TDG’s 2024 TOP 50 CONSENSUS SECOND BASEMEN: #31-#50
Welcome back for another round of dynasty baseball rankings! This week, the Gurus tackle the 2024 Consensus Second Basemen.
Remember about a year ago when we went crazy about Gavin Lux? He had been a mediocre, part-time MLB player until that point in his short career, with an 86 wRC+ in 144 games over three years. But then he showed up to spring training in 2022 with a lot of muscle added and was already named the starting 2B, just to rip his leg apart and tear the ACL, MCL, and hamstring in a spring training game, missing the entire season. Now it’s 2023, and he seems to be penciled in as the Dodgers starting SS. I question his upside because he hasn’t been impressive until this point. He doesn’t have a severe hit tool problem. The approach is good (10% BB / 20% K%), and his speed was near the 90th percentile. His 88 mph exit velocity is just league average, but that profile did well. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were nothing more than a solid, everyday player, but he has the skills to be more.
Brandon Drury has settled into being a solid, if not exciting, bat. In the last two seasons, he’s hit over 25 home runs and driven in 80 runs, but now he’s on an Angels team that probably isn’t very good, limiting his run production. Drury doesn’t have substantial raw power or walk much, so you’re just getting someone who makes lots of contact with slightly above-average home run power.
Luis Rengifo falls into the better real-life player than fantasy player bucket. This is not to say he isn’t useful in the right league size or format, but I don’t know if there’s much more upside than he did last year. His .264/.339/.444 slash line was above average, and he chipped in six steals. The 89 mph exit velocity isn’t bad, but it’s not much above average, so I wouldn’t expect him to have a big power breakout next year. Rengifo’s values are similar to Drury’s; he will play every day but on a bad team. High-floor players such as this have value in deeper leagues.
Jeff McNeil suffered from bad luck last season that led to a down year, but a down year for McNeil is still perfectly viable in deeper leagues. You can do worse than a .270 batting average and a 100 wRC+ at the 2B or MI spots, and there’s hope McNeil can be slightly better in 2024. His BABIP was down .044 points from his career BABIP, and he still makes tons of contact with an elite 10% K%. And while his 86 mph exit velocity is pretty bad, some positive regression in the BABIP department could lead to a few more doubles and run production, but I wouldn’t expect a home run breakout in 2024.
We’ve covered some boring but useful veterans, so here’s someone to get excited about. Davis Schneider is set up to have a big year. He broke out in Triple-A last season, hitting 21 home runs in 87 games, then hit eight homes in 35 MLB games, with a 1.008 OPS and 176 wRC+. It did come with a 30% strikeout rate, but his chase rate was above average, and he walked at a 15% rate, so this could improve with more reps. He hits the ball hard (93 mph fly ball and line drive exit velocity), hits the ball in the air (52% fly ball rate), and pulls his flay balls (42%). Schneider may not hit for a high average, but he’s excellent in OBP leagues and could easily hit over 20 home runs with some small adjustments. I’m going after him, hard.
Carlos Jorge has been cruising through the Reds system. He was in the DSL in 2021, and he’s already debuted in High A this past season. Jorge has hit at every level, shown power, and has stopped at least 20 bases. The first speedbump he hit was this past season in HIgh A, where he struck out 32% of the time. It’s concerning, but he was three years younger than the rest of the league and only played 23 games, so it’s not too concerning. I question how much power there is in his 5’10 frame, but he can fix the strikeout issues and return to walking. He can be productive 10% of the time with his speed and hitting ability. He’s one to watch in a stacked Reds system.
It’s unfair to compare Jace Jung to his older brother, Josh, but it’s hard not to. Both were first-round draft picks and are moving quickly through the minor leagues. Between High A and Double-A, Jace put up a 143 wRC+ with a good approach ((24.2%/13.7% K%/BB%) and plus-power (28 home runs between the two levels). He’s limited defensively, and it’s up in the air where he will end up in the infield, but when the bat is this good, the team will find a spot for you. With Colt Keith signing an extension this offseason, it’s almost a given he starts in the MLB, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jung join him there by the end of the year.
Since Luis Garcia’s breakout season in Triple-A of 2021, we’ve all been waiting for him to bring that skill set to the MLB. So far, it’s been a bit of a disappointment. In 1245 career plate appearances, Garica has only put up a below-average 85 wRC+ (100 is league average). And while there were some slight improvements in his profile last season, I don’t know if we can expect a double-digit home run season. Garcia brought this K% down to 12%, almost doubled his walk rate to 6%, and cut his swinging strike rate to 8%. And while his average exit velocity was a career-high 88 mph, his five-degree lunch angle is killing him. He’s only going to be 24 next season, and while it wouldn’t surprise me to see him finally have the breakout we’ve been hoping for, he isn’t a player I’m going out of the way to acquire.
Michael Massey has gotten some pre-season hype as a sleeper, but we may want to pump the brakes. His 2022 season was not very good, as he only hit a 73 wRC+. Massey did hit 15 homes and had a promising plate approach (22% K% / 5% BB%), and bad luck did hurt him (.283 BABIP & .322 xwOBA vs. .283 wOBA), I don’t know how much more we can expect. His 89 mph exit velocity isn’t alarming but still below average. And while Massey does pull everything, his home park is one of the worst for left-handed hitters. Positive regression likely improves his batting average, but I’m unsure how much power we can expect.
Normally, this far down our second base rankings, the chances of finding good-quality players are usually very poor. However, this year, you might be holding aces and end up seeing two more get turned over on the flop. Michael Busch and José Caballero have both been in the news this offseason when they were each traded away from situations where they would not see many at-bats, to one where they could conceivably become everyday players. Busch torched Triple-A in 2023, with a triple slash line of .323/.431/.618, to go along with 27 home runs, 26 doubles, a 13.9% walk rate, and a strikeout rate of 18.8%. His time in the big leagues was anything but stellar, as he hit just .167. The poor play could have been driven by the Dodgers promoting and demoting him a number of times and not giving him consistent at-bats while he was up with the major league team. Now with the Cubs, Busch could play every day and be the player that the Dodgers dreamed he would be. Back to the other ace, Caballero has a very similar upside to Busch. Coming into 2023, he had never played in more than 70 games in a single season in the minors. Last year he played 104 games for the Mariners and proved he was a capable hitter when he received consistent at-bats. During both May and August, he played in more than 20 games and hit over .250. He might never give you many home runs, but if he gets the job at shortstop for the Rays, he could be a solid .250 or better hitter and approach 40 stolen bases.
If you are looking for consistency, then Whit Merrifield and Brendan Rodgers are your cup of tea. Merrifield has consistently put up 10-15 home runs, with a decent .250-.275 batting average, and a fairly consistent on-base percentage for the last four seasons. He has even added some decent to good stolen base numbers during that time span. On the downside of being 35-years-old and nearing the end of his career, if he signs with a team as a starter, he can be relied on to give you good stats. Rodgers is in a very similar boat as Merrifield, except he will not get you any stolen bases. You can almost already pencil him in for around 15 home runs, a .260 or better batting average, and a .320 or better on-base percentage.
Of the Major Leaguers in this tier, Jake Cronenworth, Brice Turang, and Nick Gonzales are my avoids. Their batting averages are potential killers to any fantasy team, as they all hit below .230 last year. If you are absolutely desperate in the speed category, Turang could be a decent option this deep down the list. The one caveat is that you better be solid in the average, or on-base stats, to overcome his deficiencies there. Cronenworth’s home runs and triple slash line have decreased each season since they reached a peak in 2021. With a potentially much worse lineup around him in 2024, don’t expect a massive boost in his numbers. Gonzales might have some hope for a boost, but his play after making his major league debut in June was not inspiring. His triple slash line could see a slight increase this season, but he is not someone who will provide many stolen bases or home runs. The bigger problem with Gonzales is he doesn’t have an inside track to a spot on the opening-day roster for the Pirates.
The young blood in this tier are really quite the opposite of the avoids. They are good players to target and are not too far away from getting a shot themselves on a big-league roster. Luisangel Acuña, Nick Yorke, and Joey Loperfido have some very good tools that suggest they will be more than just fantasy-relevant at some point this season, or potentially next season. Acuña has elite speed on the bases and stole 57 bags between the Rangers and Mets’ Double-A teams in 2023. He showed good plate discipline with a walk rate of 9.1% and a strikeout rate of 18.6%. With Ronny Mauricio tearing his ACL in winter ball, a hot start for Acuña could see him in New York City by summertime. Yorke is in a similar position in Boston. He just completed a full season at Double-A and showed he has pop in his bat and some decent speed on the bases, hitting 13 home runs, 25 doubles, and stealing 18 bases. A good season at Triple-A might lead to a late-season call-up or a shot at a position for the 2025 season. Loperfido might easily be my favorite player in this tier. Across High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A last season, he destroyed baseballs to the tune of 25 home runs, 27 doubles, and a triple slash line of .278/.370/.510. His strikeout rate was a little high in his small sample size at Triple-A, 32.6%. If the strikeout rate comes back down to near his Double-A numbers, 22.2%, he should dominate at Triple-A as well. This is a big power/speed threat that could force his way onto the Astros roster soon.