THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2023 TOP 50 DYNASTY LEAGUE SECOND BASEMEN, #1-10
Continuing with our highlights of the league’s top Second Basemen, as judged by our collection of industry experts, below are the TOP 10!!!!
A quick and pointless backstory. My childhood was filled with most of my days in my parents’ backyard trying to hit a target made out of chalk in the brick wall of my parent’s garage. In about six or seven years I probably made at least fifty small dents across the siding that was right above that brick wall. I broke the kitchen window that was on the far left side of the target. And somehow broke my neighbor’s window that overlooked the backyard on the far right during that time as well. Did I forget to mention that I’d throw no more than 40 feet away? So you probably guessed that I played second base for most of my little league career. I had no problem with that because my favorite player growing up happened to be a second baseman as well. Ryne “Ryno” Sandberg. I tried to imitate everything from his batting stance and ready position on the field to the Franklin white gloves with blue trim he wore. I even had my teammates call me Ryno so I can be even more like him. Unfortunately, that is where the similarities ended because an actual rhino probably would have hit and fielded at a better clip than I did. So even though reminiscing about those times gave me a bit of PTSD. I still jumped at the opportunity to write about the top ten second basemen. So I can give you a real analysis from someone who actually played the position.
1. JAZZ CHISHOLM JR., MIAMI MARLINS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 6)
“People only see what they are prepared to see.”
I am a huge fan of Jazz Chisholm Jr. and am known to be a projection junkie. The louder the tools. The less I pay attention to stats or trends, but because I wasn’t included in these rankings I decided to take a deeper look into Mr. Chisholm’s stats. Now I am not saying he should be the highest-ranked second baseman on our list only because of the loud tools he possesses and his potential. But, let me give you one of those options that the MLB network does between two players that always end up making you go, “huh. Really?” We have Player A who had 24 home runs with 76 RBIs, 73 runs, 10 stolen bases, and 129 strikeouts with a slash line of .257/.310/.451 in 572 at-bats with a 34.7% hard-hit rate vs Player B who had 18 home runs with 53 RBIs, 70 runs, 23 stolen bases, 145 strikeouts with a slash line of .248/.303/.425 in 507 at-bats with a 30.9% hard-hit rate. Now factor in that Player A will be 26 years old next season while Player B will be 25. But, the narrative tends to be quite different between the two players in the fantasy baseball world even though they seem to be pretty similar. So the Player B stats belong to Jazz Chisholm’s only season in which he’d qualify for statistics which was 2021. And I know in 2022 he was on his way to eclipsing all those numbers before a season-ending injury. But, as they say, “the best ability is availability.” And I didn’t want to use projections with this comparison. Now I get why fantasy managers are drooling over Chisholm. He has the talent, the blue twist-outs hair, the loud tools, the bug-eyed sunglasses, and an electric start last season that helps make sense of why he is ranked so highly by many experts. Would I personally have ranked him #1?
“People see what they want to see and what people want to see never has anything to do with the truth.” Roberto Bolano
As for Player A, those statistics happen to be what that player had last season and that was his third-best season so far in the majors. He also had an actual full season with more home runs, a better slash line, and OPS than what Chisholm was trending toward last season. Who am I talking about? Guess you will have to read some more to find out. (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
2. OZZIE ALBIES, ATLANTA BRAVES (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 1)
No Player A isn’t Ozzie! C’mon, you’d think I’d get all deep with a quote from some dude about perception as a cliffhanger and have it be the very next guy! It seems like Ozzie has been around for ten years and has been ranked in the top three second baseman of our rankings for just as long. What else can I say about how great Albies is. That hasn’t been said already. For a dude who is the same size as I was in sixth grade. He can rake and hit for power with already having three seasons of 20 plus home runs in the majors at the age of 26. Chisholm hasn’t done that! I told you I’m an old bitter man! I rant from time to time. Unfortunately, Albies didn’t have a chance to build on his second Silver Slugger season after a foot injury landed him on the 60 day IL in early June. And after that IL stint in mid-September after just two games back he fractured his pinky which ended his season. It looked like he was going to keep mashing when he started the season after he hit six home runs in his first 16 games, but, followed that up without a home run in the next 40 games. The pitch mix looked to be the same that he faced his entire career, but opposing pitchers only threw 34.1% in the zone which was over 6% lower than any other season. This led to a career-high 45.2% swings out of the zone which was 6.7% more than his career high. Thus leading to a career low in exit velocity and the lowest hard-hit percentage at 26.5%. I do believe those lows in EV and HardHit% were more toward the mounting injuries he had the year before. Last season was looking to be a season of adjustments and he did show a very small sample size after his return from his first injury stint. Also, Albies will have the benefit of opposing teams not being able to play the shift against him. He hit against the shift over 80% of his at-bats each of the last two seasons. If you have a chance to obtain him because the person in your league got scared off because of his injuries and the 2022 season. You might want to pounce now because it might be the last opportunity to get an elite player. (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
3. JOSE ALTUVE, HOUSTON ASTROS (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 5)
I would really love to come up with a laundry list of excuses on why this guy is overrated and shouldn’t be in the top three. But, alas I can’t. Well, I can. But, I’d be lying more than I usually do in my pieces. Altuve simply had an Altuve-type season at the age of 32. He had a slight decrease in most of his statistics from 2021, but he hit 22 points higher in his average, 37 points higher in OBP, and fell in the 90th percentile of xwOBA. He walked at the highest clip in his career (10.9%) and had his second-lowest swing rate for pitches outside the zone with 31.4% which landed him in the 91st percentile. He even had his highest stolen base total since 2017 with 18 last season. He simply is a professional hitter. Opposing pitchers threw a career low in fastballs to Altuve with a 44% clip but he still produced a 28.5 wFB fastball runs above average. He also hit 6.0 wCB against the curve. He did see a lot more sliders and didn’t have quite as much success as he did a year ago with a 0.5 wSL which was a -5.3 drop from 2021. He also faced a career-high clip of cutters and had a -0.6 wCT which was a -3.0 drop. That might worry some but with his ability to adjust for the last ten years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the top three 2B ranking next season again. (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
4. MARCUS SEMIEN, TEXAS RANGERS (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK: 2)
So I’m in no way a baseball evaluator so I usually rely on those who do it for a living. There are certain evaluators and organizations that I tend to use for reference more than others. One of those is the Toronto Blue Jays led by Ross Atkins (The second smartest Ross to @RossJensen12 I know) who chose not to re-sign Marcus Semien after an MVP-like season. I decided after Semien signed with the Rangers that I needed to let go of him as well so I traded him away in both of my fantasy leagues. I even laughed like Monty Burns from the Simpsons because I thought I was able to unload a lemon at a premium price. By mid-May, I looked like Professor John IQ Nerdelbaum Frink Jr. (another Simpsons reference) with a slash line of .173/.235/.233 with one home run, 14 RBIs, and 1 stolen base. It was early June when I ran into one of the guys who I suckered into taking Semien. I chuckled while holding my belly like Homer Simpson and said, “How stupid are you? I can’t believe you made that trade!” My dear friend of over twenty years didn’t share my happiness and after a few choice words (that Taylor Case would not appreciate me repeating) said something that I knew was true but didn’t care about at the time. “It is still early.” As if my friend personally called Semien to tell him what I said. Semien went on a tear and from June on hit .281/.337/.502 to end the year with a respectable .248/.304/.429 with 26 home runs, 101 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases. I did end up hating my life like Moe Szyslak (final Simpsons reference) after hearing back about the move. So what is my advice for you on Seimen? I obviously was wrong about him before so why would you trust me with my analysis of him now? (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
5. ANDRES GIMENEZ, CLEVELAND GUARDIANS (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: 42 at SS)
I bet you thought you finally got to who was Player A in comparison to Jazz Chisholm Jr! Nope. That isn’t to say that Andres Gimenez didn’t have a phenomenal season and did not merit a catapult to being number five in our second base rankings. The centerpiece of the return for Francisco Lindor and also Taylor Case’s (@TCasesLoaded) pick for breakout player before the 2022 season. Gimenez is a natural shortstop, but moved to second since another player that was part of that trade Amed Rosario was blocking him. After two seasons in which Gimenez had over 300 major league at-bats the knock against him was that he could only hit fastballs. That was backed up by his .206 average against anything off-speed that led to negative runs above average against every pitch (except sliders) during that time. The pitch mix he saw from 2020 to 2021 backed up the thoughts that he couldn’t hit off-speed with a decrease of over 2% in fastballs and an increase of over 4% in change-ups. I am sure Gimenez knew that he had to work on this or it would just get worse. Whatever he did before 2021 definitely worked as he ended up with the highest batting average (.337) against off-speed pitches for players with over 200 at-bats. He ended up with 6.1 runs above average against sliders, 2.2 runs above average against splitters, and a major-league-best 10.9 runs above average against change-ups. The adjustments he made to become an off-speed hitter are the clear reason he is a top-five second baseman. That ability to do what he did at the age of 24 is why he will continue to succeed and be an impact player for your fantasy team. (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
6. TOMMY EDMAN, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: 12)
Tommy Boy jumped up in the rankings mainly because he was able to get on base at a lot higher clip. As fellow Guru, Ben Sanders wrote last year about him, “Edman is only modest improvements away from being a fantasy stud in the mold of Whit Merrifield.” Edman was able to raise both his on base percentage by 16 points and slugging 13 points to raise his OPS to .725 this past season. He didn’t get as many at-bats as the previous season due to a hip injury that had him miss limited playing time early in the season. He did barrel the ball at a higher clip with his hard hit percentage going up 2.3%. With a sprint speed that lands him in the 86th percentile that resulted in a career high 32 stolen bases. Along with an ability to hit to centerfield and stop being pull happy as he was in 2021. Edman will be even more valuable with the rule changes and the Merrifield comparison is right on point in my book. (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
7. GLEYBER TORRES, NEW YORK YANKEES (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 23 at SS)
You did it!! Kudos to you! You made it to who was Player A in the comparison to Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s analysis! If you happen to just come on here to read about Torres and have no clue what I’m talking about. Well, still kudos to you because I still get the view, and now go like my stuff because I’m going to defend your guy! Why is Torres who is pretty much the same age as Jazz and had better statistics than him last season ranked seventh? It is like this dude is being punished for putting up elite numbers back in 2018 and 2019. I understand he had a bad 2020 and a horrid 2021 that worried everyone. But, let’s forget about his slash line .257/.310/.451 and 24 home runs. His Hard Hit% jumped 9.2% from last year and 44.9% was a career high. Yes, it was higher than his 2019 season when he hit 38 home runs and had a .871 OPS. He also had a career high in Barrel% 10.7% which was 2.9% higher than last year. He fixed his issue with hitting the fastball and had a seismic jump from -9.5 to +8.8 fastball runs above average. And for those who drool over tools, Torres had an average exit velocity of 90.4 mph and a max exit velocity of 111.3 mph last season. Chisholm had an average exit velocity of 90.2 mph and a max exit velocity of 109.6 mph. Just numbers for all of you to ponder about and if Torres ends up having a better season next year than Chisholm. You better believe you will see my name writing about the top ten ranking of second basemen next season. If not I still will take credit for getting these rankings right since I’m part of the TDG team. (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
8. TREVOR STORY, BOSTON RED SOX (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 9 at SS)
These rankings were done before the news of Story’s procedure on his right elbow so I’m not sure if that might have changed his ranking, but I’m going to make lemonade out of lemons. Colorado Trevor Story might have been in my top ten, but after I checked out the Statcast expected home runs by park and saw the difference between Fenway and Colorado in that stat for his career. Coupled with the steady declines in his batting average, slugging, and on base the previous these last three seasons. And after he hit the trifecta with having his worst season statistically in 2022. I can’t agree with this ranking even before the injury. Last season could have been just adjusting to a new team, and league, and having to live up to a big contract so I will not say that this ranking is absurd. He did finish in the 80th percentile in barrel percentage, 82nd percentile in sprint speed, and 91st percentile in max exit velocity which was all career highs. So he still has the speed and explosiveness that he needs to be an elite fantasy player, but again we will have to see how he comes back from his injury. I think the conclusion to this story about Story is that he isn’t a top ten second baseman for me this year and I don’t see him being in the top ten next season. The end. (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
9. VAUGHN GRISSOM, ATLANTA BRAVES (AGE: 22, PREVIOUS RANK: 48 at SS)
“Ryan, um, could I trouble you for a shortstop ranking of Grissom instead of 2B?”
“You could trouble me for a Grissom shortstop ranking of Shut the Hell up.”
“Now you will deal with Grissom at 2B or I will put you at 2B!”
That sounded so much better when Ben Stiller said something like that in Happy Gilmore. But, yes we all know that Grissom is likely going to be playing at SS this coming season. Yes. You are smarter than all of us combined by pointing that out numerous times on a number of platforms already! I guess I’ll still give my take on Grissom though. He’s primarily known for a contact-first hitting approach that fit well in the Braves lineup. He did show some power that he didn’t in the minors at the expense of a higher strikeout rate which is usually expected from a player being called up. It could be a sign of what to expect or just an adjustment he made to pitchers he had a lack of familiarity with that led to that change in approach. This season should be a bit of an extension of that adjustment period, but if Grissom can develop that raw power into more home runs at this level. He can be looked upon as a top twenty seccconnnn-shortstop in the next rankings. (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
10. BRANDON LOWE, TAMPA BAY RAYS (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 3)
I want to say I really like Brandon Lowe and he had a really good 2021 season. He will benefit greatly from the shift rule change since he had 85.3% of his at-bats against the shift. But, after 235 at-bats he had his lowest Barrel% of his career at 10.3% and Hard Hit% at 38.9% coupled with a career low in batting average and an OPS of .691. Some of this was due to adjustments opposing pitchers gave him with the pitch mix. He saw a decline in fastballs of 2.6% and an increase across the board in most off-speed pitches. He also chased a career-high 34.3% with swings outside of the zone, but surprisingly didn’t lead to more strikeouts. He actually had a career-low strikeout clip of 22.9%. The questions this coming season are very similar to what Ozzie Albies has to deal with on how he is going to adjust after opposing pitchers changed their approach. The only thing that worries me besides not having the track record Albies has is that he is recovering from a lower back injury. Some of you might know that kind of injury can be tricky and sometimes a player never is 100% again. It was reported he had a couple of injections after the discomfort and the pain didn’t subside. I hope he is able to come back and be the same hitter! If you do have him on the roster you might want to have a backup plan just in case. (Ryan “Ryno” Felix Fernandes)
If you are reading this you might want to know who I had for my top ten second basemen and I know you really don’t care, but I obviously need to get this out of my system.
- Luis Arráez Minnesota Twins – He will win another batting title and hit more home runs
- Ozzie Albies Hotlanta – Because he is Ozzie Albies
- Gleyber Torres Yankees – As a Cubs fan it pains me to say this but he will be even better
- Andres Gimenez Guardians – His adjustments just blew me away and I think he is going to be special. He will probably move to SS next season which will hurt his stock.
- Jose Altuve Champs 2022 – He is going to be consistently great
- Jazz I’m in Miami B*tch – He is going to see adjustments from opposing pitchers. It will depend on how he deals with it. Don’t get me wrong he can be the highest-ranked 2B but I need to see some more.
- Termarr Johnson Pitt Pirates – He is my favorite prospect coming up. As you can tell I’m an old-school contact first fan. He can be better than Arráez.
- Gavin Lux Dodgers – He has the tools and will finally get the opportunity. I also didn’t want to admit that Semien is a top ten 2B
- Tommy Edman – I hate the Cardinals – He is Whit Merrifield 2.0
- Jonathan India – Cincy – He had a rough season with the foot injury and needed to adjust after a good 2021 season. Another guy who is coming off an injury and will have to see how he approaches the adjustments opposing pitchers have made.