The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Second Basemen, Nos. 21-50
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.
We continue our look at they keystone with someone who is coming off a successful season and should have even more playing time come 2015:
21) Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 29)
One of the most boring players in all fantasy baseball, Gennett is wasting a plus-plus name by serving as little more than an empty average for fantasy purposes. He finished as the 17th-best fantasy second baseman in 2014, per ESPN, hitting .289 but hitting just nine homers, swiping just six bases and scoring just 55 runs. He’s certainly of note in NL-only and deep mixed leagues, but there’s no upside here, even if there’s relatively little potential he’ll bust, too. It’s astounding to me that he’s not a Cardinal or Giant.
22) Nick Franklin, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 20)
The Franklin fan club has dwindled appreciably over the past 18 months, and it’s not hard to see why. Franklin’s been a mess in 502 MLB plate appearances to this point, and while he hit well in Triple-A with the Mariners last year he struggled in Durham once traded. The good news is he’s going to an organization that needs his bat and is likely to get him multi-position eligibility, so Franklin should have more chances in Tampa than he got in the Great Northwest. The bad news is he’s gone to another power-suppressing park and should hit in a poor lineup, so his contextual factors remain less than inspiring. Don’t heavily invest in him for 2015, but in dynasty leagues his long-term upside remains in-tact.
23) Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 10)
Phillips was a fantasy stalwart at second base for years, but his decline over the past two seasons should indicate to you that his usefulness is close to an end. Phillips finished as the 30th-best fantasy second baseman in 2014, hitting just .266/.306/.372, stealing just two bases and hitting eight homers. Health wasn’t on his side, but Phillips’ days of logging double-digit steals are clearly over, and now that his mid-teens pop may be escaping him, there’s just not a lot to like. Maybe he’ll have a dead-cat bounce before he hangs up the cleats, but there’s no reason to invest in him in dynasty leagues.
24) Dilson Herrera, New York Mets (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 41)
Herrera destroyed High-A and Double-A pitching in 2014, getting better as he advanced through the minors and vaulting himself from sleeper to no-doubt top-100 fantasy prospect status. As impressive as he was, though, he’s got fewer than 350 PA above the High-A level, and there’s no guarantee he’s going to take the job and run with it in Flushing this season. His long-term prognosis is as a consistent top-16 fantasy second baseman, but come with a backup plan if you’re counting on him for substantial 2015 production.
25) Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 30)
The Orioles have been relentlessly aggressive with Schoop for most of his career, as evidenced by the fact that he’s about to embark on his second full MLB season at the age of 23. While his ability to somewhat hold his own in the majors at a young age is commendable, it doesn’t matter much from a fantasy POV, and 2014 proved to me that Schoop isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. He’s learning on the job and could push for 20 homers in 2015, but it’s hard to feel confident in his .209 average rebounding to the point that he’s an asset in that category. Hold on to him in dynasty formats, but don’t expect a ton of value next year.
26) Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 36-SS)
On the one hand, Semien went to an organization that should assure him more regular playing time moving forward, and could allow him to make the most of his multi-positional talent. On the other hand, his contextual factors took a nose dive in moving from Chicago to Oakland, and it’s tougher to see him fully capitalizing on his 15-homer power now than it was at this time last year. Semien can do a little bit of everything from a fantasy perspective, but he doesn’t figure to excel in any one category and his average could be problematic if he mimics his 27 K% from last year’s stint in the majors. There’s potential here, but Semien is far from a finished product or a sure thing, despite his status as an MLB regular.
27) Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Take Scooter Gennett and stick him in a worse ballpark and you get Panik, whose draft stock is likely to be elevated by his postseason heroics in leagues with unsophisticated fantasy followers. He’s probably going to enjoy a 10-year career as a fringy NL-only starter, and that longevity counts for us, but you should aim higher.
28) Omar Infante, Kansas City Royals (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 22)
Every year his last name becomes more and more ironic, which is a bad thing in dynasty leagues. Expect a rebound from his injury-plagued 2014, sure, but don’t expect anything more rewarding than a top-20 positional finish.
29) Micah Johnson, Chicago White Sox (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 47)
Johnson can run and is close to the majors, so he’s interesting. He’s not terribly good at anything else from a fantasy POV, so he’s only a fringy prospect. This concludes our Micah Johnson fantasy scouting report.
30) D.J. LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 39)
LeMahieu is a solid bet to outproduce this ranking over the next few years. He’s from the Gennett/Panik school of no upside, but LeMahieu can run a bit, he’s hit for decent averages in the past and he walks just enough to put a run total of around 60-70 well within his reach. His Gold Glove award could keep him in the lineup on a more permanent basis, and a .275 AVG with 15-plus steals and 70-plus runs would make him worthy of owning in NL-only and deep mixed formats.
31) Rickie Weeks, Free Agent (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 24)
Weeks was actually pretty good when healthy last year, hitting .274/.357/.452 in 286 plate appearances. Of course that “when healthy” caveat is a pretty enormous one for Weeks, who makes Dustin Pedroia look like Cal Ripken Jr. when it comes to staying on the field. This ranking could easily move up or down three or four spots depending on where Weeks ends up this winter or spring, but for right now, he’s little more than a flier in dynasty leagues, albeit one who could pay some immediate dividends.
32) Forrest Wall, Colorado Rockies (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
Bret and Craig likely think this ranking is 28 spots too low, and thanks in no small part to their efforts, Wall is one of the more popular 2015 signee sleepers in dynasty leagues this offseason. The upside is certainly tantalizing, but remember that Wall is a long ways away, and projecting future contextual factors for a player in the low minors is a fool’s game. Wall joins Deven Mesoraco and Domonic Brown as a player whose first name will lead me to many future misspellings.
33) Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 47)
Espinosa is at the point in his career where Yunel Escobar can reasonably be considered a moderate upgrade over the services he provides. That should tell you all you need to know about his value. Don’t chase the 20/20 dream that was his early career.
34) Robert Refsnyder, New York Yankees (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Occasionally misguided but admittedly handsome colleague Craig Goldstein put Refsnyder’s emergence best in a recent BP post: “Largely unknown prior to 2014, Refsnyder burst into our collective consciousness thanks to loud numbers and Yankee fans alike.” If Refsnyder rakes in Triple-A again he should get a shot in the Bronx in 2015, but scouting the player and not just the stat line should tell you that he doesn’t profile as a first-division starter.
35) Alex Guerrero, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 23)
If anyone can tell me how Guerrero is supposed to produce fantasy value in 2015 I’m all ears, but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. He was good in Triple-A for the Dodgers last year, but with Howie Kendrick on board and Guerrero’s questionable defense at second base, he could be headed toward a career as an oft-played utility player and not a starter. Dynasty leaguers who went all-in on Guerrero last year likely bit off more than they could chew.
36) Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 48)
The Blue Jays appear to have their long-term answer at second base in Travis, who was acquired from Detroit in exchange for Anthony Gose in November. Travis will be 24 years old and has yet to reach Triple-A, where he is likely to start this upcoming season, but features an excellent approach at the plate (striking out just 134 times in 1,124 plate appearances in the minors).
He may never develop into a star, but he will hit for a high average, has some pop, decent speed and perhaps more importantly the Blue Jays want to win right now, which is why Travis likely won’t spend too much time in Buffalo before mercifully putting an end to the abysmal Ryan Goins era in Toronto.
37) Alberto Callaspo, Atlanta Braves (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 40)
The veteran owns one of the strangest offensive profiles in baseball as a guy who never strikes out (9% career strikeout rate in nearly 4,000 plate appearances) but has failed to hit above .260 for three straight seasons. Callaspo bottomed out with Oakland last season hitting just .223 in 451 plate appearances, thanks in large part to a preposterously low .242 BABIP. Basically what I’ve just done is take up way too much of your time to explain that Callaspo is a guy who is great at putting the bat on the ball, but after that virtually nothing happens, ever. It’s hard to imagine what the Braves saw when they signed Callaspo, but that’s kind of their thing these days isn’t it? Somewhere out there Freddie Freeman is sobbing in a dark room while eating a carton of ice cream.
38) Corey Spangenberg, San Diego Padres (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Get called up to the majors. Check. Hit a walk off home run in your second career game. No doubt. Have a difficult last name to pronounce. You bet. Spangenberg made a splash in his Padres debut and is one of the more intriguing prospects at this point in the list. He’s never going to hit for a ton of power, but the former 2011 first-round pick hit .296/.356/.405 with 104 steals over four years in the minors before getting a September call-up last season.
His versatility may be his greatest fantasy attribute going forward as a guy who can play second, third and in the outfield as well. The Padres inked veteran Clint Barmes to be their utility infielder this season while Spangenberg, will likely get some additional seasoning in Triple-A.
39) Sean Coyle, Boston Red Sox (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
As long as Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts are on the Red Sox roster, Coyle’s path to the majors is sufficiently blocked. Like Dikembe Mutombo-style blocked folks. Finger wag and all. His clearest path to fantasy relevance may ultimately be on another team’s roster, but for now he is expected to start the 2015 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
A bit undersized at 5-foot-8, Coyle did hit 16 home runs at Double-A Portland last season, but his biggest fantasy contribution may be in the stolen base department where he has swiped 61 bases and been caught only nine times since 2011. In another system, Coyle would be an exciting prospect to own, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which he makes an impact for Boston this upcoming season.
40) Travis Demeritte, Texas Rangers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, there’s a Rangers prospect who hits for a ton of power but strikes out too often. Demeritte smashed 25 home runs in Low-A but struck out an eye-popping 171 times (36.7 percent) in 466 plate appearances. Cutting down on the strikeouts will be imperative for the 2013 first-rounder and if he is able to make adjustments at the plate, he will rocket up this list much like Joey Gallo did a year ago. He’s only 20 years old entering 2015, so a little patience on an investment now may pay off big-time down the road.
41) Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 42)
He swings and misses more than a blindfolded kid hacking at a piñata (career 22.6 percent strikeout rate since 2010) and doesn’t hit for enough power to make up for it. Oddly enough he is an accomplished pin the tail on the donkey player, but I digress. Dietrich is 25 years old now and the Marlins offseason acquisition of Dee Gordon eliminates any path to short-term fantasy relevance. He’s struggled to stay healthy, can’t hit left-handed pitching and suffered an ankle injury on a play at second base in a Dominican Winter League game in December. The upside just isn’t worth the risks or headaches at this point.
42) Tommy La Stella, Chicago Cubs (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 37)
Being traded from an organization in Atlanta with a black hole at second base to the organization with the most middle infield talent in baseball in the Chicago Cubs pretty much tells you everything you need to know about La Stella, who is basically Eric Sogard without the cool glasses.
43) Grant Green, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
When an organization chooses Gordon Beckham or Josh Rutledge over you, then you’re doing it wrong. Are you excited yet? Well, I’m sorry it doesn’t get better. In 103 big-league plate appearances last year, Green slugged a paltry .378 with a microscopic .081 ISO. He has absolutely mashed, hitting over .325 at Triple-A Salt Lake City in back-to-back years, but at 27 years old, he’s running out of chances to shed the Quad-A second baseman label.
44) Carlos Sanchez, Chicago White Sox (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
Sanchez is capable of hitting for a high average, but looked overmatched in his big-league debut last season and at his size, projecting any power at all is generous. Even with Marcus Semien out of the picture, he will have to compete with Micah Johnson and his ultra-sexy blazing speed for playing time going forward.
Sanchez may turn out to be a better real life contributor as a utility infielder than someone you rely on for fantasy purposes. He does a little bit of everything, but does not possess a single standout carrying tool, and when you don’t have that, it’s difficult to be an impact fantasy contributor.
45) Gordon Beckham, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 32)
Beckham has the potential to be the first ever post-post-hype sleeper. Two years ago, Beckham ranked 18th on this list, which gives you an idea of how far his stock has fallen ever since. If you’re asleep this long aren’t you really in a coma? Anyway, Beckham was finally traded out of Chicago last season and did manage to bat a respectable .268 with a pair of home runs in 56 at-bats with the Angels last season. He will have to beat out Josh Rutledge for playing time, but the potential for double-digit home runs and a handful of stolen bases is still there, you just have to look hard enough.
46) Chris Bostick, Washington Nationals (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 44)
Shipped to the Washington Nationals in December in the Ross Detwiler deal, Bostick has hit double-digit home runs and stolen over 20 bases in back to back seasons in the lower minors, whle in the Athletics and Rangers systems. Bostick has always been a bit of a long-shot prospect, drafted by Oakland in the 44th Round of the 2011 MLB Draft, but has consistently hit and gotten on-base at every stop in the minors. He’s still a ways away from making his debut, but Bostick is a name to keep an eye on in dynasty formats.
47) Sean Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 30, Previous Rank: NR)
Rodriguez was traded to Pittsburgh in the offseason where he will compete with international signing Jung-Ho Kang, the most talented position player to come out of South Korea, for at-bats as the Pirates super utility option. Unfortunately the Pirates have a ton of middle infield depth aside from Kang and Rodriguez’s struggles at the plate overall leave much to be desired. The one thing Rodriguez, who turns 30 in late April, has done well in his career is hit left-handed pitching, which might be enough to secure him a spot on the roster, but not enough to make him fantasy relevant.
48) Emilio Bonifacio, Chicago White Sox (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 49)
Dual-position eligibility despite lackluster defense and outstanding speed are his calling cards. Bonifacio, who signed on with the Chicago White Sox is always worth monitoring on the waiver wire for that one week when he goes bananas every season, but at this point in his career, he is truly a one-category contributor (stolen bases) who has bounced around with four organizations over the past two seasons. As he nears 30 years old, if the speed dries up, so will his opportunities for big-league playing time. An ideal low-cost speedster in re-draft leagues, but barely worthy of consideration at all in dynasty formats.
49) Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Hip hip…Jorge! The Twins surprised us all by calling up Polanco mid-season for a five-game stint. The biggest question and one that impacts his long-term value is whether or not he can play shortstop at the big-league level. Most scouts believe he will be a better fit at second base and the switch-hitting Polanco managed to hold his own in Double-A last season. Look for him to start the season in the minors with the potential for a mid-season call up if everything goes his way.
50) Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
A Rule 5 draft pick by the Phillies in December, Herrera most recently tore up the Venezuelan Winter League, batting .372/.432/.556 with six home runs and eight steals in 58 games, on his way to capturing MVP honors. Herrera will likely be on the Phillies roster this season (if he isn’t then he would be automatically returned to Texas) and is reportedly making the transition to outfield despite the fact that he may ultimately be the long-term replacement for Chase Utley. Herrera might be the most exciting name towards the bottom of this list and is worth a flier in dynasty formats for the chance that he has an immediate impact in 2015.
Commentary by Ben Carsley and George Bissell