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2020 Offseason Second Base Rankings - Fantasy Baseball Mixed Leagues


It's never too early to start looking ahead to the next baseball season, so here we deliver our 2020 fantasy baseball rankings to those of you looking to scratch your fantasy itch. Whether you're already eliminated from fantasy football contention, or you're getting a head start on next year's keeper selections, RotoBaller has got you covered. We've assembled a collection of stout minds, including the #1 ranked expert from 2018, Nick Mariano, to help you get a jump start on your competition for the upcoming season.

With the Winter Meetings approaching and free-agency starting to materialize, there will be plenty of movement with these rankings before the draft season gets into full swing. Be sure to check in frequently during the offseason as we'll have updated rankings as soon as big names begin to change places.

It's not that second base is devoid of talent, as there is plenty of production waiting on the list below; it's more about the questions that come attached to many of the men behind that production. Do you want to bet on last year's numbers being repeated by someone who's never done it before, or a rookie who's only played half a season? An aging player in a renaissance, or a Rockie without guaranteed playing time? The keystone is a minefield of doubt but there are also deals to be had, so let's dig in.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Draft Kit, premium rankings, projections, player outlooks, top prospects, dynasty rankings, 15 in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research. Sign Up Now!

 

Second Base Tiered Ranks - 5x5 Mixed Leagues (December)

In case you missed it, our very own "Big Pick Nick" Mariano was named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season.

Ranking Tier Player Position Nick Nick G Riley
1 1 Jose Altuve 2B 26 46 28
2 1 Ozzie Albies 2B 46 39 34
3 1 Gleyber Torres 2B/SS 45 42 43
4 1 Whit Merrifield 2B/OF 42 43 55
5 1 Ketel Marte 2B/SS/OF 52 56 40
6 1 Jonathan Villar 2B/SS 37 57 58
7 2 Keston Hiura 2B 80 60 50
8 2 DJ LeMahieu 1B/2B/3B 81 88 74
9 3 Eduardo Escobar 2B/3B 101 103 86
10 3 Max Muncy 1B/2B/3B 102 104 98
11 3 Mike Moustakas 2B/3B 110 101 110
12 3 Jeff McNeil 2B/3B/OF 115 93 113
13 4 Danny Santana 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF 113 113 161
14 4 Cavan Biggio 2B 150 130 127
15 4 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 2B/OF 170 127 141
16 4 Ryan McMahon 1B/3B/2B 127 123 201
17 5 Garrett Hampson 2B/SS/OF 197 186 171
18 5 Brandon Lowe 2B 226 213 190
19 5 Tommy Edman 2B/3B/OF 181 245 205
20 5 Michael Chavis 1B/2B 232 239 178
21 5 Cesar Hernandez 2B 239 189 222
22 6 Tommy La Stella 2B/3B 241 257 202
23 6 Jon Berti 2B/3B/SS/OF 227 #N/A 245
24 6 Dee Gordon 2B 262 218 242
25 6 Kevin Newman 2B/SS 253 221 259
26 6 Rougned Odor 2B 259 224 283
27 6 Luis Urias 2B/SS 274 232 269
28 6 Kolten Wong 2B 236 240 302
29 6 Nico Hoerner 2B 249 254 291
30 6 Robinson Cano 2B 278 #N/A 268
31 6 Luis Arraez 2B 285 278 261
32 7 Hanser Alberto 2B/3B 287 #N/A #N/A
33 7 Ian Happ 2B/3B/OF 306 #N/A #N/A
34 7 Howie Kendrick 1B/2B/3B 300 300 322
35 7 Jurickson Profar 2B/OF 309 #N/A #N/A
36 7 Nick Solak 2B 299 #N/A 323
37 7 Shed Long 2B 324 #N/A #N/A
38 7 Starlin Castro 2B/3B 338 #N/A #N/A
39 7 Josh VanMeter 1B/2B/OF 366 #N/A 345
40 7 Adam Frazier 2B 361 #N/A #N/A
41 7 Jonathan Schoop 2B 398 #N/A 333
42 7 Scooter Gennett 2B #N/A #N/A 369
43 8 Josh Rojas 2B/3B/OF 394 #N/A #N/A
44 8 Jason Kipnis 2B 400 #N/A #N/A
45 8 Wilmer Flores 1B/2B 406 #N/A #N/A
46 8 Isan Diaz 2B 505 #N/A 346
47 8 Brendan Rodgers 2B/SS 449 #N/A #N/A
48 8 Ronny Rodriguez 1B/2B/SS 493 #N/A #N/A
49 8 Brian Dozier 2B 518 #N/A #N/A
50 8 Freddy Galvis 2B/SS 522 #N/A #N/A

Tier One

Take a look at auction values above and its easy to discern just how stark the tier drop-offs look. There's a big drop after the first tier and another following Tier 5, with a great big jumble in Tiers 2-4. Five players in Tier 1 but only five combined in Tiers 2-3. While there are many players I could live with, if you pass on a top second baseman you could be in for a long season playing three-card monte at the position if things don't break right. As this is the case, let's go a little deeper at the top of the spectrum.

As I'm by far the low-man (here, as well as elsewhere), why don't we talk about Jose? Altuve was a fantasy superstar in 2017-2018, earning just shy of 38$ in 12-team standard leagues according to the Fangraphs auction calculator but in 2018-19, that number dropped to $17.6 and $16.7, respectively. You can explain away some of that drop with Altuve missing time both years due to injury but his $/PA-rates also suffered dramatically, dropping from $0.53/PA and $0.57/PA in 2017-18 to $0.29/PA and $0.30/PA in 2018-19. Steamer's 2020 projection give him a happy medium of $0.039/PA, but why should we expect that much?

While his 31 home runs in 2019 were a career-high, they came with a 23.3% HR/FB that was almost nine-points higher than his previous high and in a league where home runs are devalued in a juiced-ball world. After a high of a .346 AVG in 2017, that number dipped 30 points in 2018 and another 18 points in 2019. His 15% K-rate and 9% swinging-strike rate are still impressive but are also both career-highs, after seeing increases in both rates every year since 2014. Maybe you can point to a BABIP that has been low (for Altuve) the past two years and try to see a batting-average comeback in 2020 but a pessimist might see a speed-rate that has decayed to 5.0 and 4.2 in 2018-19, after sitting between 5.8 - 6.4 from 2014-17, and wonder if Altuve still has the wheels to drive the high BABIPs of his past.

But, injuries! Altuve had right knee surgery after the 2018 season and dealt with left hamstring issues this past year, so if he's healthy this year, it's all good, right? Personally, I find it hard to believe that a player who will turn 30-years-old in May and has had significant leg injuries the past two seasons, is going to turn back the clock to his levels of speed from years prior. If you want me to pay top-30 prices for Altuve, then I'm going to need reasonable expectations for 25 stolen bases, a number he reached every year from 2012-17. Not only does he have a total of only 23 SB over the last two years, but his attempts (and attempts/PA) have also decreased every year since 2014. Add that to an Astros team that is decreasing their stolen-base attempts almost as fast as the intentional walks they allow and I find few reasons to bank on more than 15 SB from Altuve. If he's not stealing, he's not special enough for me to use one of my first three picks on.

Finally, the trash can must be acknowledged. Numerous smart people have put a lot of work into quantifying just how much of an advantage Astros players gleaned from their elaborate sign-stealing network, about which all can pick their nits as they choose. Argue about the morality of it, argue about how much advantage was gained; but it's hard to ignore Altuve's (and others) home/road splits following the implementation of the trash-can system, particularly in regards to offspeed pitches. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder whether these things should be baked into the evaluation of the past performance of Houston players.

Since I've fulfilled my quota of 500 words on a player I don't like, let's pivot to two that I do, Gleyber Torres and Ozzie Albies. I have Albies in front by a nose but they're close to interchangeable to me and in any given draft I'm likely using my current need to decide between them.  In a vacuum, I slightly favor Albies, who earned $19.30 in 2018 at a rate of $0.28/PA and $22.20 in 2019 at a rate of $0.32/PA. Not yet 23-years-old and a switch-hitter, Albies is pretty good from the left side, slashing .267/.333/.444 in 2019; and absolutely crushes from right side, slashing .389/.414/.685 with a 180 wRC+ over 157 PA. And all of this at a 43.7 ADP in NFBC, compared to Torre's 26.2 ADP and Altuve's 32.5 ADP. And we didn't even talk about how he'll likely spend most of the year batting in the cushy two-hole between Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman.

Gleyber Torres improved significantly over a first season that was good enough for a third-place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year, after he slashing .271/.340/.480 over 484 plate-appearances, with 24 home runs, 77 RBI, 54 runs scored and six stolen bases. However, those numbers actually brought meager fantasy-dollars, with Torres earning $9.10 at a rate of just $0.19/PA. This season brought not only on-field increases, hitting 38 home runs with 90 RBI, 96 runs scored, and five stolen bases in 604 plate-appearances; but Torres also made it rain on the fantasy fields, earning $20.0 at a rate of $0.32/PA in his sophomore effort. While Albies may have a prime lineup spot, Torres' might be even sweeter, hitting behind Aaron Judge and before Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez. Granted, at least one of those three will be injured at any given time during the season, but still! Pretty, pretty good.

I want to believe in a sustainable breakout for Ketel Marte but I'm starting to have more trouble with it. There are plenty of things to like from Marte's 2019, starting with the 26-year-old earning $27.70 in 12-team leagues by slashing .329/.389/.592 over 628 plate-appearances, with 32 home runs, 92 RBI, 97 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases. However, there might be some smoke rolling out of his fantasy engine, as the .329 AVG comes with a career-high .342 BABIP, while also carrying a career-high 19.0% HR/FB rate. There are certainly reasons to believe in the power surge, as Marte increased his average exit-velocity slightly this season while raising his launch-angle from 5.7 degrees to 11.5, and pulling the ball at a career-high 43.7%; seven points higher than in 2018. His price is probably just not going to be right with me, given he has a 44.1 ADP in NFBC that is one spot after Albies, putting him at a cost I'll likely be unwilling to pay.

 

Tier Two

Just the second tier and already uncertainty starts to rain down, with Milwaukee's Keston Hiura leading the way. It looks like I'm the temperate one of our group, sitting near the middle between Riley and (other) Nick, but my fears that I had him a bit too high were exacerbated with both Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal leaving the Cream City for $137 million worth of greener pastures. That's a lot of production leaving the lineup and I'm expecting Hiura's counting stats to take a hit with the newly-acquired Omar Narvaez and Luis Urias currently projected to hit behind his likely cleanup spot.

That's not to say I think Hiura himself will take a big step back from a rookie year where he slashed .303/.368/.570 over 348 plate-appearances, with 19 home runs, 49 RBI, 51 runs scored, and eight stolen bases; but I won't deny that Hiura's splits versus lefthanders aren't exactly inspiring. It was a small sample of 75 plate-appearances versus the wrong-handers in Hiura's 82 games, but his .240 AVG against them was 82-points lower than against righties and his .673 OPS also was a big dropoff from a 1.021 mark on the other side. Hiura currently has a 43 ADP on NFBC, which is a price I can't fathom paying, but a 68.7 ADP on the Pitcher List Mocks feels a little more palatable.

It may not feel like it but DJ LeMahieu is still only 31 years old and is coming off the best year of his career, hitting 26 home runs in 655 plate-appearances for his new (York) team, with 102 RBI and 109 runs scored. Remember when he wasn't going to be able to hit outside of Colorado? Turns out, LeMathieu is just a really good hitter, regardless of venue. The career-high mark in home runs could certainly dip, given a 19.7% HR/FB that was also a career-high, but I don't think his other counting stats will suffer much seeing that LeMahieu will be hitting leadoff on one of baseball's most prolific offenses, that when fully healthy will follow LeMathieu with Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. LeMahieu posted a .326 AVG that was second in the American League, and a .322 xBA that was in the top-1% of baseball. I'm the lowest on him of we three but his arrow is on the rise in my book, considering all the positional uncertainty.

 

Tier Three

I might be the low man on Eduardo Escobar but I'm definitely not low on him after his career-year for the Diamondbacks, with Escobar hitting 35 home runs in 699 plate-appearances, with 119 RBI and 94 runs scored, and a .269 AVG with five stolen bases. Admit it; you don't remember his numbers being that high. I'm not going to expect 35 HR again but while his 15.2% HR/FB was a career-high, it's averaged around 12.5% the last two years, so it's not that big of a jump. Escobar also posted career-highs in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate, with a .341 wOBA that was near his .327 xwOBA. If I can get Escobar around his 115 ADP in NFBC leagues, I'm going to get a steal.

Let's hold off on this next player's name for a minute and just lay out the facts of his 2019 season. In 567 plate-appearances, this player slashed .318/.384/.531 with 23 HR, 75 RBI, and 83 runs scored, stealing five bases. His 4.8% barrel-rate was double his previous year, with his 88.4 mph exit velocity almost three mph higher than in 2018, and his 36.6% hard-hit rate was a near eight-point jump. He's 27, left-handed, with triple-eligibility and he earned $15.60 in 12-team leagues last year making him the #57-hitter using Fangraphs auction calculator. His name is Jeff McNeil and I may have him too low.

 

Tier Four

This is the fun tier, with a wide range of outcomes on its occupants. Let's start at the top of the bunch with one of my personal favorites, Danny Santana. Depending on your league, Santana is eligible just about everywhere and just slashed .283/.324/.534 with 28 HR and 21 stolen bases in just 511 plate-appearances. With 81 RBI and 81 runs, Santana was a true five-category performer and ended as the #41 hitter earning $19.80 in 12-team leagues at a rate of $0.039/PA that was 21st among all batters. If Santana was 25 years old, we'd be calling him Javier Baez-light; but the big red flag is that he's 29-years-old and has been an absolute bust since a stellar rookie year in 2014, when he posted a 134 wRC+ over 101 games with the Twins.

Santana has now spent parts of six years in the majors, with four horrible years in the middle bookended by two great ones. Which Santana do you believe in? I'm choosing to believe the one who had a 43.6% hard-hit rate, 13.7-degree launch-angle, and a 91.4 mph average exit-velocity in 2019 and not the Santana of years past. That Santana had a Hard% in the low-30's, a launch-angle that stayed at least twice as flat as this past season, and exit-velocities under 86 mph. That Santana hasn't been able to hit fastballs since 2014 and has never had much luck with sliders. This Santana had a top-30 pVal against fastballs among batters with at least 500 PA in 2019 and his 7.8 pVal against sliders was the 11th-highest in the majors. Choose wisely.

A pair of Blue Jays are up next, and that son of a Craig is up first. Biggio hit 16 home runs and stole four bases in 430 plate-appearances in 2019, with 48 RBI and 66 runs scored. His .234 AVG was less than ideal but a 16.5% walk-rate that was in the top-2% of baseball drove him to a .364 OBP. While he hits for a lot more power against right-handers - with his .458 SLG against righties sitting 75-points higher than his mark against left-handers - Biggio's splits were fine, with his average against lefties actually the slightly higher mark. Likely to hit second in 2020, Biggio is right in the middle of a young and exciting Blue Jays lineup that includes Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That Blue Jays lineup also includes our next subject, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Another member of Toronto's all-bloodlines team, the younger brother of Yulieski started the season so poorly defensively at second base that he was sent back to the minors on April 15th before seemingly leaving the infield behind for good and returning as an outfielder on May 24th. Putting his defensive woes behind him, Gurriel did nothing but rake at the plate before going down with a quad-strain in early-August, only returning for five games at the end of the year. In just 343 plate-appearances, Gurriel hit 20 home runs with 50 RBI, 50 runs scored, and six stolen bases; after he hit 11 HR, with 35 RBI and 30 runs scored in 263 PA in his 2018 rookie season. If you don't want to do the math, in 606 plate-appearances Gurriel has 31 HR, 85 RBI, 80 runs scored, and seven stolen bases, with a .279 AVG. So, a slightly worse version of 2019's Jose Altuve. Just a thought.

 

Tier Five

How is the ranker who lives in St. Louis the one who's lowest on Tommy Edman, an unheralded prospect who came up to seemingly overachieve at the big leagues. It may be put me at risk of having my copy of The Cardinal Way revoked but I think he has a difficult path to profit if you're drafting him in the top-200. Edman came up from Triple-A to hit seven home runs and steal 15 bases in his 349 plate appearances in the big leagues this season, slashing .304/.350/.500 in 92 games.

My first issue is that he's more likely to be a utility man than he is a starter, putting a lot of question marks around just how many plate-appearances you can safely project for him in 2020. While manager Mike Shildt will surely find plenty of ways to keep Edman consistently in the Cardinals lineup, they also have incumbent starters at every position in the infield and a lot of mouths to feed in the outfield. Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, and Edman are all currently penciled in as starters by RosterResource but Jose Martinez, Tyler O'Neill and possibly top-prospect Dylan Carlson will all be competing for time, as well. Steamer is projecting him for 489 PA and that feels about right to me, though I do think he'll reach, or possibly exceed 500 PA.

The .275 AVG that Steamer is calling for feels low, as I don't think his .348 BABIP necessarily means his average will come way down, given Edman's 8.5 speed-rating that was the fifth-highest among players with at least 100 PA. However, the 11 home runs and 14 stolen bases they also project, do feel like they're in the most-likely range. With his speed, I certainly like Edman's upside, especially if he somehow gets a regular starting job and starts running at a higher rate but that's just too many questions for me to want to invest that high of a draft pick in.

After being designated for assignment by Philadelphia, I'm going to have to revisit my ranking of Cesar Hernandez once he lands with a new team. Hernandez wasn't as good as he was in 2018 but played in 161 games for the second year in a row, putting up a perfectly boring line of 14 home runs, 71 RBI, and 77 runs scored, with nine stolen bases and a .279 AVG. Certainly unspectacular but also worth $7.10 in 12-team leagues, which was good enough to make him the #104 hitter with the Fangraphs auction calculator. Expecting much of the same in 2020, I liked Hernandez's value, especially at the 275 ADP he had in NFBC leagues prior to his non-tendering, but until Hernadez signs, he can't be trusted as anything more than a late-round flyer.

 

Tier 6

Kevin Newman probably had a better year than you realize, finishing as the #97 hitter in 12-team leagues, earning $8.40 in 531 plate-appearances. Newman gave a little bit of everything hitting at the top of the Pirates lineup for much of the year, slashing .308/.353/.446 while hitting 12 home runs, with 64 RBI, 61 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases. With the return of Gregory Polanco and the emergence of Bryan Reynolds, Newman will most likely be moved down from leadoff to the fifth or sixth spot in the order but that should only last until Polanco's inevitable season-ending injury. His current 205 ADP in NFBC leagues is a little too high for my tastes but will definitely take a shot if Newman drops further.

I wish I knew how to quit you, Rougned Odor. Looks like I'm the sucker of our group, putting Odor just inside my top-225, even though he just put up a junky slash-line of .205/.283/.439 in 581 plate-appearances. Here's the thing, though; he still ended as the 104th hitter in 12-team leagues, hitting 30 home runs with 93 RBI and 77 runs scored while stealing 11 bases. Steamer is calling for a similar season in 2020, projecting him to be the 110th highest earning batter, with a slash line of  .234/.302/.456 and similar counting stats as 2019. If I can get his projected earnings around his 239 ADP in NFBC, than I'm happy; but if he continues his yearly pattern of alternating batting averages around .200, with ones over .250, then I'm getting a steal at that draft price. However, I'm also fully aware that you're dancing with the devil when you try to anticipate when Odor will be good, when he'll post a 40% K-rate, and when he'll punch Jose Bautista in the face. Handle with care.

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RotoBaller fantasy football analysts Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano review the draft board from RotoBaller's 2020 Way Too Early Mock fantasy football draft. They look at early ADP, reaches, values, and surprises throughout the first 10 rounds. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us... Read More