This week we’re taking a look at the second base landscape, which is definitely shallower than the shortstop position. Overall, second base is looking even bleaker as Jose Altuve becomes the latest injury casualty of the World Baseball Classic. However, there’s always room for finding value and hidden gems at every position.

AL East:

Blue Jays: Whit Merrifield/Santiago Espinal/Cavan Biggio/Addison Barger– Second base for the Jays is pretty crowded. Merrifield’s cliff year happened last year and is dealing with a quad injury in spring training (not ideal for a guy who relies on his legs for value). Most concerning is the lack of steals he attempted upon his trade to the Jays. Santiago Espinal may not receive consistent playing time right away but looks to build on last year’s campaign. He’s showing some power and speed so far this spring but not overly optimistic it will carry over to the regular season. Cavan Biggio profiles as a super-utility guy. Top prospect Addison Barger is lurking in the wings as well.

Orioles: Adam Frazier/Ramon Urias – These guys are pretty much placeholders for the next generation of Orioles, but if you need some endgame batting average stabilization in a roto league, Frazier’s your guy.

Rays: Brandon Lowe/Vidal Brujan/Curtis Mead/Isaac Paredes – We know who Lowe is at this point: a streaky hitter with a lot of pop, particularly for a second baseman. Drafting him comes down to how confident you are in his recovery from his back/triceps injury last year. There were some mixed signals looking under the hood (he cut his K% but his barrel % dropped). I’m back in hoping to get a good discount on him, especially if I end up punting the position. Brujan isn’t having a great spring. Even if he was, a full season’s worth of at-bats at the major league level would not be guaranteed. Perhaps Brujan needs a change of scenery, but right now he’s not looking like a major leaguer. Sigh. Curtis Mead has been making some noise in spring. Rumors around Rays camp suggest he’ll be one of their first bats to come up.

Red Sox: Christian Arroyo/Enmanuel Valdez – Went over Arroyo in last week’s article. Valdez came over to the BoSox in the Christian Vazquez trade at midseason last year. Valdez was just optioned to AAA but should be one of the first players to be called up. He’s got a good hit tool and has impressed Alex Cora and Rafael Devers, for what it’s worth.

Yankees: Gleyber Torres/DJ LeMahieu – No player seems more impacted by the different balls MLB used the past few years than Gleyber. He’s not a 38 HR hitter, but assuming a normal, un-juiced MLB ball this year, should hit 25 homers in a full season. With youngsters Volpe and Peraza in the mix for playing time, it’s fair to wonder if the Yanks will transition him to an outfield spot (when Hicks and Stanton inevitably get hurt), or if Torres will be trade bait. DJ LeMahieu has another year of multi-infield eligibility. When healthy, he’ll score a ton of runs and post solid average/OBP numbers.


AL Central:

Guardians: Andres Gimenez – Covered him in last week’s article: A Preseason Trip Around The League: 2023 Shortstops – Razzball Fantasy Baseball

White Sox: Leury Garcia – Not much for fantasy purposes here.

Royals: Michael Massey – If Thairo Estrada is a poor man’s Andres Gimenez, then Massey is a poor man’s Thairo Estrada. It’s unclear at the moment if he’ll win the second base job right out of the gate but should seize the opportunity before long. He’s another guy with strong Minor League numbers, a solid hit tool, and can contribute some homers and steals along the way.

Tigers: Jonathan Schoop – Lost some weight from last year. Hopefully, a slimmed-down Schoop can return to his 2021 form but is faced with the prospect of being platooned if his struggles continue.

Twins: Nick Gordon – May be overlooked due to various recent injuries and stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Luis Arraez trade.  He bulked up a bit and reports from Twins camp suggest he’s been working with the hitting coaches to hit for more power. Gordon won’t be an OBP asset but can be one of those multi-positional eligible guys who can contribute a little bit to each roto category.


AL West:

Angels: Brandon Drury – All it takes is one good year for people to get back on Drury. The multi-positional eligibility is nice, but I’m going to let someone else bet on his career resurgence.

Astros: Jose Altuve – Altuve is doing his best to stave off Father Time. The 32 year old had one of his career years last year but there were some troubling signs upon further investigation. His hardhit% and exit velocity numbers were career lows, but I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re pulling them into the Crawford boxes. Altuve should remain a solid pick for re-drafts, particularly at a weak second base position. EDIT: Jose Altuve left Saturday’s WBC game after getting hit in the hand with a pitch. There’s speculation he broke his thumb, which would knock him out for an extended period of time.

Athletics: Tony Kemp – When you have one of the lowest budgets in MLB and you charge your own players for drinks in the vending machine of your clubhouse, this is the type of leadoff hitter you get. This was referenced in an earlier Razzball post/tweet but take a look at his savant numbers: some of the coldest numbers you’ll see.

Mariners: Kolten Wong – Wong seems locked into a platoon with Dylan Moore at the moment. He’s had a tough spring and there’s not much upside to his profile of mid-teens homers and around 20 steals.

Rangers: Marcus Semien – Went over him in last week’s article.


NL East:

Braves: Ozzie Albies – Albies is a lock to miss time each season and had shoulder surgery in the offseason. He’s been a little behind schedule in Spring, but reports indicate he’ll be ready for Opening Day. I’m going to take the under on his HR projections and most other of his projections. Brian Snitker has talked about elevating Michael Harris II in the order, so if Acuna, Harris, Olson, and Riley make up the Braves 1-4, Albies could be batting 6th or lower and not optimal for accruing gaudy runs and stolen base totals.

Nationals: Luis Garcia – Went over him in last week’s article.

Marlins: Jazz Chisholm Jr./Luis Arraez – Jazz has the talent to go 25/25, or even 30/30. His back injury last year prematurely cut short what would have been a fantastic fantasy season. How confident are you in his ability to stay healthy over a full season, coupled with the move to the outfield? Surely he’s one of the biggest boom or bust picks. Arraez moves from the AL to the NL, one of the rare times a batting champion has been traded in the offseason afterward. Arraez should have a typical season we’re accustomed to seeing of him. Due to the lowered batting average around the league last year, drafting guys that can be an asset in batting average (particularly in roto) is more valuable.

Mets: Jeff McNeil – The NL batting champ has seen his preseason ADP rise. With batting average at a premium these days, I’m not so sure McNeil is worthy of a big ADP bump unless drafters are viewing the banned shift as a major benefit. A word of caution: McNeil’s xBA was .280 compared to his actual .326 average.

Phillies: Josh Harrison/Bryson Stott – Harrison was added as a bench bat, but if Stott struggles, could push him for playing time at the keystone. Not really much to see here from Harrison, as his days of fantasy relevance are over.


NL Central:

Cardinals: Tommy Edman – 2022 was a tale of two halves for Tommy boy. Looking forward to this year, I’m a bit skeptical he’ll be a fantasy contributor for the entire season. As Jordan Walker plays himself into the Opening Day roster, the Cardinals logjam becomes more and more evident. While Edman may initially start somewhere in the middle infield and at the top of the Cards lineup, Edman feels like he’s a slump away from being relegated to the bottom of the order and losing his grip on a full-time slot. Quick stat worth noting: Edman was terrible against breaking balls last year (-5 run value against sliders and -2 against curves and splitters).

Cubs: Nico Hoerner – Nico currently only has SS eligibility in Yahoo, but I’m including him here as he’s slated to be the Cubbies second baseman. Hoerner has tremendous value where he’s going ADP-wise. Nico looks to be the Cubs leadoff man and he quietly went 10HRs/20SBs last year. Only 25, I expect Hoerner to tap into some more power to pair with his elite plate discipline (11.1 K%). A jump to 15HRs/25SBs isn’t too crazy.

Brewers: Luis Urias – Went over him in last week’s article.

Pirates: Rodolfo Castro – Not much to see here, unless you’re in a super-deep league. A long shot for sure, but perhaps prospect Nick Gonzales gets the call around midseason. Top prospect Termarr looks to be a few years away from the Majors.

Reds: Jonathan India – Razzball’s favorite player last year is in better shape as reports out of Reds camp say he’s prioritized conditioning and has lost around 10-15 pounds. A season free of lower-body injuries should return him to his 2021 86th percentile sprint speed. The former ROY presumably be at the top of the Reds lineup and should settle into a top-10 ranking among second basemen when the 2023 season is over.


NL West:

Diamondbacks: Ketel Marte/Josh Rojas – Well, we know now Marte isn’t the 30 HR guy, but it’s worth noting he was 2022’s unluckiest hitter while dealing with various injuries. I’m betting on his BABIP fortunes swinging back to positive value, and you’re likely looking at a .275 – .285 hitter, 15-17 HR bat with around 160+ R+RBI, depending on where he bats in the lineup. Rojas had a productive 2022, but the free agent additions of Evan Longoria and Kyle Lewis, coupled with the emergence of Jake McCarthy and the big extension Corbin Carroll received make me concerned about Marte’s playing time, and if he will be relegated to a super-utility role. Of course, Kyle Lewis and Ketel Marte are not exactly models of health, so playing time concerns for Rojas could be moot in a month or so.

Dodgers: Max Muncy/Miguel Vargas – Muncy’s 2B eligible and recovered from his elbow injury last year. The batting average won’t help you and he was awful against breaking balls last year, but the 35 projected homers at one of the weakest positions certainly will. I’m chalking his struggles up to a bum elbow and expect him to hit .230 with big power numbers/OBP like we’ve seen pre-injury. Top prospect Vargas is currently only 1B eligible, but will shortly add 2B eligibility.

Giants: Thairo Estrada – Went over him in last week’s post.

Padres: Jake Cronenworth – I was high on Cronenworth last year. Looking under the hood, Cronenworth’s stats preview a mixed bag for his 2023 prospects. His 2022 xBA was .221, and various other power indicators trended downward. Perhaps most troubling was the inability to hit fastballs like he used to (-12 run value on fastballs). The counting will be there in a loaded Padres lineup and Cronenworth should pick a few hits up from the banned shift, but ultimately this is a “better in real life” player than fantasy, especially considering his positional versatility.

Rockies: Brendan Rodgers/Ryan McMahon – Two Rockies players who seem like perennial sleepers/breakouts yet will likely provide you between a .240 – .260 average with 18-24 HRs, and 160ish R+RBI, and chip in a couple of steals. At this point, these guys are what they are.  I’ve finally given up on my Rocky Mountain dreams of a .280, 35 HR season. McMahon is terrible (like most Rockies hitters) on the road, his barrel rates and line drive profile indicate more of a 22-25 HR season. Not to mention, the Rockies lineup hasn’t been as good as in years past. However, Ryan McMahon is a great pick at his +200 ADP.


Thanks for reading!