Welcome back, everyone. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.
This week we are going to dive into the 2023 Top Keepers – Second Basemen. When it comes to second basemen, it is a position that now seems to be home of platoon players.
Today’s managers and GMs believe that if you can play a position in the field, then you can play second base. In 2022, only 12 players started more than 100 games at second base, and only 15 appeared in more than 100 games at the position. In all, 160 different players started at least one game at second base in the majors this season.
WHAT HAPPENED TO SECOND BASEMEN?
There are 30 teams, and there were only 16 pure second baseman who reached enough plate appearances (3.1/team games played) to qualify for the batting title. Ouch. Injuries did factor into that as Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Ozzie Albies missed a chunk of time. But it is still amazing at how few true second baseman reached enough plate appearances to qualify for a possible batting title.
And the quality of those 16 second basemen isn’t great. Of those players, only two of them (Jeff McNeil and Jose Altuve) hit .300 or better with one (Andres Gimenez) just missing at .297. Then it drops down to .266.
Overall, the position is just not deep. There are tons of players getting in time at second base who are now eligible to play there in fantasy leagues. So, in order to narrow down the candidates to consider for these rankings, I made the cutoff to rank a player at 25 starts at second.
A quick note: Ages are as of now and the team is who they finished the season with. A player’s team may change for 2023, ages certainly will. Players who have not spent any time in the majors are also not ranked. Prospect rankings are for another list at another time.
You remember what I wrote above about the lack of true second basemen? This tier is full of those platoon players. Jean Segura saw the most starts at second out of this group at 97. Then came Whit Merrifield with 72 starts and Brandon Lowe, who was limited by injuries, started 53 games at second.
This is what I said about Isaac Paredes last week in the First Basemen rankings: Isaac Paredes saw time at third base, second base and first base with the Rays, but with Ji-Man Choi traded to Pittsburgh, I believe Paredes will see the majority of playing time at first base.
His batting average (.202) was horrible this past season, but he had a .435 slugging percentage with 20 homers and 45 RBI in 331 at-bats. Since he is second base eligible, he adds power to a position that lacks in that area.
Does old mean done?
Jean Segura, DJ LeMahieu and Max Muncy can all be moved out of this tier and replaced by the Just Missed the Cut group of players I list at the bottom. Segura had a decent season, but he is 32 and could see his playing time diminished next year.
LeMahieu is 34 and Muncy is 32 and both players are not close to producing like they used to. But I have some doubts that they are washed up completely. LeMahieu was slowed by injuries much of the season and Muncy still hit 21 homers and drove in 69 runs.
Giving the rookie his props
It is hard to properly rate Brendan Donovan high in any one group because he played all over the field. And he didn’t produce eye-popping numbers with only five homers, 45 RBI and two steals. But he did hit .281 and had an outstanding .394 OBP, which can help anyone’s fantasy offense.
The players in this group aren’t significantly better than the Tier 5 players, to be honest. But each player offers something to be happy about.
Kolten Wong and Josh Rojas both provide steals, as Wong swiped 17 bags and Rojas 23. Wong can pretty much be counted on to hit around 12 homers, drive in around 50 runs and steal about 12 basses per year.
Ketel Marte is similar to Wong and Rojas, just without the speed. Marte saw a drastic drop in his slash line compared to his last two full seasons. He could bounce back, or .240/.321/.407 may be his new level of production. Right now I expect him to bounce back.
Liking the upside
For those who never watch West Coast baseball, you may be surprised to see Luis Rengifo and Thairo Estrada ranked here. They are not top second basemen yet, but both players are in their mid-20s and could easily move into the top 15 with another solid season.
Rengifo slugged .429 with 17 homers and 52 RBI while also hitting .264. Only his .294 OBP was something to be concerned with. Meanwhile, Estrada had a nice under-the-radar season for the Giants. He slashed .260/.322/.400 with 14 home runs, 62 RBI and 14 steals.
I fully expected Jonathan India to build upon his 2021 Rookie of the Year season. Instead, he regressed badly, slashing .249/.327/.378 with 10 homers and 41 RBI. But he slashed .261/.351/.400 with six home runs and 26 RBI over his final 63 games and I believe he will be closer to his 2021 form next season.
Power vs. OBP
Luis Arraez had a great season at the plate, slashing .316/.375/.420. For his career his slash line is .314/.374/.410. But his 162-game average is also six homers and 55 RBI.
Brendan Rodgers slashed .266/.325/.408 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI. In 2021 he hit 15 homers and drove in 51 runs and his 162-game average is 17 home runs and 74 RBI. Both players don’t rack up the steals.
So if choosing between a high average and OBP or more homers and RBI, I’m going to go with the power numbers.
Jeff McNeil didn’t hit with a lot of power (nine homers), but he drove in 62 runs and slashed .326/.382/.454, which is more in line with what he did from 2018-2020 compared to 2021.
Ranking Vaughn Grissom this high is a case of loving the tools. He could be the everyday second baseman or shortstop for the Braves in 2023 or be a backup to Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson. There is also concern about his splits.
Grissom was the talk of baseball in August as he slashed .311/.354/.473 with three homers, 10 RBI and only 12 strikeouts in 20 games. But September/October saw him slash .269/.351/.403 with two round trippers, eight RBI and 22 strikeouts in 21 games.
But at the young age of 21, there is plenty of room to adjust to what pitchers were doing to him over the final month of the season.
Tommy Edman came in at .265/.324/.400 with 13 dingers and 57 RBI with 32 steals, topping 30 or more steals for the second straight year. With speed always in demand, he is a great player to park at second base.
Bringing the power
Torres is only 25 and just completed his fifth season in the majors. All he did was slash .257/.310/.451 and slug 24 homers with 76 RBI and 10 steals. It is scary to think what Torres could do at the plate if the Yankees (or any team if traded) just said he is their second baseman and keep him there.
|2||Jazz Chisholm Jr.||MIA||24|
The old guys
When it comes to age, it seems to only be a number when it comes to Marcus Semien and Jose Altuve. The only reason I didn’t rank them in the top two or three is the fact they are 32, meaning at some point age will catch up to them.
Semien looked old early in the 2022 season. Through the first two months he was hitting .198 with a .274 slugging percentage with one home run, 17 RBI and six steals. But Semien then shook off Father Time to hit .267 over the final four months and slug .490 while smashing 25 homers, driving in 66 runs and stealing 19 bases.
Altuve was limited to nine games and 36 at-bats in April, then put up great numbers the rest of the way. His overall slugging percentage of .533 led all second basemen with more than 250 at-bats, but Altuve was at his best during the final two months of the season. From August through the end of the regular season, he slashed .343/.429/.577 with nine dingers, 20 RBI and nine steals.
The young guys
Andres Gimenez was a key piece in the trade that sent Francisco Lindor from Cleveland to the New York Mets. He struggled throughout the 2021 campaign but finally had his breakout season for Cleveland, slashing .297/.371/.466 with 17 home runs, 69 RBI and 20 steals. He could learn to take a few more walks, but everything else is trending in the right direction for Gimenez.
Injuries really derailed the 2022 seasons for Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Ozzie Albies. When healthy, however. these two players are the top two keepers among second basemen based on their age and their ability.
In only 241 plate appearances, Chisholm hit 14 homers, drove in 45 runs and stole 12 bases while slashing .254/.325/.535, one year after slashing .248/.303/.425 with 18 homers, 53 RBI and 23 steals in 124 games. Chisholm does strike out too much (27.4%), but his power and speed are too good to let his strikeouts affect his ranking.
That leads us to Albies. Limited to 64 games, Albies had a down year in 2022 with a .247/.294/.409 slash line. But when healthy, he has a great blend of power, speed and hit tools. His career slash line is .271/.322/.470, and in the three years in which he has played a full season (2018-19, 2021), he has averaged 26 homers and 88 RBI.
Thanks to his career numbers, I have Albies ranked first overall, but Chisholm has all the tools to become the top second baseman by the end of the 2023 season.
Christopher Morel had a decent rookie season, hitting 16 homers while slashing .266/.338/.477 through his first 55 games, he dropped to .194/.269/.376 over his final 58 games.
Jon Berti stole 41 bases this past season at age 32; his previous career high was 17 back in 2019. Luis Garcia and Nolan Gorman are only 22 and have room to improve. Garcia hit .275 but had a .295 OPS and a .408 slugging percentage. Meanwhile, Gorman slashed .226/.300.420 but did hit 14 homers.
I don’t know what to make of Bryson Stott and Gavin Lux. Stott did hit 10 homers and steal 12 bases. But is he going to be the Phillies’ second baseman, shortstop, or platoon at both? He also only slashed .234/.295/.358.
Ahead of last season, I was still on board the Lux train before I jumped off at the first station as he just hasn’t lived up to the hype. It is hard to give up on him as he is only 24 and has shown flashes. Considering the lack of depth at second base, I have no problem if you think he should be a Tier 5 player. As of now, however, I don’t think he is there.
Until Next Week
Thanks for reading and be on the lookout for Top 2023 Keepers – Shortstops next. If you missed any of the previous Top 2023 Keepers articles, you can find them here: