2024 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Preview

by Ryan Kirksey
2024 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Preview

The 2024 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Preview is here and ready for the upcoming season! The very top of the second base rankings got a sudden shot to the arm with Mookie Betts playing enough games to qualify at the position for 2024. Once again, a strong mix of safe veterans and young players with upside make up the top 10 options at the position. However, there is a significant drop after about the eighth second baseman off the board.

I'm personally looking to secure one of the top eight second basemen according to ADP, which means I will be selecting one before pick 100 comes across the draft board. With the addition of Mookie Betts to the second base player pool, there are several multi-category contributors at the position in the top 100 picks and I am not interested in being stuck with someone like Luis Arraez or Brendan Rodgers who help in one specific category and literally nothing else.

Be sure to check out the rest of the position previews here at Fantasy Six Pack too.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Previews
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With that being said, second base is as deep as it has ever been, but the top of the rankings also stands out like never before. Let's dive into the 2024 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Preview.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Preview

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Can Marcus Semien Get More Than 700 Plate Appearances Again?

Since 2018, there have been only 37 instances a player having at least 700 plate appearances in a season. Marcus Semien has five of them. Just 12 of those seasons have seen a player reach at least 720 plate appearances. Marcus Semien has four of them. However, only nine of those 700 plate appearance seasons have come from players aged 30 or older. Marcus Semien has three of them. So, either Marcus Semien is the Bionic Man as he approaches his 34th birthday later this season or he has been extremely lucky with injury and team context.

For this year, I'm better it's the latter. It's always wise to take the under on 700 plate appearances on a player who is 33. Semien will be coming off an extraordinary year where he slashed .276/.348/.478 with 29 home runs and 14 stolen bases. We also have to add on another 82 plate appearances in the playoffs for a total of 835 trips to the plate not including his 1,406 innings in the filed in 2023. Only 11 players since 2010 have reached 700 plate appearances at age 33 or older. I'm not saying Marcus Semien can't do it again. I'm just saying we shouldn't count on him doing it again.

For a player who derives much of his value from fantasy counting stats, I'm not going to get much of him at an ADP of 23, as I would prefer to take him in the third round.

Who Is Zack Gelof and Can He Go 20/20?

If you don't really know Zack Gelof I can't blame you. He plays in the fantasy wasteland that is the Oakland Athletics, and has less than half a season under his belt. But at 23 years old and in one of the worst hitting parks in the majors, Gelof (a second round pick in 2021) was a phenomenon. In 300 plate appearances, he hit .267/.337/.507 with 14 homers and 14 steals. He had a 137 OPS+, meaning his offense was 37% above league average.

Can we just double his numbers from 2023 and call him a surefire 25/25 player? Certainly not. His lineup around him still has guys like JJ Bleday and Abraham Toro in it, so there is no reason to pitch to Gelof. But his plate skills and enviable number two spot in the batting order might just make him a tremendous fantasy asset in 2024. Gelof only hit 41% ground balls last season to go against 25% line drives and 34% fly balls. His barrel rate of 11% was very strong and his 7% barrels per plate appearance were the same as Francisco Lindor and Fernando Tatis.

His sprint speed was fifth among all second basemen and the Athletics have no incentive to tell him to stop stealing. Add it all up and we have a player going after pick 100 that could very easily top 20/20 this season. Don't worry about the team. Worry about the stats.

Can Ha-Seong Kim Repeat His Amazing 2023?

After seven professional seasons in the KBO, Ha-Seong Kim of the San Diego Padres had rounded into a nice player after his first two MLB seasons. He played 150 games all over the diamond in 2022 and his 11 homers with 12 steals and a .250 average. He was a nice very late Middle Infielder addition to lineups. But then 2023 happened. Kim absolutely exploded, hitting .260/.351/.398 with 17 homers, 84 runs, and 38 steals. In terms of fantasy dollar value, he was the 31st-most valuable hitter and only missed 10 games all year.

In 2024, he is slotted at second base for San Diego, but also is eligible at third base and shortstop. That kind of flexibility plus his career year has him going before pick 100 in drafts, but will he be worth it when he was available after pick 250 in 2023?

His biggest gains in 2023 came thanks to increased plate discipline. He walked 12% of the time last year compared to just 8% over 2021-2022. His O-Swing% fell by a full five percentage points. That plus the new base rules allowed him to run wild last season. Heading into 2023, however, projections are more bearish on him repeating the feat. While all projections systems see him retaining 15-17 home runs, none of them have Kim stealing more than 27 stolen bases. His sprint speed is just 15th among second basemen and he was caught stealing nine times.

That does seem to be baked into his ADP of around pick 100, and he is pretty firmly settled into about seventh or eighth among second sackers in drafts.

Players on the Rise

Matt McLain, Cincinnati Reds

Reds' second baseman Matt McClain is certainly a player on the rise, but we have to be careful by what we mean by that. He is 24, hits in the best park in the league, has the full-time number two spot in the order locked up, and is coming off a .290/.357/.507 season with 16 bombs and 14 steals in just 89 games played. But, there are some flaws.

Typically we don't see players who walk 7% of the time and strikeout 29% of the time hit .290. Of the 23 qualified players who hit at least .280 last season, none of them had a strikeout rate over 24%.

McLain has some swing and miss in his approach, but there are signs that could improve in 2024. McLain's walk rate and ISO both improved from the first half to the second half last season. He hit .280 on the road and .304 at home, so it wasn't just numbers aided by Great American Ballpark.

You're going to have to spend a top-80 pick on McLain in drafts right now, but what he might give back in average he should pile up in homers, steals, and runs this year.

Andrés Giménez, Cleveland Guardians

Andrés Giménez got really unlucky in the BABIP department last season, with only a .289 mark. That caused his average to drop 45 points from 2022. It also knocked off 67 points of slugging percentage. However, his steals increased for the fourth straight season, he maintained a mid-teens homer pace, and he took two percentage points off his strikeout rate. All at age 24.

Now 25 years old and locked into a lineup spot between OBP machines Steven Kwan and Jose Ramirez, it is possible we see another step up for the Guardians' second baseman this year.

Last season, Giménez spent 122 games batting in the 5th, 6th, or 7th spot in the order. He should gain at least 60 plate appearances over his 616 last season and he should have ample opportunity to do three things: drive in runs, steal bases, and be driven in by batters behind him.

Players on the Decline

Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

Say what you will about Jose Altuve. But he has been one of the most fun players to watch for over a decade. There just seems to be no way such pop and hitting ability can come out of a small body like that, but he just keeps getting it done. In 2023, he REALLY got it done. He hit .311/.393/.522 with 17 homers and 14 steals in just 90 games (he broke his arm on a HBP in the WBC).

There was a massive discrepancy between Altuve's actual batting average (.311) and his xBA last year (.248). Similarly, his slugging percentage was almost 100 points higher than his xSLG. Altuve's .348 BABIP was his highest since he was winning battling titles in the mid-2010's. His strikeout rate was also the second-highest of his career.

Altuve still deserves a top-five selection as a second baseman because of his ability to contribute in every category, but don't overpay expecting him to double his counting stats from his shortened 2023 season.

Jorge Polanco, Seattle Mariners

After 10 seasons with the Minnesota Twins, Jorge Polanco is now on the wrong side of 30. He is also on the wrong side of MLB park factors after a trade to Seattle. Polanco is likely to take over the full-time second base job over Dylan Moore, but Seattle is a hitting desert that could sap what power Polanco has left. According to Baseball Savant, T-Mobile Park ranks 31st in offensive park factor over the last three years. It's also 31st for runs scored.

His walk rate dropped by four percentage points while his strikeout rate jumped up by four percentage points last season. If anyone was holding out hope for a chance to reclaim something like his 2021 season (33 homers, 11 steals), this move to Seattle likely puts the nail in that coffin. Polanco is a low-risk, low-reward player for 2024 who goes after pick 250 in drafts.

Player on the Horizon

Jordan Westburg, Baltimore Orioles

While Jackson Holliday might be getting most of the prospect hype for the Baltimore Orioles (and will likely play shortstop), it's Jordan Westburg who already as an MLB cup of coffee. He has the inside track to second base for Baltimore this spring.

Westburg is a high-OBP, high-contact guy who totaled 27 homers and 12 steals across two levels in 2022 and combined for 21/10 last year in AAA and 68 games with the big club. Westburg's primary competition comes from Ramon Urias, but with World Series aspirations, the Orioles will want their best lineup possible - and that includes Westburg.

Westburg's strong walk rate plummeted in the majors upon arrival (7.0%), so if he can get that back up, the rest of the production should come.

Players to Avoid

Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds

After a promising rookie year in 2021 (.269/.376/.459 with 21 home runs and 12 steals), two things have doomed Jonathan India's golden opportunity on the Reds. First, he has missed about 100 games due to injury over the last two seasons. He hasn't stayed healthy for long stretches to get any consistency. Second, the emergence of Matt McClain, Noelvi Marte, and Spencer Steer means India has lost his defensive spot on the diamond. He will now DH for the Reds and likely hit in the bottom half of the order.

India's power was gone last year, slugging a lowly .407 in 2023, and while he still went 17/14, he is likely to lose position eligibility going into next year unless he is an injury fill-in for another player. Personally, I think India's spot as the DH is also in jeopardy after the Reds signed Jeimer Candelario to play first base. That frees up Christian Encarnacion-Strand and his prodigious power to step into that spot if India struggles or gets hurt.

Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies

Last season, Brendan Rodgers was a light-hitting second baseman who couldn't stay healthy. He also couldn't walk and struck out almost 22% of the time. I don't care how great Coors Field is for hitting, if you can't even slug .390 when you play half your games there, you don't deserve a full-time slot on a fantasy roster. Rodgers has zero stolen bases in his career. He has only 151 total runs in parts of five seasons with the Rockies as well. If not for his 15 home runs in just 102 games in 2021, we would be looking at him very differently.

Rodgers his 53% of his balls in play for grounders last season, which is worse than the 52% the year before that. His fly ball rate of less than 30% is the antithesis of what you want in Coors. Give me Jake Cronenworth or Jordan Westburg at similar ADPs every day of the week.


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