Ranking the Top 10 Second Basemen for 2023

Second Basemen

Welcome to Part III of ranking the top 10 MLB players at each position.

This list is strictly predicting how these players will perform in 2023. Does that mean last year doesn’t matter? Absolutely not. Last season matters the most. However, this list also factors in how the players have performed since 2020, how much they progressed or regressed, and if 2022 was just an outlier.

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Second Basemen for 2023.

Honorable Mentions: Jorge Polanco and Kolten Wong

10. Ozzie Albies

Albies was injured for most of 2022 after hurting his foot in June and his finger in September. This resulted in him not seeing any postseason play. He only played in 64 games and was certainly not at his best in those games. He had a .294 OBP, .703 OPS, and 93 WRC+. 

If he stays healthy, it is only reasonable to expect that Albies will go back to the 2021 version of himself, which is a top 10 second baseman in the league. He had 30 homers, a .310 OBP, a .799 OPS, a 107 WRC+, and finished 13th in National League MVP voting. Health and consistency will be the main concern with Albies this season, but if he stays healthy, he will be just fine.

9. Gleyber Torres

It seems as if the public opinion of Torres has only gone down in the past couple of years. Even though he has certainly not lived up to the great seasons he had his first two years, he has still been a pretty solid player for the Yankees. Last year he hit 24 homers while logging a .310 OBP, .761 OPS, and 115 WRC+. He had a pretty solid season in the field, too; his 9.0 DRS tied for fifth amongst second basemen. Sure, he hasn’t played like the superstar Yankee fans expected him to, but he is still a really solid player and there aren’t many reasons to feel pessimistic that the 26-year-old will not improve this year.

8. Ketel Marte

Marte took a huge step back last year from his killer 2021 season when he batted .318 with a .377 OBP, .909 OPS, and 140 WRC+. In 2022, he slashed .240/.321/.406 with 102 WRC+. He played significantly more games in 2022 than in 2021, so his worse season does come as a result of a bigger sample size. He also had a very down year in the field with -6.0 DRS and -3.0 OAA. With all this being said, he had an above-average season at the plate last year and it was still considered disappointing, so even if next year is closer to 2022 than 2021, we can expect an improvement.

7. Brendan Donovan

Donovan played mostly in the outfield last year but will probably be the starting second baseman for the Cardinals in 2023. He had an awesome rookie season, slashing .281/.394/.379 with 129 WRC+. He was slightly below average playing second base, producing 0 DRS and -2 OAA. Even though he gets on base a lot, what keeps Donovan from being higher on this list is his lack of power and subpar defense, and he is also a very below-average base runner. However, there is a lot of reason to believe that the 26-year-old will improve in a lot of these areas in years to come.

6. Luis Arraez

Arraez played the majority of last year at first base and designated hitter for the Twins, but he is expected to be the everyday second baseman for the Marlins this year. At the plate, he absolutely raked, hitting an AL-best .316 with a .375 OBP, .795 OPS, and 131 WRC+. He was also pretty solid on defense, producing 3.0 DRS and 1.0 OAA. Similar to Donovan, what holds him back is his lack of power. There is also a concern that he will not have as much protection as much as he did in Minnesota. Even though this is a valid concern, he is still young and has a ton of potential to improve.

5. Brandon Lowe

Similar to Albies, Lowe was injured for a good amount of 2022 and was certainly not himself in those games. In 2021, he had a .340 OBP, .863 OPS, and 137 WRC+. He also had a 151 WRC+ in 2020. He finished top 10 in MVP voting in both of those seasons. In 2022, he played 65 games with a .308 OBP, .691 OPS, and 104 WRC+. Just like a few of the others mentioned, Lowe is young, so it would be silly to predict his season based on one when he was injured, especially when he has shown he can be elite when healthy. Expect a big year out of Lowe in 2023.

4. Andres Gimenez

Gimenez broke out so much last year that some are saying Cleveland won the Lindor trade (even though, in reality, it is way too early to tell). He hit .297 with a .371 OBP, .837 OPS, and a 140 WRC+ in 2022 and finished second in both DRS and OAA. When all was said and done, he ranked second among second basemen in WAR and 14th in all of baseball. All of these big numbers probably lead you to wonder why he is No. 4. I’m not expecting Gimenez to have major regression, but I do expect the next three players to outperform him.

3. Jeff McNeil

The batting champion checks in at No. 3. McNeil has had an interesting career and it feels like he has a new approach each season. 2021 was his worst year and also his most injured. He could not have bounced back better in 2022, batting .326 with a .382 OBP, .836 OPS, and 143 WRC+. He was solid on the defensive end as well, producing 3.0 DRS and 7.0 OAA … and these were just his stats at second base. 

McNeil was extremely solid all year long and accepted a team-friendly four-year, $50 million extension this offseason. Even though some might argue that he will not have the motivation of someone on a contract year, he will play with less pressure on him and perform like he usually would. Even if he doesn’t win the batting title again, McNeil should still have an extremely solid season in 2023.

2. Marcus Semien

Semien had a career year in 2021 when he won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in Toronto. He hit 45 homers, drove in 102 runs, and had a .334 OBP, .873 OPS, and 131 WRC+. After this killer season, he then signed with Texas. 

Semien took a huge step back in the first year with his new team, hitting 26 homers with a .304 OBP, .733 OPS, and 107 WRC+. He was, however, very solid in the field, finishing fourth in DRS and fifth OAA. With all this said, it’s normal for guys to struggle in their first years with a new team. Just look at Lindor in his first year with the Mets. Though expecting Semien to play as he did in 2021 might be too much to ask, there is a very good chance we see him closer to his 2021 form than 2022.

1. Jose Altuve

Who else would be No. 1? Not only was Altuve the best second baseman in 2022, but he is also the guy you should trust the most in the playoffs. In 2022, he batted .300 with a .387 OBP, .920 OPS, and 164 WRC+. His defensive numbers were split where he had -15.0 DRS and 2.0 OAA. These stats led him to be first in WAR amongst second basemen and ninth in all of baseball. Most teams would easily take bad defense at second base if it meant having a WRC+ 21 points higher than the next guy. 

2022 was hands down Altuve’s best offensive season, and it should not be expected that he’ll have a year like this again. However, he has had a WRC+ of 124 or above every year since 2014, excluding the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Therefore, there is no evidence of Altuve slowing down in 2023.

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