Alex Kielar | February 14th, 2020
Continuing the trip around the diamond for our rankings for the 2020 Fantasy Baseball Season, next up is the second basemen. Second base has been a fairly weak position as far as fantasy production goes, with not much depth. The guys at the top have been consistent, but there has not been much after that as you go deeper. You may find some flyers in late rounds that look to break out this year, but if you want more of a guarantee, pick this position earlier. Let’s dive into it.
Make sure to check out all of our Fantasy Baseball Rankings here.
For the purposes of this article, and the other fantasy baseball rankings we will have for you in the next couple of weeks, we are basing them on standard 5×5 roto scoring. They are also based on redraft leagues. When a player gets a boost or drops in the rankings due to format or scoring, it will be noted with their outlook.
(1) Ketel Marte
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El Niño had his breakout season last year (.329/.389/.592, 32 HRs, 97 runs, 92 RBI) and still has plenty of room to improve even more with a high ceiling. He also missed some time at the end of the season, so with a full season, his numbers could rise more. He batted at least .309 every month except April and his average gradually rose every month. Marte had several metrics that pegged him as a breakout candidate and proved that in having well-above league average Hard-Hit% (40.0%), Exit Velo (89.8 MPH), and Barrel% (9.3%). His fly-ball rate (23.7%) and Pull% (40.2%) also stood out to his increased power numbers. The D-Backs adding another Marte in Starling Marte to the top of their lineup also helps Ketel have solid bats around him which point towards more RBI and run opportunities.
(2) Gleyber Torres
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Torres had a massive sophomore campaign (.278/.337/.535, 38 HR, 90 RBI, 96 R) and hasn’t even broken all the way through yet. His top numbers were backed up by his hitting metrics finishing above league average, in hard-hit percentage (35.8%), barrel rate (10.1), and average exit velocity (89 MPH) and he also decreased his strikeout rate by four percent. Playing in a bandbox stadium and division will help inflate his power numbers, while also getting to play the Orioles 19 times a year (much to the dismay of Gary Thorne). Gleyber’s ADP is around 25th overall, which puts into account the hope he can unlock even more of his potential this year. Oh, and he’s only 23!
(3) Jose Altuve
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Altuve turns 30 in May and is looking to bounce back from a somewhat down-year where he played in a career-low 124 games. His best days might be behind him, as he already had reached his peak, not saying he can’t still be productive. He hasn’t had the speed factor in recent seasons either, stealing just 6 bases last year and 17 in 2018. He hit for a career-low .303 BABIP which led to a .298 batting average. He did see a tick in his power numbers last year, bashing 31 home runs with a .901 OPS. There are also questions around whether his best year in 2017 is skewed because he knew what was coming. With the Astros “Trashgate” being held over their heads the whole season, I think it’s a struggle and Altuve’s numbers could see even more of a drop-off.
(4) Ozzie Albies
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Albies came into his own in 2019, as the stud, now 23-year old hit for a .295 average, drove in 86 runs, scored 102 runs, smashed 24 home runs, and stole 15 bases. He also showed off his durability, only missing two games and four games in 2018. The Braves’ second baseman could flip into another gear this year as he already has two seasons of great five-category production at such a young age. Albies’ Barrel% trended way upwards from 2018 to 2019, going from 4.7 to 6.6, and his HH% also continued to trend upwards. He is a budding superstar and will have plenty of RBI and run opportunities, batting between Braves sluggers Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman. The addition of Marcell Ozuna as probably the cleanup hitter is also another plus for Albies to score more runs.
(5) DJ LeMahieu
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LeMachine completely proved that there is no such thing as the “Coors Effect” by being one of the most consistent hitters in 2019 as a member of the Yankees. The underlying stats all pointed towards having a huge year, with his expected batting average of .322, five points behind his actual BA, being second in the majors with hitters with at least 450 PAs (second to Cody Bellinger), and his wOBA of .375 up in the elite company. He also showed an uptick in power as he slapped a career-high 26 taters. Don’t expect a complete repeat performance, but the consistency should still be there, with plenty of RBI and run-scoring chances.
(6) Jonathan Villar
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The new Marlins infielder saw improvements to his Barrel%, HH%, Contact%, K%, and BB% last season. Villar was also a huge speed factor, as he swiped 40 bags. He should be slotted as Miami’s leadoff hitter which will add more run-scoring and bag-swiping opportunities. Villar’s Barrel% was the highest of his career at 6.8%, up from 5.1% in 2018, showing he can give you the power there. His improved plate discipline is also a huge plus for him, as just getting on base via a walk will make him dangerous on the base paths. A change of scenery and more talent than in Baltimore should also help Villar continue to improve even more. Last year seemed to be his breakout year, in his seventh major league season, with more of the same expected.
(7) Whit Merrifield
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Merrifield has proven over the last few seasons that he is the real deal with consistent production in the average, steals, run-scoring, and home run categories. While he isn’t as flashy as some of the other options at the position, he is a viable player to have in your lineup. The one concern is that his plate discipline could use some work as his K% has gone up the last couple of seasons, with his BB% going down. He did also see a bit of a drop-off in base stealing opportunities last season, converting 20 of 30 attempted steals after swiping 45 bags in 2018. He improved his hard-hit and line-drive rates as well last year. His consistency certainly shows as he played in all 162 games last year and is eligible for almost all positions; he will most likely take over in center this year.
(8) Max Muncy
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Funky Muncy has continued to break out as a member of the Dodgers, as he hit 35 homers in his second straight season since joining them in 2018. His 2019 wRC+ was the highest among second base eligibles at 146, and he approached 100 RBIs and scored over 100 runs, becoming more of a run producer. With the addition of Mookie Betts into the lineup, Muncy will have even more of these opportunities to create runs. He will only continue to break out even further as he enters his fifth season. He ranked towards the top in the majors last year in HH%, xwOBA, and xSLG.
(9) Keston Hiura
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Hiura has plenty of upside with his power and speed numbers, but if you don’t want to take a chance on a guy who has issues with plate-discipline, definitely don’t go this route. But with Mike Moustakas gone in Milwaukee, Hiura is the everyday second basemen and will get more plate appearances to shore his discipline up. His strikeout rate was 30.7% last year and he had just a 65.8% contact rate. His HH% (50%) and xwOBA (.388) were up among the best in the game and point to astounding numbers if his other metrics can improve. With such a high ceiling and the likeliness his plate discipline improves, Hiura gets a bit of a boost in dynasty leagues.
(10) Mike Moustakas
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The Moose is now going to be let loose at Great American Ballpark, which is one of the top “hitter-friendly” ballparks in the league. Moustakas’ walk (9.1%) and barrel (10.3%) rates both increased over one percent from 2018 to last year, in which he hit the second-most homers of his career, 35 of them. His other underlying metrics in xSLG, xwOBA, and HH% also increased last year in his first full season with the Brewers, helping them get to the postseason. He could see even more of an uptick in those numbers this year as he joins a powerful Reds lineup.
(11) Jeff McNeil
McNeil has the versatility factor with eligibility in the outfield, which helps him to stand out and gives him a boost. He also showed last year that he can be a power threat and more than just average with 23 big flys and a .531 SLG. His barrel rate doubled to 4.8% and he also brought the speed factor with 12 swiped bags.
(12) Yoan Moncada
Joining Torres as another middle infielder the Cubs wish they still had (sorry Joey), Moncada, like Torres, broke out last year and has the ceiling of a superstar. His HH%, xwOBAcon, and xSLG were career-highs and towards the top of the league ranks, while he showed some speed with 10 stolen bases. I see similar numbers for Moncada this year, with maybe even more of a breakthrough with an improved White Sox team, adding the likes of Yasmani Grandal and Edwin Encarnación to the lineup.
(13) Cavan Biggio
One of a number of Blue Jays young sluggers, Biggio didn’t have the most eye-popping rookie year, as his special batter’s eye didn’t translate much to the big leagues, with a .234 BA. He had a high 28.6% strikeout but did have a 16.5% walk rate, which was in the top 2% of the league. Biggio has 20/20 potential with 14 SB and 16 HR last year in 100 games, so his high ceiling is something to bank on. If you hope for a breakout this year, it is quite possible, but you should be more willing to pick him in dynasty leagues.
(14) Eduardo Escobar
Escobar did hit a career-high 35 home runs last year after never hitting more than 23 dingers. But his underlying stats point towards regression and that he benefited from the juiced balls. The 31-year old had a lowly .327 xwOBA and he struck out at a way higher rate than he walked, with a 2.6 K/BB rate. He should be avoided, but can still give an okay return if he regresses back to 2018 numbers.
(15) Gavin Lux
The young prospect completely lit up Triple-A last year, slashing .347/.421/.607, but his game didn’t translate very well when he first got up to the big leagues. Lux will be towards the bottom of the stacked Dodger lineup but will have plenty of RBI opportunities with the bats ahead of him. He could be a good pick for Rookie of the Year this year and gets some boost in dynasty leagues with a high ceiling.
(16) Brandon Lowe
Lowe finished third in the rookie of the year voting in the AL last year with 17 home runs and five steals in 82 games. His contact rate could be an issue as he had just a 64.8% contact rate last season, sixth-lowest in the league. He also didn’t show much discipline at the plate, with a 34.6% strikeout rate to just 7.6% walk rate, but did have a 46.2 HH% when he made contact. He may end up being a liability at the plate, so be aware.
(17) Danny Santana
Santana won’t give you much other than versatility, being a utility player for the Rangers. He does also have the speed factor with 21 bases stolen last year, but with just a low .338 xwOBA, he won’t get on the bases often enough for that to matter. He isn’t worth taking a big risk on and just hoping for a big breakout. Maybe just slot him as an extra bench player who can hold any open spot on the field.
(18) Ryan McMahon
McMahon should get plenty of playing time for a lowly Rockies team with the potential to move Nolan Arenado looming as well. That is really the only thing going for him, besides some pop with 24 homers last season- 17 and a .500 SLG in the second half. He has a very low ceiling with some of his value being based on playing in Coors. McMahon does have a top-tier HH% at 47.7%.
(19) Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Gurriel Jr., the brother of Yuli, had a pretty solid season last year, showing his pop with 20 homers in 84 games and could potentially get upwards of 30 bombs with a full season. Lourdes had a Barrel% of 11.2%, proving he has the pop potential.
(20) Tommy Edman
The 24-year old Edman had a nice debut last year, hitting .304 with 11 HR, seven triples, and stealing 15 bases in 92 games. He is kind of a cheaper version of Merrifield, he won’t give you flash, but he will be consistent. Edman also gives the versatility factor, as he is eligible for 3B, SS, and RF. His hard-hit rate and xwOBA were both at fairly poor rates last year, which could point towards some regression.
(21) Kolten Wong
Wong boosted his career batting average to .280 by hitting .285 but his extremely low xwOBA of .308 will lead to a regression. He brings the speed with 24 swipes last year and could see more chances at scoring runs being at the top of a depleted (yet hopeful) St. Louis lineup.
(22) Rougned Odor
Odor has lived up to his name by having a bad stink in the Rangers lineup, only batting .209 last year. He did, however, barrel up at a high 13.6% rate and bashed out 30 bombs. That should regress back this year while he held a .322 xwOBA and he struck out at a 30.6% rate. Odor brings speed with 11 stolen bases last year but got caught 9 of 20 attempts, so the efficiency isn’t there.
(23) Garrett Hampson
Hampson a had scorching final month last season, .318 BA, 5 HR, and 9 SB, showing where his ceiling is. But his very low floor showed in August, where he slashed .218/.274/.322, with a very low .265 xwOBA, so he is not really someone you should be looking at as a viable option.
(24) Nick Senzel
Senzel will likely be the Reds starting center fielder, but will probably be versatile in getting some reps at second to give Moustakas days off. Picking Senzel comes with probably the highest risk of anyone on this list with his injury concerns and he struggled with a .256 batting average when he was healthy. He still has a high upside and can get a big breakout this year with a solid Reds lineup if he can stay healthy.
(25) Starlin Castro
Castro joins a Nationals team coming off their World Series victory and has a chance to start somewhere in the infield with the loss of Anthony Rendon at third. Castro flew under-the-radar last season and ended up finishing with 22 homers, 86 RBIs and a .270 batting average as one of the lone bright spots on the Marlins team. An improved situation should help those numbers raise some more; taking a flyer on him wouldn’t be the worst choice.
(26) Tommy La Stella
La Stella broke out last year in his first season with the Angels which his HH% of 30.8% and xwOBA of .350 backs up. He could see some regression this year but should see more run-creating opportunities with an improved lineup that added Anthony Rendon.
(27) Scott Kingery
Kingery may end up being a little low on this list as the season gets underway, as I think in his third season, he can finally break out fully. I believe all the Phillies hitters will see a spike in numbers this year. The multi-position eligible 25-year old finished the 2019 season with 19 homers and 15 steals in 126 games, and with a full season could break out more. Could be a solid stash guy on your bench as you wait to see if he does break out.
(28) Dee Gordon
Gordon obviously brings the speed factor, as he recorded 22 steals last season in only half a season. The problem is actually getting on base to be a threat to steal and score more runs; he had just a .260 xwOBA last year. I wouldn’t take the risk on him unless you need the extra stolen bases.
(29) Cesar Hernandez
Hernandez is not a great option, although he won’t necessarily hurt you. Maybe a new home in Cleveland will help him improve his metrics, but his underlying stats don’t point towards any sort of breakout. I wouldn’t take a chance on him.
(30) Kevin Newman
Newman will hit for average and steal some bases, but won’t offer much else than that. He hit .308 and stole 16 bases last season, with also 12 dingers. His power numbers won’t get much higher than where they were, as he is more of a contact hitter.
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