Last week we chatted a bit about the current state of the shortstop position, and now it’s time to pop over and see what’s happening at second base. Overall I’ve found second base to be shallower than I’d expected (this is becoming a common theme, I realize) and definitely a position where I’d like to lock up one of my top choices early, no matter the league size or parameters. As I keep mentioning, I think the more familiar you are with the player pool and current player values as seen through the eyes of the fantasy community, the more prepared you’ll be to structure a winning roster regardless of league format. Of course, once we get to talking about the deep league world this is easier said than done, so as usual we’ll concentrate on some later options that those of us in deeper leagues may need to turn to late in a draft or on the cheap in an auction.
First, though, let’s quickly discuss the top of the second base stack. With Trevor Story down, there are four second baseman being drafted within the top 50 or so according to current NFBC ADP: Semien (#35), Altuve (38), Chisholm (46), and Albies (51). Between various health/aging issues, they may not be the four safest picks on the board this early, but they all provide an enticing speed/power combo and any one of them could easily put up fantasy MVP numbers this year… basically, I have no problem with an early investment in any of them if you have a favorite (I’ve drafted Semien twice; I think I’m at the point where I’m going to believe he’ll keep putting up a ton of plate appearances and stellar fantasy numbers until he doesn’t). There are only two other second basemen in the top 100 (Edman at #75 and Gimenez at #84), both of whom I like but thought would be too expensive for my taste… but both of whom I’ve now already rostered having realized how relatively shallow the position is. Next, we drop down to Gleyber Torres at #118 (I also have a couple shares here and think this is a fair price — feels like the market has overcorrected with folks being so disappointed when he didn’t repeat his career year in 2019, that no one is noticing that he’s still putting up some pretty nice fantasy stats) and Max Muncy (also 3B eligible, #142) who is the last 2B-eligible player in the top 150. (Though let’s give a quick shout-out to #140 Nico Hoerner, who heads into the season qualifying only at short but who will likely gain 2B eligibly quickly in 2023, and who might be a decent option depending on your league).
I have no problem with a flier on Muncy at this point if that’s your thing in hopes of better health and a bounce back, but I’m not confident enough in him or the next tier of guys to just hand any of them a fantasy starting second base gig, so I’m really hoping I’ve already filled the position at this point. There will likely be some great value picks to be had in the next tier, but I feel like this is middle infield territory now if we’re being safe, as we wait and see who is fully healthy (Jorge Polanco at #157, Brandon Lowe #167, Jonathan India #181) and who will be able to repeat last year’s breakout success (Thairo Estrada #178, Vaughn Grissom #182).
Dropping down outside the top 200 and getting closer to our deep league roots, I’ll touch on two guys who I wasn’t expecting to draft at all but find myself having on a couple of teams given the other options at a similar price point. Bryson Stott (also qualifies at SS) is someone I barely had on my spreadsheet coming into drafts, but at his current #225 ADP I’m willing to take a chance. The floor is low; he may not play much against lefties and if he gets off to a bad start he could lose his job entirely, but if he can find a way to take a step forward in the Phillies excellent lineup he could produce some decent counting stats in both the power and speed categories. And now to Stott’s former teammate Jean Segura. Segura, I think, has a safer floor as long as you’re not expecting too much out of him. I know moving to Miami is a negative in terms of ballpark and lineup, but he should play every day and could even be a deep league five-category helper.
When it comes to true deep league options looking outside the top 300 or so, I realize I’ve already talked about several players that qualify at second in my other posts, since many of these guys are real-life utility players who qualify at multiple positions. I still like Luis Rengifo (2B/3B, #297) although am a bit unsettled by recent reports that the Angels have been considering adding Elvis Andrus, and dropping down outside the top 400 we have Rodolfo Castro (2B/3B, #465), Ramon Urias (2B/3B #484), and Joey Wendle (2B/3B/SS, #496). (I’m using 20 games last year to qualify at a position, by the way).
Outside the top 500 ADP, there are only two second basemen I’m interested enough to blurb up let alone draft, and they both happen to be American Leaguers. The first is Michael Massey, who may or may not get to play regularly for the Royals. If I were the Royals, I’d put Massey in there pretty much every day to see what they’ve got (or at least ahead of Nicky Lopez; they are both left-handed FWIW). The folks who are into analytics tell me Massey has a very good barrel rate, and for me, he passed the old-fashioned eye test in a small MLB sample size as well. (In 173 at bats last year, he hit .243/.307 OBP, with 4 homers and 17 RBI, and 3 SB). It wouldn’t shock me to see Massey turn into a relatively productive power hitter, and he’ll steal a bag from time to time as well. I’d keep a close eye on him in AL-only, and at this almost-free price, I’ve already grabbed him in a 50-man draft and hold league.
We’ll close things out with a mention of Jonathan Aranda (ADP #589), who I’ve owned in the minors portion of my AL-only keeper league for a couple seasons now, but who has made very little impact at either the MLB level or in my psyche as I prepared for 2023 drafts. Aranda hit for a high average and to all fields throughout his minor league career, but it’s hard to tell if that will ever transfer to the majors, or if it will provide much fantasy value even if it does. I’m skeptical that even with playing time there’s a particularly helpful fantasy player here, but I’ll likely keep him on my AL roster and give him another year to see how things progress. Between his meh defense and the Rays being the Rays, I’m having trouble seeing how the above-mentioned potential playing time will develop, though it may be worth mentioning that he was definitely being auditioned as a utility player last year with four positions in just 32 MLB games (13 at 2B, 11 at 1B 6 at 3B, plus a game at OF). At any rate, his minor league numbers still intrigue me enough (.318 average/.394 OBP last year, with more pop than I realized, 18 HRs) to take a chance at this price in a deep AL-only or for depth in a deep draft and hold.
Happy drafting to everyone as we inch closer to pitchers and catchers reporting; as always feel free to drop a thought, opinion, or question in the comments!