18 Feb 2017 Fantasy Baseball 2B Rankings: 30-16
By: Nick DeSisto
The days of second baseman rankings having 2 simple tiers of Robinson Cano & everybody else are long gone. Although there is still one player manning the keystone who is head and shoulders above (& below) everybody else, the second base position in 2017 is loaded. Many of these guys will even find themselves in starting lineups via MI & UT spots this year. We will work backwards from 30-16 this time around, then come back with 15-1 next week.
30. Howie Kendrick (PHI) – Howie’s transition last year from second base to utility man appeared to take its’ toll. He posted his worst offensive campaign since his rookie year in 2016, leaving no reason to believe the decline will reverse course in 2017. His diminished power, speed, and uncertainty surrounding his role with the Phillies are why Howie kicks off this year’s rankings at #30.
29. Kolten Wong (STL) – His late 2015 slump carried into 2016 as he hit just .226 over the first 2 months of the season. This led to his demotion to AAA, but he returned to show us a little bit of that pop from the left side of the plate that was once so promising. With the uncertainty surrounding his role and inconsistency that engenders, Wong disappoints again in 2017.
28. Brett Lawrie (CHW) – Lawrie finds himself on a rebuilding White Sox team in a contract season. 2018 will be his first shot at free agency, giving him plenty of incentive. But the 27 year old has a disappointing .258/.310/407 line with 62 HRs in 545 games since his rookie year. Maybe he is destined to be a career utility infielder, or maybe he was meant to be the fighting goon role player on a mediocre NHL team. Only time will tell.
27. Sean Rodriguez (ATL) – Super utility man S-Rod played 7 different positions last year for the Pirates and carries eligibility all around the diamond into 2017. With a lot of pieces in motion for the young Braves, Sean will find himself in the lineup more often than you think. He’s coming off of a career year hitting .270 with an .859 OPS and 18 HRs in exactly 300 ABs. Plug him in any spot on your roster when needed and he will be well worth his current ADP of 412.
26. Cesar Hernandez (PHI) – Hernandez really adjusted well as 2016 went along, improving his walk rate from just 5.5% in the first half to 15.7% during the second half. His OBP of .371 was 15th among eligible NL hitters, but he leaves a lot to be desired. Just 6 HRs in over 500 ABs, and he doesn’t steal as many bases as he should. And when he tries, he is only 37/59 on stolen base attempts in the bigs so far. There are better options out there.
25. Jedd Gyorko (STL) – Did you know that poor WVU mountaineer Jedd hit 30 home runs last year – good for 4th among all second baseman? He did in fact hit 30 HRs in exactly 400 ABs in 2016. Not too shabby for a guy with an ADP of 272. Don’t expect another 30 HRs, but he has earned himself more playing time this year and could see close to 500 ABs on a Cardinals offense that often gets overlooked.
24. Brandon Phillips (ATL) – ESPN felt the need to wake me up today on my only day off to tell me Phillips was traded to the Braves. Fantasy wise, this hurts his value simply because he will no longer be playing half of his games at Great American Ballpark. He will be a mostly everyday player on Atlanta, and will have more fun playing the game than anyone. But there are many better options at second base this year. 2017 will likely be the last season the 35 year old will be (relatively) relevant on the second baseman list.
23. Logan Forsythe (TB) – Sometimes the boring square is a better option than the shiny new flavor of the month. Forsythe will bore you to death, but he did manage 20 home runs last year even though he missed a month after being hit by a pitch on the shoulder by King Felix. If he plays a full season, he can give you 20+ HR and hit .270. His hard hit rate and exit velocity both saw significant jumps in 2016 and he will provide plenty of value for you in the 250 ADP range.
22. Josh Harrison (PIT) – The second most famous J-Harrison in Pittsburgh and undisputed rundown escape artist champion enjoyed a breakout season in 2014. He took the race for the batting tile into the last game of the season – ultimately finishing second in the NL in hitting (.315). The last 2 years though, have not treated J-hay as kindly. If he can find that 2014 magic where he was the spark at the top of the Pirates lineup, there is some upside here. But remember, the Pirates rest “everyday” players more than any team, which severely limits value in counting categories.
21. Ryan Schimpf (SD) – After spending most of his adult life playing minor league baseball, 28 year old Schimpf hit 20 dingers in just 89 games with the Padres in 2016. He is the starter headed into 2017 and will see plenty of uncontested playing time. His HR and RBI totals should provide good value with an ADP of 395. Expect 25 HR, 75 RBI, but a .230 average – still well worth his ADP.
20. Javier Baez (CHC) – I will get a lot of flack for putting the sexiest player on the Cubs (that’s saying something) at only 20 overall, but hear me out. If MLB required pitchers to throw nothing but fastballs over the plate, he would be in the top 3. Unfortunately for us, those aren’t the rules, and young Javy continues to struggle with pitch recognition – which is why he saw the highest percentage of breaking balls per plate appearance in 2016 (min 400 PAs). He is not locked in to an everyday role, and to date in his big league career, he has 173 hits & 227 strikeouts. He will eventually put it all together, but not in 2017.
BONUS PREDICTION: Baez will play most of his career on a team other than the Cubs.
19. Joe Panik (SF) – There were only 2 players in 2016 who qualified for the NL batting title with more walks than strikeouts – Ben Zobrist and Joe Panik. That being said, Panik hit just .239 last year which was largely due to bad luck, as his BABIP was a dismal .245. Look for Panik to get back in the neighborhood of a .300 average this year and hit second in the lineup for the World Series champion Giants against righties – which makes him a bargain on draft day.
2nd BONUS PREDICTION: Giants win the 2017 World Series – in part to Panik’s consistency in the #2 spot in the lineup.
18. Devon Travis (TOR) – I don’t know and don’t care what your definition of a sleeper is – Travis is a sleeper at the keystone position this year. This is the guy you will draft around 200th overall and feel like a genius the rest of the season for it. The 25 year old has hit .324 with 10 HRs and an .842 OPS in his last 86 Major League Baseball games. He is the de facto leadoff hitter in a lineup that will score a ton of runs and has no competition for playing time. Draft him. If I am wrong, you can say mean things to me on Twitter when the season is over.
17. Starlin Castro (NYY) – The move to the Bronx improved Castro’s fantasy value significantly – turning Wrigley Field doubles & F8s into home runs at Yankee Stadium. He hit a career high 21 HRs in his first year playing in the Bronx and will at least repeat that in 2017. A .280 AVG, 20+ HR, 30+ double, 75+ RBI, 70+ run season is not a bad thing. If hes on the board in your draft at 250 or later and you are without a second baseman, draft him.
16. Neil Walker (NYM) – Walker is perennially underrated. In 2016, he had a career high .823 OPS & tied his career high in home runs with 23, despite playing in only 123 games. Walker received a one year qualifying offer and is playing for big money in free agency next year. If he says healthy, a .280 AVG, 20+ HR, 75+ RBI, 75+ Run 2017 campaign is more likely than seeing Martellus Bennett, Legarrette Blount, or Hillary Clinton in the White House.
Thanks for reading part 1. I look forward to seeing you all back here next week for the 15-1 rankings countdown that will culminate with me telling you how much better Jose Altuve is than everybody else playing second base in Major League Baseball.