THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2021 TOP 50 DYNASTY LEAGUE SECOND BASEMEN, #31-50
WELCOME BACK!!! Despite a scorching hot stove (I can’t believe the player you’re thinking of did or did not sign with the team you thought they would!), these long winter months can be some of the darkest of the year (figuratively and literally). But fear not, restless readers. The Dynasty Guru is here to the rescue.
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Without further ado, we wrap up our look at the keystone position. There are a bunch of names you know and maybe some names you do not know.
31. NICK YORKE, BOSTON RED SOX (AGE: 18, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
The 17th overall selection in the 2020 draft, the right-handed hitting Yorke was Boston’s first selection in the top 20 picks in five years. Yorke had right shoulder surgery his junior year of high school and was DH his Junior season (when he hit .505 with seven home runs), while only playing five games before his Senior season was cut short due to Covid-19 (he had eight hits in 15 at-bats).
Yorke originally committed to the University of Arizona and Boston turned some heads when they selected Yorke, as Baseball America had him ranked 96 overall and MLB pipeline #139. Yorke is a bat-first prospect and signed for $2.7 million, almost $1 million less than the allotted amount for that slot. Yorke joined the Red Sox player pool in September and held his own, showcasing his bat and play at second base. The Red Sox scouting director compares Yorke’s hit tool to Greek God of Walks Kevin Youkilis, which is high praise indeed, making Yorke a solid Dynasty selection with the possibility that he rises quickly with a strong 2021 showing. (Phil Barrington)
32. CESAR HERNANDEZ, FREE AGENT (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 27)
Down a few spots from his 2020 ranking, Hernandez spent the past season as Cleveland’s second baseman. He was rostered in many fantasy leagues due to a .283 batting average and .355 on-base percentage; not the three home runs and zero steals. Depending on where Hernandez signs will make a big difference on his counting stats, hence him being a little lower in these rankings than his skill suggests. Target him in on-base percentage leagues and in early drafts take advantage of the fact that unsigned players usually drop. There is a lot of reward at this ranking as a middle infielder or bench bat for the 2021 season, and the next couple (depending on where he signs). (Phil Barrington)
33. WILMER FLORES, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 24)
The longtime Met took his talents to San Francisco in 2021, where he hit 12 home runs in only 213 plate appearances and saw time at DH, first base, second base and third base. He struck out at a 16.9% clip, which is about 6% higher than his previous two seasons, and lo and behold his ISO was the highest of his career at .247, and his slugging was .515. Flores provided excellent value in 2020, now what about 2021?
His value (like many NL players who played DH in 2020) will come from his multi-position eligibility if there is no DH in 2021. Flores has exhibited a better average and more power against left-handed pitchers throughout his career (though also a career .265 versus RHP), so in deeper leagues with daily moves he can be valuable if utilized against LHP when he starts. He really should platoon with Brandon Belt, and if that happens Flores becomes even more valuable. With a current ADP of 299 on NFBC there is little downside to taking a chance on Flores. (Phil Barrington)
34. STARLIN CASTRO, WASHINGTON NATIONALS (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 34)
Remember when Castro came up as a baby faced twenty-year-old with the Cubs back in 2010 and looked to be their shortstop for the next decade? Me too, but unfortunately Castro never improved his skills (seen most clearly by a 5.7% walk rate and 14% K rate in 2010 and his career rates are 5.9% and 16.8%), stole fewer bases, and now is a replacement level player who may block the Nationals top prospect, Luis Garcia, from starting in 2021.
A fractured right wrist required surgery and ended Castro’s 2020 season after only 16 games. Currently penciled in the fifth spot in the Nationals lineup, the opportunity for RBI should be plentiful, and twenty-ish home runs along with a .265 average look to be on the offering for 2021. His contract is up at the end of the season and with Garcia waiting in the wings investing a lot in Castro in Dynasty leagues is ill-advised; however, those in annual leagues should jump on his current NFBC ADP of 339 to provide middle infield depth and an injury fill-in. (Phil Barrington)
35. JON BERTI, MIAMI MARLINS (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Berti has come a long way from being an 18th round choice back in 2011 to an MLB starter in 2020. The versatile Berti saw most of his playing time in 2020 at second base, but he also played outfielder, third base and shortstop, so check your league’s position eligibility requirements as the more positions he can be started at, the more his value increases.
Hitting mostly leadoff or second in the lineup in 2020, Roster Resource currently has Berti hitting in the number seven spot in the Marlins 2021 lineup, thus less opportunity for counting stats. Berti only has 116 games played and 452 plate appearances thus far in his Major League career, so his minor league numbers tell us more about his profile as a steals guy with no power and a poor batting average.
Steals is why you draft Berti. He has minor league seasons where he stole 56, 36, 40, 24 and 29 bases. In the majors he stole 17 bases in only 73 games in 2019 and nine in 2020. While he has a .269 batting average in the majors thus far, his minor league numbers never showed a good batting average, so do not be fooled by his small MLB sample size there. As of this writing, his ADP in NFBC leagues is 250, allowing savvy managers to fill other positions with early picks and add Berti later. (Phil Barrington)
36. HANSER ALBERTO, FREE AGENT (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 40)
Surprisingly non-tendered by the Orioles, Alberto should find his way into a starting job (possibly back in Baltimore) in 2021. Alberto does not like to draw walks (2.6% career walk rate) or strikeout (12.1% career K rate) with a solid .278 career batting average. He had a productive 2020 with a line of .283/.306/.393 (BA/OBP/SLG). For 2021, if he lands a starting job, one should expect fifteen or so total steals + home runs, so if you are planning to draft him, it will be because of his batting average. If he gets to bat high up in a lineup, he may also be a good source of Runs as well. As with the other free agents on this list at this point, he will go later in drafts until he signs, and then we will watch his ADP creep up. (Phil Barrington)
37. JONATHAN SCHOOP, FREE AGENT (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 26)
Schoop’s 2020 ended with a wrist injury and is now a free agent. His value cratered in 2018 with a .233 average (.261 BABIP) though he still hit 21 home runs. He bounced back a bit in 2019, as his BABIP improved to .298 and thus his batting average improved to .256. In 2020 he looked even better before the wrist injury, hitting eight home runs with a .278 batting average and .799 OPS in only 177 plate appearances.
Schoop has a career batting average of .259 and a BABIP of .297 with a .747 OPS so one should expect similar going into his age 29 season. He brings home runs and no steals or walks, so more suited to an OPS league. As you can see by this point in his career we know what Schoop can do and thus his value for 2021 and beyond is tied to him having a starting job. He does not need to be platooned, and has been a slightly above league average defender at second base, so a starting job should emerge at some point for him; as a bench bat he does not have much value outside of deep leagues. (Phil Barrington)
38. JORDAN WESTBURG, BALTIMORE ORIOLES (AGE: 21, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
The 30th overall pick from the 2020 draft, Westburg played shortstop for Mississippi State University but may get to the majors faster as a second baseman, hence him being here. The 6’3″, right-handed hitting Westburg plays very solid defense and brings power with the need for more contact. Only attaining 60 at-bats in 2020, Westburg hit two home runs, six doubles with a .317 batting average. For 2019 in 265 at-bats he hit six home runs, 21 doubles, and seven steals with a .294 average. An aggressive hitter, his first season in the lower levels of the minors will tell us a lot more. A target in first-year player drafts for OPS leagues, less so for batting average ones. (Phil Barrington)
39. JUSTIN FOSCUE, TEXAS RANGERS (AGE: 21, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Westburg’s double-play partner at Mississippi State drafted 14th overall and the second set of Mississippi State teammates to be drafted in the first round (Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark were the last two, that is pretty good company). Scouts have given Foscue the higher floor and Westburg the higher ceiling, but both should become factors at middle infield with an estimated time of arrival in the major leagues in 2023. The right-handed hitting Foscue played on the USA Collegiate National Team (Westburg was not) and started twelve of fourteen games.
During a shortened 2020 season in 53 at-bats, Foscue hit .321 with two home runs and four doubles, while taking 15 walks. In 2019 he hit 14 home runs and 22 doubles with a .331 average in 275 at-bats with 30 walks. Foscue will begin his career playing for the Down East Wood Ducks in the Single-A Advanced Carolina League. Only two hitters had a batting average over .300 in the 2019 and 2018 Carolina League, so if Foscue shows a high average there in 2021 he should climb prospect boards. He’s the inverse of Westburg for dynasty league purposes; a target in first-year player drafts for batting average leagues, less so for OPS ones. (Phil Barrington)
40. WILL WILSON, SAN FRANSISCO GIANTS (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
While he has played Shortstop in college, Wilson has an average arm and little to no speed and has the size of a typical second baseman (6’0, 184 lbs). With that being said, he has surprising power and hit 39 home runs during his three seasons at North Carolina State while also improving his batting average every college season, from .300 in 2017, .307 in 2018 and .339 in 2019. Wilson played both second and shortstop in 2019 for the Rookie league Orem Owlz in the Pioneer League, where he had a respectable line of .275/.328/.439 with five home runs, ten doubles, and 14 walks, in 189 at-bats.
After being drafted 15th overall by the Angels in 2019 Wilson became a Giant when he was traded along with Zach Cozart’s $12 million remaining contract for LHP prospect Garrett Williams in December 2019, only months after being drafted, in a salary dump in order for the Angels to sign Anthony Rendon. By having an advanced hit tool he should rise quickly through the Giants system that does not have a lot of high-end prospects besides Marco Luciano up the middle. Now is the time to send out feelers for Wilson in Dynasty leagues. (Phil Barrington)
41. JOEY WENDLE, TAMPA BAY RAYS, (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Joey Wendle feels like one of the most under-the-radar players from the 2020 season to me. I was shocked to see he appeared in 50 out of the Rays’ 60 regular-season games and hit .286 in 168 at-bats. He remains the ultimate utility player notching at least 10 games at second base, third base, and shortstop and hitting at every spot in the order at least once. At 30 years old and still without a true home on the diamond, it’s tough to say how much playing we can really pencil in for him going forward as Tampa continues to graduate more talented infielders from their abundant minor league system (ahem, Wander Franco). That said, Wendle fits perfectly into the Rays’ flexibility-focused style of play and keeps finding his way into the lineup. You can likely count on a good batting average and a shot at double-digit steals from Mr. Wendle once again. (Joe Drake)
42. ROUGNED ODOR, TEXAS RANGERS, (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 20)
Oh Rougie, what happened? It feels like his extreme power over hit approach hit a new level in 2020 as he launched 10 dingers in the shortened season, but his average drifted lower than ever, down to .167. Yeesh. Despite being just 26-years old, it’s beginning to look pretty bleak for our power-happy second baseman in Arlington. On top of being less and less of a threat at the plate each year, Odor has become a virtual lock to be a below-average defender at the keystone each season, too. What I’m getting at here is that with the Rangers clearly in rebuild mode and Odor only under contract through 2022, there’s a strong chance that more lackluster performance could lead to an instant reduction in playing time. Texas is going to want to see what they’ve got in other players who may be a part of the next competitive squad and Odor is a sunk cost at this point. It’s already been reported that he’ll have to beat out Nick Solak during Spring Training in order to avoid immediate relegation to a bench role. He’s a high-risk, medium-reward power player for a contending team in dynasty. (Joe Drake)
43. ISAN DÍAZ, MIAMI MARLINS, (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 25)
After 223 MLB plate appearances, Isan Díaz owns a .174 batting average with 5 homers, 0 steals, a .119 ISO, and negative ratings in both DRS and UZR. To say it hasn’t been pretty is to say the North Pole is cold. Duh. However, thankfully for Mr. Díaz, 223 plate appearances is far too few to change the expectations that we had for him from his days as a prospect. And did I mention he appeared in all of 7 games in 2020? After initially opting out, Díaz returned to the Marlins only to suffer a groin strain that ended his season prematurely. So perhaps we shouldn’t be turning the page on our friend Isan just yet. Díaz posted above-average numbers at every stop of the minor leagues, takes his walks, doesn’t strike out egregiously, and has both pop and the ability to hit. It’s certainly possible that he doesn’t live up to the expectations of an average regular in the bigs, but his combination of skills and youth is something that I’m still interested in. (Joe Drake)
44. SHED LONG JR., SEATTLE MARINERS, (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 28)
Like a few other names on this list, Shed Long Jr. has had enough taste of the Major Leagues to (ahem) shed the rookie tag, but not quite enough to get his footing. Long’s calling card is his ability to generate above-average pop from his undersized frame, but it hasn’t quite come to fruition yet in the majors with 8 home runs and a .160 ISO in 296 plate appearances. To make matters worse, he dealt with a stress fracture this last season in his shin (because 2020 was hard enough, right?) and underwent season-ending surgery in mid-September. Shed’s slow start in concert with the emergence of Dylan Moore and acquisition of Ty France likely relegates Shed to a bench role to start 2021 unless he surprises in Spring Training. Still just 25 years old, there’s a good chance we haven’t seen the best of Long Jr.’s abilities yet, but his opportunities to showcase his skills are wearing thin as Seattle begins moving toward building a competitive roster. In dynasty, he’s best rostered on noncompetitive teams who can wait to see if his bat comes around. (Joe Drake)
45. DONOVAN SOLANO, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, (AGE: 33, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Donovan Solano picked right up where he left off in 2020 with his best Faith No More impression… From out of nowhere. The 33-year-old is coming off 430 plate appearances with the Giants (2019-20) where he hit .328 with 7 homers and an OBP over .360. Not only is hitting nearly .330 in today’s game an incredible feat, doing so after not having a Major League at-bat since 2016 is absolutely wild. Despite that, Solano’s value on dynasty rosters is still very limited as a 33-year-old who’s essentially a one-trick pony in 5×5 scoring. His best fit is on competitive teams who are looking to shore up their batting average category and can handle the blow to their power and speed. (Joe Drake)
46. JAHMAI JONES, LOS ANGELES ANGELS, (AGE: 23, PREVIOUS RANK: 43)
Jam Jones made the leap from Double-A to the bigs in 2020 with a shot of espresso (not quite long enough for a cup of coffee) in which he went 3 for 7. Told you it was quick. He’s known as a hit over power guy with some speed who knows his way around the basepaths. Jones has logged 96 stolen bases in 137 attempts (70%) over the course of 5 minor league seasons. There’s a slight concern about how well his running game will translate to the majors after really backing up while repeating Double-A in 2019 — he was a paltry 9 for 20 in stolen base attempts while his batting average and OBP set career-low marks as a pro. His lack of a carrying tool and fringy defensive profile make him more likely to be a utility guy at the next level who splits time between second base and the outfield. Jones’ best fit is as a bench player in deep leagues who can fill in during off days with some batting average and a handful of steals. (Joe Drake)
47. EZEQUIEL DURAN, NEW YORK YANKEES, (AGE: 21, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Ezequiel Duran presents a powerful profile that you won’t see at second base in an Ordinary World thanks to an explosive body that’s aided by an appetite that can only be described as… Hungry Like the Wolf. Okay, I’m done. It’s out of my system. In all seriousness, Duran is thick and strong and possesses nearly plus power in a frame that doesn’t quite reach 6 feet tall. So why is he so far down this list? A subpar hit tool and questionable ability to stick at second. With his thickness comes a lack of athleticism that may push him down the defensive scale where his power would be much less impressive. Not to mention that he obviously won’t get to his power in games if he can’t make enough good contact. He’s due to be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December, so you can expect the Yankees to be aggressive with him this summer before deciding whether or not to add him to the 40-man. (Joe Drake)
48. LUIS RENGIFO, LOS ANGELES ANGELS, (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 31)
The Angels appear to have a thing for light-hitting second basemen who get the bat knocked out of their hands in the big leagues. The 24-year old comes into the season with a career average of .221 with 8 homers and 5 steals across 512 plate appearances. For what it’s worth, he does post respectable walk rates, but it’s a little reminiscent of trying to bail out the Titanic with a handheld bucket. You’re going to need a lot more help before it becomes useful considering his overall offensive profile has been definitively below-average so far (77 wRC+). The upside for Rengifo is a utility guy who doesn’t hurt your average when he gets in the lineup and chips in a few steals here and there. That said, you’ll need to be in the deepest of dynasty leagues before a profile like his is worth rostering. (Joe Drake)
49. FRANKLIN BARRETO, LOS ANGELES ANGELS, (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 33)
The eldest and least likely to stick of the Angels’ trio of potential second basemen on this list (none of whom has any real chance of unseating David Fletcher this summer). Barreto has nearly cemented his legacy as a Quad-A hitter after posting above-average stat lines at Triple-A in 4 different seasons and putrid stat lines in the majors in the same time frame. In 237 career MLB plate appearances, Barreto owns an unsightly .175 average and 42% strikeout rate despite 9 homers. I think this note will sum up the experience: he has posted negative wRC+ scores in back to back seasons. Ouch. He’s slated to start the year on the Angels’ bench, but I would urge you to take a flier on a younger player with more upside at this point. If you’re feeling that the 5th time and another change of scenery will be the charm, there’s not much I can say to change your mind at this point anyway. Do your thing. (Joe Drake)
50. CHASE STRUMPF, CHICAGO CUBS, (AGE: 23, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Last but not least, we wrap things up with the potential future man at the keystone for the Cubs. Chase Strumpf doesn’t do anything that stands out, but he’s got a package of average to fringe-average tools and doesn’t have any big holes in his game. He’s going to hit for average, will mix in extra bases here and there, and has the defensive chops to stick at second every day. The Cubs were aggressive with him in 2019, pushing him across 3 levels after he finished his college season. Don’t be scared off by the sub-.200 averages in 2 of those 3 stops (a combined 60 PAs), the fact that Chicago liked him enough to promote him so aggressively in his pro debut should tell you how much confidence they have in his bat. Oh, and he hit nearly .300 during the largest chunk of the season. There’s not too much to be excited about beyond the batting average in 5×5 scoring, but he has a leadoff-type profile that could have him hitting at the top of the lineup which would boost his runs scored. I like Strumpf’s upside and this time next year, he might be much, much higher on this list. (Joe Drake)