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January 22, 2015

Dynasty League Positional Rankings

Top 50 Second Basemen

by Bret Sayre

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The Primer:

Because dynasty league rankings are relatively league-dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, where there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever and owners have minor league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or only formats.

There is plenty of upheaval throughout the ranks at second base in long-term formats, and it starts right up at the top. Anthony Rendon and Jose Altuve have pushed their way towards the top of the list, but the majority of the position is trending downwards. Whether it’s the injury troubles of Dustin Pedroia and Jurickson Profar, or the downward trends of Jason Kipnis and Aaron Hill, the position is undergoing a bit of a facelift at the moment—which pushes more steady, boring options higher than you might initially expect.

On the prospect side, the keystone is another position, like first base, that doesn’t have a ton of talent in the minor leagues because the major leagues are a combination of prospects who came up at the position and ones who slid over from a higher perch on the defensive spectrum. Unlike the two positions to come, there are no prospects in the top 19 players on this list, and the ones that are on the periphery don’t offer a ton of upside. The fantasy stars of the future are going to have to come from some of the names that have just recently graduated from the prospect ranks, or players sliding over from other positions (cough, Javier Baez, cough). Also, Javier Baez is not on this list because he’s shortstop eligible, in case you haven’t heard. Not because I hate him.

And now, your top 50 second basemen in dynasty league formats:

1) Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals

As if you couldn’t tell by the amount that I’ve talked about Rendon on both Flags Fly Forever and TINO this week, I kinda like him. Yes, he’s unlikely to maintain eligibility at second base beyond this season, but Rendon is already so good and would rate as the no. 1 third baseman were he to be ranked there. He can be a perennial .300 hitter, and complement that with 20-plus homers and enough steals to matter.

2) Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
3) Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

The next two second-sackers aren’t THAT far behind Rendon. Cano’s track record and constant batting average shine gives him the edge over Altuve, who was just out of his mind in 2014. Unfortunately, that’s not the performance we should be expecting out of him going forward—that is more like a .300 average with 30-40 steals. Still great, but not the type of performance that pushes him above the top two.

4) Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers
5) Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
6) Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

It’s easy to argue these three in some particular order, but it’s tough to argue that anyone else should be in this group. Kinsler was excellent again in 2014, and despite the fact that he’s no longer as shiny in the home-run and steal categories, he is a good bet for another top-five finish in 2015. Where you put Kipnis all depends on what you see in the power department from him. If he’s a 20-homer guy, this ranking is awfully conservative, but if that number is more like 10, he probably doesn’t deserve to be in front of Pedroia. On the other hand, it may seem like Pedroia is being knocked for injury concerns most here, but in reality it’s the declining speed that’s a bigger detriment to his value. Six steals in 12 attempts is not going to cut it going forward, so if that part of his game doesn’t return at least to the double-digit level, he’ll struggle to find himself cracking the top-10 going forward.

7) Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers

And this is WITH the injury concern baked in. I still believe in Profar as a star at the major-league level, and while it may not lead to seismic fantasy performances, he should still be a top-five option year after year once the shoulder injury is behind him. Of course, if it’s not behind him, this looks awfully generous for a hitter who can’t stay on the field and carries a career 76 OPS+. With the type of season he’s capable of this year, he could be number one on this list next year (assuming Rendon transfers to third base).

8) Kolten Wong, St Louis Cardinals
9) Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
10) Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins
11) Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates
12) Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Dodgers

Wong and Dozier can both provide sexy stats without being particularly helpful in batting average, although at least Wong has the potential to hit in the .270-.280 range if things break right. Though with the declining batting average across the league, it’s not as big of a deal as you think. Gordon could steal 70 bases next year or he could end up losing his job to Derek Dietrich, and in mixed leagues, he needs to be epic on the base paths to be worthy even of this slot. Walker and Kendrick are like warm blankets that protect you from the cold below their spots on the list. They are consistent and higher performers than you think, given the changing environment around them.

13) Arismendy Alcantara, Chicago Cubs
14) Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
15) Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers
16) Brett Lawrie, Oakland Athletics
17) Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres
18) Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
19) Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

The Dexter Fowler trade pushes Alcantara into a super utility role (likely), but it also may allow him to keep second-base eligibility for another year. He can develop into a strong power-speed threat with a ton of positions next to his name for the near future—which adds even more value in deeper formats. Murphy is reliable, but not as solid as the Walker/Kendrick group. Odor has the potential to be a great major leaguer, but because he doesn’t have big over-the-fence pop or stolen-base ability, his fantasy value has a bit of a governor on it. Gyorko and Hill both have the potential to bounce back from very disappointing 2014 campaigns, and although the long-term upside is higher with the Padre, the Diamondback carries greater 2015 upside. Utley was a man among men at this position a half-decade ago, and in a better lineup would still be eminently usable. Unfortunately he plays in one of the worst lineups in baseball—and not even Citizens Bank Park can save that.

20) Martin Prado, Miami Marlins
21) Jose Peraza, Atlanta Braves
22) Dilson Herrera, New York Mets
23) Nick Franklin, Tampa Bay Rays
24) Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics
25) Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
26) Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles

And here is where the prospects finally show up—right next to the “failed” prospects. Sarcasm aside, Peraza and Herrera lead the current rookie crop and both could find themselves in starting roles in 2015 for their NL East teams. Peraza has the much easier path to playing time, and could steal 30-plus bases early on in his career. Herrera is more blocked, but a trade or injury could clear that up nicely. The lot of us continue to wait for Franklin to get consistent major league playing time and hit, but there’s no guarantee that ever happens (the hitting part). Semien doesn’t offer much upside, but he’s versatile and can contribute a little all over. Phillips is not dead, despite what his ADP and trade value might say. Schoop is not dead, despite what his batting average might say—that power is real and he could hit .240-.250 in time.

27) Forrest Wall, Colorado Rockies
28) Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers
29) Alex Guerrero, Los Angeles Dodgers
30) Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants
31) Omar Infante, Kansas City Royals
32) Cory Spangenberg, San Diego Padres
33) Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
34) Micah Johnson, Chicago White Sox
35) D.J. LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies
36) Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers

There’s some upside sprinkled around this tier, but it comes with many caveats. Wall could be quite excellent in time (as an Altuve-like average and speed guy), but he hasn’t even hit full-season ball yet. Guerrero might be able to hit, but he’s a very poor defender. Espinosa has the power and speed, but has an extraordinary amount of trouble making contact. Johnson has enough speed to steal 40 bases, but can’t really hit or play defense, which is a slight problem when you’re trying to crack a major-league lineup.

37) Rob Refsnyder, New York Yankees
38) Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins
39) Travis Demeritte, Texas Rangers
40) Alberto Callaspo, Atlanta Braves
41) Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
42) Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays
43) Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays
44) Ryan Brett, Tampa Bay Rays
45) Emilio Bonifacio, Chicago White Sox
46) Grant Green, Los Angeles Angels
47) Sean Coyle, Boston Red Sox
48) Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies
49) Chris Bostick, Washington Nationals
50) Tommy LaStella, Chicago Cubs

The collection of talent at this point of the list is a result of a dearth of second base prospects worth a damn for fantasy leagues. Even the guys who project as second-division regulars just don’t have the type of profile that works in fantasy, unless you’re talking about deep leagues. And even then, it’s not ideal. The guy to watch in this group is Demeritte, as the Rangers have had success with high-strikeout toolsy guys. His power is a differentiator for the position and although he’s likely three years (and a jump in contact rate) away, there’s at least something to get excited about. The rest of these guys? Not so much.

Just missed: Nope.

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

Related Content:  Prospects,  Fantasy,  Second Base,  Dynasty Leagues

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