By JB Branson and RotoRob
Welcome back to another of our 2016 Fantasy baseball cheat sheets. Need a second baseman for your Fantasy baseball team? While you wonder what Jonathan Lucroy was thinking when he nixed a deal to Cleveland, we look at who we expect to be the top 45 players at the position for the remainder of the season. Special thanks to JB (@JBsFantasyHelp) for his excellent work with the rankings.
Note that Raul Mondesi, who is starting at second for KC but does yet qualify at the position (he will soon), is not listed here, but would slot in near the bottom of the list.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (1): Looking for 40 steals from your middle infielder? Altuve is one of the precious few that can deliver that. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also enjoying a career year, even if he was slumping as the first half ended.
2. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (2): Extremely durable, Cano has bounced back in a big way in his third season in Seattle as his slugging is at a career-best level. This All-Star is a tremendous contact hitter, allowing him to routinely post .300+ averages. In fact, last year was the first time since 2008 that he fell short of the mark.
3. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins (5): Dozier struggled in April and May but went ballistic in June (.369/.435/.728 with 19 runs, 21 RBI and 11 walks). Unfortunately, he went into the tank in the first half of July, but thanks to his otherworldly performance in June, he’s enjoying career bests in slugging and OPS and he gained strong consideration as an All-Star as a result.
4. Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (13): Florida-bred Murphy has one sweet swing, and after the Mets let him walk away last season, he stayed in the NL East to torment his former team. All he’s done through the first half is lead the majors in batting and set a new career high in homers. Oh, he’s also on pace for a new personal best in doubles and is a pretty fine teammate as well (see video below). Murphy also qualifies at Third Base.
5. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals (12 at 3B): Will fatherhood affect Carpenter? Well, other than a current torn oblique, not much has been able to slow this dude down as he continues to rack up the hits and improve his extra-base sock. Carpenter also qualifies at Third Base.
6. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers (4): For a 17th round pick way back in 2003, Kinsler sure has enjoyed a tremendous career with over 1,000 runs, over 1,600 hits, 200 homers, over 750 RBI and over 200 steals. And even at age 34 — traditionally well past prime at the keystone corner, he continues to excel, proving great value for the Tigers. The only concern is a career worst strikeout rate that could catch up to him in the second half.
7. Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins (6): Gordon has now rejoined the Fish after wrapping up his 80-game suspension. He wasn’t hitting nearly as well as last year before getting nailed, but he has a chance to be a very productive player down the stretch.
8. Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers (14): Two years ago, Odor was a mid-season Texas League All-Star; now he’s a third year grizzled vet (at age 22!) that just keeps getting better. The higher strikeout rate is a worry, but it has not prohibited him from continuing to raise his BA.
9. Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles (28): Schoop continues to hit with power and he’s even upped his miniscule walk rate this season. As long as he stays healthy in the second half, he’s headed for a career year.
10. Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs (12): KC acquired Zobrist last year in a deadline deal, and while he helped them win a World Series, it turned out to be just a rental as he departed to Chicago in the offseason. And despite a recent cold streak, his first season as a Cub is turning in his best campaign since 2009. Zobrist also qualifies in the outfield.
11. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (8): Kipnis is already closing in on a career high in homers, although overall he’s not hitting as well as he did last year. His walk rate has also regressed a tad, dropping his OBP back to his normal career levels.
12. Jean Segura, Arizona Diamondbacks (10 at SS): Segura has revitalized his career in his first season in the desert as he currently leads the D-Backs in hits. The extra-base pop has never been better as he’s already either matched or surpassed his 2015 totals in doubles, triples and homers. Hell, even Segura’s walk rate has bounced back, although it’s still no one’s idea of good. He also qualifies at Shortstop.
13. DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies (31): LeMahieu is enjoying a career year (wRC+ 119), proving last year’s breakout was no fluke. He’s almost matched his homer total from last year already and while he’s not doing as well on the basepaths this season, you’ve got to love that BA.
14. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (9): Although he’s whiffing slightly more this season, Pedroia remains a superb contact hitter and his walk rate has bounced back. He’s swiping a few bases again, and although his slugging is down, he’s enjoying another solid year at the keystone corner in Fenway.
15. Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays (44): For Forsythe’s profile, see our First Base Rankings.
16. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals (3): A 2014 Silver Slugger winner, Rendon has struggled to regain his form after that amazing season two years ago. The good news is he’s been healthy this year and is scoring plenty of runs. Rendon’s power has bounced back as well, but the BA has slipped again, so the news is not all good. He also qualifies at Third Base.
17. Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers (NR): Profar’s name keeps coming up in trade rumours, but Texas may need him — especially with Prince Fielder done for the season. Profar is drawing fewer walks this year, and whatever speed he had in the minors is now gone, but his slugging has bounced back nicely. He may also qualify at First Base, Shortstop and Third Base depending on your league rules.
18. Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays (30): Travis wasn’t picked until the 13th round by Detroit in 2012, but he quickly announced himself as a legitimate prospect with his glovework and bat. His walk rate is down while his strikeout rate is up this year, and that’s a trend that will have to reverse itself if he’s going to duplicate his superb rookie effort from 2015.
19. Neil Walker, New York Mets (10): On our Podcast last July, we marveled at how Walker was headed towards his first 40-double campaign, however a sluggish second half cost him that achievement. His numbers have slipped again, yet he’s still headed for a third straight 70-RBI campaign, and that’s nothing to sneeze at from your second sacker.
20. Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs (42 at SS): Playing exclusively shortstop this season, Russell’s defense hasn’t been quite as good, but he’s made up for that with improved extra-base sock. There’s still plenty of upside here. Russell also qualifies at Shortstop.
Others to Consider
21. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals (NR)
22. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians (26 at SS): Ramirez also qualifies at Shortstop, Third Base and Outfield.
23. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals (46): Also qualifies at Shortstop.
24. Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants (22)
25. Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates (21 at 3B; 94 at OF): Also qualifies at Third Base and in the Outfield.
26. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds (21)
27. Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers (15)
28. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs (18): Baez also qualifies at Third Base.
29. Jedd Gyorko, St. Louis Cardinals (16): Gyorko also qualifies at Shortstop and Third Base.
30. Wilmer Flores, New York Mets (NR): Flores also qualifies at Shortstop and Third Base.
31. Ryan Schimpf, San Diego Padres (NR)
32. Brett Lawrie, Chicago White Sox (19): Also qualifies at Third Base.
33. Starlin Castro, New York Yankees (5 at SS): Also qualifies at Shortstop.
34. Chase Utley, Los Angeles Dodgers (20)
35. Johnny Giavotella, Los Angeles Angels (NR)
36. Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics (NR): Lowrie also qualifies at Third Base.
37. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Dodgers (11): Kendrick also qualifies in the Outfield.
38. Brock Holt, Boston Red Sox (NR): Also qualifies at Third Base and Outfield.
39. Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins (NR): Dietrich also qualifies at Third Base and Outfield.
40. Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies (NR)
41. Gordon Beckham, Atlanta Braves (36): Also qualifies at Third Base.
42. Aaron Hill, Boston Red Sox (25): Also qualifies at Third Base.
43. Jace Peterson, Atlanta Braves (33)
44. Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals (7)
45. Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks (21 at SS): also qualifies at Shortstop and Outfield.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who is too high, too low or missing.