Way Too Early Rankings: Second Base

Presently, you are reading the third part of a continuing series, the title of which can be found above this paragraph. Catchers and first baseman were already covered. Yesterday, we peered into the misty past to evaluate 2016 performances at second base.

As a reminder, these rankings represent my first reactions rather than a truly rigorous approach. I’ve used an absolutely objective technique called mental math to compile the lists. I’m assuming a standard 5×5 format.

The purpose of this exercise is two-fold: to get an early start on 2017 rankings and to crowdsource missing or misranked players. That’s where you come in. Let your thoughts and feelings be known in the comments.

Parsing these 10 players could easily span a series of articles. Let’s stick to the high level. Now that even Freddy Galvis hits 20 home runs, stolen bases have become more important. We see that reflected at the top of this table with a pair of five category monsters.

Altuve is a known quantity even if there is some reason to doubt his power outburst. Turner still has that prospect luster. I’m not saying he won’t regress. Just bear in mind, a regressed Turner could still pop 15 home runs, steal 50 bases, and bat .280. Those steals give you breathing room to pursue home runs in flawed containers (i.e. Khris Davis).

After the rabbits, I was tempted to rank Murphy above Cano. Murph posted a career best hard hit rate while maintaining his extreme rate of balls in play. Cano maintained his rebound from a cold start to 2015. Neither guy has speed, but they’ll fill up the other four categories.

The next six names are rather interchangeable depending on your preferences, priorities, and biases. Carpenter missed a chunk of 2016. A fully healthy return could come with over 30 home runs and league-pacing run production. As for Dozier, who here believes he’ll pop 40 home runs again?

I suspect I’ll catch some flak for my ranking of Segura. If I thought he’d repeat a 20-30 season, he’d be right there with Cano and Murphy. However, we’ve played this game before with Segura. I’m cautiously optimistic that his adjustments will stick, but I’m not going to pretend there’s no downside.

For whatever reason, I have such difficulty analyzing Odor. In some ways, he reminds me of Adam Jones, a guy I’ve consistently avoided for the better part of a decade. Statistically, it doesn’t make sense why he’s a good player (the answer is athleticism). A huge spike in whiff rate has me running scared. Don’t be fooled by the 14 steals. He was caught seven times. I suppose that means there’s upside if he can improve his efficiency. It’s more likely to presage a red light.

Four of the top six in this section can be classified as reliable veterans. I still think a healthy Walker could drop a 30 home run season in the right setting so I’m giving him a narrow edge over Forsythe. LeMahieu is a steady source of batting average while Pedroia has a great supporting cast.

Gordon figures to be a divisive name this winter. He was exceptionally punchless. I checked in on Gordon frequently during the season. On at least half a dozen occasions, I chalked up his terrible soft contact rate to bad luck rather than an actual decline in talent. His numbers did rebound slightly late in the year. And he still swiped 30 bags. At this ranking, he might be the steal of the draft. In other words, expect him to go earlier than this.

I want to like Schimpf’s extreme fly ball tendencies more, but I worry about Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje. Schimpf didn’t fully establish himself as a must-play major leaguer, and his skill set isn’t suited to holding down the competition. He’s going to be extremely streaky. It’ll be tempting to bench him during a cold spell.

I’ll be honest, I’m not eager to gamble on any of these players. With so much depth at second base, this group looks like waiver fodder in a typical 12 team league. Dietrich, Gyorko, and Wong are the three most interesting options.

I expect to make some changes to the back end of this list later in the offseason. Because…well it’s easier to just show you. Here’s a very long list of leftovers.

A lot of these guys will get a chance to play in the majors next year. Some will even be fantasy relevant. A few may breakout/rebound. My eyes are on Drew. He quietly returned from BABIP hell last season. He may be a valuable streaming option depending on where he lands.

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Are expecting a significant regression in Avg or HR rate for Rougned Odor? Or is it just SB that you don’t expect him to replicate?