March, a month where the snow is hopefully gone, trees and flowers start to bud and bloom, and the days start to grow long once again. For those of in the south March just means we get to spend another weekend mowing the lawn. But as baseball fans flock or social distance in flocks to Florida and Arizona to see their favorite teams get ready for the season, March is also the month for fantasy players to draft teams and dream of winning championships.
There are numerous types of leagues, from redraft leagues to dynasty leagues. Which league you prefer will greatly influence how you draft. Redraft leagues are great, but they are more for those who like instant gratification. You draft, you win, you start over next year. Dynasty leagues are for those who like to build something and see it last. These leagues require you not to just think about today, but next year and the year after that. Thus, it requires you to think differently when drafting your team, with potential and youth being more important than a known quantity and experience.
I have stated this before – I prefer youth over an older players, sometimes to my detriment. That is always my plan, even if it turns out I am wrong. Knowing when an older player will start to decline is a hard question that you have to guess the answer to. So I make it easy on myself – I’m going with the kid as I keep the future in mind. That said, let’s get on with the rankings.
So we have a top 10 and the first thing you notice is DJ LeMahieu ranked ninth. Yep, that goes back to my stated plan – youth over age. I’m building a dynasty team from the ground up and I don’t want to start with a 32-year-old second baseman who hits like Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium but like Kolton Wong on the road. When LeMahieu turns 35 in three years, is he still going to be a beast at Yankee Stadium? I wouldn’t bet against it, but I also am not a betting man and thus the slid down to 9th. Age is also a big factor for Whit Merrifield sliding to 10th. For a player who relies on speed for a lot of his value, how long will that speed last as he ages?
I know there are people who question Cavan Biggio. Obviously I am not one of them. In his first 159 games, all he has done is hit 24 homers and swipe 20 bags with a .368 OPB while dropping his whiff rate from 29% to 23%. Additionally, not only can he play second but the outfield and first base as well and will likely maintain that versatility for years. Gavin Lux ranked fifth may be a surprise to some, or even many. But I have not jumped off the Lux bandwagon left. His first 42 career games haven’t been anything to write home about, but he was a top prospect entering the 2020 season and if he can win the starting job, it would not be surprising to see him his 25 home runs, steal close to 15 bags and hit around .270 as a career floor.
Tier 2 is a mixed bag when it comes to players. Jose Altuve is at the top of this tier because I am discounting his 2020 season – at least his regular season. If his hitting woes would have extended into the postseason, there would be cause for alarm with him suddenly losing the ability to hit. But in the postseason Altuve looked like his old self, and like LeMahieu and Merrifield, should be productive for at least three years and be worthy of drafting ahead of some of the younger players in this tier.
Meanwhile, I ranked three players – Keston Hiura, Lourdes Gurriel and Gleyber Torres – who have eligibility at second base in some leagues but likely won’t be second base eligible in 2022. But if you want a big bats at second base this year and worry about a second base next season, then Hiura, Gurriel and Torres would be great selections as both will hit with power and drive in a lot of runs. If I knew Torres would be second base eligible next season and beyond, I’ve have him ranked in Tier 1 as I’m overlooking the disaster that was 2020 for him.
Jazz Chisholm is like Gavin Lux – a highly touted prospect who didn’t really show anything in his debut. Chisholm has some decent pop and good speed, but he hasn’t learned to make consistent contact. In a 12-team, he is a player worth watching. For deeper leagues, I think he is a player worth stashing, especially if you already snagged someone in Tier 1.
Max Muncy could (should?) be higher on this list. I love the power he brings and the ability to play multiple positions. But he’s 30 so I prefer to take younger players with upside such as Chisholm and Nick Madrigal. That is why Marcus Semien is listed at 20th. In a re-draft league, I have him ranked higher. However, playing on turf (when the Blue Jays are finally allowed to play in Canada again) isn’t going to help his aging body. Also, you will have to wait for him to gain eligibility to play second base, forcing you to draft someone else to hold down the fort until Semien gains eligibility.
With the Padres signing Ha-seong Kim, I’m not sure how many at-bats Jake Cronenworth is going to get. With his ability to play multiple positions, I’m thinking he will reach 400, but that doesn’t help you if you need a starter at second base. And obviously the Padres believed they could use an upgrade by signing Kim. David Fletcher will help you in runs scored and batting average/on-base percentage, but that is about it. Meanwhile, I just do trust Dylan Moore enough to ranked him in Tier 2. He had a great breakout season in 2020, but it came at the age of 27. That is pretty late to be breaking into the majors.
PROSPECTS TO WATCH
Of the players on this list, Vidal Brujan is the most likely to see playing time this year. But with Brandon Lowe at second base and Wander Franco ready to take over the shortstop job at some point, the chances of Brujan getting significant playing time with the Rays this season is low. But if you are in a league where you have room to stash some players and stolen bases are valued, Brujan would be a great add.