We’ve made it to the All-Star break, and like the previous Top 20 shortstops list, today’s top 20 second basemen list looks very different than the preseason’s top 20 due to injuries and ineffectiveness. Players with long-term injuries like Ozzie Albies and Brandon Lowe have been omitted (although Lowe was just activated Saturday). This list places weight on what the players have done thus far along with future second-half value baked in. Here’s what the list shakes out to be:
2. Tommy Edman – Cardinals – Also went over him in the last rankings. Edman has been one of the biggest risers in value this year and a main reason for his great season is having a positive Run Value on fastballs, compared to a -11 Run Value on fastballs last year. Edman is pounding the many fastballs he’s seeing, as he’s batting in front of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. I’m off on a tangent here, but perhaps batting “in front” of Ronald Acuna Jr. and Dansby Swanson is part of what’s led to Michael Harris II’s early MLB success.
3. Brandon Drury – Reds – The biggest riser on this list, as Drury wasn’t ranked in the top 20-25 second basemen on this list in the preseason. Drury has earned his good season thus far, as he’s almost doubled his barrel rates from last year, his xBA is not too far off from his actual average (.267 xBA compared to .279 as of this writing), and his max EV is in the 86th percentile. It’s safe to say Drury has enjoyed his new home ballpark, but even if he gets traded to a less hitter-friendly home ballpark, he should still remain a productive player this season.
4. Jazz Chisholm Jr. – Marlins – Jazz (back) is seemingly on track to return in the All-Star game, or at the very least, after the All-Star break. Notably, Jazz has trimmed his K rate over the past few years from 30.6%, 28.6%, to 27.4% this season. Jazz’s second half will dictate where he’s drafted in 2023.
5. Jose Altuve – Astros – Altuve has had a weird year, as he’s rocking a career-low exit velocity, but Altuve’s offset the low exit velocity with career-high barrel rate and walk rates. He has positive run values on all types of pitches this year, and should remain the catalyst for the Astros, especially as Yordan Alvarez takes time to heal from his hand injury.
8. Andres Gimenez – Guardians – A worthy All-Star, this breakout is batting 32/10/43/.299/.357/7 entering play Saturday. Although he doesn’t walk much, his barrel rates (8.1%) and hard-hit rates (41.1%) have made tremendous strides from last year. The All-Star game will hopefully give Gimenez some well-deserved attention on the national stage. I’m not sure there’s another level to Gimenez’s game, but the cost-conscious Guardians have to be happy with the returns they’ve received from both Gimenez and Amed Rosario.
9. Ty France – Mariners – France has put it all together this year, with a 33/10/47/.302/.372 line. His metrics are mostly in line with last year but France keeps maturing as a hitter, as he’s cut his K% rate over the years from 24.4 to 23.9 to 16.3 to 14.9% this season. France is what the old-timers call a “professional hitter” who has a “nose for the ball.”
10. Marcus Semien – Rangers – Semien has been talked about quite regularly on this site. The exit velocity and other metrics haven’t been pretty, but at the very least he’s still remained a power/speed threat at 12 HRs and 16 SB apiece.
11-b. Jon Berti – Marlins – We have two specialists here: Arraez of the batting average variety, and Berti of stolen bases. Berti was IL’ed Friday with a groin strain. Strained groins usually pump the breaks on stolen bases, but reportedly his strain his mild and should be back in action shortly. 28 stolen bases in just about 200 at-bats is a league-winner here.
13. Gleyber Torres – Yankees – I like what I’ve seen from Torres lately. His past month has brought him to a 43/14/40/.273/.330/5 slash line. He’s barreling the ball close to the rate of his 2019 career year and his hard hit rate is up to 46.7%. Most impressively, he has positive run values on all types of pitches this year. I also wanted to highlight he has a +4 run value on 4-seam fastballs this year after posting an unfathomable -15 and -5 on those pitches the past two years respectively. Gleyber is the steady presence the Yankees have needed to help turn the lineup over after big bats Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
14. Thairo Estrada – Giants – Estrada has done a little bit of everything this season, with a 46/9/36/.258./.311/12 line. Somehow Estrada is a top 100 player (According to the Razzball Player Rater) in today’s depressed offensive environment but I’m not confident Estrada maintains his pace in the second half.
15. DJ Lamahieu – Yankees – Mr. DJ is doing what the Yankees paid him to do – score runs, hit for a high average, get on base at a high clip, and strike out at a low rate. While we’d like to see more power, Lamahieu is what he is at this stage of his career and should have a similar second half.
17. Ketel Marte – Diamondbacks – Ketel’s ranking here is partially indicative of what he’s done to date this year, but good health will turn his season around and move him up the rankings. Marte’s been hampered by a hamstring injury and hopefully, the All-Star breaks helps Marte get back in action sooner. Marte remains a quality hitter who hits the ball hard and possesses a discerning eye at the plate.
18. Jake Cronenworth – Padres – Jake “The Rake” has been added to the All-Star roster and has been particularly streaky but overall a solid player this season. Cronenworth has a 58/9/59/.241/.337/1 line and has been utilized in a few different spots in the Padres lineup. From what I gather, Cronenworth has been pressing with Fernando Tatis Jr. out for the year to this point and Manny Machado missing time as well. Padres and fantasy managers can’t wait for the team to get back to full health.
19. Whit Merrifield – Royals – Merrifield has a 45/5/36/.240/.292/14 line. The xBA is .274, so the batting average should rebound a bit, but Merrifield isn’t really worth targeting in trades unless you’re desperate for steals.
20. Nolan Gorman – Cardinals – Gorman has been what we’ve expected: 9 HR’s and a ~.240 batting average in about 160 at bats so far, accompanied by a 30% K rate. I expect more of the same post All-Star break.
Have a great All-Star break!