In just a few short days, the screams of “play ball” will be yelled on baseball fields across Major League Baseball – finally. The darkness of winter is finally giving way to the warmth of the sun and the sounds of baseball. Even better, the cheers of fans will once again be heard in baseball stadiums in anticipation of the first pitch.
The start of the season also means the endless hours spent pouring over statistics and coming up with intricate formulas to create the perfect ranking list for players at each position is coming to an end. Instead, we can all rank a player based on his actual current performance. That gut hunch you had about Gavin Lux will either be proven right, making you look smart for taking him a three rounds ahead of the his ADP, or leave you looking foolish for reaching on an unproven player.
These rankings first appeared more than a month ago, at a time when drafts had yet to happen or were just starting. The rankings weighed several factors – position eligibility, re-draft league value, dynasty league value and just the good ol’ gut hunch factor. With the season nearly here, the top 25 second baseman rankings have some players in new slots and some new players being ranked altogether.
The biggest difference is the absence of three players from my original rankings – Gleyber Torres (9th), Lourdes Gurriel (10th) and Ian Happ (15th). The reason for this is aside from Yahoo leagues, those three players aren’t eligible to play second base in ESPN or Fantrax leagues. If your in a Yahoo league, I would happily snatch those players up and slot them at second base. Otherwise grab Torres as your starting shortstop or Gurriel and Happ as one of your starting outfielders.
Some movement in these rankings is also due to looking at players less through a dynasty value and more at what they can do for me today. At this point, looking three years down the line is not as important as who is going to help me Opening Day and next week in daily lineup leagues. So, lets get on with the rankings.
Moving into the Top 5 is Brandon Lowe with Cavan Biggio dropping down to the next tier. Maybe his lack of postseason success clouded my judgment on ranking him higher originally, or it could have been the fact that most of damage last season came in August. However, if he matches last season’s output this year, that puts him into 30 homer, 100 RBI territory – huge numbers at a position that is not deep in those departments.
As mentioned above, Cavan Biggio dropped from being ranked second among second baseman to now ranking 8th. I still love Biggio as he plays multiple positions, hits with power and can steal bases for you. But much of his ranking was based on his dynasty value and the numbers he will put up over the next three to five years. Biggio has some holes in his game with his low batting average and strikeout percentage, but his power-speed potential still keeps him ranked in the top 10.
With Lourdes Gurriel and Gleyber Torres being removed from these rankings, Jeff McNeil and Max Muncy move into the top 10. I’ve gone back and forth on Muncy vs. Nick Madrigal – the power and RBIs vs. the average and stolen bases. After looking more into the two players and the lack of power overall at second base, I’ve changed my mind and give the edge to Muncy being ranked higher – though the two are still close in the rankings together. And in two weeks, I may flip the two again!
My tier three group has three new faces. Chris Taylor’s age was one reason why I ranked him lower initially as my bias is for younger players. But Taylor is a fantasy owner’s dream player in that he plays multiple positions in the infield and outfield, giving you great versatility. More importantly, he can hit as he has slugged .444 or higher in each of the last four seasons.
Texas’ Nick Solak makes the biggest jump in this week’s rankings. Like Taylor, Solak can play multiple positions. Though his power numbers dropped last year, his stolen bases increased. And while everyone should take spring training numbers with a grain of salt, Solak has clubbed four home runs and driven in nine, giving a possible view of what he may do this season for the Rangers. Mike Moustakas does one thing very well, and that is hit home runs. He’s topped 20 dingers five times in his career and was on pace to sock 22 last year. Playing in a hitters park, Moustakas should once again top 20 homers and probably surpass 25 this season.
|17||Tommy La Stella||SF||20|
In 12-team leagues, this group will either be a middle infielder for many teams or provided depth. But there are three players who I think can move into Tier Three quickly if given the playing time. Gimenez should be the starting shortstop for the Indians, which may hamper his eligibility at second base in the future but increase his value this year, as more starts equals more steals. The drawback for Lux is will he even get enough playing time to be of value this year. If he can claim the starting job with the Dodgers, 20 homers and 10-plus steals is easily within reach.
Jazz Chisholm had a lousy debut with the Marlins last year, hitting .161 in 56 at-bats. However, thanks to a strong spring in which he has hit three homers and swiped four bags, he should be the starting second baseman on Opening Day. His ability to hit with some power to go along with his speed makes him a player who can jump into the Top 15.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Every rankings list has to end somewhere, and this one ends at 25 players (OK, 26 because I can’t figure out who will start at the second base for the Rockies and neither can the team itself). But there are a few players who should be watched. Kiké Hernandez doesn’t hit for a high average, but he can hit for power and has had a strong spring. With Andres Gimenez the likely starter at shortstop and the Indians giving Ahmed Rosario some looks in the outfield, Cesar Hernandez could (should?) be the starting second baseman for the Indians. His stolen bases have dropped from 19 to nine to zero the last three seasons, but you can pretty much expect 15 homers, 70 RBI and a .275 batting average him.
David Bote has won the starting spot at second for the Cubs as Nico Hoerner has been sent to Triple-A. I still like Hoerner more, especially for his future value. However, for now, the Cubs are going with Bote, who slugged seven home runs in 125 at-bats last year and has torn the cover off the ball in the Cactus League, slugging 1.036 this spring. In deep mixed-leagues, Bote is certainly a player to watch – at least until the Cubs decide Hoerner is ready to return to Chicago.
The Reds are tinkering with moving Mike Moustakas to third base, which is his natural position, and Eugenio Suarez to shortstop. Why? Because they may be making room for Jonathan India at second base. India is one of the club’s top prospects and has had a solid spring, posting a slash line of .333-.462-.595. Should he take over the second base job at some point, he is certainly worth watching.