The next step in the position primer series will be Second Base, an interesting position for fantasy, as it has everything you can imagine in it, statistically speaking. Some power-speed monsters, some of the game’s most premium speed options, and some others that could approach 40 homers. The middle of the pool is very enticing for most teams’ needs, as there are some ‘boring’ power bats that will not hurt BA, a nice profitable way to go if you waited.
2B is a super deep position, with 17 players projected to earn $10 or more (3B, for example, has only 12 players projected to earn $10 or more) based on the Fangraphs’ Auction Calculator when using the ATC Projection system for 15 team leagues. The 2B position is a deep one, and a fun one I will add. I am more than happy to buy at the top of this pool, I could buy in the middle or I would be comfortable waiting until the Kolten Wong/Jean Segura value section of this position. Ideally, the last players I would feel comfortable starting in a 15-teamer are Kike Hernandez or Jonathan Schoop, but those are break-glass in case of emergency options – despite them being super underrated. With the 2B position, I will use this slot to help supplement my core; if I went SP-heavy early on, then a Jose Altuve or Brandon Lowe can be confidently selected to boost power numbers. If I need speed, a Javy Baez or Jazz Chisholm could be in the cards. I will use the foundation of my draft to determine how to attack this position since it has a wide variety of skillsets and sets of stats to choose from!
A Tier of His Own:
Simply put, Trea Turner is on another level compared to all other hitters for rotisserie fantasy baseball leagues, as he provides more steals than almost anyone, 25+ HR pop, gobs of runs, and RBI near the top of the Dodgers’ order as well a premium BA floor. Turner’s ISO has been over .200 every year since 2019, 3 years running, proving his budding power is here to stay as he enters his late-20’s. Flawless profile.
Cream of the Crop:
Ozzie Albies is a player that I was concerned wouldn’t steal enough bases in the past, or that Albies wouldn’t provide enough power to be going inside the top 40-50 overall as he has before. Well, that was incredibly wrong. Albies is a volume monster with the ability to swipe 15-20+ bags, hit 25+ HR, and provide an immense amount of counting stats due to the fact Atlanta plays their entire INF more than almost any other team, with each of their 4 INF’s playing at least 156 games in 2021. Albies provides in all 5 categories outside of BA, however, a bounce-back there could be in order since he usually does better than the .259 mark he just posted in 2021. Elite player.
Some will knock Whit Merrifield’s age, his lack of power, or his potential to stop stealing as much (as he did in the 2H when he only recorded 2 steals in September.) The fact of the matter is that Whit is super efficient stealing bases (40-44 in 2021), so he should continue running, as he can turn a single into a double for the Royals on most batteries. His BA floor is sky-high as well, so that’s a major plus in this environment. A comfortable pick for me.
Marcus Semien didn’t get an appealing offer from the Oakland A’s in FA after the 2020 season, so he bet on himself and put up MVP caliber numbers for the Toronto Blue Jays as a result. Coming down off that high, let’s now transition to the next phase of his career. Semien will see a massive ballpark downgrade from Dunedin/Buffalo to playing 81 home games in Texas with a significantly worse lineup. Semien still has value, but picking him inside the top 50 is too rich for my blood, as just isn’t a lock to significantly add steals or hit 35+ homers, especially with a Rangers lineup that is top-heavy and it gets weak in a hurry. Semien still is a very valuable player with his 30 HR – 15 SB potential, but there is BA risk. Pay for 30 homers – 10 steals, and hope for more given the fact he’s an ironman in terms of PA’s.
Offensive Building Blocks:
Steady Eddie Jose Altuve is about as bankable as they come, with his excellent plate coverage and ability to pair a low K rate with power, Altuve is a true stabilizing presence. Houston’s offense should still be very strong, and Altuve should be a candidate for 100+ runs, a category that is often overlooked, as well the fact he’s a BA anchor. There are very few quibbles with Altuve outside of the fact that he doesn’t steal bags, but that isn’t even remotely factored into his draft cost, so all aboard the Altuve train in 2022.
Javier Baez has long been slandered by SABR-focused fantasy baseball minds considering his horrifying plate approach and knack to go ice-cold with his frigid streaks of futile hitting. Over the balance of a 6-month long roto season, Baez pretty much always gets his, 30+ HR with double-digit steals and a BA that won’t kill you, despite a park downgrade. Take advantage of the discount given to Baez that is based on his poor plate skills, as he should be very useful in roto again considering the fact he’s only 29, and his talents shouldn’t evaporate as some may think.
Jazz Chisholm is a player that has an elite ceiling if he continues to improve his hitting as he has shown. He’s already projected to reach over 20 home runs and over 20 steals, with upside for more. Many fantasy pundits hone in on his poor plate discipline, and while he is a free swinger, it’s important to remember he can easily improve a lot since he’s entering his age 24 season. Jazz should be viewed as a BA liability potentially, but there is a serious upside to be had at this pick, and if someone needed an injection of upside and stolen base potential, I wouldn’t fault anyone taking him over Jose Altuve, despite Altuve being more bankable.
After showing a ton of all-around promise in prior years, Polanco put it all together in 2021 and I honestly assumed he’d be a top 4 round pick in 15 teamers but the market has shrewdly not overpriced him. He’s a player where his HR output will greatly affect how satisfied fantasy managers will be with him since if he doesn’t crack 20 HR and doesn’t provide 10+ steals, it could get ugly fast for Polanco who’s being taken inside the top 100 picks. He has the all-around game to provide a good bit of help in all categories, and I have no problem taking him if he slips a little past ADP, especially because his power came with a clear approach change to pull the ball more for more power and his barrel rate skyrocketed up to a 10% barrel rate, a healthy number for a player who doesn’t strike out much and provides goodness across 5 categories.
Health issues are my biggest concern with Ketel Marte, as he has stung baseballs with authority when he has been available for the D-Backs. Stolen bases shouldn’t be considered as an asset for Marte, but his BA is a major plus as well as solid enough power. A 25 homer with a .290 BA is in the cards for Ketel, however, the lowly Diamondbacks lineup won’t do him a ton of favors. Still, it’s wise to bet on the skills, especially since there’s a health discount being applied to Ketel, and he’s only 28-years-old, so that could be a premature injury-prone tag for a young guy. A solid buy in this range for strong BA and solid pop.
Brandon Lowe is a massive power bat who flirted with 40 home runs back in 2021, hits mostly in a good lineup spot for Tampa Bay and his power numbers are backed with really strong hard-hit rates and barrel rates. The issue is his K’s fairly often, is atrocious for BA against LHP and he will likely hurt you some in BA, but if you squint, there are some similarities with him and Matt Olson or Pete Alonso, and Lowe plays 2B, a rare position to get elite power from.
A stolen base darling in the fantasy baseball realm, Edman is a really fun player for fantasy and for the STL Cardinals with his killer speed output that has shown sustainability over a number of years now. Detractors will point to a lack of home run power as a downside for Edman, as well as the fact STL will need a spot for their top prospect, Nolan Gorman, but Edman can slide over to SS where STL doesn’t have anyone who’s a worldbeater there. Edman can also play OF if one of their big 3 OF’s go down with an injury, further cementing his role. Edman is a bit more expensive than he has been before, but it makes some sense to draft him if you can afford to take the power hit by investing in big power bats either before or after taking Edman.
The Next Best Thing:
DJ LeMahieu is one of the trickier hitters to evaluate in all of fantasy baseball for 2022. Fully willing to admit that, as he broke out into top 30 fantasy pick status in 2019 and 2020, but he absolutely bottomed out in 2021, with a brutal 10 HR and a paltry .268 BA. An ugly outcome for a guy picked in round 2 of 2021, as there weren’t steals in that profile to buoy him. Flashforward towards 2022 draft season and LeMahieu is discounted over 100 picks based on what turned out to be an injury-riddled 2022, as he battled a hernia for some portion of time that is unknown. With the safety of the leadoff role for the Yankees, elite BA and 100+ runs potential with the chance at 15+ HR’s and triple eligibility, I am willing to take the plunge for DJ at this price.
Coming off a dazzling 2021, Jonathan India showed why he had borderline-elite prospect pedigree with a baller 2021 campaign where he blew away expectations laid upon him. The question now is will Jonathan India be worth his ADP inside the top 100, a lofty mark for him relative to previous values. India doesn’t project to be a standout in power, steals, or BA, however, he will provide a good contribution across the board, making him a justifiable pick, however, I think I can do better inside the top 100. Chris Taylor to me represents a similar enough skillset to India, and he is a bit cheaper with better position eligibility.
One of my favorite players in baseball, Chris Taylor has been underappreciated throughout his career, as he is an extremely valuable utility man who changes position sometimes on a nightly basis. The fact he doesn’t have a position to necessarily call his own causes some fantasy managers to be concerned he won’t play a great deal, however, the Dodgers always ensure he gets his run, surpassing 550 PA’s on average since 2017 (excluding 2020, even though he played a full year in 2020.) Taylor provides consistent power, with double-digit speed, and though he K’s a lot, keeping his BA down, he is a very consistent player that the Dodgers value highly ensuring his job.
Jake Cronenworth has a tremendous plate discipline profile, the baserunning ability to swipe the occasional, very occasional bag, and the lineup spot we all covet, batting atop the Padres’ order. The issue is that this skill set does leave fantasy owners wanting a bit more. His triple-eligibility is in fact fantastic, but how much of a premium does that place on him? The answer is more than I likely want to pay since there are guys further down this list like Kolten Wong or Jean Segura that could provide a similar output at a cheaper price.
Still Enticing Options:
A wide-ranging tier, Jean Segura kicks off this next group of guys that are still plenty roster able as a wait-on-2B type of plan, Segura provides a sweet mix of good contact/BA, a smidge of steals, a boatload of runs as a leadoff bat, and enough pop to surpass double-digit HR’s. Segura is a very vanilla player to many, but he ties the room together when you need a smidge of steals and BA, just ensure you can take the hit in limited power.
More of a theoretical player than a real commodity, Rodgers is a guy I can dream of posting 25 homers with a .280 batting average, and gobs of counting stats. This is a dangerous game to play, investing in guys with limited performance, but Rodgers is a player that carries duel-eligibility, plays half of his games in Coors, was a premium prospect, and is only 25-years-old and has a contact-oriented game that plays up in Coors. He reportedly claimed to have wanted to steal 20+ bags last year, but lower-half injuries plagued him and he hasn’t attempted a steal since 2018. Regardless, Rodgers is the type of gamble I love, because he has MLB experience, has a locked-in job with Colorado, and he was a former elite prospect that has shown enough glimpses for me to covet him in fantasy.
Similar to Rodgers, Ryan McMahon is a young bat in Colorado that is dual-eligible, however, he’s a power bat mold with a higher K rate than I like typically. McMahon has shown enough pop with a palatable AVG (.250-something BA) and can be benched when he is on the road, and on top of all that, he is 2B/3B eligible, meaning he can bounce all over your active roster to ensure playing time coverage. He should probably be benched on the road depending on how tough his pitching matchups are, but this is a profile that can help fantasy owners.
Similar to Jean Segura, Kolten Wong is a solid but unspectacular fantasy option. One that provides a solid BA that will help you in a 15-teamer, a dose of 12-15 steals, and non-zero power. It’s not sexy, but this is a glue guy that helps add a bit of value across the board. Beware of the possibility of more calf injuries, as he suffered 3 separate calf issues, so I wouldn’t go all-in on this guy, and I’d be sure to back him up quickly if he was my main 2B target!
A 20-something homer guy with a .250 BA and not a ton of steals isn’t as interesting to me as a Wong or a Segura, as they can run a bit more, however, this is the profile one could expect from Luis Urias. Urias made his bones mostly off of pulled homers, something that I think he can sustain, but a big jump up from this production would be a little surprising to me. His SS/3B/2B eligibility is a big selling point for me, however, since, in draft-and-hold drafts, that flexibility is huge.
After having a tremendous Minor League career, France needed a trade from San Diego to Seattle to force their hand into playing him every day. He’s an intriguing option with his BA upside and ability to provide league-average power with a good strikeout rate. The issue is the ADP, as he’s going inside the top 150, a price that is far too rich for my blood, as I don’t see much in terms of barrel rate or hard-hit rate to get overly excited for.
A potential leadoff man with 2B/OF eligibility for the Boston Red Sox, Kike Hernandez screams value to me going after pick 225 since he showed he can provide solid power and a good counting stat volume in Boston. His plate skills are excellent, and with that leadoff spot for a very good AL offense, there is a hidden upside here.
Always underrated, Schoop is a favorite of mine as he provides enough BA to be happy about, and enough power to satisfy a 1B slot in 15-teamers. He isn’t flashy, but he has 1B/2B duel eligibility, strikes out less than 20% of the time, and will continue to receive everyday playing time, making him an appealing target!
The only thing not to like about Eduardo Escobar is how crowded the Mets depth chart is at the moment. It appears that he will play 3B for the Mets, but they also have J.D. Davis, and they even could pursue another 3B once the lockout is over, given how aggressive Steve Cohen has been in improving the team. A trade or 2 would help clear things up here, and drafting Escobar as your main 2B is a little nerve-wracking since it’s a logjam, but his duel eligibility makes him nice to slot in all over the place assuming he gets his normal playing time. Escobar has been a huge RBI producer, with a strong .216 ISO since 2018 over 2151 PA’s, showing he has power potential, but the question is will the Mets let him accrue 550+ PA’s.
A Smidge of Upside:
At this stage in his super young career, Gavin Lux is actually polarizing, despite the fact that he hasn’t been around very long, with only 532 career MLB PA’s on his ledger. Lux has upside to tap into, has been a super premium prospect, but I just haven’t seen enough (86 career wRC+) to buy in.
Abraham Toro is a player that is between a full-time starter, and a good utility man. His age 25 season will be pivotal to how he is viewed moving forward in an increasingly competitive Seattle lineup, as he blends good contact with a touch of power and speed. Not an overly exciting profile, but there is a hint of upside in this bat if he can combine a few different skills and lockdown a full-time job in Seattle.
Muncy is one of the better bats in the NL, if not all of the MLB with his combination of elite approach, more contact than some realize, and loud power, but he currently has a torn UCL that he is recovering. The recovery process is not going how he and the Dodgers would like, therefore Muncy carries extreme risk and I will not be drafting him unless he slipped extremely far down draft boards.
Josh Rojas’ best attribute, outside of his excellent triple-eligibility, is his ability to provide double-digit steals as a potentially poor man’s Amed Rosario. Rojas is not a hitter that I see a big upside for. The power metrics are not inspiring, and he will need maximum volume to achieve any upside. If you need a shot in the arm of steals with multi-position eligibility, there is value to Rojas.
Andres Gimenez doesn’t have a role locked in as firmly as Nicky Lopez does with his Gold Glove in Kansas City, but Gimenez could take off and reach heights that Lopez cannot based on the better power numbers he has shown. Gimenez was perfect on the basepaths, 13-13 when attempting a steal, but his plate approach was sloppy at best and he has a lot of work to do to establish himself. Age is on his side at only 23-years-old, and he’s a decent stab at steals with upside if he does figure it out.
To give credit where credit is due, Nicky Lopez did ball out in 2021, posting a 4.4 WAR season with 22 stolen bases on 23 attempts. Enter 2022, where Lopez is oftentimes being drafted as a starting-caliber player on Draft Champions teams and he is no longer found money. Lopez projects for just a few homers, and that’s not a joke, as his high-water mark is a 5 homer Steamer projection that still would be a killer HR for most teams’ power. Lopez is just not a player that someone should be relying on in roto.
My favorite player to draft in this tier, Cesar Hernandez is that boring but reliable veteran who continues to get everyday roles and should produce Draft Champions usefulness again in 2022. Hernandez used to provide a pinch of power and speed in the past to fuel his fantasy value, but in 2022 he popped a career-best 21 HR’s in 637 PA’s, a surprising development. He sold out for BA in the process, hitting a putrid .232 BA while selling out for power. It’s unclear what he will do moving forward with his hitting profile, but the Washington Nationals invested in him to be their 2B, he’s a very cheap reserve pick in Draft Champions and should provide a decent balanced profile late in drafts.
After a disastrous opening to his career in 2021, Ha-Seong Kim will be looking to rebound after a rough debut. There aren’t a ton of reasons for optimism in the stats, but one would think another year of getting acclimated to MLB pitching and living in the US can only help Kim. SS/2B/3B are the selling points, as well as the fact he did provide positive defensive value for the Padres. If he has a little improvement on his 2021, a double-double of 10+ HR/SB could be in order with him providing a little pop and speed. Not a bad dart toss for a Swiss-Army Knife since he is going very late in drafts.
A player who is similar to Nicky Lopez in my mind, Madrigal could provide an elite BA with gobs of runs scored and some steals, or he could continue to get hurt as he has in his prior stints at the MLB level. At this point, Madrigal is a player who will severely hurt your HR totals, hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and may not steal much. It’s not a player I am interested in anymore, even though I used to like him as a prospect, it’s just not worth rostering him to lose all the power gains you built up before rostering him. As a bench stash, I could see it more so.
The older brother of Milwaukee Brewers INF Luis Urias, we turn to Ramon Urias, a dual-eligible MI who was a pop-up guy last year that has stuck around heading into 2022. Urias projects as a league-average bat who could keep his job all year up the middle for Baltimore, something that would give him value since he is going in a range of the draft that is light on full-time hitters, and he appears to be one. I like this boring volume play.
Better in theory than in reality, McNeil is a fun bat, but we just don’t know where he is going to play in 2022. The Mets sought out 3 veteran hitters that could paper over McNeil, and he is a bad defender to boot. McNeil has intriguing skills, a low K rate with high contact rates and he has flashed good power in 2019, but the role uncertainty has me heading for the hills until we know more.