I’m not sure how many leagues I’m in where I’ll be in the market for an off-the-radar second baseman, because as my drafts have gotten going over the last couple of months I’ve found myself trying to fill the 2B position earlier rather than later. I’ve found myself willing to perhaps overpay a bit for Ozzie Albies or Whit Merrifield, or maybe gamble on an upside-without-a-long-track-record, relatively early pick of Cavan Biggio or Keston Hiura. Things get dicey in a hurry, as I’m not remotely interested in, say, Jose Altuve or Dylan Moore at their current ADPs (which are both around 100 overall according to NFBC). I might take a flier on Mike Moustakas (ADP #120) who qualifies at 2B in most leagues, Tommy Edman (#129), or Nick Solak (#169), but I’m not overly confident that any of those three will provide solid value at those prices, let alone confident enough to reach for any of them.
Anyway, what I’m looking at now — as we are wont to do here at Rolling In The Deep — are guys even further down the second base food chain. The second baseman list isn’t deep to start with, and since many of them are also eligible at other positions, it’s really hard to tell just how fast your cheat sheet is going to go from a handful of mediocre names to panic time where you literally having nothing left to cross off. Hence, the following list: guys outside the top 20 ranked second basemen overall (again, according to NFBC ADP and positional eligibility) who we may need to turn to if we get desperate — or at least as back-ups/low-risk, low-reward lottery tickets — in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues.
Jurickson Profar (ADP #231, also qualifies at OF). Profar had surprisingly good stats last year; he hit .278 with an OBP of .342, and if you project his HR/SB numbers over the course of a full season he’d have gone 20/20. Of course, we all know small sample sizes rarely hold over a full season, and there’s also the matter of exactly where and if he’ll play on a daily basis in 2021. The Padres will likely do some mixing and matching after acquiring Ha-Seong Kim and looking to see what Jake Cronenworth can do after finishing second in last year’s ROY voting… but in deep leagues, it’s hard not to like anyone that’s even a moderate speed+power threat in the Padres lineup, even if he’s not starting every day. Also, Profar’s still surprisingly young — I was a bit taken aback to discover that he just turned 28 this past weekend.
Ryan McMahon (#243). I guess there’s not really any reason to believe this is the year McMahon finally has a legit breakout, but at this price there’s no reason not to take a flier that he might. The .215 average and .295 OBP in 2020 are downright awful, and unfortunately not too far off from what are now his career numbers (.237 BA/.318 OBP). He also didn’t steal a base last year after chipping in with 5 in 2019. So what’s to potentially like? He hit 9 homers in 52 games last year, he still plays half his games in Colorado, and a guy who could pop 30 homers this year and qualifies at second base might look pretty good around pick 240.
(Quick pause to mention a couple players I thought I would draft this late, but haven’t: Scott Kingery (#323) and Ty France (#326). I thought I would have at least a share or two of these guys by now, but just haven’t felt confident enough in their underlying skill sets to pull the trigger even late in a draft. At a certain point I definitely like them both as fliers/bench depth, but don’t want to rely on either of them to be a part of my active lineup in even the deepest leagues.)
Kolten Wong (#347). I’ve already drafted him once, and am feeling like he may be my late second base escape hatch in several leagues, as he was last year. That last year thing didn’t really work out so well for Wong, so we’ll see how things go for him in Milwaukee. In my drafts so far, he’s gone as high as #248 and as low as #402, and at this point I think I’d be more than happy to take him around pick 300-350 if my team needs warranted it. I’m concerned about the fact that as a team the Brewers were second to last in attempted stolen bases per game last year (only Minnesota attempted to run less) since much of Wong’s value is tied to whether or not he runs, but one can’t be too choosey this late.
(As I’m looking at these names I’m realizing that most of the less objectionable names at this point in a draft are NL players, so I will repeat my comment last week that if you’re in an AL-only league, be sure you survey your options before you draft so that you’re aware of just how dire the AL hitting landscape is this year. Between picks 350 and 450 you’re looking at second base names like Jonathan Schoop, Niko Goodrum, Kiké Hernandez, and Marwin Gonzalez, all of whom it would make me a little queasy to draft even this late. Let’s jump all the way outside the top 500 to look at a couple more guys… the good news is that these names will probably still be around even at the end of a very deep draft, the bad news is that it would likely surprise everyone involved if they manage to provide any significant fantasy value.)
Pat Valaika (#540). Yes, it’s still February and I’ve already drafted Valaika, which if nothing else shows you that I continue to be committed to the insanity that is early drafting a super deep league fantasy baseball team. He qualifies at first, second, and short in the league I grabbed him, so that’s handy I guess. Like Profar, Valaika is younger than I realized (he’s also 28), probably because when he was playing semi-regularly in Colorado (110 games in 2017) I assumed he was already old since the Rockies rarely seem interested in giving at bats to anyone under 25. As you may have heard, the Orioles are not projected to be particularly good this season and who knows how many at bats he’ll get — but hearing from the folks at FanGraphs that Valaika’s xBA and xSLG numbers actually are at least mildly promising was all I needed to pull the trigger outside the top 500 in a 15-team draft and hold league.
Chad Pinder. Well, I really just left Pinder on the list so it wouldn’t just be dregs of the Baltimore Orioles infield at this point, but maybe he’ll play enough in Oakland to stumble into just enough counting stats to warrant a pick at #549. Oh, and he also qualifies at third. Yay?
Freddy Galvis (#552). He’ll probably play regularly, which is about all of the positive news I can muster here. If you’ve read this far, hopefully you’ve learned what we all knew but may have needed a reminder about: you really do NOT want to have to draft a second baseman at the end of a deep league draft.
Kyle Farmer (#737). Just for fun let’s end with a name outside the top 700 — at this point, there’s really no such thing as downside. I’m not sure Farmer exactly has anything resembling upside, and I’m not sure his quest to become the Reds’ starting shortstop has a chance in hell of happening. At this point, though, I’m thinking he’ll at least make the opening day team, which is more than I can say for some of the players outside the top 700. I recently took him at the end of a 50-round draft and hold league… who knows, maybe he’ll throw an RBI or two my way that ends up making a difference in the standings at some point this season.