For years, it felt like second base was one of the most shallow positions in the game. Everyone was rushing to fill out second base and middle infield spots before you ended up with John MacDonald starting for your Fantasy team.
Those days are long gone, and second base has become one of the deeper offensive positions. There's a good mix of young and old, speed and power, healthy and (very, very) injury prone.
Let's dive in and see what's in store for owners in the 2019 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Preview.
2019 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Preview
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Can Jose Altuve Bounce Back?
I'm going to be blunt with Altuve. Owners saw his 2017 MVP trophy and World Series ring and overdrafted him. His consistency and five-tool ability made him a great first rounder. But why on earth did people draft him over Mike Trout?
Altuve did not perform well last season, hitting just 13 HR and stealing 17 bases in 137 games. He was forced to deal with a knee injury in 2018 but says he is healthy following offseason surgery. However, the question remains. Where should he be drafted in 2019?
Without seeing how his knee reacts, you can't put him back at the top of the draft. In addition, he is clearly no longer the top 2B option as Jose Ramirez has more than earned that designation.
Altuve is being drafted around the turn of the first round, which is a good balance between his upside and the risk he suddenly presents. Don't overdraft him thinking he'll immediately return to MVP form. 2018 was the first year Altuve dealt with a major knee injury and it remains to be seen if he will keep stealing bases at the rate he previously did.
How Early Should I Take a Second Baseman?
Are you looking for big power up the middle? If you are then owners are looking at Jose Ramirez (who's platform dependent) and Javier Baez. Do you want guaranteed speed? Then you'll have to draft Whit Merrifield in the early rounds.
While the position lacks many "elite" options. It's a deep position that owners can wait on and still be okay. How does Yoan Moncada in the 12th sound? Or Caesar Hernandez in the 14th? Wait a little longer and you can take a shot on prospects like Garrett Hampson, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. or Luis Urias, but I wouldn't recommend starting any of them right away.
The point is, second base is a position littered with solid performers in the early and middle rounds. Owners would be better off addressing positions of need elsewhere instead of reaching for a two-bagger in the early-to-middle rounds.
What Will Max Muncy Do For an Encore?
There seems to be some hesitation around Muncy, whose FantasyPros ADP of 106 seems low for someone who hit 35 home runs in 137 games. Obviously, it was only one season and owners shouldn't buy into it so quickly. But, was Muncy's performance so difficult to believe that owners are willing to take Jonathan Villar over him? That's crazy to me.
Muncy showed a great batting eye in his breakout year, with a 16.4 percent walk rate. He also showed amazing plate discipline, swinging at just 21.5 percent of pitches outside the zone. That kind of discipline put him in the same ballpark as Mike Trout, Matt Carpenter, and Joe Mauer.
I'll concede that his HR rate will likely drop, as his 29 percent HR/FB would put him among the elite sluggers in the Majors. Even if it falls, you're looking at a 25 HR second baseman who can get on base at an elite rate (.391 OBP).
Players on the Rise
Daniel Murphy, Colorado Rockies
It's weird that I'm calling a 33 (turning 34) year old a player on the rise, but here we are. Murphy isn't rising because he's going to start stealing bases again. The former Met is on the upswing because he signed a two-year deal with the Rockies and will get to play in Coors Field.
Murphy is set to be Colorado's everyday first baseman, which should ease the burden on his body and keep him healthier than last season. He did have a disappointing 2017, but he only played in 91 games and is still one year removed from a season where he drove in 93 runs with a .928 OPS.
Injuries have taken a toll on Murphy and owners shouldn't expect him to get back to his prime numbers with the Nationals. However, the "Coors Field" effect and the strength of the lineup around him should get him close to 20 HR and 160 RBI + runs.
Just make sure you have a backup plan in case of injury.
Jonathan Schoop, Minnesota Twins
What a fall it was for Schoop. After hitting 57 home runs in the 2016-17 seasons, the former Oriole completely fell off the map. He had a down year with Baltimore and was benched after being traded to Milwaukee mid-season.
Schoop signed a one-year deal with the Twins and could be in for a rebound if he can play a full season. His poor 2018 may have resulted from a 70 point drop in BABIP. The drop could have been regression or a result of a nine percent decrease in hard-hit rate from 2017. His batted ball profile is way off his 2017 season but is more or less in line with his 2016 season, where he hit 25 home runs and drove in 82 runs.
Schoop's 2018 struggles may have been caused by a number of things. The oblique injury that cost him nearly a month in April, bad ball luck, or a serious case of Oriole's clubhouse attitude. In any case, Schoop will be the everyday starter for the improved Twins lineup and could easily repeat his 2016.
Players on the Decline
Brian Dozier, Washington Nationals
The fantasy community soured on Dozier after last season. Dealing with injuries all season long, the Nationals new second baseman was unable to replicate his past production, setting or matching five-year lows in HR, SB, runs, average, and OPS.
Some owners would point to his .240 BABIP as reasons for a rebound. However, his injury issues and batted ball profile contain several warning signs. First, his line drive percentage was the second lowest of his major league career. It was at it's lowest, 15.2 percent, in 104 games with the Twins before he brought it up with the Dodgers. Second, his infield fly ball rate soared to 17.1 percent, the second highest mark of his career.
Dozier could see a slight bounceback if healthy, but owners should not expect him to hit over 30 HR or steal with regularity again.
Dee Gordon, Seattle Mariners
The king of the one category contributors. Just a couple of years ago Gordon was being drafted as a borderline second rounder because of his massive contribution in steals. Despite rarely helping owners in other categories, Gordon will always fly off the board earlier than he should.
This year, Gordon might not be capable of carrying the one category he's drafted for. In his first season with the Mariners, Gordons stole just 30 bases, a career low when he plays over 56 games. His previous career low was 10 in 38 games with the Dodgers in 2013.
Gordon finished 2017 a putrid 1.5 percent walk rate and a .304 BABIP, a very low mark for someone with his speed. The former Marlin was also caught stealing at a career-high rate of 29 percent in 2018. He swung at more pitches outside the zone and held a career-worst swinging strike rate at the plate.
Indicators are down all across the board for Gordon, and he will have a tough time scoring runs on a suddenly rebuilding Mariners team. Finding steals is becoming a difficult task, but using a top 100 pick on someone who gives you one category is a waste. Go draft Billy Hamilton if that's your thing.
Players to Avoid
Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
I must be crazy, right? Avoid the rising star who's coming off a 34 HR, 21 steal season? This has nothing to do with Baez's skill as a player. He will likely be one of the top 2B options thanks to a lack of high-end power at the position. However, a combination of regression and his ADP make him a candidate to avoid on draft day.
The biggest red flag in his profile is the spike in his HR/FB with an accompanying decrease in his overall fly-ball percentage. The five percent increase in his HR/FB rate from 2017 was the major contributor to his HR total. His HR/FB rate puts him in the same territory as known sluggers like Khris Davis, Kyle Schwarber, and Nelson Cruz, who hit far more fly balls than Baez.
Baez won't be a complete flop. He is a five-tool player in one of the best (and most inconsistent) offenses in the league. However, owners expecting a 35 HR campaign may be disappointed.
Adalberto Mondesi, Kansas City Royals
Don't pay for steals. Don't pay for unproven rookies. The same rules are spouted every draft but people are having no qualms about drafting Mondesi early.
Mondesi was finally able to perform well in the majors last season, hitting 14 home runs and stealing 32 bases in just 75 games. The biggest surprise in his performance was his ability to hit for average, finishing the season at .275. While that average is decent, owners need to keep in mind that his career minor league average was .258.
Disregarding his minor league track record, Mondesi showed major issues in his explosive half season as well. In 291 at-bats, he had an abysmal 3.8 percent walk rate, which would rank 138th (third worst) among qualified batters. His 26.5 percent strikeout rate would rank 11th among qualified batters. A poor BB/K ratio will make it difficult for him to stick at the top of the lineup.
I think his ADP makes him too much of a risk, as he could end up more like the bad version of Keon Broxton if he can't improve his plate discipline.
Players on the Horizon
Garrett Hampson, Colorado Rockies
The Rockies are a team known for their habit of blocking good prospects. David Dahl, Tom Murphy, Ryan McMahon, and Raimel Tapia can attest. With D. Murphy is slotted to play primarily at first base, Hampson is in line for the majority of the playing time at second.
Hampson made a meteoric rise through the Colorado system in 2018, starting at Double-A and working his way up to earn a short audition with the Rockies. In 48 plate appearances, Hampson slashed .275/.396/.400 with two stolen bases. Hampson was used mostly as a pinch hitter or runner but still managed to get on base regularly, which will be his biggest contribution to Fantasy owners.
Hampson's two biggest tools are his ability to hit for average and his speed. In three seasons with the Rockies' minor league affiliates, Hampson slashed .315/.389/.457 and stole 123 bases in 305 games.
If Hampson plays a full season, he has the skills to reach 30 stolen bases and 80 or more runs in the dangerous Colorado lineup.
Jeff McNeil, New York Mets
McNeil played 63 games with the Mets last season but has snuck under the radar thanks to a lack of flashiness in his game. In 248 plate appearances, the former 12th round pick hit .329 with a .852 OPS.
McNeil's stock dropped when the Mets traded for Robinson Cano and signed Jed Lowrie, as his path to playing time is clouded. However, any player that can maintain a strikeout rate below 10 percent and get on base at his clip will find playing time.
McNeil is penciled into a super-utility role for the Mets and could take over in the outfield if one of the regulars needs a rest. New York's current center fielders Juan Lagares and the aforementioned Keon Broxton have notoriously inconsistent bats. If they falter, look for McNeil to pick up extra at-bats.
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