THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2021 TOP 50 DYNASTY LEAGUE SECOND BASEMEN, #11-30
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We continue our rankings with our consensus #11-30 second basemen.
11. Jeter Downs, Boston Red Sox (Age: 22, Previous Rank: SS #28)
Downs, the 32nd pick in the 2017 Draft by the Reds, was traded twice before the age of 22 as a key prospect return. Prior to 2019, he was sent to the Dodgers as part of the Yasiel Puig trade, and then a year later sent to the Red Sox in return for Mookie Betts. While Downs may not possess a standout tool, he is a sum of all parts prospect who should be an MLB regular with the chance for much more. With hit, power, and run grades that have been listed as high as 55, that could mean five-category production in fantasy baseball as well. Throughout the minors, Downs has hit for a decent average while walking at least 10% of the time at each stop. He launched 24 HRs and stole 24 bases between High-A and Double-A in 2019, including 5 HR in only 48 at-bats at Double-A. With an arm that profiles more as a second baseman than a shortstop, he should slide in perfectly as a double play counterpart with Xander Bogaerts in Boston at some point in 2021. Depending on how they approach free agency, it’s not out of the question to see him as early as Opening Day. (Bob Osgood)
12. Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
While Tommy Pham was considered the main prize in the trade for Xavier Edwards and Hunter Renfroe last winter, it was Jake Cronenworth who produced the far higher WAR in 2020. He hit .285 in 192 at-bats in his major league debut, with 4 HRs, 20 RBI, 26 runs, and 3 steals. A 9.4 BB% and 15.6 K%, in addition to an excellent 5.8% swinging-strike rate, showed very good plate discipline, and scouting reports believe that there is more power and speed to be unlocked for Cronenworth. He showed plenty of gap power with 15 doubles and three triples in only 172 at-bats, and his Expected BA of .324 was one of the largest discrepancies to his true batting average in the entire league.
Cronenworth enters 2021 with a bit of an undefined role thanks to the signing of Korean second baseman Ha-Seong Kim, but our ranking reflects a confidence that the talent will win out for Cronenworth whether that be in the infield, outfield, or on another team by trade. He is a player who would benefit greatly from a return of the designated hitter, as his .218 BA against LHP (.316 vs. RHP) could cause some platoon sits without a DH. (Bob Osgood)
13. Mike Moustakas, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 3B #14)
Moustakas is going to keep hitting tanks well into his thirties, and we’re all going to have to respect that. A fluky 2020 has caused a significant drop in draft price entering 2021, as Moustakas was never able to get into a groove. A Covid scare caused a few days off early in the season, and a thigh bruise led to an IL stint in August. When all was said and done, Moustakas hit .230 with eight home runs in 2020. Pairing his season with a full 2019, however, Moustakas has hit 43 HR with 114 RBI over 187 games, while maintaining a .249 BA, and barreling an impressive 10% of his batted balls in the two seasons combined. Moose will only contribute in three categories, but the .251 career batting average is less of a risk in that category than some similar “mostly power” profiles. Roster Resource predicts the 32-year-old Moustakas will hit fifth in a still solid Reds lineup in 2021. (Bob Osgood)
14. Luis Garcia, Washington Nationals (Age: 20, Previous Rank: SS #43)
Most folks were floored by the Double-A assignment in 2019 for Garcia, an 18-year-old on Opening Day. Holding is own with a .257 average, and showing great bat control only striking out 15.6% of the time, the aggressive assignments were not done. Without a minor league season, the Nationals gave Garcia 134 at-bats over 40 games in 2020, mostly in place of the injured Starlin Castro, and he once again fit in with a .276 BA. He did hit the ball on the ground 60.6% of the time, a number that stayed close to 50% in the minors, so improvements are likely to come there. Contact and speed are the strong points in Garcia’s game, but Raw Power grades of 55 could unlock double-digit HRs down the line. With Castro under contract for another year and Trea Turner for two years, Garcia is a better dynasty stash than he is a redraft pick for 2021 only, but there is a lot to like in a player that has handled aggressive challenges with confidence thus far. (Bob Osgood)
15. Nick Madrigal, Chicago White Sox (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 12)
Madrigal is a unique player in this day and age, the anti-three true outcome hitter. Living up to the scouting report, Madrigal’s major league debut featured minuscule 3.7%/6.4% BB/K-rates, and zero home runs. On the other hand, he hit .340 in 103 at-bats, in a season cut short by a shoulder injury. Speed, along with average, will be a key part of Madrigal’s game despite only tallying two steals in 2020. Offseason surgery on his left shoulder will put Madrigal’s opening day in question. Recoveries to the lead shoulder have caused issues in the past. I think of a 2013 quote from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, “Trying to re-establish one’s mechanics after surgery is a complex process. It’s extremely delicate. It involves rebuilding strength, and all that goes into the swing from the front shoulder. It takes perfect mechanics to regain bat speed and the swing path. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes more.” Madrigal may not be a power hitter, but his 84.0 MPH exit velocity last year doesn’t need to tick down any further. Similar to Garcia, Madrigal should have a long career but 2021 may be a bit of a grind for those rostering him. (Bob Osgood)
16. Jonathan Villar, Free Agent (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 5)
On the surface, Villar’s ’19-20 combined seasons look spectacular. Over 214 games, a .265 BA, 26 HRs, 124 Runs, and an obscene 56 steals that leads everyone not named Mondesi. So much of that damage came in 2019, playing all 162 games for the 54-108 Orioles, leading off and running wild over 714 plate appearances. A similar role seemed in play in 2020 with the Marlins, but Villar was shipped to Toronto at the deadline and hit .188 over 79 at-bats in the final month without a home run. The steals are still there, 9 in Miami and 7 in Toronto, but what if the playing time isn’t? Villar’s exit velocity dipped 2 MPH down to 86.9 and his GB% skyrocketed from 49% to 60% in 2020, albeit in a short campaign. Still a free agent, Villar’s landing spot may have a large shift on his draft position one way or another. (Bob Osgood)
17. Nico Hoerner, Chicago Cubs (Age: 23, Previous Rank: SS #25)
Patience will be key with the 23-year-old Hoerner, who was in the big leagues in 2019, a year after being drafted. To this point, over 294 plate appearances in two seasons, Hoerner is hitting .247 with 3 HR, 3 SB, and a 16.8% K-rate which far exceeds his minor league rates that maxed out around 10%. An offense-first prospect, the Cubs have made changes to his swing attempting to generate more power but it hasn’t resulted in much yet. With a 93 percentile sprint speed and 87 percentile Whiff %, Hoerner will need to get out of the “blue” for batted ball data but did improve his exit velocity from 85.6 to 87.5 MPH in 2020. Contact, speed, and versatility should pan out for Hoerner, as he will be 2B and SS eligible in 2021, and depending on league settings, 3B (played six games at 3B last year). (Bob Osgood)
18. Xavier Edwards, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 17)
As is true with several players in this 11-20 range, the hit and speed tools should carry Edwards to the big leagues along with his strong defense. His arm may not land him at shortstop but with all of the middle infield prospects that the Rays have in the system, there’s no telling who will end up where (or with which franchise) down the line. With 56 SBs in 168 career minor league games, some have put an 80-grade speed tag on Edwards but 60-70 grade seems to be the range we’re seeing entering 2021. Edwards struck out only 8.8% of the time in High-A in 2019, and has walked almost as much as he’s struck out in the minor leagues while hitting over .300 at every level. He has all the makings of a top of the lineup hitter who can wreak havoc on the base paths, for fantasy players in BA and OBP leagues alike. (Bob Osgood)
19. Kolten Wong, Free Agent (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 19)
Wong feels a bit underappreciated in both real-life and fantasy circles. Perhaps we’re not yet over him getting picked off down two runs to end a 2014 World Series game. A very good defensive player, with a 15.2 career K%, Wong has slashed .273/.356/.398 over the past four seasons. In 2019, he popped 11 HR, 59 RBI, 61 Runs, and 24 SB. His Statcast rankings are not impressive, but Wong has a safe floor in BA/SB with some history of contributing elsewhere. He just turned 30, so there may only be a couple of years left of significant stolen bases, but Wong should be able to find at least a two-year free-agent deal in a slow market. (Bob Osgood)
20. Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 16)
Arraez started slowly in 2020 and had some wondering if his .334 BA season of 2019 may have been a BABIP-inflated outlier. In his last 63 plate appearances, Arraez hit .410 and his short season ended at .321 with another high BABIP of .353. Arraez did not steal a base but it came out in September that he was dealing with nagging knee issues throughout the season. The batting average (and OBP) help is wonderful and an 8.2% K-rate supports what he’s done as a hitter, but with close to a full season of combined at-bats, the 4 HR / 2 SB output in his career won’t cut it long term. Projected to hit second in a very good Twins lineup, Arraez is still just 23 and hopefully comes into 2021 ready to take another step forward. (Bob Osgood)
21. Aaron Bracho, Cleveland Baseball Team (Age: 19, Previous Rank: 22)
Cleveland has prioritized drafting or signing middle infielders who can hit so it was not a big surprise when Aaron Bracho signed with the team during the 2017 international signing period. After missing the entire 2018 season due to an arm injury, Bracho busted onto the scene in 2019 and slashed an impressive .281/.402/.570. He walked more than he struck out thanks to an advanced approach at the plate. He was signed as a shortstop but quickly moved to second base and he will need to continue to hit to remain ‘on the radar’ as Cleveland has many interesting middle infielders. He has a surprising amount of pop, especially for someone of his size (he is 5’11) but spent the entire summer at the Alternate Site. He should begin the 2020 season at Low-A and is an interesting target in deepish dynasty leagues. (Shelly Verougstraete)
22. Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 15)
Ryan McMahon has been a full-time player of the Rockies for about a year and a half and I’m not really sure why. He has never been a league-average player. In fact, his 88 wRC+ in 2019 was the highest of his career in the major leagues. He has shown above-average ISOs but his plate discipline drastically decreased during this crazy COVID season. At this point, McMahon could fill in as your MI or CI in a pinch but he doesn’t bring enough to the table to be rosterable in dynasty leagues. (Shelly Verougstraete)
23. Jazz Chisholm, Miami Marlins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 34 at SS)
Jazz Chisholm signed with the Diamondbacks in 2015 and quickly moved up lists due to the raw power he displayed. He is a switch hitter and can generate power from both sides of the plate. However, he is super aggressive and has struggled with the swing and miss. However, once he was traded to the Marlins at the trading deadline in 2019, his strikeouts dropped by eight percentage points. He made his debut this year and we saw another downtick in strikeouts but a career-low .200 BABIP and only a .161 AVG. Jazz has the ability to be a double-digit home run and stolen base threat but is probably a season or two away from him putting it all together. (Shelly Verougstraete)
24. Michael Busch, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 37)
Michael Busch was one of the best hitters in college baseball when the Dodgers selected him with the 31st overall pick in 2019. He did not play in many games after being draft as he was hit with a pitch that broke his hand only five games into his professional career. Busch’s swing is silky smooth and with his patient approach, he should be a batting average asset. His swing mechanics lean more to him hitting line-drives but the Dodgers development has been successful in adding loft to swings (Jeter Downs is a great example). Due to his advanced hitting skills, he should be a fast riser within the Dodgers system. (Shelly Verougstraete)
25. Tommy La Stella, Free Agent (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 23)
Remember the days when Tommy La Stella was a non-power contact hitter in the Atlanta Braves organization? Those days are long gone now. La Stella spilt the season between the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics, walked twice as much as he struck out, and posted his third season with a wRC+ over 120. While in Los Angeles, he spent the majority of his time in the second spot, right between David Fletcher and Mike Trout, but he occupied the lead-off spot once he was traded to Oakland. Now, Tommy is a free-agent and his production going forward will depend on where he lands but I’m a fan, especially in AVG leagues. (Shelly Verougstraete)
26. Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 10)
After only playing in seven games in 2020, Rodgers suffered a shoulder and hamstring injury. After having shoulder surgery in 2019, these injuries have me saying “Not Great Bob.” Since his debut in the majors in 2019, he just hasn’t gotten the playing time and when he does, it has been awful. If he is able to overcome his injuries, he has shown above-average power during his time in the minor leagues and could be a fun fantasy player for sure. Rodgers is between a rock and a hard place. It seems that Colorado is leaning toward playing Ryan McMahon at second with Josh Fuentes getting most of the playing time at first. (Shelly Verougstraete)
27. Garrett Hampson, Colorado Rockies (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 18)
At this point, Garrett Hampson is a utility player and you have him on your roster for speed. He teased everyone in September 2019 after hitting .318 with nine stolen bases. He came crashing back down to earth in 2020. His .234/.287/.383 with six swipes and 36 combined runs and RBI. Even with his great contact skills in the minor leagues, he has never been a league-average hitter and has very little power. McMahon, Rodgers, and Hampson have really disappointed so maybe this partially why the Rockies never play their prospects…they just are not good. (Shelly Verougstraete)
28. Jurickson Profar, Free Agent (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 21)
In 2018 it looked like the former top prospect finally lived up to a portion of his draft hype. The following season, however, did not go all that well for Profar. Yet, in the chaos shortened season of 2020, Profar was good again. If the flip-flopping continues perhaps we’ll see Profar running for office in 2024. Assuming there’s still an office to run for at that point. ANYWAY, what can we make of the Profar experience the last couple of seasons? Seems like his skill-set is closer to 2018 rather than 2019 or 2020. The homers and steals are for real. You can pretty much bank on 20/10, but the average from 2020 is not. The batting average will fluctuate because Profar is a slap-dick hitter. There’s just not much behind the swing; with below league-average hard-hit rates and exit velocities since 2016, you’ll continue to see something around a. 240 BA. An ADP hovering around 250 makes him a sneaky source of power and speed later in the draft, and a potential dynasty value. (Patrick Magnus)
29. Ty France, Seattle Mariners (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 42 at 3B)
This appears to be the part of our list where we’ve placed light-hitting infielders. As again, here we are with a player who made a ton of contact, but with a measly 28.8% hard-hit rate. To describe France in one word: confusing. He absolutely mashed in the Pacific Coast League in 2019 but has not brought that same thunder to the majors. His power throughout the minors has been a bit of a seesaw experience as well. Posting ISOs above .150 multiple times, while also posting seasons with an ISO below or near .100! The highs that France reached in 2020 seem BABIP fueled and unsustainable. Rostering France at this point is a gamble. Which version of this player shows up in Seattle, we’re not sure. Yet, we remain intrigued. (Patrick Magnus)
30. Luis Urias, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 22)
Another slap-dick hitter here in the bottom portion of this list. Though Urias will only be 24 years of age this season. He’s spent some time in the minors trying to add power to a contact-oriented approach, and he sure did that in the PCL. That power though has not translated to the majors, at all. Posting exit velocities and hard-hit rates below the MLB average consistently. No, it seems power won’t ever really be in the cards for the young infielder. He’ll provide double-digit pop, single-digit steals, and not much else. Those in OBP will take less of a hit, as Urias has a keen eye at the plate, but we’re still left with a young but unspectacular skillset. One thing that seems likely, he’ll certainly have playing-time in a top-heavy lineup the Brewers will be sending out there in 2021. (Patrick Magnus)