Welcome to the next installment of my positional previews for the 2020 fantasy baseball season. We have made it through the catcher position as well as first base. Now we move on to our second base preview. Time flies when you’re having fun!
With that said, these are my 2020 fantasy baseball second base ranks and overall outlook on the position. I will break down my ranks as they now stand, provide tiers and discuss players individually. Lastly, I included the 2020 steamer projections as well!
I quickly want to clarify. The players listed are CURRENTLY second base eligible. The players that may gain second base eligibility once the season begins are not included.
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Early 2020 Second Base Preview
Tier One: The Standouts
This tier highlights the clear standouts at the position. Second base as a whole offers a lot of solid options. It lacks the true elite talent we see at every other position but what it lacks in elite talent, it makes up for in depth.
This whole position is matter of preference at the top. Ozzie Albies has really grown on me and is now my number one second baseman. He has truly become the high floor type of player. There is a safe, five-category floor to be had with Albies. It is hard to fault a guy who has shown to be so consistent to begin his career. He has yet to even enter his prime so I like the chance for him to improve as well going forward.
Ketel Marte is my number two second baseman. There was a tangible change in his profile and although I do not expect over 30 home runs again in 2020, I like the overall five-category upside. The solid, high floor paired with the multi-positional eligibility is what has me so high on Marte.
Even without the stolen base upside, I still believe in Jose Altuve. Even without the big time steal totals, He manages to offer such a high floor. My concerns are with the health and I feel without the stolen base production, he falls just behind the first two options for me.
Yes, people will have actual concerns about the whole sign-stealing ordeal. I do not have any concerns about that. His home and road splits were almost identical in 2019. I have zero questions or concerns about Altuve and he is the only player at the position I can say that about.
If you have not heard, Gleyber Torres is ONLY 22 years old. Many will have Torres as high as first in their ranks and I understand it. My reason for not being as high on Torres is I am not totally buying into the power. I understand he remains in one of the best lineups and one of the best hitter’s parks in all the league. Unfortunately, his metrics do not completely back the near 40 home run total he posted in 2019. At the end of the day, I would not fault anyone for taking Torres as the top second baseman off the board. This is exactly why I prefer a tier-based approach to drafting.
Keston Hiura is arguably the most interesting of this group. What makes him so appealing are his minor league numbers and what he flashed in his stint during the 2019 season. I think this is where the first potential bust could be of the position. He has the upside to be the best second baseman, but we’ve seen time and time again how players can struggle in their sophomore campaigns. Ultimately, Hiura is a very boom or bust type of player this season at his draft-day cost.
Tier 2: Next Best Thing
This tier offers three names that provide you a steady source of production.. I view these players relatively similar in value, but they are typically taken at very different points in the draft.
Johnathan Villar’s price has finally began to fall to where it should’ve been since the start of draft season. He broke out, again, last season in Baltimore. There is a decent floor and 20-home-run and 40-steal upside as we have seen but if he is traded mid-season he could lose playing time. The metrics do not really back the power production and the sprint speed is still good but only in the 72nd percentile. On a positive note, he made gains in the walk and K-rates as well as the contact rates.
If he sustains all these gains, I think 30-plus steals remains likely. The concerns of the power and batting average dipping closer to the expected stats are enough for me to drop him this low. I know steals are at a premium but I feel it may come at a hit in most the other categories this year. While Villar offers the far higher ceiling it seems, Whit Merrifield offers a much higher floor.
DJ LaMahieu and Jeff McNeil feel as though they are the same exact player. McNeil was getting LeMahieu comps entering the 2019 season as it is. I feel these two are as high of a floor you can get. D.J. LeMahieu flashed a level of production we never saw from him even in Colorado. I have a hard time completely buying into a 31-year-old breaking out in this fashion.
He spent a good portion of his career with Colorado and suddenly he hits like never before AFTER leaving Coors. That is unheard of. With that said, I anticipate he will be hitting at the top of the lineup and still be a solid producer for runs and batting average. He may still hit 20 home runs but the high RBI total seems unlikely to repeat. Again, not bad at all, but I think he will still be a step back from last season.
Whit Merrifield took a step back last season. There is no denying that. The price has taken a dip in return and rightfully so. I feel Merrifield may be a solid fall back for a little power/speed combination type of producer in the middle rounds. Although the power and speed may be less than that of Villar, the potential for a .300 batting average keeps the floor higher and offers less volatility.
Tier 3: The Fallback Options
This is a great tier to land on if you miss from the first two. There is a little of everything ranging from safety to players who are great upside targets.
Max Muncy finds himself roughly top 10 at every position he is eligible at. The power potential is there and he can easily be a 30-plus home run threat every season. The multi-positional eligibility is also a big bonus. The batting average can be a concern but hitting between .240 and .250 is not as bad as it once was.
As far as Jeff McNeil goes, I believe he is just a stable piece to any lineup. You can set him in your lineups and forget him. He is not exciting but not every pick for a team needs to be exciting. Sometimes the “boring” players are the reason behind a winning fantasy team.
Mike Moustakas is annually under-appreciated. He is basically good for 30 or so home runs with a .250 to .260 average. Now that he plays for an improved Reds team, there may be more RBI opportunity than usual.
Cavan Biggio is a good power/speed combination this year. The price is steadily rising on Biggio as these early drafts take place. He could have issues in the batting average department but there is five-category upside and that skill set is hard to ignore.
Gavin Lux is definitely one of the most boom or bust players of the position. As the Dodgers roster currently stands, there doesn’t appear to be an everyday spot for playing time. There has been a ton of speculation around the Dodgers making trades this off-season. This could be a path to clearing up the playing time issues. This is a situation to keep monitoring.
Eduardo Escobar is my biggest regression candidate for the 2020 season. He overachieved in most categories and I expect him to come back down to earth. Even if he sustains part of the growth in production, he offers similar home run and batting average output to Moustakas. Since he lacks the track record of that production, he slides in just behind him.
Tier 4: Upside And Potential
Every player in this tier offers some form of upside. They are either coming off a solid year or appear to be in line for one. Some of these players have more questions than others but at these draft prices, all of them have plenty of upside and should be owned on all teams entering 2020.
Kevin Newman and Tommy Edman both offer late speed in drafts. Edman appears to offer more as a whole, but Newman seems to be in line for more of a sure thing as far as playing time goes with the Pirates.
There are a lot of mouths to feed in St. Louis. If Tommy Edman earns a full-time gig, there is some real value to be had and I would adjust appropriately. The speed is very real and so are the contact skills. Take him where he is going and if the playing time concerns alleviate, reap the rewards.
Danny Santana continues to be someone tough to place a value on. The batting average will likely be troublesome but you can’t look passed the fact that there is a chance for a 20/20 season. If you find yourself in need of speed, a little power and some multi-positional eligibility then Santana is for you. My only issue is that you can get a couple of the players I have ranked ahead of him even later in your drafts. I’m big on value and if he is going ahead of some of these other guys I value similarly, then I am going to pass on him and wait.
I am all about Brandon Lowe. He will be on a number of my teams and there is good power/speed to be had. There is more power than speed of course. I want Lowe on every team possible. There are two red flags. The first being he is potentially a platoon player. Albeit the strong side of the platoon. Last, he has batting average concerns if the strikeout issues don’t get corrected a bit.
I have moved Garrett Hampson up and down the ranks multiple times. I want to see what the Rockies do prior to moving him back up again. The speed is very real. He also finished the 2019 season strong. With that said, the biggest concern is playing time. Brendon Rodgers, Sam Hilliard, Daniel Murphy, Ryan McMahon and Ian Desmond all are fighting for playing time. Not to mention any player they may end up signing. It is an absolute mess and until it clears up I cannot move Hampson up further.
Carter Kieboom has the most breakout potential of anyone in this tier. My reservations remain in the playing time. If he is named a starter coming into the 2020 season, expect him to shoot up the ranks. Until then, I am watching and waiting. The upside and prospect pedigree is there. There are rumblings he should be given the chance to run with the job entering the season. Spring training will likely be the deciding factor in that. He’s a great lottery ticket.
Tier 5: Late Round Targets
This is the tier where I would like to address my middle infield position. In 15-team leagues, I would actually be just fine having one of these players as my second baseman entering 2020 as well.
I briefly mentioned Ryan McMahon earlier in the article as a player caught up in a mess for playing time over in Colorado. That may true but as of now he his a projected starter per Roster Resource. It is November so a lot can still change. McMahon did have a strong finish to the 2019 season. He also has Coors to call home and a real chance to start again. I think there’s good value here and he’s worth a late-round pick in most leagues. It also doesn’t hurt that he is multi-positional eligible.
Cesar Hernandez is who he is at this point in his career. He is a late steals source with some batting average help as well. What Hernandez offers is not all that exciting but it gets the job done.
I am not a huge fan of Michael Chavis. I know he lit the world on fire when he came up last year but he came back down to earth. Chavis offers late round power and multi-positional eligibility. Yes, there is upside but I don’t buy in on it as much as others.
I really liked Nick Solak as a sleeper this year. There is a bit of power and speed upside to be had here. Solak flashed it in the minors and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some growth this year after his short stint in the majors in 2019. He may be out of an everyday job early on but the creme rises to the top and I bet on talent every time.
Kolten wong offers late stolen bases and some batting average. He is similar to that of a Hernandez.
Starlin Castro signed with the Washington Nationals and should be the every day second baseman. You know he will give you solid, high floor production. There was a big second half for him in 2019. The production was backed by change in the underlying numbers as well. He is very interesting and not a bad fall back option in the later portion of drafts.
Rougned Odor definitely frustrates the fantasy community. He hits for a good amount of power and steals some bases in the process. The issue here is the lack of batting average. Batting average is hard enough to come by and if he cannot improve it, he can really hurt your team in that category. You need to set up your roster take that hit in batting average in order to bring Odor on to your team.
Tier 6: Deep League Dart Throws
This is where second base shows its depth. These dart throws can round out any team who needs a little extra something in a category late in drafts.
Tommy La Stella is a player who committed to the swing change trend. He added lift to his swing and the home runs followed. With such a high likelihood of a solid batting average, if he can hit 20 home runs with that swing change, he offers a pretty high floor to grab late in drafts.
It is no secret that Robinson Cano is beyond his prime. That doesn’t mean there isn’t value here. There’s still a little pop and some batting average floor with Cano. At this point, he’s a late-round type of player to target for the decent floor he can still offer.
Dee Gordon is simply a final grasp for speed in drafts. He can hurt you across the board otherwise, so you need to structure your team to absorb the hit.
That is going to do it for the early second base preview. A lot has yet to happen in regards to signings, trades and spring training. Stick around for updates as the offseason continues. Fantasy baseball season never ends over her for us at Fantrax. We are just getting started.
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