Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2018: Second base

Typically one of the lightest offensive positions in fantasy, you still have to start one. So which second basemen should you target for your draft?

Toby Durant by Toby Durant

(Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Second base is rarely a happy hunting ground in fantasy. Teams prefer elite glove work to a hot bat and will forgo proficiency at the plate in favor of a few extra runs saved in the field. For fantasy players:

Who should you target at second base this year?

Note: These rankings are for standard roto leagues, with eligibility based on 20 games played at the position in 2017

1. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 112 24 81 32 .346
2018 projection 97 22 84 30 .321

The reigning American League MVP is likely to come off the draft board almost immediately. The light bats at second base make Altuve valuable, but his ability to contribute well in all five categories is even more important. He is one of just four players to go 20-20 in both 2016 and 2017; he has stolen at least 30 bases in each of the last six years and hasn’t hit under .310 since 2013. Basically, Altuve is the man. He will cost a pretty penny to draft, but he will be worth it.

2. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 107 29 83 17 .318
2018 projection 92 26 87 15 .304

Also eligible at third, Ramirez is coming off his breakout season, and at 25 there is no telling how high his ceiling could be.

There is caution built into all projection systems for Ramirez. Was 2017 a mark of true talent level, a step on the way to greatness, or a blip in an average career? It is tough to know, but I err on the side of a true talent level. Maybe he will never be able to combine the power, steals, and average in one year, but the numbers he put up last year should be a new normal for Ramirez, with impressive production across the board. He is the only other second baseman without a clear hole in his game, making him a valuable piece of your roster puzzle.

3. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 106 34 93 16 .271
2018 projection 98 30 86 14 .259

If your team is light on power, then Brian Dozier is the second baseman for you. At 31 he is what he is, a pull-happy, power hitter whose glove isn’t going to cost him at-bats and could steal 20 bases in a good year.

The risk with Dozier is the average. He is only two years removed from hitting .236, and while a fair chunk of that was bad luck with BABIP, his strikeout rate hasn’t dipped below 20% and is unlikely to in 2018.

Dozier is in a contract year, and if the Twins aren’t competing he could well find himself shipped to a contender, which is something to think about if you end up owning him. If he spends August and September in a hitters park then his value will nosedive.

4. Dee Gordon, Seattle Mariners

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 114 2 33 60 .308
2018 projection 89 3 36 48 .302

Gordon may be playing center field in Seattle, but he is eligible at second base and that is really the only place you should look to play him.

In a world where steals are disappearing rapidly, a player like Gordon can be worth his weight in gold if you aren’t punting that category. He is averaging a steal every 2.5 games in the Majors, but what sets him apart from the other base-stealing aces out there is a reliably strong average. He may not draw many walks, but Gordon’s combination of incredible contact skills and blazing speed has made him a career .293 hitter, and that mark should be topped in 2018. Of course, he is a power and RBI vacuum, but if you take Gordon he gives you a clear edge in one category and a lot of help in another.

5. Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 92 32 105 1 .293
2018 projection 86 29 96 2 ,271

Schoop rewarded his owners handsomely last season with a ridiculous season in four categories.

In 2018 there is a lot of hype around Schoop, but it should be tempered. While the power in 2017 built off what he had done in 2016, the average is on shaky ground thanks to a high BABIP, 25 points higher than in 2016. Luck is a big part of baseball, but relying on it to take a three-category player to superstar status is a hard sell for me.

6. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 79 23 97 1 .280
2018 projection 76 23 86 2 .284

Cano is no longer the rockstar second baseman of baseball. He is a star on a very uneven decline, and while he is consistently a safe bet for average and health, everything else is all over the map.

His homers waver from low 20’s to high 30’s, and both runs & RBI seem to fluctuate independently as well. Cano is still an elite hitter for the Mariners but for fantasy players, he offers secure average with a power upside. Don’t expect him to be running any, but the potential for 30 homers is there. Of course, at 35, so is the potential that the bat speed disappears and Cano becomes a real problem for owners.

7. Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 94 23 93 2 .322
2018 projection 71 20 78 3 .316

Murphy is currently recovering from debridement microfracture surgery. He recently progressed to hitting off a tee, but his status for Opening Day is still up in the air, and if the knee issue continues to linger then his new normal of 20-25 homers, a handful of steals and a .315+ average could evaporate quickly.

Murphy is a risk-reward player because if he doesn’t show any ill effects of the surgery he could outperform even Jose Ramirez, but you could also be left with a hole in your roster that is impossible to fill in any meaningful way.

8. Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 80 19 78 34 .288
2018 projection 76 14 66 27 .274

Merrifield exploded in 2017, his first full year in the Majors. He added power to his minor league speed and was one of the most valuable players in all of fantasy given his undrafted status in most leagues.

In 2018 he is definitely getting drafted, but the biggest question is can he maintain his power? Regression is probably coming, but his HR/FB rate was not abnormal last season, it was just he was hitting fly balls remarkably often. With a strong success rate on the base paths that part of his game is solid, provided he gets enough green lights, but do you dare overpay for iffy power? 

9. Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 31 8 22 3 .231
2018 projection 84 18 68 19 .241

We have officially run out of “safe” players. Moncada is all upside projection, having played just 62 games in the Majors. There is a chance of a 20-20 season from him, but the average is a big red flag, and if you don’t get solid counting numbers from him, then he could be an anchor on your lineup.

He flew through the minors with the Red Sox before his trade to Chicago and tore up their ranks too. If his strikeout rate comes under control, he could be a steal, but he is very much a buyer-be-warned kind of player in 2018.

10. DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies

Runs Home Runs RBI Steals Average
2017 95 8 64 6 .310
2018 projection 91 11 67 9 .308

Where Moncada is risky upside, LeMahieu is solid. Three years of .300+ average and 600+ plate appearances means you know what you are getting from him, but it is a fairly empty average. He stole 23 bases in 2015, but that is an outlier, as are the 11 homers in 2016.

With luck, LeMahieu can provide a 10-10 season, but the counting stats are a bonus from him. You’re paying for average here.

[zombify_post]

Toby Durant

a