafters have pushed him up between Merrifield and Albies – basically round 4. While I do not endorse this position in the draft, I can not condemn anyone for rolling the dice. All I’ll say is I see too much strong talent so far to take the risk – moving on.
Gleyber Torres is being taken 20 picks ahead of Daniel Murphy, but they are much closer than you think. Torres hit 24 home runs last year – that’s close to what we came to expect from Murphy (now in Colorado *wink*). Murphy saw his power slip last year which gave him a hard drop in rankings compared to 2017, but most are confident enough not to drop him further anticipating a bounce back. Torres could suffer a sophomore slump, but given his ADP and how high he has been reached for, most don’t think whatever slump he may suffer will last long. Regardless of your camp you’ve got value here with the 10th/11th second baseman off the board.
Now I realize some of the above players may/will be drafted and used at a different position. You’ll need to dig deeper, and that’s not a problem. However, we now move from the quality aisle to the quantity one – a lot of sameness but still solid and (for the most part) reliable parts. The risks compared to most of the above players is slightly higher in some cases, but if you wait you get what you pay for (most times).
Dee Gordon, Max Muncy, Jurickson Profar, and Robinson Cano can all be lumped in together based on NFBC. Gordon lost the leadoff position in Seattle, but if he can rekindle the batting average you’ve still got a solid 3-category player. Profar may not qualify in your league right now, but he should in all leagues about three weeks in. We finally saw the potential, but is there more, can he at least repeat, or was it fluke. All good questions. Muncy was touched on when covering first base, and while the power is intriguing the high strikeouts in the second half give him a low floor. Cano, a former staple in the top-5, moves back to New York and brings with him some solid hit tools. The power is in question, but nobody questions his bat or potential to rack up the counting stats.
Like Cano, fallen hero Brian Dozier can now be had after round 10. There’s no reason at this point to not want to gamble on Dozier, even as a MI target. Even if you pair him with say, Dee Gordon. Two potential high upside, low-cost second basemen, one or both of whom could work out, might yield more value than some of those higher picks. Jonathan Schoop has fallen even further, almost 40 picks after Dozier and into round 15. Both players saw a drop in power and average but for years showed consistency in these areas. You could draft Dozier and then Schoop and hit the lottery or end up with two average MI players.
Rounding out our top-20 or so… ,
- Jonathan Villar has speed and a little pop, but lacks the counting stats – solid overall for a MI player.
- Rougned Odor is down in our rankings but more popular in NFBC. The average came around last year compared to 2016 but with less power. Risk/Reward.
- Yoan Moncada put up similar numbers to Odor last year but was also the league leader in strikeouts. How long before he figures things out?
- Cesar Hernandez doesn’t have great power, but he can take a walk, steal bases, and could rack up the runs hitting in front of both Hoskins and Harper. If the average bounces back it’s a great buy after round 15.
All that and we didn’t even touch on sleepers like Ketel Marte (15/15 upside) and Joey Wendle (strong plate approach = solid counting stats), plus veterans Marwin Gonzalez (regular at bats all over the diamond), DJ LeMahieu (newest Yankee gets little love) and Asdrubal Cabrera (now full-time Rangers hitter).
Did I miss anyone? Absolutely, but I think the dead horse has been thoroughly beaten. Second base is deep as hell. It’s so deep that the draft plan can vary from person to person and have multiple layers to it as fallback options.
So what’s the draft plan for second base. As I said, it can vary. While I said Ramirez has more value at second he is a strong third base option too. The same can be said about Baez as a second baseman over shortstop, and while he makes a strong shortstop option I think he plays better at second. That being said: I see several positions I’d target where these two are being drafted – the same goes for Altuve – so I’d let someone else take them and go after Merrifield or Carpenter. Several others in your league will have similar feelings so you may need to reach a round (Merrifield) or two (Carpenter) to lock them up.
If those two targets are snipped I would draw your attention to Shaw who has corner value at a cheaper MI price – similar to Carpenter with less of a track record. Gennett has shown consistency and sits right next to Shaw as a fallback option. I see these players as the safest with a lower risk threshold than the rest. I’m not knocking the likes of Murphy, Cano, Gordon and several others mentioned above. I would be happy with some of those players, but I’d feel more comfortable owning a player with some sort of virtual guarantee over a player with one or two potential question marks. Then again, given the depth of the position I can also envision a scenario where I kept on finding value elsewhere and ended up settling for a Dozier/Schoop combo.
My plan is to target a select few names from the top-8. Depending on trends I see at other positions I may even end up (and did) with two of them in the right scenario (Carpenter/Shaw and Merrifield/Gennett). However, judging by several mocks already completed there were a few cases where I missed out and had to settle, so to speak (Gordon/Cano, Gordon/Dozier and Dozier/Schoop). While I went into each mock with a plan, I knew the position was deep enough that I let the overall talent dictate my actions. Compose a plan A, but also have a plan B, C and D in place. This gives you the flexibility needed as there are a few positions (yet to be covered) that could be more of a priority.