As we continue our tour around the baseball diamond this chilly February, it’s time to take a look at the second base landscape. I’m not sure the rest of the fantasy baseball world agrees with me, but I’m actually finding second to be ultra deep this year — dare I say, perhaps even deeper than short? There are a ton of mid-tier options I like if I miss (or purposely avoid) a first-tier second baseman (and I’m high on the guys at the top as well).
As far as those top-tier options go, I am once again interested in Marcus Semien (oh, if only I could quickly link to every one of Grey’s Semien jokes here) at his current ADP (#28 using the last month of NFBC data). I haven’t yet drafted him, however; the timing hasn’t been quite right for any of my rosters. I do have one share of Ozzie Albies, when he unexpectedly fell to me in one of my draft and hold leagues and I decided to shift my strategy a bit to accommodate him on my roster. I’m happy to have Albies as one of the foundations of that team, as I would have been with Semien, but as the draft continued I was reminded that there are several other options I would have been more than pleased to roster later on in the draft as well.
After the first tier of second basemen (which also includes Mookie Betts, who’s been flying off the board at the beginning of drafts with an ADP of 5), there is kind of a substantial drop-off. Or maybe it won’t be a big drop at all, but it’s a bit tricky to navigate given that a few guys had either outlier career years last year or may have come into their own, depending on your take. Before we get to the intriguing youngsters, I’ll mention Jose Altuve, who is sort of in his own tier as the 4th highest ranked second baseman with an overall ADP of 39. I haven’t drafted him, I won’t draft him given his price, but I also won’t tell you not to since I’ve given up on trying to figure out when he’s finally going to stop being productive.
After Altuve, we have two of the aforementioned up-and-comers, Nico Hoerner and Matt McLain, who have nearly identical ADPs (58 vs. 59). These are two guys who helped me in a huge way in multiple leagues last year, and if you’d asked me in September I’d have told you they’d both be all over my roster this year. Alas, turns out I wasn’t the only one who noticed their production, and so far this season I’m finding that for my money it makes more sense to grab an outfielder or a pitcher I view as a #1 starter at this price. That being said, I have high hopes that they will both continue to be fantasy studs this year and could both be solid options early on in a draft depending on league and roster construction.
I’m already realizing that if I went over every second baseman I kind of like, we’d be here until the All Star Break, because looking at the top 20 by ADP, I can see rostering just about any of them if the time and place are right. I have a couple shares of Gleyber Torres near his 86 ADP, as I’m hoping he can repeat or even add on to his excellent 2023 (25 homers, 13 steals, and a sneaky-helpful .273 average) in his age 27 season this year. I don’t mind Bryson Stott and Andres Gimenez at their current ADPs as they both had relatively quiet 15/30 (or 15/31 in Stott’s case) seasons last year. And while I can see fading Ketel Marte simply because you may want more speed from your middle infielder types, after watching him rebound in 2023 I think his 115 ADP (he’s the 11th ranked 2B) is a more than fair price if the roster is right.
And there’s more!:
I thought Zach Gelof (ADP 129) was being overdrafted, and maybe he is, but after diving a little deeper I think there is reason to believe that the breakout we saw (or didn’t see, since most of us probably weren’t watching a ton of A’s games) late in 2023 could continue into this season. Most projection models are predicting a horrible average, but they believe in the playing time and speed/power combo; Steamer has him going 21/20. I find Thairo Estrada pretty boring even though he’s helped me in an NL-only keeper leagues for a few years now, but he’s another guy who could significantly outperform his draft price (ADP 132) is he stays healthy, given that he had 14 homers and 21 steals (with a superb .288 average) in just 116 games last year. And normally I’d be intent on avoiding a player coming off of wrist surgery, but looking at Tommy Edman’s 13/27 season last year (479 at bats), I don’t mind a relatively late gamble if he falls (his ADP is 165 but he’s been taken as late as pick #232 in the last month) – and who doesn’t love the 2B/SS/OF eligibility?
I realize that “there are a lot of pretty good second basemen this year” is a boring takeaway, yet that is exactly the conclusion I’ve come to as we head into the 2024 season. So, once again, I’ll mention the obvious but important: know the pool of available and eligible players at each position in your leagues, so that you’re never focused on just a few options and always have somewhere to turn in a draft or auction. I’ve already had one draft where, as deep as I view the position, I sort of had second base get away from me. Since there are so many guys I like after the top names are off the board, I think I waited a little too long to find a solid option later in my draft, and I didn’t anticipate so many owners filling their middle infield position as early as they did, limiting my 2B options a lot faster than I’d expected. (As I continue to get more familiar with this year’s player pool, it makes sense – I think there’s a particularly steep drop off in the outfield, for instance, so it would figure that some of the middle infielders I like would be rising up other owners’ draft boards as well). Anyhow, I ended up with Nolan Gorman as my starting second baseman in this (15-team mixed) league, which doesn’t thrill me. I’m hopeful he finds regular playing time and his power groove this year and I liked his draft price for the possible upside, but I’m glad it’s a league with waivers where I’ll hopefully have other options if he gets off to a rough start. Since that draft, I’ve kind of focused on Thairo Estrada as the end of the line when it comes to who I want to roll out as a starter in a 15-teamer.
We still have a small sea of names to swim through when it comes to players who could disappoint but at least a few of whom will probably significantly outperform their draft price in 2024: Eduard Julien, Brandon Drury, Ryan McMahon, Luis Rengifo, and Jonathan India. And that’s before we get into deeper league options like Whit Merrifield, Jorge Polanco, Brandon Lowe, Gavin Lux, Brendan Donovan, and Jeff McNeil. I’m not terribly excited about that last group of 6, yet do have a few of them stashed as late fliers or bench depth. Any one of them could end up paying off at their current ADPs, which are all between #250-300.
Let’s drop down well outside the top 300 to see if we can come up with a few deep league/sleeper territory names. I really like Jordan Westburg this late; I think he’s getting overlooked in the ridiculous sea of young talent in Baltimore, and think he could well carve out more playing time than people expect. Then again, I don’t need to tell you that since you probably already read Grey’s sleeper post on Westburg.
Who knows exactly what Jose Caballero’s role in Tampa will be, but there is speed upside there if nothing else as he may have had one of the quieter 26-steal seasons in a while for the Mariners last year. He’s one of the more polarizing players out there, as he’s been drafted as high as 206 and as late as 507 over at NFBC in the last month.
One more guy who may get squeezed out by upcoming talent but I’m not quite ready to give up on yet is Michael Massey. He really wasn’t able to carry his minor league success into MLB in 129 games last year and ended the season with a putrid .229 average/.274 OBP. He did have 15 homers and 6 steals, though, and had a great September where he hit .280 with 5 of those homers, for what it’s worth. I’m not holding my breath that he puts it all together in time to establish himself in Kansas City, but he’s still only 25 so he doesn’t seem like the worst deep league or a very late draft and hold stash.
Finally, a mention of Davis Schneider, whose ADP is currently 488. I suspect the success he had in his 35 game cup of coffee with Toronto was a mirage given his ugly strikeout rate and contact issues, but I see no reason not to take a flier this late if you’re stashing guys on a deep roster. The power is real, and the .276 average during his admittedly short call-up is also impressive.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Drafting!