The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Second Baseman, Nos. 21-50
It’s the time of the year where we offer congratulations to those of you brave dynasty league owners that survived the offseason. The greatness that 2016 will surely offer is upon us and that means we’ll be spending the next six weeks moving our way through the positional landscape, offering thoughts on the respective values of roughly 700 players throughout the process.
We sincerely hope that you enjoy the countless hours of hard work that went into these rankings and continue to support The Dynasty Guru by showing your appreciation through this link or via the splendid ‘donate’ button located on the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.
Players are ranked where they played 20 or more games at during the 2015 season at their highest position on the defensive spectrum, e.g. Chris Davis played 30 games in the outfield, meaning he’s an outfielder for our purposes. We can’t assume that a player will have eligibility at a position in the future (so no Hanley Ramirez at 1b for these rankings) or that a player will lose eligibility at a position in the future. This should clear things up for all non-Javier Baez/Jurickson Profar players, and we’ll do our best to explain where those players are ranked when the time comes. All DH types, such as Evan Gattis and David Ortiz, appear on the 1B rankings, as we will not be doing a UTIL rankings list.
We start the second-half of our second base list with the only player in his team’s franchise history to start an All-Star game at the position:
21) DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 30)
DJ jumped up nine spots due to a career-year across the board. He saw a nice uptick in RBI, stolen bases and batting average, but a lot of his value was accrued by stealing 23 bases in 26 attempts in 2015 (88 percent success rate) after stealing 10 in 20 attempts in 2014, and he was undoubtedly helped by a .362 BABIP, which was also significantly higher than what he had posted previously in full-time duty. His career .284/.329/.370 with mid-single digit home runs and about 15-20 steals seems about right for what to expect in the future.
22) Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 25)
After an early season knee injury sidelined him for a good chunk of the first half, Schoop broke out big time over the second-half of the season, hitting .283 with 10 home runs. His walk rate is abysmal, and he chases way too many pitches out of the zone, which will suppress his batting average, but he certainly has room to grow as he enters his age-24 season in 2016. If he can carry his momentum from the second half into next season and build on the strides he made, Schoop is a good bet to outperform his ranking here.
23) Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 23)
Just when you thought it was safe to write off Dat Dude, he goes out and plays 148 games while putting up numbers that we haven’t seen from him in years. The interesting thing is nothing about his 2015 performance looks unsustainable. His .315 BABIP from 2015 will probably come down a little, but the key to his success was simply staying on the field, making contact and hitting more line drives. The power is definitely in decline and he probably isn’t going to steal 23 bases again, but if he stays healthy, Phillips should be a cheap, productive option.
24) Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 23, 3B)
We’ve witnessed two very different versions of Harrison over the past two seasons. In fairness, he did miss time last season with a thumb injury that could have nagged him for much of the rest of the season. However, considering his career performance prior to 2014 and the pile of meh he put up this past season, it’s looking like 2014 may his ceiling. He’ll likely be the starting second baseman in Pittsburgh in 2016, so he’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove the doubters wrong.
25) Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 38)
Travis has been steadily climbing these rankings over the past two seasons, and you can thank a midseason shoulder injury, which ended up costing him two months of the 2015 season, as for why he isn’t higher on this year’s list. Over the first half of the season, he posted a .304/.361/.498 line with eight home runs and 35 RBI–numbers that made him a starter in any sized league. The average was a bit of a mirage, as he will likely not be able to maintain a .347 BABIP, but you can reasonably expect an average in the neighborhood of .285, based on a combination of his approach, above average contact rate, and ability to spray the ball all over the field. Assuming he returns quickly from his offseason shoulder surgery, Travis possesses the potential to rank in the top ten on this list next year.
26) Dilson Herrera, New York Mets (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 24)
Herrera came into the 2015 season with a big opportunity to establish himself in the Mets’ infield. He promptly flushed that opportunity down the toilet, hitting just .195 through 25 games before being sent down. Even though his stock is diminished a bit, there are still plenty of things to be optimistic about. The ability to hit for a high average with a little bit of pop is still present, which he proved by dominating during his time in Triple-A in 2015, where he hit for a .327 average with 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 81 Pacific Coast League games. He should also be relatively cheap to acquire this offseason, which mitigates the risk.
27) Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 20)
A year ago, Peraza was all but anointed as the future at the keystone in Atlanta. The Braves were at the beginning of the rebuilding process, and he was thought to be a key component. Instead, he got to tour the country after he was traded, first to the Dodgers at the trade deadline, and then again to the Reds this offseason. Most of his value comes from his 70-grade speed, as Peraza swiped 36 bases between Triple-A and the majors in 2015, after stealing 60 bags in 110 minor league games in 2014. However, he needs to figure out how to draw more walks and get on base consistently to truly maximize his value. He could eventually develop into an average hitter, but he has never shown much pop, which severely limits his offensive upside. Entering his age-22 season in 2016, he still has a lot of potential value, but his path to realizing that value is less obvious.
28) Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 31, 3B)
Drury hit well across two minor league levels in 2015, but stumbled upon his call up to the majors, partly due to a well below average .217 BABIP, and an uncharacteristic walk rate of under four percent in just 59 plate appearances. A major cause for concern is the power that was so evident in prior seasons did not show up in 2015, hitting just five home runs in 130 games, as he moved from the California League through the upper minors.
29) Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 33)
The man grows a glorious set of handlebars and goes on to post his most fantasy relevant season in years. Coincidence? Unfortunately, yes. Nothing about his performance jumps out as unsustainable, but there were no drastic changes to his profile from prior seasons, either. He still swings at too many pitches, makes too little contact and strikes out over a quarter of the time (although it was down from a third in 2014, so that’s something). However, if your league has upper-lipholstry as a fantasy category, feel free to move him to the top of this list.
30) Alen Hanson, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 37, SS)
While the power continued to decline in 2015, Hanson maintained some promise of fantasy value by swiping 35 bases in 117 games for Triple-A Indianapolis. There is still time for him to rediscover some of his pop, but even if he doesn’t, he should be a contributor in steals and extra base hits. Unfortunately, he is valued a lot higher than that in most dynasty leagues right now.
31) Forrest Wall, Colorado Rockies (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 32)
Finally, someone exciting! Although he didn’t take the strides forward that many hoped he would in the 2015 season, Wall still managed to turn in a very good season at Low-A Asheville, hitting for a wRC+ mark of 125 and stealing 23 bases in 99 games . He is still a long way from Colorado, but if he continues to grow and refine his approach, he has the potential to be a top-ten option at the position, helped by one day calling Coors home.
32) Enrique Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
A little known piece in the Dee Gordon trade last offseason, Kiké was an unexpected surprise for the Dodgers–and many fantasy owners–in 2015. His .307/.346/.490 line looks real sexy but don’t be fooled, that .364 BABIP will likely fall back to earth and will take a healthy chunk of that average with it. The good news is that his underlying power numbers weren’t too far off from what he’s shown in the past, so he could potentially put up double-digit home runs over a full season.
33) Wilmer Difo, Washington Nationals (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Difo’s combination of an above average hit tool and 70-grade speed is potentially drool-worthy to fantasy owners. But his time at Double-A exposed some areas where he could use further development. His .109 isolated power total was well below what he has shown he is capable of. But most glaring was his three percent walk rate. If he can show more patience at the plate in the upper minors, and maximize both his hit and speed tools, he could rocket up this list.
34) Rob Refsnyder, New York Yankees (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 34)
Refsnyder built on his breakout 2014 campaign by producing more of the same in 2015. He doesn’t have any loud tools and his counting stats probably won’t ever leap off the page, but he should be a solid contributor coming off the bench in the Bronx and could see time all over the infield in 2016.
35) Nick Franklin, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 22)
Let’s be honest, after the past two seasons, Franklin could be ranked much lower than this. What is buoying him here is his continued solid performance at the Triple-A level, where he has little left to prove. It’s that jump to ‘The Show’ that he can’t quite figure out quite yet. It’s doubtful that too many owners have held onto him over the last few seasons as he’s struggled at the major league level, and it’s prudent to not invest until he shows progress outside of the International or Pacific Coast Leagues.
36) Tony Kemp, Houston Astros (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Kemp spent all of the 2015 season in the upper levels of the minor leagues, slashing .308/.388/.386 in 119 games split between the two highest levels of the minors. He’s walked nearly as much as he’s struck out in his three years in the minor leagues, but as a slap hitter with little to zero power, that’s a trait that we probably won’t see follow him up the ladder. The 97 stolen bases in 327 games is the key here. He is blocked in Houston for the time being by a second baseman who will most certainly rank towards the top of these rankings, but as a contact-oriented base stealer, Kemp is someone who requires your attention.
37) Cory Spangenberg, San Diego Padres (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 38)
Based on the way this offseason has played out, Spangenberg appears to be locked in as a starter somewhere in the Padres’ infield, and it looks like he’ll hit enough to keep the job for the time being. In 2015, his .319 wOBA ranked 19th out of second basemen with 300 plate appearances or more. He’s not going to hit many home runs, but he’s only three years removed from a 42 stolen base season in the minors. With his positional versatility and history of productive seasons at the plate in the minors, he could be a sneaky-valuable asset as soon as 2016.
38) Willie Calhoun, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Calhoun was drafted with the Dodgers’ fourth-round pick in the most recent draft, and proceeded to torch the low minors to the tune of a .909 OPS with 11 home runs in 73 games, doing so while walking as much as he struck out. He should reach Double-A at some point in 2016, and we’ll begin to get a feel for whether or not he can adjust his pull-happy approach and tap deeper into that offensive potential that landed him on this list. If you are going to buy, do it this off season as his value could launch into the stratosphere this year.
39) Arismendy Alcantara, Chicago Cubs (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 14)
Needless to say, things didn’t go as planned for Alcantara at the major league level in 2015, as he put up an almost impossibly bad -3 wRC+ in his 11 game stint before being shipped to Triple-A Iowa for the remainder of the year. He’s struck out 104 times in 332 plate appearances at the big league level, but he did hit 12 home runs and steal 16 bases in 120 games at the Triple-A level in 2015, hitting .231/.285/.399 in the hitting paradise known as the Pacific Coast League. There is surely a buy-low opportunity here, but it remains to be seen how Alcantara factors into the Cubs plans, if at all, at the major league level in 2016.
40) Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins (Age 22, Previous Rank: 49)
The switch-hitting second baseman/shortstop has hit .288/.348/.404 over his six career minor league seasons. From all accounts, he does have the speed to be a serious threat on the bases, and he stole 36 bases across four levels over the last two seasons combined. With Brian Dozier signed through 2018, and Eduardo Escobar holding his own at shortstop, Polanco’s path to big league playing time appears congested in Minnesota. He could be a solid, if not plus contributor across the board when the playing time comes.
41) Jace Peterson, Atlanta Braves (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
He appears to have a starting major league second base job locked up. There’s only 32 of those, so he’s got that going for him. Peterson doesn’t seem to have an above average tool, but he’s hit a little in the minors, and put up a few solid stolen base totals. In 2015, he paired a league average strikeout rate with an above average walk rate for a .239/.314/.335 slash line. He makes for a decent, but underwhelming place holder for the next good Braves second baseman. If you squint hard enough, you can see a season where he hits .270 and steals 30 bases.
42) Micah Johnson, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 29)
A .300 batting average across four minor league seasons and gaudy stolen base totals keep Johnson hanging on our list. There is still hope that he can be a sliver of what we thought Billy Hamilton was going to be, but he’s not the spry 22-year-old that stole 84 bases in 2013 anymore. The Dodgers are the only ones that really know what the plan is for Johnson, but the stolen base potential is worth a stash if your format allows it.
43) Johnny Giavotella, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
Giavotella got his shot in 2015, and he didn’t drown. He most certainly didn’t overwhelm anyone and the Angels have made it clear they are looking for an upgrade. If they can’t add another infielder this off-season, Giavotella will get another full season in his attempt to define league-average. There is some value in a starter that won’t kill your batting average, just not a lot.
44) Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
With 19 stolen bases, a .272 batting average and eligibility at 2B, SS and 3B, ESPN’s player rater ranked Hernandez 27th among second basemen in 2015. His team is currently a disaster and there isn’t anyone that should be keeping him from playing time. He’s versatile and not terrible. There isn’t any upside, but there is some value here.
45) Brock Holt, Boston Red Sox (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
If your league values positional eligibility, grittiness and (more importantly) great hair, Holt is a clear-cut top-10 option. If not, there isn’t much to see here. Holt is going weasel his way into 400-500 league average plate appearances, but the window for him to be a productive regular has probably closed.
46) Ryan Goins, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
Goins will likely start the 2016 season at second base for Toronto while Devon Travis is on the shelf and will stick around as the utility infielder once he returns. He doesn’t steal many bases and can’t hit, but he’s a warm body if you need one to start the season. He’s a fantastic defender and that will keep him on a roster in one form or another for the next several seasons.
47) Scott Kingery, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
Taken 48th overall in the 2015 draft, Kingery profiles as a contact-oriented utility player on a contending team or a below average starter on a second-division team. He hit .392/.423/.561 in the Pac-12 with seven percent strikeout rate. There doesn’t appear to be much power to speak of, but the profile can work.
48) Ryan Brett, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
A third round pick in 2010; he has done nothing but a grow a magnificent beard and hit since then. His .289/.343/.421 line over six minor league seasons earned Brett a cup of coffee in 2015. He’ll likely open 2016 at Triple-Durham and wait for an injury and his time to shine.
49) Darnell Sweeney, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
There may actually be 20/20 potential here. Sweeney has flown mostly under the radar while slashing .280/.353/.441 across four seasons in the minor leagues. Sweeney hit .271 and stole 32 bases, while hitting nine home runs last year in 116 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He’ll most certainly get his shot in 2016 somewhere on a bad team looking for its foundation for the next contender. This is the flyer to take if you’re looking for 2016 production at the bottom ten on this list.
50) Chase Utley, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 37, Previous Rank: 16)
Mr. Irrelevant came down to Chase Utley and Omar Infante. If you happen to face the same decision in your league, you are doing it wrong. Leave it blank and nail the draft pick. Somehow, these two guys actually have starting jobs heading into 2016 on good teams. WTF.
Commentary by Travis Johnson and Frank Sides