Fantasy Baseball: Second Base Rankings – Roto

Dee Gordon

With catcher and first base in the books, our 2016 fantasy baseball roto rankings preview now moves on to second base. While the position doesn’t offer much in terms of power (only three 2B hit 20-plus home runs last season), it has a high number of players who can contribute in multiple categories. This depth cannot be overlooked, especially given that the majority of roto leagues employ a middle infield slot. Also, several of the players in this group have multi-position eligibility so it’s important to understand where they rank at each spot. And with that, we’re off! (Note: as always all rankings are based on Yahoo position eligibility and tiers indicate players with comparable values).

C    1B    2B    SS    3B    OF    SP    RP

Tier 1 (The Elite)

  1. Jose Altuve (HOU)
  2. Dee Gordon (MIA)

There’s really not much to debate with this top group. Gordon actually bested Altuve in runs, stolen bases and average last season and will at worst be a second round pick in most drafts. That said, Altuve still has significantly more pop, a stronger lineup around him and is a much safer and consistent player overall. This year in particular there doesn’t seem to be very many quality players with even 30 stolen base potential so I don’t mind using a high pick on either of these guys.

Tier 2 (The Next Up)

  1. Robinson Cano (SEA)
  2. Matt Carpenter (STL)

It feels crazy to have Cano this high given how awful he was at the start of last season, yet he somehow still ended the year with a .287 average and 21 home runs. He’s clearly not the player he was with the Yankees, but even so he remains a very solid four-category contributor. To be honest I don’t really know how to project Carpenter moving forward. The 28 home runs he hit last season seem like an outlier, especially given that his previous career high in that department was 11. That said, he’s really only played four full seasons in the majors so it may be that he’s still adjusting his profile as a hitter. Regardless, he’s going to give you a good average and probably score 95+ runs so even if he only hits say 18-20 homers he’s likely still going to finish in the top five at the position.

Tier 3 (The Solid Starters)

  1. Jason Kipnis (CLE)
  2. Brian Dozier (MIN)
  3. Ian Kinsler (DET)
  4. Rougned Odor (TEX)
  5. Anthony Rendon (WAS)

If you don’t feel comfortable taking a second baseman in the first four or five rounds, this is likely the group you’re going to target. It also may not be a bad strategy as I can easily see any of these players outperforming their ADP. Kipnis is a bit like Carpenter in that he’s difficult to project. In 2013 he hit 17 homers and stole 30 bases, but has since barely matched that production over the past two seasons combined. I still see him as a .275 hitter who’s likely to deliver double digits in both homers and steals so certainly not a bad option. Dozier is the best power hitter at the position, but he’s not running as much as he used too and has never hit over .244 in a season. Kinsler, meanwhile, is far removed from being the 30/30 player he was during his Texas years, yet he’s still a five-category contributor. Personally, I’m probably going to avoid him, as he appears to be trending downward in both power and speed, but simply hitting atop the Tigers lineup will likely enable him to produce very favorable counting stats.

Odor is one of the players I’m most excited about this season. There was actually a considerable amount of hype around him this time last year, but he started the season so poorly that he was quickly sent back down to the minors. He played considerably better upon getting called back up (hitting above .300 in June, July and August), yet it felt like most still perceived him as a disappointment/underachiever. Let’s hope some of that stigma remains as I fully expect Odor to deliver 20/10 season. Rendon is extremely intriguing as just a year ago he was universally viewed as an elite option at the position. His spot in the rankings can certainly be debated, especially considering that he’s only 25, but it’s always difficult to predict how a player will perform coming off an injury riddled season.

Tier 4 (The Fringe Starters)

  1. Kolten Wong (STL)
  2. Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
  3. J. LeMahieu (COL)
  4. Daniel Murphy (WAS)
  5. Ben Zobrist (CHC)

This tier is mainly comprised of deeper league starters and players that profile similarly in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Each guy here is a good source of average and will contribute a few steals while offering limited power upside. Wong’s value is largely contingent on role and where he bats in the order while Pedroia is a guy I wouldn’t mind taking in the later rounds and hoping he can stay healthy. Murphy and Zobrist are also decent options, as both will have favorable slots in strong offensive lineups.

Tier 5 (The Middle Infielders)

  1. Matt Duffy (SF)
  2. Neil Walker (NYM)
  3. Addison Russell (CHC)
  4. Howie Kendrick (LAD)
  5. Starlin Castro (NYY)
  6. Logan Forsythe (TB)

As you might’ve guessed, these are players that while not good enough to be considered starters in most leagues, are solid options for your middle infield slot. Duffy is a guy I’m partial to as he was a fixture on several of my most successful teams last year. It seems like many in the industry are screaming regression, but I don’t necessarily buy that. While last year was a surprise, Duffy is only 25 and he hit over .300 with 20+ stolen bases in each of his last two minor league seasons. Further, he’s currently projected to hit third in the lineup again so opportunity should not be an issue.

Russell and Forsythe are my next preferences from this group. It’s easy to forget Russell is still just 22 years old and getting adjusted to the majors. Additionally, the value of his shortstop eligibility should not be overlooked. Walker, Kendrick and Castro all have established profiles so while they’re unlikely to exceed expectations; you at least know what you’re getting.

Tier 6 (The Backups)

  1. Brandon Phillips (CIN)
  2. Josh Harrison (PIT)
  3. Brett Lawrie (CWS)
  4. Jonathan Schoop (BAL)
  5. Joe Panik (SF)

This group is essentially an extension of the middle infielder tier and should hold some value for those playing in 12 or 14-team leagues. Lawrie and Schoop are the two biggest standouts amongst this group. For Lawrie, the benefit of going from the Coliseum to U.S. Cellular Field cannot be overstated while it looks like Schoop will finally be given the chance to be an everyday player.

Phillips’ resurgence last year makes him a difficult rank. For context, the 23 bases he stole in 2015 were more than his combined total from the previous three seasons. I doubt he gets to 20 steals again and given his limited power upside, he’s not a guy I’m going to be targeting. Harrison is a serviceable utility player, but that 13-homer season sure looks like an outlier at this point. Panik is a much better points league option as he lacks the power/speed combination that is so highly valued in the roto game.

Tier 7 (The Replacements)

  1. Devon Travis (TOR)
  2. Cody Spangenberg (SD)
  3. Javier Baez (CHC)
  4. Jedd Gyorko (STL)
  5. Scooter Gennett (MIL)

I wouldn’t expect any of these players to be drafted/owned in more than a quarter of leagues, but I still feel they’re worth mentioning. Travis was playing very well prior to getting hurt last season so he’s a guy to keep on your radar as he continues his rehab. Baez and Gyorko are big power/low average hitters currently in situational roles. They don’t hold much present value, but both players will become popular adds if injuries or other factors lead to them receiving regular playing time.

And if you’re looking for points rankings, you can find those here

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