THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2022 TOP 50 DYNASTY LEAGUE SECOND BASEMEN, #31-50
Continuing with TDG’s consensus rankings with Second Basemen ranked #31 through #50. Read on!
31. Nick Solak, Texas Rangers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 74 at OF)
He will not be on the second base list next season, that is almost certain, as the Rangers signed Marcus Semien to take care of the position for the next seven or so seasons. A move to the outfield is coming, as roster resource has him listed as the starting left-fielder as of this writing. Solak had a very solid big-league debut in 2019 with a worse 2020, and then a pretty unproductive 2021; in 511 plate appearances he hit 11 home runs, stole seven bases to go along with 106 Runs + RBI and a slash line of .242/.314/.362, exhibiting very little of the power/speed combo that made him a Dynasty league darling just a few seasons prior. He was even demoted for 22 games back to Triple A in late July.
When Solak returned to the bigs on August 21st, and through the rest of the season, he showed much better with a slash line of .290/.367/.387, walking 9.3% and striking out only 14.3% of the time. That gives a glimmer of hope that, along with the new Ranger additions, that Solak can still produce as a major-league regular and have a spot on your Dynasty league teams. (Phil Barrington)
32. César Hernández, Washington Nationals (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 32)
Hernandez looked great in the first 96 games of the season with the Indians; hitting a career high 18 home runs and 17 doubles with 107 Runs + RBI. The .232 batting average was much lower than his career average of .270, though that did not stop the Chicago White Sox from acquiring him at the trade deadline for the Konnor Pilkington.
He cratered in Chicago and was signed by Washington to, I assume, trade him to a contender at the trade deadline. Because the signing does not make a ton of sense. To block Luis García (ranked 14th among second basemen) or Carter Kieboom at third base? Alcides Escobar is not the future at shortstop, so maybe the Nats move García to shortstop and Escobar to the bench? But the Nats also signed Dee Strange-Gordon, have 27-year-old Andrew Young, and acquired Lucius Fox in the Rule Five draft. The Nationals are going quantity over quality in the middle of the infield, a bold strategy.
They better hope for a return to a decent batting average and the power stays, but this may be a one and done deal with a designated for assignment, or trade to a contender. Either way, I would not recommend him until Spring training when it is known if he has a starting job; and even then, do not expect too much and you won’t be disappointed. (Phil Barrington)
33. Tommy La Stella, San Francisco Giants (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 25)
Whether it is injuries or lack of playing time, La Stella has only played more than 93 games once in his seven-year career, and that was in 2018 for the Cubs, where he had a negative 3.6 offensive WAR. He appeared to have a career resurgence in 2019 for the Los Angeles Angels when he hit 16 home runs with a slash line of .295/.346/.486, but he returned to below-average mediocrity in 2020 and 2021. Currently he is penciled in as the Giants lead-off hitter against right-handed pitching, as he has shown much more power and on-base percentage against them in his career. Look for him to provide a good batting average and score runs, but not much else. (Phil Barrington)
34. Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 27,Previous Rank: NR)
I like writing up the guys in the 20-40 range because they are usually who I am going to draft (or trade for) because I use second base to fill-in the stats I did not get when drafting the core members of my team. So, if my team has a low batting average, or lack of steals, or runs, I can add a second baseman that will plug that hole. Josh Rojas is a player who can fill some holes (on a roster). Also, if they can have multiple position eligibility, that makes them even more valuable. Rojas has that, too, where he played at four positions in 2021: 2B (55 games), OF (55), SS (42), 3B (14).
In 2019, across Double-A, Triple-A and a 25-game sample in the big leagues, Rojas produced 23 home runs along with 33 steals. Last season, he hit eight home runs and stole nine bases in 139 big league games, but I see that 2019 season as his ceiling, and becoming a 20/20 guy is not out of the question. Who does not like a story about a 26th round pick working his way through the system and arriving as a major league lead-off man? No one, that is who. For the low-low draft or trade cost, picking up the Diamondbacks lead-off hitter is worth the risk. (Phil Barrington)
35. Elly De La Cruz, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
When guys under the age of 20 do well at Single-A, they climb up prospect lists, and De La Cruz is one of those guys, knocking on the door of the top 100 prospects after a stellar debut in pro ball. 2021 saw De La Cruz spend 11 games at Rookie ball before earning a promotion to Single-A Dayton; in 50 games there he hit seven home runs, 12 doubles, seven triples, and eight steals to go with 51 Runs + RBI and a .269/.305/.477 slash line.
The Reds see him as a five-tool talent, and De La Cruz played mostly on the left side of the infield, splitting time between SS and 3B. At 6’5” 195 pounds, the hope is he can fulfill his potential 80-grade raw power while (hopefully) still maintaining his 70-grade speed. The knock on De La Cruz is his strikeouts, but that is not uncommon among players so young. If he is able to reach Double-A in 2022 that will secure his place as a top-50 prospect, and give the Reds more hope for the future. (Phil Barrington)
36. Dylan Moore, Seattle Mariners (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 97 at OF)
Moore had a pretty terrible 2021 if we go off of his slash line of .181/.276/.334, but was still useful for fantasy purposes, hitting 12 homers and stealing 21 bases. He also provided some of that sweet multi-position eligibility appearing at 2B (66 games), OF (57), and 3B (10). Moore was relegated to the lower portion of the order for most of the season, thus having many less opportunities for Runs and RBI. That does not appear to change in 2022, as he is currently listed as a bench bat, starting only against LHP, as his career OPS against them is .718, and, while not great, is better than the rest of the Mariners current batch of infielders.
Moore ended the 2021 season in a left-field platoon with 30-year-old Jake Fraley, but uber-prospect Julio Rodríguez will soon be manning that spot, so Moore will see spot duty in the infield once Rodríguez is with the big-league club. Hard to recommend acquiring him for your dynasty team, though if he is on the waiver wire and you need steals (don’t all our teams need steals in this day and age?) a speculative add is not the worst roster move. (Phil Barrington)
37. Felix Valerio, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Acquired from the New York Mets, along with two other prospects, for Keon Broxton (who has not appeared in the big leagues since 2019) in a trade that the Mets should never have made. Valerio was 17-years-old at the time; in his first two professional seasons all he has done is maintain a .300+ batting average, steal bases, walk more than he strikes out, and prove the Brewers were right to take a chance on the young Dominican.
Valerio really stood out for the Single-A Carolina Mudcats in 2021 with a slash line of .314/.430/.469, hitting six home runs, 24 doubles, while stealing 27 bases. Even better, he walked more times (54) than he struck out (49). Valerio was thus promoted to Single-A+ Wisconsin in late June where, in 29 games, he hit five homers and 13 doubles but struggled with a .229 batting average. No matter, when he returns to Wisconsin in 2022 the expectations should be high and he should meet them and make it to Double-A by season’s end. Do not expect Valerio to arrive in Milwaukee for a few seasons; but if he produces another productive season and earns a promotion expect him to rise up prospect boards. (Phil Barrington)
38. Ezequiel Duran, Texas Rangers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 47)
A key returning piece in the Joey Gallo deal, Duran’s rank takes a hit since he is no longer a New York Yankees prospect, but that does not mean he is any worse in the Rangers system. Duran has big-boy power, with a low-grade hit tool, kind of like the guy he was traded for. His 2021 season was as advertised, with 19 home runs between the Rangers and Yankees Single-A+ affiliates along with an .827 OPS and 19 steals.
Duran continued his hot season playing 19 games in the Arizona Fall League, hitting three home runs, seven doubles, three triples to go along with a .944 OPS. Steals at A ball levels can often be a mirage, though MLB.com sees him as a potential 20/20 threat, I see a 25+ home run, maybe 10 steals guy with a high OPS. Duran should start the season in Double-A as he continues to work his way toward a big-league debut in 2023. A target in all OPS leagues. (Phil Barrington)
39. Jorbit Vivas, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Another international Dodgers prospect destined for big league stardom? Absolutely! The left-handed, sweet swinging Vivas can play second base, but also saw time at third and in the outfield, so he may be on a different position list next season, but rest assured if he can improve upon an excellent 2021 season, he will be ranked much higher.
In 2021 across Single-A and Single-A+, in 106 games, Vivas hit 14 home runs to go with 172 Runs + RBI, eight steals and a slash line of .312/.396/.496. My favorite stat though? 20 Hit-by-pitch, so he has no fear standing right over the plate, and one can only do this consistently with above average plate coverage. Wouldn’t you know, that his highest attribute is his hit tool, which is graded as a 50, but, even better, he also showed power in 2021. Speed is not, nor appears to be, a part of his game, so developing that power is key for him to become a major leaguer. With an estimated 2023 arrival time, though it is hard to see the Dodgers having a spot for him so soon, but stranger things have happened. If he is available in your Dynasty League, adding him to your team is definitely a prudent move. (Phil Barrington)
40. Christian Arroyo, Boston Red Sox (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
Usually, the starting second baseman on the Boston Red Sox, at this age would be a top twenty (at worst) dynasty player, but these are not your older brother’s Red Sox. Arroyo is a good defender who in his first season in Boston was put on the IL multiple times for a variety of injuries. While a good defender, for fantasy baseball purposes his offense is all that is important. Appearing in 57 games in 2021, Arroyo produced six home runs, 47 Runs + RBI with a slash line of .262/.324/.445. He never hit more than nine home runs in any minor league season, nor stole more than seven bases, and both of those came way back in 2015 and 2014. So, with numbers like that, I am not 100% sure how he made the top 40. But here he is.
Arroyo should get at-bats off the bench as his splits favor him starting against left-handed pitchers only; when Kike Hernandez moves to the outfield Arroyo can start at second base, hitting in the lower half of the order. Arroyo may go down as being most famous for being part of the trade that brought Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay to the Bay Area, as the Giants had drafted him in the first round in 2013 (and that is not famous to be sure). I could see adding him if the following three conditions are met: 1) you can roster a lot of players, 2) make daily moves to start him against LHP, and 3) if he is not on the IL. (Phil Barrington)
41. TUCUPITA MARCANO, PITTSBURGH PIRATES (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
2022 is going to be Marcano’s year! Or at least, if it isn’t, it probably never will be. After coming over from San Diego in the Adam Frazier deal last year, he entered the Pirates’ middle infield organizational depth chart buried behind Oneil Cruz, Cole Tucker, Nick Gonzales, Ji-hwan Bae, Liover Peguero, and the fleeting remnants of a love long forgotten: Kevin Newman. Newman and Tucker will almost assuredly be on the Opening Day roster, but neither would project to be a starter for a winning club. Cruz got a sip of coffee last season (9 ABs doesn’t even qualify as a cup), and could/should be given the starting shortstop role from day 1, but that isn’t a guarantee. With the other prospects still a year or two away, this is the opening that Marcano needs to try and find a foothold.
He possesses a top tier hit tool, and elite strike zone awareness that has helped him maintain a sub-10% strikeout rate across all of his minor league stops. Unfortunately, his career on-base percentage outpaces his career slugging percentage (.351 to .343). If he can earn an opportunity this season and hits like he’s capable of, then he could launch himself into a regular role where he provides a good batting average, a few home runs, and a dozen steals each year. (Aaron Cumming)
42. CONNOR NORBY, BALTIMORE ORIOLES (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Norby’s game is basically a carbon copy of the player ranked right above him on this list, Tucupita Marcano. Very good hit tool, and average-at-best everywhere else. Norby reached base in 56 consecutive games across his sophomore and junior season at East Carolina University. His junior year also saw him tap into previously undisplayed power before being drafted in the second round of the 2021 draft. If he can maintain those power gains (three home runs in 26 games at Single-A in his professional debut is an adequate start), then he could be a nice overall contributor, a la César Hernández, with 12+ home runs and double digit steals.
Despite being the top Oriole on this list, Norby does face some hurdles with securing playing time. There are two teammates just below him here (not to mention Jahmai Jones, who the team traded for last year) that are much more likely to be given the first shot for playing time in 2022, and the Orioles have two excellent prospects at SS in Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg, meaning one of them may shift over to 2B. I think Norby’s lack of holes in his approach will be highly desired in contrast to the very glaring holes that his veteran competition possesses, though, and he will be an enticing option in the near future. (Aaron Cumming)
43. TONY KEMP, OAKLAND ATHLETICS (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
For the first time in his career, Tony Kemp was given close to a starter’s workload in 2021. Having never previously eclipsed 300 plate appearances, The A’s relied on Kemp’s versatility in the outfield and infield across 131 games. Slated to be the starting second baseman this coming season, he should eclipse 600 plate appearances, especially if he can spend some time at the top of the lineup. That lineup, though, is not exactly Murderers’ Row; after losing Starling Marte and Mark Canha to free agency, there’s chatter of the Matts, Olson and Chapman, being traded.
Even as part of a depleted roster, Kemp should sport a respectable batting average and has an opportunity to accumulate a decent number of runs. He is unlikely to do much else, though. Last year, he matched a career-high in home runs… with 8. Even that may have been lucky, though, since he only had 3 barrels (the ideal combination of exit velocity and launch angle). Statcast compiles each player’s Expected Home Runs by Park, and if he had played all of his games at his home ballpark in Oakland, he would’ve only had 3 home runs. He isn’t going to be a difference maker, but if you need to fill a roster spot, Kemp won’t hurt you. (Aaron Cumming)
44. ISAAC PARADES, DETROIT TIGERS (AGE: 23, PREVIOUS RANK: 27 AT 3B)
We’ve started to develop a theme with the second basemen in this portion of our rankings: a good hit tool, and little else to go with it. Parades has consistently put up good batting averages throughout the minors. He hasn’t shown that yet at the major league level, but he hasn’t gotten regular time yet, either. He was given a month tryout during the shortened 2020 season, and then bounced up and down between the minors and majors during 2021.
During his final stint at the highest level to close out the season, the Tigers directed Parades to sell out a little more for power. It was a very small sample size in September/October, but in 9 games, he improved his Hard Hit percentage to 44.4%. For context, that was basically equivalent to Joey Votto’s for the season, who ranked 5th among qualified hitters in that category. If he can build on that surge without sacrificing too much in the way of average (he only hit .152 during that same stretch), he will be a viable utility player at worst.
Isaac (pronounced E-sock) will likely enter 2022 as the starting second basemen, with Jonathan Schoop manning first base while Spencer Torkelson attends finishing school for a few weeks in the minors. It is worth a shot to do exactly what the Tigers will be doing: have him on your roster to start the year, and see what he gives you out of the gate. (Aaron Cumming)
45. ANDY IBÁÑEZ, TEXAS RANGERS (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Andy Ibáñez is fine. He’s just… fine. He has had a long journey to get to MLB; he finally made it in 2021, and he was… fine. He defected from Cuba and made his state-side professional debut in 2016 at age 23, playing in both Single-A and Double-A that year. He hit well enough to get some recognition on prospect lists, occasionally cracking the top 10 for the Rangers. In 2017, he repeated Double-A, and basically repeated his production, which, for a then 24-year-old to not show improvement, did not impress anyone. He spent both 2018 and 2019 in Triple-A and was, you guessed it, fine. He has never been bad, but he never made a real impact, either.
The rebuilding Rangers gave him his first major league shot in May 2021, and he didn’t do much, prompting a return to Triple-A for a month. Once down there, he hit .340, and earned another shot with the big league club. After his promotion in June, he hit .289 with 7 home runs in 67 games, getting regular starts in the top half of the lineup by the end of the season (outside of a short IL stint for a hamstring injury). With the signings of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, there is a slim path to playing time for Ibáñez, but the injury histories of Seager, Kole Calhoun, and Willie Calhoun, as well as the unexciting Isiah Kiner-Falefa starting at third base, mean that he should accumulate plenty of at bats by season’s end. If you find yourself rostering him once he’s in a regular role, I think you’ll be just fine. (Aaron Cumming)
46. JORGE MATEO, BALTIMORE ORIOLES (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Mateo has been very enticing for years now, showcasing incredible speed and a propensity for steals while in the Yankees minor league system (82 steals in 112 games across two levels in 2015). After a trade to Oakland, he then emerged as an all-around threat on offense in 2019 by posting 19 home runs and 24 steals at Triple-A. He was playing in a league (Pacific Coast League) that inflated power numbers, but it still represented a tantalizing new level for him.
He was then dealt to San Diego and between 2020 and the first half of 2021 was given 121 extremely disappointing plate appearances (.195/.235/.310 slash line). He was then put on waivers, and scooped up by Baltimore. In the final two months of the season, he was given 116 perfectly acceptable plate appearances (.280/.328/.421 slash line). He also managed to steal 5 bases for the Orioles, which surprisingly put him second on the team in 2021. His season ended after a back injury put him on the IL, but prior to that, he was receiving regular starts at shortstop and second base. He has a great chance to resume that role, but a recent signing could revert him to a short side platoon role with the next player on this list. (Aaron Cumming)
47. ROUGNED ODOR, BALTIMORE ORIOLES (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 42)
Rougned Odor! The longtime Texas Rangers keystone overstayed his welcome and was DFA’d before 2021. He was promptly picked up by the Yankees and provided exactly what you’d expect: excellent power, and a completely deserved terrible batting average. For the lefty masher, Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch was a dream come true. But according to Statcast, he actually would have had even more home runs if he had played Camden in Baltimore, the team that signed him to a one year deal this offseason.
With the glut of younger options, and Odor’s well documented limitations (he has only had a batting average above .205 once since 2017), Baltimore will likely be giving him an opportunity to showcase his game changing power and then flip him at the trade deadline. If you’re in the market for huge power and can tolerate an abysmal batting average, this is the guy for you. (Aaron Cumming)
48. AARON BRACHO, CLEVELAND GUARDIANS (AGE: 20, PREVIOUS RANK: 21)
What a tumble. Signed out of Venezuela in 2017, Bracho was believed to have one of the best hit tools in the minors, and a hitting approach well beyond his age. We believed. I believed. The Cleveland organization believed. Many, if not most, scouts believed. Then 2021 happened. Battling injuries, he spent all year at High-A, and hit just .174, with worse walk and strikeout rates than he posted in 2019.
He won’t turn 21 until after the start of the 2022 season, so not all hope is lost. But he has a lot of catching up to do. Over the course of his down year, the competition for Cleveland’s infield positions heated up. They traded for Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez; they gave Yu Chang regular playing time in the majors; Nolan Jones is on the cusp of a promotion; and Tyler Freeman, Brayan Rocchio, Gabriel Arias, and Jose Tena all passed Bracho in the organization’s prospect rankings. For him to get a shot, he needs to live up to his previous hype and hit right out of the gate. (Aaron Cumming)
49. DAVID BOTE, CHICAGO CUBS (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Bote sneaks into the end of our list here, not because we love him, but because the Cubs do. He was an overlooked prospect after not being selected until the 18th round in the 2012 draft. He posted solid but unspectacular lines throughout the minors, until he was sent to the Arizona Fall League in 2017, where he posted a .931 OPS against some of the best competition the minors had to offer. The following April, he got his first taste of the big leagues, and was up to stay by the end of June.
Through 2020, he was an average hitter, posting a cumulative 99 wRC+. In 2021, though, things fell apart. He finished with just a 64 wRC+, split into two equally frustrating halves on either side of an IL stint following a separated shoulder. That shoulder never fully healed, as he underwent surgery in November (expected back early in 2022, but not likely by Opening Day). His batted ball profile didn’t change much from years past, and he seemed to mostly be the victim of bad luck, as evidenced by a measly .235 BABIP. He continued to post solid barrel rates, and upper tier max exit velocities, so there’s a chance he can regain his power and a regular role once he’s back to full health. The Cubs would look at him as an ideal utility man, or DH if the NL implements that rule. (Aaron Cumming)
50. WILLI CASTRO, DETROIT TIGERS (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 44 AT SS)
Frankly, it’s surprising that we weren’t baited into a higher ranking at shortstop for Castro following his 2020 season. In 36 games that season, he slashed .349/.381/.550 with 6 home runs, and it was clear he was going to be the starter in 2021. Our collective skepticism was quite prescient, as he quickly ceded that starting shortstop role to Niko Goodrum, who has since been DFA’d. The Tigers desire for a high-end player to fill this position was widely known this offseason, and they signed Javier Báez to a 6-year deal. Castro ended 2021 getting time around the infield, as well as in left field, so he has a chance to be a versatile player and stay on the roster.
Working in Castro’s favor and offering a glimmer of hope is his max exit velocity. He managed to hit a ball 115.4 MPH last season, which put him in the top 5% of the league. And it isn’t a total fluke because he had max exit velocities of 112 and 109.6 MPH in each of the previous two seasons in limited action. The problem is that he can’t consistently get to that power. His average exit velocities, covering all batted balls, are some of the worst in the league. Alex Chamberlain at Fangraphs did some research to show that Castro’s all-fields approach may be hurting his power more than most hitters in the league, and he could potentially see a big benefit if he focused on pulling the ball hard. There’s hope in that bat, but he needs to make an approach change, and the up-and-coming Tigers might not have enough playing time available for him to figure it out. (Aaron Cumming)