Second base is actually one of the deeper positions in fantasy baseball. That could clearly be seen in the market this past winter as well. Like with catchers and first basemen, we get to deal with the tension between past results and future expectations. Some younger players were hurt because they had not put up enough numbers to beat out lesser players. Here, we get to see them move up the charts.
In our projection series we are using the six primary offensive categories to rank players (walks are the sixth category). The best course of action is probably to combine the two somehow. Projections are an inexact science due to all of the factors that are out of the player’s control. So, we do the best we can.
Jose Altuve—Houston Astros
Projection: .303, 17 HR, 89 Runs, 78 RBI, 17 SB, 54 BB
ESPN or the MLB Network did one of those lists that get you through the hot stove season where they listed players under 30 that look like Hall of Famers. They somehow left Altuve off the list. In Houston, the debate is already raging between Craig Biggio and Altuve for the top spot at second base. He played with a broken bone in his leg last season. He should be 100 percent again this season.
Ozzie Albies—Atlanta Braves
Projection: .273, 18 HR, 76 Runs, 72 RBI, 15 SB, 40 BB
Albies looks like a younger version of Altuve. Altuve grew when he learned to take the occasional walk. Albies doesn’t have Altuve’s freakish hit tool, but he has power and speed to burn. He also plays in a lineup that is considerably better than it was last year. If he learns to take a few more pitches he could be dangerous.
Gleyber Torres—New York Yankees
Projection: .257, 21 HR, 67 Runs, 71 RBI, 8 SB, 49 BB
As exciting as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are, every team sees their fortunes rise and fall with their best young players. Miguel Andujar and Torres drove the Yankees to a 100 win season. Whether either are as good this season remains to be seen. Young players always take a step forward or a step back. They are rarely ever the same.
Yoan Moncada—Chicago White Sox
Projection: .236, 19 HR, 77 Runs, 63 RBI, 16 SB, 69 BB
Moncada struck out more than 200 times last season. Yet, he also had a healthy walk rate. Add in the power and speed and you have a fascinating package. Something will give in 2019. Either he will make more contact and take the next step as a player or he will take his first steps out of the league.
Daniel Murphy—Colorado Rockies
Projection: .306, 18 HR, 66 Runs, 70 RBI, 3 SB, 35 BB
People trash the Rockies because they haven’t done much this offseason, but this move was a stroke of genius. Murphy might not be much of a second baseman anymore, but he just might be the second or third best hitter on the Rockies. That’s saying something for a team with Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon.
Scooter Gennett—Cincinnati Reds
Projection: .262, 18 HR, 67 Runs, 72 RBI, 4 SB, 37 BB
The J.T. Realmuto saga has become its own soap opera with pitfalls and cliff hangers at every step. The Reds are supposedly in. Let’s assume he goes there. I dare you to find a hole in their lineup. Gennett could be a trade candidate depending on how their season goes, but I can’t imagine him doing any better anywhere else.
Robinson Cano—New York Mets
Projection: .277, 19 HR, 63 Runs, 67 RBI, 1 SB, 40 BB
Often when we throw things into a computer we don’t allow for context. I’m sure each projection system saw fewer PA last season and somehow spit out a lower number again. Cano has been a durable player over the years and likely will be again. I’d have to think he will produce better than this.
Whit Merrifield—Kansas City Royals
Projection: .275, 10 HR, 66 Runs, 48 RBI, 25 SB, 37 BB
The market has put players in a hard spot. You can keep getting paid peanuts from season to season and then cash in when you become a free agency or accept a lesser long-term deal in order to get security. If my employer came to me with a five-year contract I’d be hard pressed to say no. That’s even if I were leaving some money on the table.
Rougned Odor—Texas Rangers
Projection: .249, 22 HR, 63 Runs, 68 RBI, 13 SB, 33 BB
Odor actually started to draw a few more walks towards the end of last season. If that continues he could be a viable six category guy. As it stands, he just doesn’t steal first base often enough to be a top-tier guy. Who knows, if he finds himself at around 40 or 50 walks he could be something special.
Cesar Hernandez—Philadelphia Phillies
Projection: .256, 9 HR, 67 Runs, 47 RBI, 14 SB, 70 BB
When we get here we start to have a frank discussion about the difference between real value and fantasy value. Hernandez is a valuable player in real life. He gets on base and fields his position competently. In fantasy he doesn’t hit enough dingers or steal enough bases to be elite. Add in a pedestrian average and most people will just pass him by.
Brian Dozier—Washington Nationals
Projection: .242, 18 HR, 63 Runs, 54 RBI, 9 SB, 49 BB
These numbers sure do feel low. This was a guy that was hitting 30 home runs and stealing 20 bases a season until last season. As usually happens, he revealed that he was injured for part of last season. He signed a one year contract to rebuild his value. I’d bet the over here.
Jurickson Profar—Oakland Athletics
Projection: .259, 13 HR, 58 Runs, 55 RBI, 6 SB, 44 BB
Necessity is the mother of invention. The A’s are about as good as anyone in recognizing value. Profar was the number one prospect in baseball a few years ago, but it wasn’t until last year that he stuck. If he were a free agent he might be an eight figure guy annually. For now, he is under club control.
Ian Happ—Chicago Cubs
Projection: .232, 16 HR, 48 Runs, 49 RBI, 7 SB, 50 BB
The Cubs are a team screaming for the DH. They have Happ penciled in center field for the moment, but he is naturally a second baseman. They have Ben Zobrist there. Zobrist can play everywhere and Happ is flexible too. When Addison Russell comes back it will be interesting to see how the pieces fit together.
Jason Kipnis—Cleveland Indians
Projection: .248, 13 HR, 58 Runs, 54 RBI, 6 SB, 44 BB
There was a day when Kipnis lived in the top ten at second base. Maybe it’s the pitching or maybe he just isn’t the guy he used to be. Either way, he is likely to take another step back as the Indians lineup is not nearly as deep as it used to be.
Dee Gordon—Seattle Mariners
Projection: .275, 3 HR, 60 Runs, 41 RBI, 30 SB, 18 BB
Stolen bases are fantasy baseball’s heroin. Fantasy players chase the dragon and it never seems to get them the high they were hoping for. Like the drug, speedsters always seem to regress over time (at least in terms of SB). You look up one day at a guy that steals 20 or 30 bases and does little else.
Jed Lowrie—New York Mets
Projection: .242, 13 HR, 54 Runs, 52 RBI, 1 SB, 52 BB
Lowrie certainly cashed in on a career season this year. He will be the Mets third baseman and should gain multiple position eligibility during the season. That makes him a viable bench piece, but if you or the Mets are banking on last season’s numbers you are looking in the wrong place.
Starlin Castro—Miami Marlins
Projection: .266, 12 HR, 52 Runs, 55 RBI, 4 SB, 31 BB
Castro will wind up on a Hall of Fame ballot someday. Let that sink in for a minute. He is the kind of player that rises and falls with the tide. He is on the worst team in the National League, so it’s low tide. They’d love to deal him, but I’m hard pressed to figure what contender would actually want him.
Ian Kinsler—San Diego Padres
Projection: .246, 12 HR, 50 Runs, 41 RBI, 11 SB, 34 BB
Kinsler will wind up on that same HOF ballot and he deserves some votes. However, there is nothing as dangerous as the memory of a good player. Kinsler has aged a lot more gracefully than some guys, but the signs of age are there. The Padres hope to get a useful season or two, but there isn’t much left in the tank.
Ben Zobrist—Chicago Cubs
Projection: .268, 8 HR, 46 Runs, 45 RBI, 3 SB, 45 BB
I make no bones about the fact that I have had a man crush on Zobrist for years. He plays nearly every position well and he gets on base. He has value on a fantasy bench, but there is no denying that he will have a hard time getting in the lineup consistently. There has been talk of dealing him and if that happens he could see an uptick in value.
Dustin Pedroia—Boston Red Sox
Projection: .272, 7 HR, 46 Runs, 42 RBI, 4 SB, 38 BB
It’s takes imagination and multiple dimensional thinking to be a good fantasy sports player. The element of time is crucial. There are players that won’t be effective for six months, but they might be effective for three or four. The trick is knowing which guys to draft and stash and which ones to wait on the waiver wire.