The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League 2nd Basemen, Nos. 21-50
It’s been over two months since the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, ending the 2016 baseball season. But if you’re like most fantasy baseball owners, those two months probably feel like two years. Considering it’s still another month until Spring Training even starts, late January has to be the worst time to be a baseball fan. It’s too late to reflect on last year, but next season is too far ahead to look forward to. Luckily, with a little help from The Dynasty Guru, the next month is survivable, as we’ll be ranking and commenting on a whole lot of players over the next six weeks.
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You can view our rankings for previous positions, and the dates future rankings will come out, by clicking the link to TDG’s 2017 Consensus Dynasty Baseball Rankings splash page. With that, it’s time to look at the rest of our dynasty second basemen, continuing with a top prospect and big-time riser in our rankings.
21) Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 34 – SS)
Albies hit .321/.391/.467 in 82 Double-A games as a 19-year-old in 2016 while stealing 21 bases. He also held his own for the remainder of the season at Triple-A. He can, and will, hit. The power may never come from the 5’9″ speedster, and he’s likely to end up at second base given Dansby Swanson’s presence, but a top-of-the-order, high-average hitter who can swipe 30 bags a season is plenty valuable for fantasy purposes.
22) Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 9)
Wong didn’t break out in 2016 as most anticipated. In fact, in all facets of the fantasy game, he regressed. The 26-year-old’s home run and stolen base totals were more than halved from 2015 to last season, and his batting average fell by 22 points. While he did improve his plate discipline by doubling his walk rate and swinging at far fewer pitches outside the zone, last year’s horrible performance justifies his 13 spot drop in these rankings. Still, the tools that led to his #9 ranking on this list last year are still there, making him a strong buy-low candidate right now.
23) Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 24)
It looks like about four home runs and 15 stolen bases, along with a .285 batting average, is what we can expect from Harrison after two straight seasons with production along those lines. His magical 2014 season is in the rearview mirror and looks more like a fluke than a true breakout, but Harrison still offers solid value as a top-15/20 second basemen.
24) Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 19)
Before being hit in the head with a pitch on June 19th, Panik was hitting .263/.327/.421 with 9 home runs in 268 plate appearances, on pace for a 20 home run/10 stolen base season. For comparison, only six second basemen finished last season with that many home runs and stolen bases. Unfortunately, Panik just wasn’t right when he returned from the concussion, hitting .215/.308/.340 the rest of the way. While it may be a bit optimistic to blame all his struggles on the injury and expect him to repeat his first half over a full season, Panik should hit much better in 2017.
25) Brett Lawrie, Chicago White Sox (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 18)
Lawrie is entering what looks to be his fourth straight make-or-break season, but I still believe. While the former top prospect’s strikeout rate has continued to rise to worrisome levels, he did hit manage to bump up his walk rate and hit for solid power. Once a potential fantasy superstar, that upside is long gone, but Lawrite can still provide double digit steals and home runs next season. The batting average may be ugly, but given his price, this isn’t the worst post-post-post-post-hype sleeper pick ever.
26) Willie Calhoun, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 38)
As one of the younger guys in the Texas League, Calhoun hit his way onto mid-season top 100 lists. He finished second in the league in home runs with 27, four more than his teammate and consensus top-15 prospect Cody Bellinger. He won’t be much of a defender anywhere, but that’s pretty irrelevant for us as long as he can find playing time. The lack of defensive value will keep him lower on traditional prospect lists, presenting an opportunity for fantasy owners to buy him at a discount.
27) Wilmer Difo, Washington Nationals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 33)
Difo is an injury away from having a significant role in one of the better lineups in baseball. He combines solid plate discipline with some pop and plenty of speed. Given a full season’s worth of plate appearances, we could see something like Cesar Hernandez’s 2016. Then again, he could bounce around between Triple-A and the big leagues for a third straight season, and it’ll take some luck for him to have a significant role with the club.
28) Raul Mondesi, Jr., Kansas City Royals (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 37 at SS)
Mondesi debuted on most prospect lists at 17-years-old and could have a serious case of prospect fatigue. Consistently challenged by the Royals, Mondesi has always been extremely young for each level, and, as a result, hasn’t been able to translate his tools into production. That didn’t change this past season, as Mondesi spent the majority of 2016 with the big league team and hit just .185. There’s still elite speed and a solid bat here, making the middle infielder an intriguing fantasy player, but it’s probably going to take a couple seasons for him to become fantasy relevant. He could have the look of his teammate Alcides Escobar with better contact and on-base ability, with upside for plenty more, but the risk is still awfully high.
29) Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 44)
2016 was likely the ceiling for Hernandez, where he finished as the 19th ranked second baseman on ESPN’s player rater. Hernandez’s only real strength is speed, and his 17 stolen bases could be due for regression after he was caught 13 times last year. He’ll still offer a solid batting average with good speed, and you could do worse at second base for the next few years, but don’t expect him to duplicate his success from the previous season.
30) Ryan Schimpf, San Diego Padres (Age: 29, Previous Rank: NR)
Second basemen with the ability to hit 30+ home runs are very rare. Schimpf combines an extreme strikeout rate with an extreme fly ball rate: since 2002, no batter maintained a ground ball rate below 22% over a full season…Schmipf ran an absurd 19.5% mark last season. Given this unbelievable batted ball profile, Schmipf could be huge in the home run department for fantasy owners, but don’t expect much elsewhere. He could have a season similar to Jedd Gyrko’s 2016: 30 home runs with a .243 batting average, good for 25th among second basemen on ESPN’s player rater.
31) Dilson Herrera, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 26)
This guy can really hit and is my pick to improve his ranking the most in the next 365 days. While Dilson is a smaller guy without huge power, I can’t help seeing a young Howie Kendrick here. He won’t contribute much in 2017 because of Brandon Phillip’s refusal to be traded anywhere, but that could work in your favor by keeping his cost low. Herrera is a top-20 second baseman on my personal list, and has the upside to be much higher.
32) Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
The ship may have sailed for Dietrich to be a full-time player, but he hit .297/.397/.455 against right-handed pitching in 2016 and made appearances at second base, third base, first base and left field. He’s an injury or a trade away from significant fantasy value, but should deliver solid production in limited at bats next season.
33) Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 36, Previous Rank: 23)
I anticipate this being the last year Phillips makes the list. He’ll likely be released at some point in 2017 to make room for some of the Red’s young talent to learn on the job. He’s been able to hold onto the edge of the fantasy cliff thanks to Joey Votto being on base half of the time he comes to the plate, but Phillips’ time as a fantasy relevant player is dwindling. If you are in the market for a half-season of .280 batting average, 5 home runs and 60 runs + RBI, this is your guy. But you can do better.
34) Travis Demeritte, Atlanta Braves (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
The risk with Demeritte is extreme, but so is the upside. He struck out in third of his plate appearances in High-A last year, though, at the same time, he’s got the mythical 30/30 ceiling. Then again, he comes with a never-gets-an-MLB-at-bat floor. But he did hit 25 home runs with 13 stolen bases in just 88 High-A games before being traded. As you can tell, Demeritte’s a bit of a polarizing player, one who could launch up this list after debuting at Double-A mid-season or fall completely off.
35) Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Gennett looks to be fighting off Hernan Perez and Travis Shaw for playing time in 2017. If he can hang on and improve against left-handed pitching, there’s a chance of double-digit home runs, a handful of stolen bases, and a decent batting average. It’s more realistic to expect 2016 to be his peak, though, and for him to be a non-factor next season as a utility player.
36) Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
The Cuban import Gurriel signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for $22 million over seven years in November 2016. Slated to start 2017 in Double-A, Guerriel may not have one outstanding tool, but should be well rounded enough to become an everyday regular eventually. There’s considerable risk here, though, because nobody’s quite sure what to expect from Gurriel.
37) Howie Kendrick, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 16)
Kendrick’s days as a fantasy option at second base appear to be numbered in more ways than one. First, he’s expected to be the Phillies everyday left-fielder. Also, his stats are becoming harder and harder to stomach for fantasy owners in even the deepest of leagues. Owners were often able to look past the low counting stats because of Kendrick’s solid batting average. But, in 2016, the career .289 hitter managed to hit only .255. If his batting average doesn’t return, neither will his status as a fantasy mainstay.
38) Luis Urias, San Diego Padres (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
“This dude is going to hit.” That’s what Wilson Karaman noted when anointing Urias with the best hit tool in the Cal League in 2016. Despite turning 19 midway through last season, Urias won the Cal League MVP, batting .330 with more walks than hits. Power isn’t ever going to be the calling card for Urias, but he may hit enough to become an above-average major league regular someday. The upside will be limited, though, since he will likely have little fantasy value beyond a high batting average,
39) Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
In 2016, Merrifield managed to steal eight bags and hit .283 in his first half-season in the majors. The solid batting average, which is better than all but one of his minor league season, was hoisted by a tough-to-maintain BABIP, though. Without a major contribution to batting average, he becomes a one-trick pony, just helping fantasy owners in steals. Merrifield’s defensive flexibility may get him on the field more in 2017, though, making him a decent option for steals in deep leagues.
40) Scott Kingery, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 47)
Kingery has two major league calling cards: speed and defense. Unfortunately, only one helps fantasy owners. The 2015 second round pick handled High-A with ease in the early part of 2016, but struggled in his first taste of Double-A ball. He will never hit for much power, but if his hit tool comes along, he could be a useful fantasy option down the road.
41) Chad Pinder, Oakland Athletics (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Pinder was simply overmatched in his first taste of the majors in 2016, striking out over a quarter of his at-bats. His propensity for strikeouts will always drag down his batting average, but he also has decent power for a middle infielder and can pile on the counting stats in the right offense. With the oft-injured Jed Lowrie the only thing standing between him and a starting job, Pinder may be able to get the bulk of the at-bats for the A’s at second base as early as this season.
42) Forrest Wall, Colorado Rockies (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 31)
Wall is another speed-first middle infielder on this list. The difference between him and some of the names above is that he may actually have a little pop in his bat, and he’s scheduled to play half of his games in Coors, to boot. Also different than some of the names above, Wall is only in High-A, where he struggled his first time through in 2016. He’s still a few years away from the majors, and carries lots of risk, but his speed, hit tool, and home ballpark could make him a nice player for fantasy owners down the road.
43) Carlos Asuaje, San Diego Padres (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Asuaje came over to the Padres as part of the haul for Craig Kimbrel in 2015. Last season, he ended up in San Diego for a cup of coffee after a solid 2016 Triple-A debut, where he hit .321 with ten steals and nine dingers. The left-hander has hit at nearly every level, but doesn’t provide too much in the way of counting stats. His proximity to the majors is appealing, though, so he’s worth keeping an eye on in the near term.
44) Cory Spangenberg, San Diego Padres (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 37)
The 2011 first-rounder followed up a solid 2015 debut with an injury shortened 2016. While playing in only 14 games, Spangenberg saw his starting job slip away to Schimpf, which is where is stands heading into this season. If he is able to reclaim the starting job in San Diego, Spangenberg can offer fantasy owners speed and a little bit of pop atop the Padres batting order.
45) Alen Hanson, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 30)
Hanson is another second baseman whose proximity to the majors should be appealing to fantasy owners. Before debuting in the majors in 2016, Hanson finished his second straight Triple-A season with over 30 stolen bases and five homeruns. Hanson is another one of these middle infielders whom offers tons of speed, but not much else.
46) Johnny Giavotella, Free Agent (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 43)
The current free agent finished the 2016 season with six homeruns, four stolen bases, and a .260 average over 99 games. He isn’t going to help fantasy teams too much in any one category, but if he can secure a starting spot sometime in 2017, he may be able to provide some value to fantasy owners, while not hurting them in any one category.
47) Sean Rodriguez, Atlanta Braves (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)
The multi-positional eligible Rodriguez came out of nowhere last year hitting 18 homeruns in just over a half-season’s worth of plate appearances. He was even able to hit .270 despite striking out nearly one-third of his at-bats. Despite not having a starting spot in Atlanta, Rodriguez should play enough to provide a solid late round value for teams in need of power. That said, don’t expect a repeat of 2016.
48) Jace Peterson, Atlanta Braves (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 41)
The Braves starting second baseman is another of the guys on this list that isn’t going to be major contributors in any one category, but won’t take too much off of the table, either. With the improved Braves lineup, Peterson’s counting stats should go up as well. The right-hander provides an added bonus in OBP leagues, as he walks nearly 13 percent of the time.
49) Chase Utley, Free Agent (Age: 38, Previous Rank: 50)
The potential Hall of Famer is somehow still providing fantasy value just shy of hitting his forties. 2016 marked the 14th time in 15 seasons that Utley has hit double digits homeruns, while also scoring 79 runs, his most since 2009. Depending on where he ends up, Utley could still provide a decent amount of power late in the draft for deeper league owners.
50) Jake Peter, Chicago White Sox (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Peter’s another second baseman who had a solid, if unspectacular, 2016 season. The left-hander finished with six homeruns and eight steals over two minor league levels. With Moncada expected to be the future at second on the Southside of Chicago for years to come, Peter is going to find at-bats hard to come by in the near future.
Comments by Frank Sides and Jesse Meehan