By Michael Seff and RotoRob
Welcome back to the 2015 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit as today we release yet another cheat sheet. So while you sweat over whether Anthony Rendon will be available on Opening Day, let’s see how he stacks up among the top 50 second basemen in Fantasy baseball.
The top three options at the keystone corner are nearly interchangeable, and while most favour Robinson Cano, we counsel that Anthony Rendon (if healthy) should be the first second sacker off the board. If It looks like Rendon may begin the year on DL, our vote goes to Houston’s little keg of dynamite, Jose Altuve. Yes, Cano can still rake, but the move to Seattle has really levelled the playing field in the top tier. Rather, it’s created a top tier that’s membership extends beyond one.
If you don’t get one of the top three, it’s cool to wait a while before napping your second baseman as the position is actually pretty deep this year. After the top tier, there’s a group of four or five players that could produce numbers pretty close to the top. And even if you get someone in the next tier of four players, you’ll still be fine.
Having said that, there are obviously plenty of questions at second base heading into 2015: Can Kolten Wong build on his playoff coming out party? Can Jason Kipnis rebound and return to top five status? Was Neil Walker’s breakout season a new standard or an aberration? Can Daniel Murphy return to his 2013 level of work on the basepaths? Is this the year that Marcus Semien’s promise turns into performance?
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (9): Altuve simply exploded last year, setting career highs in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, RBI, steals and all slash line cats. He also tied his personal best in homers. He’s still raking this spring and, assuming Altuve remains fully healthy again and cuts down on his baserunning errors (see video below), we’re expecting a big spike in runs thanks to an improved Astro lineup.
2. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (1): Cano gets paid way more than any other second baseman, but now that he plays half his games at Safeco, he does not stand head and shoulders above everyone else at the position. Don’t get us wrong — you’ll still get fantastic production from this dude; we’re just saying there are now other options.
3. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals (18): Note that Rendon’s knee may cause him to get a slightly late start on the season, but we still love this kid. In fact, if he had a clean bill of health, we’d recommend taking his as the top second baseman. Last year, Rendon was one of the top investments in all of Fantasy baseball, but he won’t sneak up on anyone this season. Rendon also qualifies at Third Base.
4. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers (6): Kinsler is putting on a hell of a power show this spring. The former University of Missouri star reached 100 runs for the fifth time last year, but may be hard pressed to return to that level if his walk rate drops any further.
5. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins (16): Dozier took another nice step forward as a hitter last year, and given his power-speed combo, you can expect to pay somewhere in the mid-$20s for this dude in an auction format.
6. Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins (35 at SS): The Dodgers may wind up rueing the day they dealt away Gordon. He finally enjoyed a long-awaited breakout last year, and moving from a pitcher’s park to a modest hitter’s park should propel him into a .300 hitter.
7. Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals (24): Once Wong addresses his approach against breaking balls, he’ll take a massive step forward as a hitter. Judging by his magical performance in the postseason, he could be ready to make that move this year.
8. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (2): Kipnis brings across-the-board above average skills to the table, but his real appeal is speed with nearly 85 steals over the last three seasons combined. Assuming he stays healthy, he should return to the 30-swipe plateau this season, and that — combined with his decent pop and usually solid BA — is gold.
9. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (3): In mid-June, we talked about Pedroia’s falling stock and he didn’t exactly turn things around as his extra-base pop was pretty lame in July. August was much better, but an injury limited him to 16 at-bats in September in which he contributed one extra-base knock. Pedroia has enjoyed bounce-backs before, so let’s not assume this was the beginning of the end just yet.
10. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates (15): Walker enjoyed one of the finest seasons of his career in 2014, mostly driven by a power breakout. We have our doubts about a repeat performance in that regard.
11. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Dodgers (14): Kendrick stayed healthy enough last year to reach 85 runs for just the second time in his career. Now he heads down the highway from one pitcher’s park to another. Expect a dip in BA, but a return to double-digit dingers.
12. Ben Zobrist, Oakland Athletics (12): With the move to Oakland, Zobrist should experience a bit of bounce back in both BA and homers. Look for .275 with around 13 to 15 jacks. Zobrist also qualifies in the Outfield and at Shortstop.
13. Daniel Murphy, New York Mets (13): Murphy is dealing with a hamstring woe this spring, but it sounds like he should be okay by Opening Day. Just two years ago, this dude was a top five second baseman, but that was likely the outlier. He remains a durable, dependable, above average option in NL-only formats.
14. Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers (NR): At the tender age of 20, Odor held his own for almost three quarters of a big league season. We’re expecting him to take a big step forward offensively this year and potentially be start-worthy in standard size leagues by the end of 2015.
15. Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers (19): Last year, Gennett was unable to come close to matching what he did in that brilliant half season in 2013. We should know a lot more about his true long-term potential after this year.
16. Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres (8): The key for Gyorko is his ability to handle breaking balls. Addressing that weakness — and staying healthy — will allow him to deliver on the hype from a couple of years ago.
17. Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics (53): Semien is gifted with solid across-the-board skills and just needs some PT for them to manifest themselves in the bigs. Once his Triple-A walk rate from last season follows him to the bigs, he’ll be a very strong top of the order bat. Semien also qualifies at Third Base.
18. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs (53 at SS): Baez, seventh in our Top Prospects Rankings last year, has game-changing power but is capable of making a run at the strikeout record. Dan Uggla, Part II? Baez also qualifies at Shortstop.
19. Brett Lawrie, Oakland Athletics (11 at 3B): A fresh start in Oakland seems to have rejuvenated Lawrie so far this spring. This move better wake him up, or else his once-promising career may fizzle soon. Lawrie also qualifies at Third Base.
20. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (17): Although he’s dealing with an ankle issue this spring, Utley has been relative healthy the last couple of years. He made better contact last year, and even managed to get back to double digit steals, but his best days are far behind him.
Others to Consider
21. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds (4)
22. Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants (NR)
23. Asdrubal Cabrera, Tampa Bay Rays (14 at SS): Cabrera also qualifies at Shortstop.
24. Arismendy Alcantara, Chicago Cubs (NR): Alcantara also qualifies in the Outfield.
25. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks (7)
26. Hector Olivera, Los Angeles Dodgers (NR)
27. Omar Infante, Kansas City Royals (20)
28. Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles (47)
29. Micah Johnson, Chicago White Sox (NR)
30. Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays (NR)
31. DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies (28)
32. Luis Valbuena, Houston Astros (50 at 3B): Valbuena also qualifies at Third Base.
33. Jace Peterson, Atlanta Braves (NR)
34. Alexi Amarista, San Diego Padres (49): Amarista also qualifies at Shortstop, Third Base and Outfield.
35. Emilio Bonifacio, Chicago White Sox (33): Bonifacio also qualifies in the Outfield.
36. Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox (29)
37. Eric Sogard, Oakland Athletics (40)
38. Tommy La Stella, Chicago Cubs (NR)
39. Alberto Callaspo, Atlanta Braves (30): Callaspo also qualifies at First Base.
40. Jose Pirela, New York Yankees (NR)
41. Dilson Herrera, New York Mets (NR)
42. Darwin Barney, Los Angeles Dodgers (39)
43. Robert Refsnyder, New York Yankees (NR)
44. Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays (45)
45. Rickie Weeks, Seattle Mariners (31)
46. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals (50)
47. Donovan Solano, Miami Marlins (54)
48. Mike Aviles, Cleveland Indians (32 at 3B): Aviles also qualifies at Third Base and Outfield.
49. Stephen Drew, New York Yankees (29 at SS): Drew also qualifies at Shortstop.
50. Nick Franklin, Tampa Bay Rays (32)
Now it’s your turn. Who’s missing, who’s too high or too low? Let us know in the comments below.
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