It’s official: the first two weeks of the MLB season have been cancelled after the MLB and MLB Players Association could not reach an agreement on the next collective bargaining agreement. This is a very sad time for the sport, and I thank you very much for sticking around to read this.
At the same, let’s stay positive, folks! There will be an MLB season eventually, and a World Series winner will eventually be crowned. For the fantasy baseball community, that means that draft preparation still goes on. No matter how many games are played, we’ll have to adjust as we eye the ultimate prize: a first-place finish.
With that in mind, it’s time to analyze how players are going to produce from a fantasy perspective. Usually, to do this, we would rank players based on our intuition and confidence in each player. However, there’s another way to go about this. Personally, my mind works better when working with specific numbers, rather than just looking at one whole big picture.
What do I mean by this? Essentially, there might be less margin for error if we focus more on how a player is going to contribute to each main category, as opposed to what their overall value is there. To help with that, I have created my own projections to help list players in order of expected production. By no means is this an objective projection system, but that is sort of point. Being able to incorporate the context that goes into rankings allows the projection to take into account several important factors, but the overall rating is objectively created based on the value they provide in each category.
What is a Roto Score?
To come up with this, we will be looking at each player’s “roto score”. Essentially, I’ll be taking their 20-80 scale rating of their contributions of the five major hitting categories (average, home runs, RBIs, runs, stolen bases), average them out, and then adjust for position. For batting average, the grade is based on the number of at-bats the player will have. The better the batting average, the more at-bats you’ll want to have, while the reverse is true for someone with a poor batting average. Thus, we can accurately reflect on how much a hitter’s batting average truly is going to affect your fantasy team.
In simple terms, these are manual projections that combine a subjective touch with some needed objectiveness. Rather than predict their straight-up production in these categories, I projected how they would rate in peripheral categories to come up with the final result:
- Batting Average: Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), Strikeout Rate, Balls in Play
- Home Runs: Fly Ball%, Home/Run Fly Ball Rate
- Stolen Bases: Success Rate, Overall Attempts
Projecting playing time, meanwhile, is the impossible task that we, as fantasy baseball managers, need to do. Personally, I took into account previous durability, current status with their team (lineup spot, team success), as well as Fangraphs’ roster resource playing time projections, to come with an accurate plate appearance number. Since we don’t know how many games are going to be played this year, this projection is under the assumption that there is going to be a 162-game season, even if that possibility is highly unlikely.
Without further ado, let us get to the projections! Today, we’ll be focusing on the second base position. This position has strengthened tremendously in terms of talent in recent years, particularly in the power department. Meanwhile, there is a lot of speed here, as well as a lot of multi-position eligible players that can extra flexibility to your team.
Who stands out as a potential value, and who should you be targeting? Let us find out!
Stats via Fangraphs and Baseball Savant
2022 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Projections & Tiers
|Trea Turner||LAD||2B, SS||77||665||.306||.370||.517||29||112||89||36|
When it comes to the case to be the #1 overall pick, Trea Turner‘s is as strong as it gets. After all, he was the #1 player based on Fangraphs’ 5×5 dollar values, last season, and he now gets to spend a full season in a favorable spot with the Dodgers.
Turner was spectacular in all areas, last season, posting a 328 batting average with a .386 weighted on-base average, 142 weighted-runs-created-plus, and .208 isolated power (ISO). These are all career-high numbers for a full season, and don’t even tell the whole story; he also scored 107 runs and had 32 stolen bases. From those numbers, it’s easy to see why he’s being drafted as the top player this year.
Some may be worried about Turner’s .362 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), which is a high number. That being said, even if it takes a step down, his BABIP is still going to be extremely high. That’s what happens when you rank in the 100th percentile in sprint speed, and helps explain why he has a career .344 BABIP. The BAT X projects him for a .337 BABIP, which seems rather fair, and would allow him to continue to post a batting average over .300.
Plus, now the 28-year-old gets a full season having his home ballpark be the #1 stadium for right-handed hitter home runs, according to Baseball Savant park factors, while he’ll lead off for arguably the best offense in baseball. With a batting average over .300, close to 30 home runs, and a candidate to lead the league in both stolen bases and runs, what is there not to like? This is the highest combination of floor and ceiling you’re going to get.
|Marcus Semien||TEX||2B, SS||63.96||703||.261||.339||.506||37.5||102||90||13|
|Whit Merrifield||KC||2B, OF||62.63||719||.278||.333||.412||13||96||71||31|
This tier features a lot of speed, albeit many different ways of accumulating the rest of their value.
Throughout his early career, Ozzie Albies was someone who was going to provide you with a high batting average and speed, but with decent power: he hit 24 home runs in the gopher-ball season known as 2019. Based on an approach change, though, his fantasy profile is starting to change.
In 2021, Albies posted a career-high 24.9% whiff rate, while he had by far the lowest ground ball rate (31.5%) of his career. This combination led to a career-high 9.3% barrel rate and .229 ISO, but does leave questions about his batting average; he hit .259 last season.
Assuming this approach sticks, I don’t think Albies will post much more than a .265 batting average On the bright side, though, he should be in line for over 30 home runs and 15-20 stolen bases, making him still a fringe first-round value.
Another player whose fantasy stock and profile have shifted significantly is Marcus Semien, though in a much more turbulent way. I covered Semien’s change in approach here early in September, but the approach is pretty standard when it comes to gearing for more power. The 31-year-old increased his pull rate to 47%, while he posted a career-high 36.7% home run rate. Considering that pulling the ball right down the line is the easiest way to manufacture as much power as possible, it makes sense that Semien was able to get the most out of his barrels last year:
Semien faces a notable ballpark downgrade going from Toronto and Dunedin to Texas, in addition to playing for a worse team. That’ll have an impact on his home runs, runs, and RBI, but, even then, he’ll rack up plenty of plate appearances to keep those numbers strong, while the approach should lead to less of a power decline than you expect. Plus, if anything, he should be in line to steal more bases for an aggressive Rangers team.
Now 33 years old, you wonder if it’s only a matter of time before Whit Merrifield sees a decline in his batting average and speed. Considering his home-to-first times haven’t declined much, I’m not fully buying the notable decline in his batting average (.277), but I do think his line-drive rates over 30% were quite unsustainable to begin, leading to volatility in that department. Add in the fact that he brings close to zero power (3.5% barrel, .117 ISO), and he’s much more limited than Albies and Semien. On the bright side, he has to be one of the favorites to lead the league in plate appearances, while the Royals are content to let him run as much as he pleases on the bases. It depends on roster constriction, but he’ll provide you with plenty of speed and a solid batting average.
|Javier Baez||DET||2B, SS||59.31||597||.257||.307||.473||32||82||86||15|
|Ketel Marte||ARI||2B, OF||58.46||610||.297||.367||.511||24||86||81||6|
|Jorge Polanco||MIN||2B, SS||57.66||644||.265||.332||.478||27||92||85||8|
If you’re looking for value, this is definitely the tier of second basemen to draft from. All of these players offer multi-faceted skillsets and come at reasonable prices.
Generally, Brandon Lowe is seen as a drain on your team’s batting average. Yet, that isn’t actually the case and is likely influenced by the .208 batting average he posted in the first half. Yet, he rebounded to finish the year with a .247 batting average and should be in line to improve upon that number in 2022. Why am I so confident? Let’s take a look at his rolling strikeout rate:
As the season progressed, Lowe made more contact, especially in the zone, leading to a notable decrease in his strikeout rate (21.1%). I don’t expect a monstrous decrease from the 27.2% strikeout rate he posted last year (I have him projected for a 26.4% K). That being said, a slight drop in strikeout rate, in expected to an increase from the .280 BABIP he had last year, should lead to a batting average in the mid .250s. You won’t get a massive amount of stolen bases, but considering the power (.277 ISO last year) he’ll provide without a subpar batting average, he’s more than worth his current average draft position (ADP)- he’s being drafted as the second baseman in NFBC drafts since the start of February.
Ketel Marte (2B #10 in February NFBC ADP), Jorge Polanco (2B #8, but also shortstop eligibility), and Jonathan India (2B#12) are three second base targets to consider in fantasy drafts. Marte and Polanco are each prime examples of why it might be fair to discount unusual struggles during the shortened 2020 season. Both posted well-below average numbers in 2020 but were able to mainly replicate their 2019 production in 2021.
For Marte, he only had 374 plate appearances last season. That being said, he regained the power (8.9% barrel, .215 ISO) he lost in 2020, and added a .318 batting average to that value. Now, we should expect a decline from his .352 BABIP, lowering his average in my projections to slightly under .300, and he only stole two bases last year. That being said, the combination of average and power is strong, and there’s alway some upside for steals if he decides to run more- he had 10 in 2019.
Polanco, meanwhile, holds extra value since he also has shortstop eligibility. Clearly, he came into the season, hoping to hit more power, and it worked out. He added more whiffs (19.7%) and strikeouts to his profile (18.3%), allowing his quality of contact to be better with a 10.1% barrel. Plus, since he pulled the ball at a 51.9% rate and hit more fly balls than ever, he was able to manufacture as much power as possible- 29 of his 33 home runs were pulled. Assuming the approach holds, he should hit .260 with over 25 home runs and around eight stolen bases, which is a nice profile for either second base or shortstop.
As for India, the reigning Rookie of the Year will have to prove that last season’s strong performance was legitimate. He showed more power than expected with a 9.6% barrel rate, and has the speed to post a BABIP to support his batting average and to steal bases. Add in the playing time he’ll rack leading off for the Reds, and I think his balanced profile offers a much higher floor than you may think for someone with a limited track record.
|Jake Cronenworth||SD||1B, 2B, SS||53.63||630||.279||.356||.459||19||89||68||6|
|Tommy Edman||STL||2B, OF||52.75||616||.264||.320||.391||11||78||58||23|
|Chris Taylor||LAD||2B, SS, OF||52.38||580||.253||.344||.447||20.5||82||75||10|
|Jazz Chisholm Jr.||MIA||2B, SS||52.17||546||.244||.313||.429||21||72||61||21|
|DJ LeMahieu||NYY||1B, 2B, 3B||51.97||667||.286||.363||.408||13||92||66||4|
|Eduardo Escobar||NYM||2B, 3B||51.46||595||.256||.324||.475||28||72||85||1|
|Luis Urias||MIL||2B, SS, 3B||50.63||595||.256||.352||.442||23||78||73||4|
|Ty France||SEA||1B, 2B||50.39||644||.280||.338||.431||19||73||74||0|
|Max Muncy||LAD||1B, 2B||49.86||467||.249||.378||.515||27||73||74||2.5|
|Jonathan Schoop||DET||1B, 2B||49.71||609||.260||.312||.433||22||76||75||1|
|Enrique Hernandez||BOS||2B, OF||49.34||577||.251||.339||.464||24||77||72||2|
|Brendan Rodgers||COL||2B, SS||48.97||567||.276||.326||.443||18||70||76||1|
|Ryan McMahon||COL||2B, SS||48.56||581||.247||.333||.424||21||71||76||5|
This is a very, very large tier, and features a lot of interchangeable players with multi-position eligibility. Really, which one you’re targeting depends on what category you’re looking to boost.
Based on his price, the riskiest target of them all would be Jazz Chisholm. Currently being drafted as the 9th second baseman off the board in NFBC drafts, my projections are certainly lower on him. As a player projected to steal over 20 bags and hit for over 20 home runs, he definitely brings a lot to the table. It is worth noting, though, that after the first month of the season, he posted a .236 batting average with just a .159 ISO. Even with the speed he provides, a sub .300 on-base percentage isn’t going to help the number of opportunities he’ll have, while his runs and RBIs will be limited. He’s definitely a boom-or-bust player that could fit your roster, but the price is quite the steep to find out.
On the other side of the spectrum is Jean Segura. His ADP (191.29) is more than twice what Chisholm’s is, but I’m not sure the two’s overall value is that dissimilar. That’s more about Segura going under the radar than anything else. He’s now posted a batting average of .280 or higher in five straight full seasons, while he was the 17th-best second baseman and just one spot behind Chisholm, based on Fangraphs’ 5×5 dollar values. His home-to-first time did spike up last year, which could be a sign of less speed, but he should still hit .280 with close to 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases. In your middle infield slot, you could do much, much worse.
|David Fletcher||LAA||2B, SS||46.69||659||.278||.330||.342||4||69||53||12|
|Luis Arraez||MIN||2B, 3B, OF||46.42||551||.295||.370||.380||3.5||66||51||2.5|
|Abraham Toro||SEA||2B, 3B||46||484||.253||.337||.427||16||58||56||5.5|
|Jeff McNeil||NYM||2B, 3B, OF||45.46||501||.280||.351||.390||9||56||51||3|
|Wilmer Flores||SF||1B, 2B, 3B||45.11||402||.269||.340||.462||17||61||53||1|
|Gavin Lux||LAD||2B, SS||44.11||472||.256||.344||.421||14||61||59||6|
|Josh Harrison||FA||2B, 3B, OF||43.71||438||.266||.334||.420||7||47||45||7.5|
|Josh Rojas||ARI||2B, SS, OF||43.67||545||.248||.337||.388||12||67||51||10|
|Garrett Hampson||COL||2B, OF||53.49||469||.248||.315||.404||12||50||45||18|
|Rougned Odor||BAL||2B, 3B||43.26||406||.213||.298||.436||20||53||59||2|
|Tommy La Stella||SF||2B||42.99||501||.264||.337||.428||14||63||56||1|
|Hae-Song Kim||SD||2B, 3B, SS||42.06||360||.236||.313||.395||11||44||43||8|
|Andres Gimenez||CLE||2B, SS||41.47||419||.236||.305||.386||10||50||41||17.5|
By this point, the hope is that all of these players would be just useful depth for you with multi-positional flexibility. Many can help with one or two categories, such as Luis Arraez or Nick Madrigal when it comes to batting average, but it’s very difficult to find balanced contributors.
There’s another young player that stands out in this tier for many, but the one I want to focus on first is Abraham Toro, who has legitimate breakout potential. While his overall 95 wRC+ doesn’t stand out, there’s more to it than that. See, Toro had spent the very early portion of his time in the majors with the Astros, where his playing time was up in the air. Thus, he was often relegated to spot starts and inconsistent playing time, which can’t be good for establish your footing at the next level.
After all, Toro didn’t post a 159 wRC+ in the minors since 2019 by accident. He was a league-average hitter after being traded to the Mariners, and that’s in spite of a .254 BABIP, which should regress positively with a higher line-drive rate- 18% is quite low. Furthermore, his 8.2% barrel rate in that portrays better than a .115 ISO, especially for someone who hits the ball as often as he does. With strong contact skills and some power, Toro could be in line for a .255 average with 15 home runs and 5+ stolen bases, along with second base/third base eligibility. He’s the perfect type of “glue guy” to have on your roster, while his minor-league track record also adds some interesting upside.
Now, onto the most popular name on this list- Gavin Lux. Especially with the universal designated hitter in effect, the hope is that Lux finally receives enough playing time and rewards the Dodgers with a breakout performance. However, both those factors are in the air. The 24-year-old struggled with a .122 ISO and 91 wRC+ last year, in addition to a 3.9% barrel rate. If you’re drafting him, you’re banking on the prospect pedigree he had previously leading to more power and overall success, but he may end up as someone who has more value in on-base percentage leagues than traditional 5×5 leagues.
|Leury Garcia||CHW||2B, OF||40.56||483||.264||.328||.364||7.5||55||46||6|
|Edmundo Sosa||STL||2B, SS||39.17||390||.264||.327||.384||8||46||51||4.5|
|Ramon Urias||BAL||2B, SS||38.68||448||.252||.337||.409||12.5||49||49||2|
|Tony Kemp||OAK||2B, OF||38.44||433||.250||.361||.391||9||53||36||8|
|Dylan Moore||SEA||2B, OF||37.44||342||.210||.313||.387||12.5||44||35||16|
|Willi Castro||DET||2B, SS||32.76||225||.242||.299||.378||5||26||23||4|
There was a lot of hype for Nick Solak coming into the season last year after he had demonstrated the ability to hit for average with a little speed and pop between 2019 and 2020. Unfortunately, he ended up struggling with just a .242 batting average and .120 ISO, while his speed didn’t carry over completely (seven stolen bases). He may get a chance to get some everyday playing time for the Rangers in the outfield, but that’s assuming they don’t add anyone. He’s an intriguing late-round dart throw, particularly in dynasty leagues, though it’s unclear how much upside is present.
Ramon Urias is an intriguing player after posting a 9.7% barrel rate last year, though his playing time is uncertain, especially if the team’s rumored interest in Donovan Solano is true. Plus, Baltimore moving the fences back isn’t ideal. Meanwhile, Tony Kemp may be the leadoff hitter for the A’s, but offers little power, a slightly below-average batting average, and is mainly someone who drafted based on pure volume alone. Hey, look, Robinson Cano is still playing! How far we have fallen from his prime. It’s certainly slim pickings once you get to this range.