It wasn’t too long ago that the second base position was almost as boring and offensively deprived as the catcher spot. Not anymore. Gone are the days of half the league’s second basemen being glove-first slap hitters. Sure, defense is still an important part of the game, but there’s certainly been more of an emphasis on not having a black hole in your lineup. There’s now a ton of power and speed at the position as you can see in the rankings below. A couple of Joses lead us off with a trio of youngsters rounding out the top 10.
Player notes can be found below the rankings.
Early 2018 Rankings
2018 Second Base Rankings[table “19” not found /]
Second Basemen Player Notes
#1 Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
What Jose Altuve accomplished in 2017 was no small feat. The 5-foot-6, pint-sized hitting machine dominated American league pitching en route to winning the AL MVP award. Altuve slashed .346/.410/.547/.957 with 24 home runs, 81 RBI, 112 runs, and 32 steals. He led the league in hits for the fourth year in a row and in batting average for the third time in four seasons. Is there anything Altuve can’t do for fantasy owners? If there is, you’ll need to point it out for me, because I can’t find it. He’ll once again bat in the heart of a loaded Houston lineup and should be one of the first three players drafted in all 2018 fantasy drafts. The second base position currently belongs to him.
— MLB (@MLB) October 30, 2017
#2 Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Two Joses in a row? No way, Jose. People named Jose are taking over the second base position in fantasy baseball. For the second straight season, Ramirez hit over .310 and increased his counting stats almost across the board. With the exception of stolen bases, Ramirez set career-highs in home runs (29), RBI (83), runs (107), doubles (56), hits (186), and in every percentage in his triple slash line. The Indians lost Carlos Santana to free agency, but Ramirez will still have plenty of talent hitting around him. The added eligibility of third base is just the cherry on top. He shouldn’t fall far past the second round in 2018 drafts.
#3 Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
The advantage of owning Brian Dozier in fantasy has always been the power. He’s annually been one of the most powerful at the second base position, but that has usually been accompanied by a subpar batting average below .250. Over the last two seasons, though, not only has the average risen to the .270 range, the power has increased as well. Dozier has mashed 76 home runs combined over the last two seasons, which is nine more than any other second baseman over that stretch. To take it one step further, you’ll have to go back to 2013 to find someone other than Dozier atop the second base home runs leaderboard. An improving Twins lineup around him should keep the rest of his counting stats high as well. If it weren’t for people named Jose, Dozier would be the top dog at this position.
#4 Dee Gordon, Seattle Mariners
When the 2018 season begins, Dee Gordon will be patrolling center field as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Luckily for us fantasy baseball nerds, he’ll still retain second base eligibility for at least this season. Gordon is one of those players that you know exactly what you’re getting when you draft him. He’s a three-category asset that will never, I repeat, never help you in home runs or RBI. The man is crazy fast, but it’s questionable if he’d even win a home run derby against me. He’s currently being drafted behind Jose 1 and Jose 2, but the ineptitude in two categories gives me slight pause in taking him in the first three rounds.
For more on the trade that sent Gordon to Seattle, check out my trade breakdown.
#5 Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
In two seasons since leaving the Mets, Murphy has averaged 24 home runs, 98.5 RBI, 91 runs scored, and a .334/.387/.569/.956 slash line. He’s also led the National League in doubles both years. I think it’s safe to say that the Mets would like to have a redo on letting Murphy go. He’s never been much of a stolen base threat, but when the rest of the line looks that good, who cares? The downfall here is the recovery from knee surgery. Shortly after the 2017 season concluded, Murphy had surgery to repair some cartilage damage and is questionable for opening day. That uncertainty drops him down a spot in these rankings and likely a round or two on draft day.
#6 Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles
We go from one end of the spectrum with Gordon’s speed, to the other end with Schoop’s power. Nothing has changed about Schoop’s skillset or how he goes about things, but he’s getting better each year at doing it. He’s a free swinger that will always have a pathetic K/BB ratio, but he puts enough balls in play to have a respectable batting average. Schoop is basically turning into the infield version of his teammate, Adam Jones. He’s a fine choice as your starting second baseman and someone you can get around round five or so.
#7 Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
He might be on the backside of his career, but Robinson Cano is still a darn good hitter. He’s basically Daniel Murphy minus 30 to 40 points in batting average. In 2017, he hit .280/.338/.453/.791 with 23 home runs, 97 RBI, and 79 runs scored. Like Schoop and Murphy above, don’t count on him for any speed, but expect solid contributions in the other four categories. The addition of Gordon to the top of this lineup likely puts him back over the 100-RBI mark as well. He might not be the flashiest pick anymore at age-34, but Cano sure is one of the safest. Over the last 11 seasons, he’s averaged 158.5 games per season and never played fewer than 150. Watch, I just jinxed him. If I did, you can blame me.
#8 Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves
Some might call this an aggressive ranking. But when the season is all said and done, you could see Ozzie Albie’s name as a top-five second baseman. That’s how good this kid is. Albies got in 57 games and 217 at-bats in 2017 with across the board success. He hit .286/.354/.456/.810 with six home runs, eight steals, 28 RBI and 34 runs scored. Extrapolate those numbers out over 162 games and you’d have 17 home runs, 23 steals, 80 RBI, and 97 runs scored. Do I have your attention now? The power might not progress much, but the speed definitely should. Albies has always profiled as a 30-40+ stolen base threat. Don’t sweat the age and lack of experience here on draft day. Draft with confidence.
For more on Albies, check out Anthony Franco’s 2018 player profile.
#9 Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox
If I was putting this into tiers, Yoan Moncada and the next two men would be dubbed the “Young Gun” tier. Moncada struggled mightily to start his career in both Boston and Chicago, but he really seemed to find his footing near the end of last season. In 98 September/October at-bats, he hit .276/.349/.469/.818 with five homers, 12, RBI, and 18 runs scored. The massive struggles were concerning, but there’s just too much talent here to remain dormant for long. However, an area to keep an eye on is his stolen base production. After swiping 111 in 267 minor league games, Moncada attempted only five steals in 62 games in the majors. This kid has massive all-around fantasy potential. Don’t let his early struggles cause you to shy away.
#10 Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs
There were the usual peaks and valleys, but all in all, it was a promising rookie campaign for Ian Happ. His swing-and-miss ways (129 strikeouts in 413 PAs) kept his average low at .253, but the rest of his line is what you’re going to want to see. In 364 at-bats, Happ slugged 24 home runs with 68 RBI, 62 runs, and eight stolen bases. Extrapolate that to 550 at-bats and you’d have 36 home runs, 102 RBI, 93, runs, and 12 steals. The power is for real here with Happ. He’s always profiled as a 30+ home run hitter and likely will eclipse that mark in 2018. He might be young, but he’s already good enough to be your starter at second base.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) May 14, 2017
#11 Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers
I’ll spare you the puns comparing his 2017 season to his last name. Even if they’re incredibly accurate. Odor’s counting stats were only slightly down from 2016, but a 67-point drop in his batting average, from .271 to .204, put a foul odor in the air down in Texas. Sorry, couldn’t help myself on that one. His offensive upside still makes him an intriguing selection in the middle rounds. Just prepare yourself for the inevitable prolonged slumps.
#12 Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
His numbers might not make him a great option at first base, but here at second, they look a lot better. Listen, nothing has changed with my opinion of Carpenter since my first base rankings, and likely never will. He’s a good, but not great, hitter that will never wow you in any one category. If you want to wait on drafting your second baseman and make Carpenter your starter, I won’t object. Just don’t forget that the upside is limited here.
#13 Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers
There were plenty of breakout players at this position in 2017, and Chris Taylor was at or near the top of them all. After three seasons as a backup totaling just 291 at-bats, Taylor suddenly transformed into arguably the most productive hitter for the Dodgers in 2017 after Cody Bellinger. There are a lot of reasons to expect some regression in 2018, but with Taylor hitting near the top of a strong Dodgers lineup, he should still flirt with top-10 second baseman numbers.
For more on Taylor, check out Keith Farnworth’s 2018 player profile.
#14 Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
Personally, I’ve never understood why Javier Baez gets valued as high as he does each year. Sure, the potential is there, but he’s yet to start more than 127 games in a season. In 469 at-bats last season, Baez swatted 23 homers and swiped 10 bags. He’s got 30-15 upside but needs about 100 more at-bats to reach that. The upside is certainly worth a selection, but don’t get crazy and take him in the single-digit rounds.
#15 Ian Kinsler, Los Angeles Angels
The .236/.313/.412/.725 slash line doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but Kinsler was still able to put up 22 homers, 14 steals, and 90 runs scored during his final season in Detroit. His days as a 25+ stolen base threat are likely not coming back, but Kinsler should still be able to approach or exceed 100 runs hitting atop the Angels lineup in 2018. Let’s just hope that batting average can bounce back. He’s not someone you’d want as your starter anymore, but he still makes for a fine selection for your middle infield or utility spots.
For more on the trade that sent Kinsler to the Angels, check out Jeff Zimmerman’s trade breakdown.
#16 Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
It’s probably safe to say that not many envisioned Whit Merrifield leading the AL in steals and ending 2017 as a top-10 second baseman. The speed is legit, but the 19 home runs he hit are bound for regression. Merrifield never even cracked double-digit home runs in his seven-year minor league career. Blame the juiced baseballs, I guess. All that, plus the weakened Royals lineup due to free agents leaving town, should give owners hesitation taking him in the top-100 picks, where he’s currently being selected.
#17 Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals
The 25 home runs DeJong hit in 417 at-bats last season shouldn’t come as a surprise. During his minor league career, he hit 44 in 929 at-bats. With Aledmys Diaz now out of the picture, shortstop in St. Louis is DeJong’s for 2018. He’s not much of a speedster, but has .275-30-80-80 potential, which makes him a solid selection to fill your middle infield or utility slots.
#18 Eduardo Nunez, Free Agent
It’s remarkable what going from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park can do to a player’s fantasy value. If it wasn’t for the different body type, ethnicity, and 92-year gap in birth year, you would’ve mistaken Eduardo Nunez for Babe Ruth for the first few weeks after his trade to the Boston Red Sox. His 2018 value largely hinges on if he signs with a team that wants to make him their starter at second or third base. If that does happen, bump him up a few spots.
#19 D.J. LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies
I know height isn’t a direct correlation to having power, but damn, a 6-foot-4 man hitting just six home runs is insane. If his batting average were to ever go in the tank, LeMahieu’s fantasy value would go in the tank with it. He helps in two categories, average and runs, and that’s it. There’s virtually no power or speed to speak of here. Even the Coors Field factor can’t propel him past his career high of 11 home runs. Draft him as a utility or bench guy, but nothing more than that.
#20 Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds
Warning: regression ahead. Potentially severe. Gennett’s 2017 resurgence made him one of the waiver wire gems of the season, but I’m not buying it. He barely hit more fly balls than he did in 2016, but his HR/FB rate nearly doubled from 10.5% to 20.8%. Regression and a drop in value appear likely here.
For more on Gennett, check out Anthony Franco’s 2018 player profile.
#21 Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers
Damn, what a difference a year can make. In 2016, Villar was one of the hottest commodities around. He blazed his way to 62 steals and added 19 home runs, 63 RBI, and 92 runs for good measure. A 44-point drop in average and significant regression across his counting stats now make Villar nothing more than a late-round selection. The speed still helps, but his 2016 season looks like it will be the outlier in his career.
#22 Marwin Gonzalez, Houston Astros
This is another breakout I’m not buying into. Gonzalez’s ISO, BABIP, FB% and HR/FB rate all jumped a decent amount in 2017 from previous years. The odds of all four of those remaining at 2017 levels are slim. He likely won’t revert back to pre-2017 numbers but something between 2016 and 2017 is more likely for Gonzalez in 2018. Early ADP data has him being taken at pick 113. That’s way too high. He’s being drafted for his 2017 numbers, and that’s like going to push the value meter over to the bust side here.
For more on Gonzalez, check out Anthony Franco’s 2018 player profile.
#23 Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
The once top-five option at this position finds himself as just a late-round selection in 2018 after a miserable 2017 where he only played 90 games and hit .232. Kipnis is a risky choice, but don’t rule out a bounce-back season here.
#24 Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds
Peraza entered 2017 as a popular middle infield sleeper pick, but he struggled mightily throughout the season. He limped to a .259 average with five home runs, 37 RBI, 50 runs, and 23 steals. Jose, a sleeper pick means you’re supposed to break out and do good things, not put people to sleep with your poor play. Try to work on that for next season.
#25 Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks
Before his season-ending finger injury, Owings was quietly having a solid fantasy season. He was on pace for around a 20/80/70/20 campaign. The upside is limited, but the 20/20 potential makes him an intriguing late-round flier. Don’t forget about him on draft day.
Keep an Eye On
#27 Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
If grit were a fantasy baseball category, Pedroia would have a ton more value. But as it stands, he an injury prone, aging second baseman, without much power or speed. Speaking of injuries, he’ll be out until around early-June while he recovers from knee surgery.
#31 Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays
Travis is someone to keep an eye on due to his potential, but leave him on the wire until he actually proves it.
#37 Scott Kingery, Philadelphia Phillies
Kingery is definitely a name to keep an eye on if he gets the starting spot out of spring training. Plenty of offensive upside in this bat.
For more on Kingery, check out Van Lee’s article about Prospects with Increased Value in 2018.
I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.