Where Have All The Second Basemen Gone?
With Arismendy Alcantara’s call up and likely demotion right in front of us, I thought it would be interesting to focus on the state of the second-sackers in MLB right now. It’s probably worse than you’re ready for. The 2014 league average second baseman is turning in a .251/.311/.365 slash line right now, which is somehow worse than 2013’s .257/.316/.376 line.
At the bottom of the fantasy section I put Alcantara’s floor “a bit south of Jose Altuve’s 2013.” Before submitting that for publication though, I reached out to a friend and asked that he review the article as a whole. He zeroed in on this claim, stating that Jose Altuve’s 2013 season landed him sixth among second baseman – thus making it quite the lofty floor for Alcantara.
He was right about that, in a sense, but the more we talked about it the more we realized that 2013-Jose-Altuve wasn’t all that good. In reality, second base as a whole was awful, and that’s how Altuve ended up sixth despite the mediocre season. Well, that and his 35 stolen bases, which tend to be overweighted by ranking systems.
Here’s the list of second baseman producing better than league average offense in 2014 (by wRC+):
That’s all of em. The next guy by wRC+ is Brian Roberts/Brandon Phillips at 91. That’s a steep dropoff. Now, this doesn’t include guys like Jason Kipnis, who has missed enough time not to qualify for the ranking (97 wRC+, fwiw) but still. There’s just not a lot of offensive punch at the position right now, even with some breakouts (Gennett, Gordon, Dozier) and resurgent seasons (Kinsler).
It’s also worth noting the importance (and lack) of speed at second base. Sure there are a lot of stolen bases for the position on the whole, but it’s concentrated in Altuve and Gordon and a few others. If you’re looking for speed at the keystone, you better own one of the prominent few.
With Rougned Odor, Alcantara, and possibly Mookie Betts (positional issues long-term), all at or close to the major league level (and someone like Jurickson Profar coming back), there are reinforcements on the way. Even so, given the lack of depth and impact at the position, it may be advisable to shift more of your budget toward securing a quality second baseman in the coming years than you have been previously. Offense is down as a whole, so obviously everything needs to be adjusted a bit, but second base as always been something of a scarce position in regards to offensive talent, so owning a top tier player at the keystone is going to be extremely valuable going forward.