2023 Dynasty Baseball RankingsDynasty Baseball

TDG 2023 RISERS AND FALLERS: SECOND BASE

Every year in the preseason we in the fantasy world try to identify players who are risers and who are fallers. Now predicting the future is tough because we don’t know, and never will know what a player went through to get to where they are, nor do we know how they are going to respond, let alone if they are going to avoid injury. But the signs are there, and rest assured we are all looking for that advantage. As such we have identified a few players who I think fit the bill: one as a riser, and one as a faller. Two factors weigh in when making our choices. One: The player was someone who fit the description based on our observations during the 2022 season. Did they rise to the moment? Did they let the moment pass them by? Two: Our experts here at TDG were also up/down on them. They had either fallen or risen significantly in our ranks between 2022 to 2023. Without further ado, here are the Risers and Fallers at Second Base for the 2023 Season.

 

RISING: Jazz Chisholm Jr., Miami Marlins (AGE: 24, RANK: 1, PREVIOUS SEASON RANK: 6)

It may seem absurd to see Jazz vault all the way up to #1 in our second base rankings after he only played in 60 games last year before a back injury ended his season early but no player at the position offers his blend of power and speed.

Before the injury Chisholm was on pace for 37 home runs and 32 stolen bases, of course, he was also on pace for 178 strikeouts. There obviously would have been ebbs and flows to the season and those no guarantee those numbers would hold over 162 but it tells you just how electric he can be if he can stay on the field.

In 2022 Jazz also dropped his groundball rate by 10 percentage points to 39.3 while raising his flyball percentage by ten percent which is really encouraging with his power profile. And not to lean on Baseball Savant too much but his hard-hit rate was at 46.7 percent before succumbing to the back injury that ended his year. It seems he was selling out for power in `22 as he pulled the ball 47 percent of the time.

You should expect some regression over the course of a full season, but Steamer is still projecting a .243/.310/.460 triple slash with 28 home runs and 26 stolen bases. His playing time and spot in the order of a woeful Marlins club are secure and he is reported as a full go for spring training. (Ryan Epperson)

FALLING: Whit Merrifield, Toronto Blue Jays (AGE: 34, RANK: 38, PREVIOUS SEASON RANK: 7)

In a shocking turn of events, Merrifield approved a trade from the Royals to the Blue Jays in 2022 sending him to the Great White North. A year removed from a 40-steal season Whit was only able to snag 16 bags between the two teams. Merrifield has really been a model of consistency for most of his career batting wise and `22 followed his previous trends in all of the metrics. He suffered from some batted ball luck last year where his BABIP was only .276, the lowest of his career with his second-lowest (negating the 2020 season) being in `21 so it very well may be where he is at this point in his career.

His value is directly tied to how many bags he can swipe, and although he is 33 years old, he still ranked in the 84th percentile in sprint speed. He only attempted three stolen bases when he was with the Blue Jays and was caught stealing twice. If the Jays won’t let him run, or he’s unable to he offers no value in fantasy.

With two similar players on the Jays in Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio, his playing time is in jeopardy and the Jays may not have a reason to play him much. With additions of Kiermaier and Varsho in the outfield, and glove-first Espinal at second the defensive prowess of Merrifield matters less than last year. I think he will only see around 300 plate appearances this year and can be safely forgotten about in dynasty. (Ryan Epperson)

RISER: Thairo Estrada, San Francisco Giants (AGE:27, RANK: 20, PREVIOUS SEASON RANK: Unranked)

Second base in fantasy baseball is, again, a position with little elite production. In fact, in my mind, the difference between five (Andres Gimenez) and six (Tommy Edman) is greater than Edman and number 15 (Jake Cronenworth). In a 15-team league, the position adds weight to the importance of getting in early on players before they break out. Anyone who was in on Andres Gimenez before last season knows the benefits of this very thing. Second base also has a deep pool of players because of all the teams that platoon there. So second base adds some benefit of providing glue players on your roster that can fill in multiple positions. This flexibility gives some players an opportunity to shine and possibly stick at a new position or at the very least get more playing time, which is one of the most important pieces to winning your league. In my risers and fallers, I have two players who are second basemen that can also play elsewhere. My riser Thairo Castro is playing himself into regular playing time and my faller Vidal Bruján is playing his way back onto AAA Durham.

Thairo Estrada isn’t sexy. At least not in a traditional sense, let’s just get that out of the way. The best thing Thairo does is not strike out. This gives him tons of balls in play and he backs that up by walking at a rate below league average. His speed and prowess on the base paths (21 steals in 27 attempts) are his next best quality. If you go to his baseball savant page you will see a player that got a ton of infield hits to the left side. Once you go outside the infield however you see a player who sprays the ball all over the outfield. The kid can hit and gets the most out of when he makes contact. My feeling is he will always outperform his expected stats. The power he does have is to his pull side. As such he is a batter that needs to pick his places and does so well in spite of his terrible average exit velocity. 

So why is Thairo my riser? Well, it is his non-traditional path to being fantasy relevant that makes me look again and again. Thairo does everything well enough. That isn’t the backhanded compliment it might sound like. Playing for the San Francisco Giants means more than likely you will find yourself in a platoon. Farhan Zaidi is an exec who likes to churn his roster. That team also likes to play their veterans. Thairo breaks that model for me. He is just entering his prime (27 at the start of the season) and started games last season at 2B, 3B, SS, and all three OF positions. As a matter of fact, he played 140 games last season, 102 at 2B. He was their glue guy. In those games, he hit .260/.322/.400 with 14 home runs and 21 stolen bases. For me, his playing time feels like a signal that the Giants trust him and will continue to put him in the lineup every night. For me his season last year is his floor for production. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 20/30 year once at his peak. Hitting at the top of a perennially good San Francisco Giants… Yahtzee! Acquire him while the opportunity is still there. (Sam Wirsching)

FALLER: Vidal Bruján, Tampa Bay Rays (AGE: 25, RANK: 36, PREVIOUS SEASON RANK: 11)

Vidal Bruján feels like the second baseman I think about when I close my eyes. Short, stocky, and quick, Bruján was a solid prospect for several years in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. A burner on the base paths, prospect evaluators drooled over his jaw-dropping speed. In 2019 he stole 48 bases in 61 attempts with decent strikeout and walk rates. He looked promising and was a top prospect for Tampa. The Rays started playing him in the outfield in addition to second base to give him different paths to playing time in the majors. In 2021 he got called up before the all-star game and was sent down right after. During that 10-game stretch, he hit .077/.077/.077 (2 for 26) with one stolen base. Not good, but forgivable. Anything can and will happen in small samples. The Rays left him in Durham for the rest of the season. All told in AAA for the year he hit a respectable .262./.346/.440 with 12 bombs and 44 steals in 48 attempts.

2022 was supposed to be different. There was still a luster surrounding Bruján’s prospect star. There was buzz about getting him playing time in the outfield also. The Rays were still in on Vidal it seemed. All of those stolen bases he was going to get for the Rays and his fantasy managers were a cry for found treasure. “THEM PROSPECTS ARE MADE OF GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS!!!”  It didn’t happen. Vidal was called up at the end of April and struggled before his demotion to AAA Durham before the All-Star Game. He hit .167/.230/.246 in 138 at-bats. The speed that was supposed to be there didn’t show up either with 4 stolen bases. Out of 9 attempts. OUCH. After all that sifting there was no gold to be had.

Tampa Bay is a hard team to get a clear read on. They could give him another shot, but if he does it will probably be as a short-side platoon against left-handed pitching. It was his “bright spot” of 2022 as he had a .716 OPS in 50 at-bats in those situations. He also only struck out 22.8% in 2022, so maybe with that speed if he catches some lightning in a bottle he could become very relevant. None of that matters until he does just that. As such he belongs on the waiver wire of any league 15 teams and smaller. In 20 teamers and deeper leagues, I would be prepared to drop if we don’t see that step forward. (Sam Wirsching)

The Author

Sam Wirsching

Sam Wirsching

Mariner's fan living the dream. Whiskey collector/connoisseur. 4 dogs, 3 cats, 2 kiddos, and 1 wife. All about baseball & my family all the time. Did I say I like the Mariners yet?

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