TDG 2022 RISERS AND FALLERS: SECOND BASEMEN
Riser: Marcus Semien, 2B, TEX (Age: 31, Current Rank: 2, Previous Rank: 19 at SS)
Marcus Semien’s massive 2021, including 45 home runs, 15 stolen bases, and a 131 wRC+, earned him a 3rd place finish in the AL MVP race and a seven-year, $175 M contract from the Rangers. He is currently the 20th bat selected in the typical NFBC draft and he was the 42nd bat drafted in the Rotowire dynasty mock draft. Steamer projects him the 35th best hitter in 2022 (FanGraphs auction calculator, default settings). With a 2021 xwOBA and barrel rate that were more good than elite, it’s uncontroversial to expect regression toward career norms (109 wRC+) in 2022—the question is how much. I’m comfortable with him at the lowest price point of the aforementioned sources—around 50th best bat in a dynasty setting. His career best home run figures are unlikely to come close to being repeated making him an unwise choice among the top 30 bats, but he can be trusted for ~30 home runs, 10 to 15 stolen bases, and his typical better than average walk and strike out rates. There are few safer options for your dynasty league second baseman. (Jordan Rosenblum)
Faller: Vidal Bruján, 2B, SEA (Age: 24, Current Rank: 11, Previous Rank: 10)
Vidal Bruján only fell a spot in our 2B rankings, the consequence of a very rough, very tiny major league debut—a -63 wRC+ over 26 plate appearances. Before his MLB debut, Bruján was typically very difficult to acquire in dynasty leagues. His small sample struggles paired with short-term playing time uncertainty in Tampa Bay may have created a small buying window. In the short-term, he is indeed risky—even after the Rays moved Joey Wendle, he will have to fight for playing time. However, the Rays are also shopping Kevin Kiermaier, which could open a starting spot for Bruján in 2022. Regardless of short-term playing time battles, Bruján’s long-term fantasy profile is worth waiting for: at peak, he is a safe bet for 15 home runs and 30 stolen bases, with a 10% walk rate and a 18% strike out rate (citing my prospect projections). (Jordan Rosenblum)
Riser: Jazz Chisholm, Jr. MIA (Age: 24, Current Rank: 6, Previous Rank: 23)
Jazz Chisholm, Jr., in my opinion, is one of the most exciting players in MLB right now. He can bash, he can dash, and he certainly has some flash. But a 94th percentile sprint speed is just the tip of the iceberg here.
Chisholm Jr. finished 2021 with 18 homers and 23 steals across 507 PA’s, and despite a league-average-ish .728 OPS, managed to help me out across a few fantasy leagues with that combo-meal potential. But let’s make no bones about it, that OPS, with a higher-than-average 28.8% strikeout rate, aren’t the things that dreams are made of. In fact, his 0.23 BB/K ratio is downright bad at this point.
Can he improve? And even if he doesn’t, can he live up to the expectations of a #6 consensus-ranked second basemen?
I think so!
We know he’s capable of taking a walk – his minor league track record, and even his brief 2020 cup of coffee say so. Now he just needs to start employing that approach in the bigs! When he does (and I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on this come April, or whenever the season begins), watch out: he’ll be the perfect leadoff hitter for a team that appears to be on the up and up.
In startups, the best advice I can give is to draft him for the upside (20-homer/30-steal, league-winning potential, #1 2B), but be aware of the downside (below-average plate discipline in majors so far, injuries). I was very happy to see some growth (even if it was minimal) in the strikeout department in 2021– although to reach his true peak I think we need to see a more patient approach. There’s a reason he made the 17-point rise in our rankings this offseason. With health, he should be the outright leader in plate appearances for the Marlins next season, and should easily contribute across 3 to 4 categories, potentially all 5 if everything breaks right. (Taylor Case)
Faller: DJ LeMahieu, NYY (Age: 33, Current Rank: 16, Previous Rank: 7)
DJ LeMahieu had himself a nice little season in 2021 as he bopped himself along to a .268/.349/.362 slash with 10 homers and 4 steals. Not the DJLM of old, perhaps, but a nice little season nonetheless. Here’s the question, though: is a light rebound in order?
I think so!
So, what happened last year to cause the (almost) 100-point drop in batting average? Well, there are many factors at play here, but first and foremost, I think injuries played a part. Have you ever had a sports hernia?! Me neither, but it sounds like ass, and if surgery is the offseason solution, I have to imagine he wasn’t at full strength for at least a portion of 2021.
The result wasn’t necessarily a huge downgrade, but we did see a relative change in his approach. In a nutshell, he swung less in general (and at pitches out of the zone), which may have led to an increased walk percentage (up to 10.8%). He also maintained an absolute elite strikeout rate at 13.8% and great contact in the zone, proving he’s still capable of owning the plate. This, more than anything, gives me hope that he can rebound into a possible .290+ average, 15-homer season. Not a guarantee, of course, as he’s 33 and surgery does not always equal perfect health and recovery, but there’s room for optimism. For what it’s worth, I had him ranked at #13 this year, a few spots ahead of the consensus. (Taylor Case)