Last week we took a very early look at the first base position for fantasy baseball in 2020, both with some early general thoughts that could apply to both deep and shallower leagues, as well as some more specific thoughts about NL-only, AL-only, or other deep leagues. We’ll move along to the Keystone this week as we try to do some early navigation into the world of second basemen. Since Grey has already kindly gifted you with his list of top 20 second basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball, I’ll began by quoting him directly — as he said, “First time I can remember a position, besides catcher, that didn’t have one guy in the top 20 overall.” Two other important points he made which I largely agree with and will now paraphrase: 1) The guys at the very top of this position are probably not worth drafting at their current price in any format, but 2) There are lots of 2B bargains later on. One other thing I noticed that I thought was interesting when looking at the second base landscape: just off the top of my head, it looks to me that about two-thirds of the top 30 second basemen also qualify at another position, even when using a 20-games-played-in-2019 threshold. I don’t remember any position having stats quite like that in the past, and what it means to me at first glance is that there are A LOT of guys who qualify at 2nd base this year. Let’s take a look at some names, and how the current state of second base particularly affects those of us deep-leaguers.
Grey’s first tier consists of Gleyber Torres, Jose Altuve, and Jonathan Villar. I don’t see myself ending up as a Torres owner in any league this year; I feel like he’ll have to repeat last year to earn his current price, and I’m not confident that will happen. If it does, he’s just a fair buy and not a bargain, and I’m more interested in bargains at this position. Altuve I wasn’t remotely interested in at his price point even before buzzer-gate, and even if his price drops considerably I’m still not remotely interested. Villar is the one name from this list that, unlike Grey, I will probably own on a team or two — okay, full disclosure, I’ve actually already drafted him. I wasn’t expecting to draft him, but it just kind of… happened. You know how sometimes there’s a guy from your past who treated you really well when you were together, and you know that if you start seeing him again you’ll probably regret it because it won’t go as well as last time, and even though it went okay last time you broke up anyway, but he’s available now and it seems tempting, so you go for it anyway? No? Well, Villar is that guy for me, at least right now. My temptation is his always-enticing speed, which I’m expecting to be a scarce resource in 2020, just as it was in 2019. In a 15-team mixed league or deeper, I’ll continue to at least consider what might feel like a bit of an overpayment for Villar in the hopes that he runs wild at the top of the Marlins lineup and somehow manages to chip in across the fantasy category board again this year.
One of the reasons the players in tier one should be very easy to avoid is that there are such solid options following them. I’ve completed two early drafts, and of all my regrets about them, one that stands out is the fact that I don’t own either Ozzie Albies or Keston Hiura yet. They both felt a bit overpriced to me heading in to the early offseason (overall NFBC ADP #40 and #42, respectively), but now I’m starting to feel like they are both worth paying a bit of a premium for as compared to the guys ranked not too far below them. When you look at the glob of guys around tier 3: DJ LeMahieu (#66), Whit Merrifield (#51), , Jeff McNeil (#85)… I feel like there is a decent chance I’d be paying for a career year in terms of where they are being drafted, and that none of them has anywhere close to the upside of Albies or Hiura. There are also a couple of true power options who qualify at second that I can see rostering as my starter even in shallower leagues, and would definitely love to have in an NL-only situation, at their current prices: Max Muncy (#77) and Mike Moustakas (#112).
I feel like in most drafts, I end up basically punting one position (in addition to catcher) regardless of league size — just leaving it empty and waiting until the very end to see what’s left over. I think waiting on second base will be a very viable strategy in both the shallowest and the deepest leagues this year. Obviously they all come with question marks, but there are seemingly countless second baseman outside the top 125 that I think could end up being huge bargains. Cavan Biggio (#132), Tommy Edman (#135), Gavin Lux (#159; I think his ADP has the chance to rise as much as just about anyone’s depending on how the next couple months go), Garrett Hampson (#170), Ryan McMahon (#186)… none of them may be sure things, but there is just a ton of upside late at this position. Just beyond these names are guys that may not make the cut for shallower formats at point, but who could be life-savers in deeper leagues: Kevin Newman (#196), Kolton Wong (#220, and who for better or worse, I can already tell is going to be one of my deep-league go-to guys this year; honestly did not realize he had 24 steals last year, nor did I realize he was a gold-glover which should theoretically keep him in the lineup), Michael Chavis (#234), Tommy LaStella (#287)…
The list really does seem to go on forever. There are even more bargains later on in guys I wouldn’t consider for deep leagues but have a great chance to be at least solid in NL or AL-only. I have Luis Arraez (#233) in a deep AL-only keeper league and, while he is just not going to be a home run or stolen base contributor (and I actually think his ADP should be even lower than this), I’m hoping that he can make a impact in runs and average in this format. Going much deeper still, I’m probably also going to end up rostering Niko Goodrum (#293) – even a mediocre skill set can be a big help in a deep league from a guy who qualifies at 2B, OF, SS and should play pretty much every day, Mauricio Dubon (#372) – again, not expecting anything close to mixed-league production, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can take the 2B job in San Fran and run with it, and I may even end up with Jose Peraza (#393) on a team, hoping he can bounce back enough with the Red Sox to make a deep-league impact.
I don’t usually like to draft based on position scarcity, but I do think it makes sense to draft from a place of knowing that there is an abundance at a given position. If you’re in a very deep mixed or NL-only league, I feel like this abundance will definitely exist at second base this year. In NL-only, in my opinion there are studs at the top worth drafting, mid-range relative bargains, and a handful of promising names much later on — there really should be something for everyone at every price point as your draft or auction rolls along. In AL-only leagues, there may be more planning ahead involved — honestly, this is the one format where I can see owning Gleyber because there are so few AL guys in those next couple tiers that I’m excited about. The AL bargains should be there later, but they may be fewer and farther between than their NL counterparts.
Happy draft prep, and as always feel free to leave any comments or questions!
Would you accept Luis Arraez for Dylan Cease?
In the right league, sure – as long as you aren’t expecting Arraez to suddenly start hitting for power and stealing bases, because I do think what we saw last year is truly who the guy is (and may even be close to his ceiling, but a .334 average is a pretty solid ceiling). It’s a super unusual profile so you have to be aware what you’re getting in to with him, but I do kind of have a soft spot for Arraez because he helped me win an AL-only league just by being such a sneaky contributor in average. Also, I’m not a big Cease fan because if I discriminate against anyone in fantasy baseball, it’s guys who give up too many walks –drives me absolutely insane. Yes, some of them will figure things out and right the ship, but I don’t usually have the patience to stick around that long.
Thoughts on Brandon Lowe? Leadoff hitter for Rays?
Check my response to Beat the Bots above for some thoughts on Lowe… and the more I’m thinking about him, I feel like he’s a guy who’s value is more likely to get higher than lower as the off-season progresses so I’m glad I”ve already drafted him at least once. (Plus, it was late enough in the draft that if he does bust, I didn’t spend a high pick on him, and he shouldn’t be too difficult to replace).
Great insight. After seeing the title of your article I was excited to read what your thoughts would be on someone both Grey and I are very high on this year. That would be K. Marte, however there was no mention of him and his additional OF eligibility. With his current NFBC ADP of approximately 45, could you offer some thoughts on him and his current value as a 3-4th round selection in a 12 Team H2H 6×6 OPS league?
Thanks in advance for your response
Hey Saint, thanks for reading! Yes, I originally was going to talk a little about Marte in that Hiura/Albies group… even started writing about him, and as I was doing so realized that I really still hadn’t decided exactly where I stand. When I saw that his ADP was higher than Albies and Hiura that made me feel like he was being overdrafted… but the more I’ve been thinking about it, I really do like him and while I don’t think he’s necessarily a bargain at that price, I think it’s a sensible place to draft him. I like his skill set and just don’t think he’ll bust completely, and if he can more or less repeat last year — which seems completely do-able — then I think you’ll get your money’s worth. The extra OF eligibility can be a big help depending on league parameters too. I definitely hope to own him in at least one league this year, especially if I can find a situation where others are afraid he was a one-year wonder and let me have him at a slight discount.
Laura – good stuff as always, I really like how you go through your rationale clearly!
One deep 2B that I think could bring sneaky value is Cesar Hernandez in Cleveland. Do you think he can bounce back and give owners a 12 /12 or 12/15 season with other counting stats and ratios that are adequate?
Thanks, thorbs! Yeah, I think you can throw Hernadez into that group of late-round bargains, especially in an AL-only league where the position isn’t quite as deep. I do think 12/15 is possible for him (especially after checking and finding out the Cleveland ranked 6th overall in stolen bases per game, which surprised me), and I think he has a decent shot to have a helpful batting average + decent counting stats (from a deep-league perspective at least : ) as well.
Great read, what’s your opinion on 2B-eligible guys For deep leagues like Solak, Happ & Brandon Lowe? (admittedly Solak probably needs T.Frazier to retire)
Well, I just drafted Lowe as my MI in a mixed 15-teamer, so I guess I like him at least a little bit. Playing time in Tampa is always a dicey proposition and he’s not exactly a proven commodity yet so I’m not holding my breath that he’s going to be a game-changer — but I do think there’s enough upside there to grab him at his current price point. Solak only qualifies at Utility in this league, and that combined with the fact that it sounds like he’ll be a utility guy in real life for now has kind of pushed him down my depth chart in re-draft.. but if you have room for him at the end of a draft or auction he could end up being valuable in deeper leagues even in that role (and of course could end up being valuable even in shallower leagues if he hits his way into the lineup regularly/gets forced into a full-time role due to injury) . Happ only qualifies at OF in most of my leagues and I have just never been a fan, so he is one of those guys where if and when he finally does put it all together, I’m afraid I’ll be on the sidelines watching others reap in the rewards.
I appreciate the insight!
Thanks for reading — it’s exciting that we’re finally at the time of year when there are other humans out there preparing for the season to talk deep-league fantasy baseball with!
Yes! Happy New Year! Haha
Do you think Dozier and/or Scooter start opening day somewhere?
I’d be pretty shocked for either… and if either one does somehow get a gig on the top of someone’s depth chart, I can’t see drafting either of them at this point even in even deep leagues given all of the other 2B options