The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Second Baseman, Nos. 1-20
Congratulations on surviving another off-season. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to spend the next month traveling across the positional landscape, labeling players with numbers that correspond to their value. It’s the very definition of freedom. A ton of hard work was put into these rankings, and will continue to be put in as we bring you just an ungodly amount of information over the next month. We hope you enjoy the product we’ve created, and if you’d like to show appreciation for that work you can do so through this link, or via the donate button on in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.
As we move around the infield, we arrive at the keystone, where a new name is atop the rankings. We have a few newcomers to the top 20 in general, but for the most part, it’s a small reshuffling of familiar faces. There’s not a lot of impact talent here, and while there’s some depth in terms of upside into the mid-teens, it falls off fairly quickly after that. As usual with this position, there will be a few early selections and then a ton of options later in the game.
1) Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 8)
Rendon’s sterling sophomore performance established him as a six category fantasy monster, no matter which infield position he ends up at long term. The former sixth-overall pick in 2011 finished fifth in NL MVP balloting, overcoming the only thing holding him back in his pro career — injuries. Playing in 153 games in 2014, after only 177 (98 MLB/79 MiLB) as a professional, Rendon hit .287, smacked 21 home runs, and added 39 doubles to go along with 17 steals in 20 attempts. His thievery netted more steals than more celebrated base runners like Mike Trout and Adam Eaton, and his 111 runs scored finished four short of Trout, good for third overall. His .351 OBP in a productive Nats lineup should keep him near the top of the runs category for years. The steals will dip as he ages, but it will likely come just as the doubles power matures into over the fence power. Rendon’s complete profile, including positional versatility, makes him one of the most intriguing – and valuable dynasty league infield assets.
2) Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 1)
As expected, Cano’s move to Safeco Field from the short porch of Yankee Stadium stifled his home run total, dropping from 27 in 2013 to 14 in his first year in Seattle. Cano’s .314/.382/.454 line was nearly identical to 2013 when adjusted for his new ballpark, and stealing a career high 10 bags helps offset the loss of home run power. His 136 wRC+ led all second basemen in 2014 and further cemented himself as one of the most reliable fantasy options in the middle of the infield, regardless of which ballpark he plays his home games. An improved Mariners offense could help get his RBI totals back up to Yankee levels.
3) Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 13)
Winning the major league batting title and finishing second in stolen bases is a good way to get moved up the rankings. The 2014 season saw Altuve put together a top-five fantasy performance, smoking 47 doubles to lead the position and good for third overall. He also was a bit lucky as evidenced by his .360 BABIP, up from .316 and .321 in the two seasons prior. Altuve’s 56 steals (with an 86.2 percent success rate) were also a jump up from 35 in 2013 and 33 in his first full season of 2012. His 135 wRC+ was a major improvement over the 85 wRC+ he posted in 2013, utilizing a better approach at the plate to cut his strikeout rate from 12.6 to 7.5 percent, certainly an encouraging sign going forward.
4) Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 2)
Kipnis injured his oblique in April and saw his power numbers drop off a cliff. His home run total fell from 17 in 2013 (and an OSO of .168) to an alarming six in 2014, seeing his ISO crater to James Loney territory (.090) in 129 games. The lack of power contributed to Kipnis’ OPS dropping 178 points from the .818 he posted in 2013. Thankfully for frustrated owners, Kipnis kept running in 2014, adding 22 swipes in 25 attempts, marking the third straight season of 20 or more stolen bases.
5) Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 5)
Despite leaving one of the friendliest parks in the majors, Kinsler’s 2014 season was one of the best overall fantasy seasons of his career. The move to Comerica Park actually increased his home run total from 13 in 2013 to 17 in 2014. Hitting atop a potent Tigers lineup enabled him to finish third at the position in runs scored, which was good enough for seventh overall, also adding a career high 92 RBI. Since his monster 2011 season, it looks like Kinsler has settled into a 15-20 home run hitter who will add 15-20 steals, making himself one of the most consistent values at the position.
6) Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 3)
Pedroia may need to reload his laser artillery after seeing his home run total drop for the fourth consecutive season, peaking at 21 homers in 2011 and ending 2014 with a career-low seven. Hand injuries during the last two seasons have no doubt contributed to the downfall of his power and also may have caused him to get the red light on the basepaths. Pedroia’s stolen base totals have dwindled each of the last four years: his six steals were also a career-low, marking his lowest total since he stole seven in his first full big league season of 2007. A healthy 2015 hitting in a much improved Red Sox lineup should produce a strong run towards the rest of his fantasy career.
7) Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 18)
Wong rode an enticing power/speed combination to finish third in National League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2014. After an embarrassing, inexcusable base running gaffe in Game 4 of 2013 World Series, the former first round pick in 2011 was demoted to Triple-A in April after a rocky start. He tore through the PCL for 18 games and earned a ticket back to Busch as the starter, swatting 12 home runs in the final 93 games of the year, finishing with 20 steals. Wong is an efficient base stealer, swiping 51 bags (with a 91 percent success rate) over the last two years between AAA and the majors. In his first full season, Wong was unable to duplicate the on base prowess (.292) that he showed in the minors, where he got on base at a .367 clip. His 16 percent strikeout rate was right in line with his minor league numbers, so there should be some improvement in that area as he gains experience.
8) Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 26)
Dozier launched himself into fantasy prominence in 2014 as the only second baseman to produce a 20/20 season. His 23 home runs tied for most among second basemen with Neil Walker, and his 112 runs scored were second overall, trailing only Mike Trout. Dozier has improved incrementally in virtually every major statistical category over his first three big league seasons. He flashed better plate discipline in 2014, pushing his walk rate to 12.6 percent, his highest since turning pro, which led to a 33 point jump in his OBP. Dozier’s power is not out of line with what he showed in 2011 at Double-A (.183 ISO) and his improved approach has made him one of the most valuable at the position over the last two seasons.
9) Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins (Age :26, Previous Rank: 41-SS)
After spending almost as much time in Albuquerque as Jesse Pinkman the previous three seasons, Gordon’s legs propelled him up fantasy leaderboards everywhere in 2014, leading the league with 64 stolen bases and 12 triples. Gordon’s first league average season with the bat (.704 OPS) earned him his first full season’s worth of at-bats, and a ticket out of town to Miami in the offseason. A bigger park in Marlins Stadium should play to Gordon’s strengths. His 20 bunt hits may not be sustainable as defenses adjust, but Gordon should still have the green light on the basepaths in his new home, and that’s really all dynasty owners care about.
10) Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 17)
Walker turned in another solid fantasy performance in 2014, something he’s done every season of his big league career. He smashed a career-high 23 home runs, marking the fourth consecutive year he’s improved his total, and his 76 RBI were good for fifth among second sackers, earning him the National League Silver Slugger. Walker has been one of the most consistent second base performers since becoming a starter in 2010, and his reliability should be valued appropriately, especially in deeper leagues.
11) Daniel Murphy, New York Mets (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 15)
Murphy seems to be forever and always, even by us, completely underrated. Murphy has yet to turn 30 years old and plays at one of the weakest offensive positions on the diamond. All he has done over the last four seasons from 2011-2014 is slash .294/.333/.414. Over that same time span he is 5th in batting average, 6th in games played, 7th in runs scored, and 8th in RBI among second basemen. We ranked him 15th last year after he turned in an excellent season and after a slightly worse one we moved him up to 11th. The reason for this is that so many young hopefuls took a step back and Murphy just keeps on keeping on. If you want a secure player at the position that will help you in every category outside of home runs and steals look no further than Daniel Murphy.
12) Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 16)
Basically everything that I just said about Murphy applies to Kendrick. One of the better moves of the offseason was the acquisition of Kendrick by Andrew Friedman and Co. as the team tries to divorce itself from boom or bust low OBP players like Dee Gordon. Kendrick is likely to see the majority of his time batting in the sixth spot in the line-up as he moves 31.3 miles north up I-5 to Dodger Stadium. If that’s the case, we should see a reduction in both runs and RBI from his 2014 season however Kendrick’s defense and skill-set should keep him in line-ups every day well into his 30s. There’s a chance he hits second in a deep lineup though, and in that case his runs would remain valuable. Kendrick is easily worth targeting in the coming years.
13) Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 4)
It seems like forever ago that Profar was the near unanimous number one ranked prospect in all of baseball, sitting atop the 2013 Baseball Prospectus top 101. In the write up for the 2013 ranking BP swooned over him saying “he shows the potential to be a .300, 20-home-run bat”. It has been nearly a year now that Profar has been dealing with a myriad of right shoulder issues which started as tendonitis but ended up as a partial tear eventually causing him to miss all of 2014. He has chosen to fix the shoulder issues with both weight training and flexibility rather than undergoing surgery and hopes to play baseball in 2015. If you are looking for a player with a low price and massive upside be sure to put a bid on Profar, but beware his days of dealing with injury may not be behind him.
14) Arismendy Alcantara, Chicago Cubs (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 21)
Alcantara was one of the Cubs first big prospects to get the call up to the big club during the 2014 season. He spent 89 games down at AAA destroying their pitchers while racking up 10 home runs, 21 stolen bases, and a .307 batting average. In his 70 games with the Cubs, Alcantara continued to rack up the counting stats but his average was a putrid .205. He’ll have to work hard to improve his 70.7 percent contact rate and 12 percent line drive rate if we wants to keep his job with the Cubbies during 2015. Alcantara split time between 2nd base and center field last year but played majority of his time in center once Javier Baez joined the team. He will likely lose eligibility after this year but his 20/20 potential make him worth a recommendation at any position.
14.5) Brett Lawrie, Oakland Athletics (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 15 – 3B)
If you’re wondering why the late appearance for Lawrie, look no further than the second “t” in his first name. That’s not how we run things around here. Lawrie still can’t stay healthy, and just moved from a hitter’s park in Toronto to a pitcher’s park in Oakland. Aside from that he lost all of that firepower in the lineup surrounding him when he was healthy enough to take the field. He’s still got enough talent to be in the top 10 pretty much no matter the position he plays, but it’ll come down to health, which isn’t a great bet at this point.
15) Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 19)
Undoubtedly possessing one of the strangest names in baseball, Odor was the benefactor of Profar’s shoulder woes during the 2014 season. At just 20 years old he was called up to start in place of Profar, and performed admirably over 114 games slashing .259/.297/.402. The numbers were nothing to write home about but Odor proved more potent than expected him, with nine home runs and 14 doubles to go along with a solid contact rate of 84.8 percent. Even if Profar comes back healthy, it is no sure thing that he will supplant Odor at the keystone. While his bat speed isn’t as explosive as Profar’s there is a high floor to be had here. He has shown enough skill that if his future is not in Texas it certainly will be as a big league second basemen with another club.
16) Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 36, Previous Rank: 11)
From 2005-2009 there was no one at second base better than Chase Utley, and very few at any position that challenged his overall value. Since those glory days, Utley has had hip surgery, hand surgery, thumb surgery, and countless knee injuries that have gone a long way towards sapping his power. The 18 home runs that we saw from Utley in 2013 were more of a mirage than a sign of what we can expect going forward, as he’s cranked exactly 11 home runs in three of the last four seasons. Utley was less effective, but defied all odds to play in 155 games last year. It’s more reasonable to expect that figure to be around the 130-game mark going forward, but he should pack a punch when he does play, even with a weak lineup around him. If you can stomach the missed time, there’s value to be had in Utley, in dynasty formats.
17) Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 12)
Gyorko survived round one of the inaugural Preller Games in which the entire Padres roster is brought to a dome with brutal climate changes and booby traps that switch every hour and try and kill or trade you. Okay, so maybe surviving the Padres roster turnover isn’t as big an achievement as winning the Hunger Games but Gyorko, Alonso, and Amarista are the only remaining Padres from last season who look likely to have starting jobs in 2015. Last year was not nearly as bad as it looked for Gyorko even though he dropped his home run total from 23 to 10. He had .253 BABIP despite maintaining his above league average line drive rate and swapping fly balls for groundballs, which means he had some bad luck. He also made more contact overall moving from 73.8 percent up to 75.2 percent. There’s reason to believe Gyorko will be close to a .250/20 home run player going forward.
18) Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 9)
During Hill’s first full season with the Diamondbacks in 2012 he smacked 26 home runs, good for second behind the great Robinson Cano among second basemen. That season, Hill had an excellent average fly ball distance of 285.6 feet and only four of his 26 homers were rated as “just enough” per Hit Tracker Online. Last season Hill only mustered 10 home runs and an average fly ball distance of 271.9 feet. To make matters worse half of his 10 homers ranked as “just enough” despite Chase Field rating as the 7th friendliest spot in the league for home runs. In addition to the power outage Hill has seen his average plunge down the tubes while walking less and striking out more.
19) Martin Prado, Miami Marlins (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 14)
While the Marlins imported Prado from New York to man the hot corner, he barely qualifies at the keystone in fantasy – which is good news for him. Expect Prado to bat fifth in Miami, and remain as good a bet as there is to have double-digit home runs and a batting average north of .280. Working against him are the dimensions of Marlins Park and advancing age, but that lineup the Fish have assembled is deceptively deep. Prado is likely to be a great draft day value.
20) Jose Peraza, Atlanta Braves (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Last year was a season to remember for Peraza, who slashed an impressive .339/.364/.441 across High-A/Double-A, stealing 60 bases in the process. The Braves have done their part to clear a path for him by trading Tommy La Stella, and bringing in Alberto Callaspo, who shouldn’t be a road block when Peraza is ready. Peraza rarely strikes out, which bodes well for his ability to hit for average and use his legs. Peraza should offer 30+ stolen bases and a batting average north of .275 over the course of a full season, making him an ideal target for those looking for infield speed. Peraza was caught stealing 15 times last year, so he needs to work on his craft as he will face better catchers and pick off moves going forward.
Commentary by JJ Jansons and Jake Devereaux