While the 2022 MLB season is dealing with the current lockout, there is still plenty to examine when it comes to preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts. In this series, I am going to be breaking down the second base position with overviews, specific players to target, and more! Let's jump in and examine the second base landscape for the 2022 season!
Flexibility and speed. When digging into the second base pool those are the first two characteristics that catch my attention. The position also has the likely No. 1 overall pick in Trea Turner but, on an overall basis, there's more risk and a quicker (and steeper) drop-off than many of the other positions.
We simply cannot escape the need for speed. There are a few options in the top 10 that can help, but the aforementioned risk is real. Stolen bases are being, and will be, pushed up the board all draft season due to their scarcity – but that does not mean we should allow ourselves to be forced into a bad selection either. The main focus here will be picking up some stolen bases with the secondary focus being to enjoy the prevalent multi-positional eligibility.
A Class of His Own
There is the odd draft in which Trea Turner doesn’t go first overall and, quite frankly., I’m not sure why he wouldn’t in any Roto format. For the second straight year (although 2020 was abbreviated) and third season out of four, Turner stayed healthy and the trade to the Dodgers will only continue to benefit him. After batting .328 last season, Turner continues to give you a strong starting point that gives you a little more freedom to fill other team needs later in the draft – but that’s not his most attractive trait. What we are really after is those 32 stolen bases that also came with 28 home runs. Turner came close to a career-high launch angle (11.4 degrees) in conjunction with a career-high 46% hard-hit rate. I think he'll ultimately come up short in the home run department, but Turner has as good a chance as any to put up a 30/30 season.
The Next Best Option
If you do miss out on Turner but still want to secure a power/speed threat at second base, then Ozzie Albies is your man. Last season, Albies was one of just five players to hit 30 home runs while stealing 20 bases. Considering it comes from one of the weaker positions, that makes him even more valuable. The batting average isn’t going to be an asset, but we still get a solid .260 out of Albies. Last season, we saw Albies put his swing changes to work as he decreased his groundball rate while showing some real power.
We aren’t going to see a full repeat of Marcus Semien’s 2021 performance this year, but he should come close in his new home. Semien will likely dip below 40 home runs with Texas, but we can live with 30 to 35 as it likely comes up with 90 RBI and 90 runs scored. That could end up being conservative if Semien can maintain his career-high 20.3-degree launch angle from a year ago, but more importantly, was his 9.8%-barrel rate. Semien isn’t going to be a true speed asset, but every 10 to 15 stolen bases do help.
If you are questioning whether or not Whit Merrifield is truly aging, you are forgiven as I wait for a drop-off every season but it doesn’t appear to come. Well, at least not yet. The runs scored will continue to be there, but Merrifield never offered much in the power department, to begin with – and his batted ball metrics are trending in the wrong direction. Merrifield is priced based on the 40 stolen bases he had last season. However, since we have to be prepared for him to get closer to 30, he’s not going to be a target of mine as there is more risk than reward.
The contact rate out of Jose Altuve continues to be elite (85% last season), but at this point, he is more of a power threat than anything else along with a solid batting average. Altuve doesn’t strike out often (13.4%) and there isn’t much of a gap with his walk rate (9.7%), while hitting around .280 and consistently scoring 100 runs per season. While his current skill set doesn’t fully support his 31 home runs from last season, a 25/80 campaign is very realistic.
In a lot of drafts, it ends up being a coin flip between Altuve and Brandon Lowe – and it ultimately depends on how your draft went before this point. Strikeouts are going to be a problem, but Lowe should end up somewhere around the .250 batting average range. So, at least he won’t be a complete liability while you hunt for those 39 home runs from a year ago. Lowe is one of the few players Tampa Bay doesn’t platoon and when he makes contact, he certainly makes it count. Will this be the year Lowe breaks the 100 RBI mark for the first time in his career?
You can’t talk about strikeouts without mentioning Javier Báez, who now calls Detroit home. The middle infielders' dual eligibility is nice and he has made it work with a .265 batting average, despite striking out 33.6% of the time last season. That is right in line with his career mark of .264 but, more importantly, we are looking at a 30/15 player – and that power/speed combination can’t be overlooked.
Dependable Starters Who Deserve Respect
Jorge Polanco did everything right at the plate last season. We saw career-highs from Polanco across all of the batted-ball metrics and seeing 33 home runs shouldn’t come as a complete surprise after a 19.3-degree launch angle. The strides that Polanco made were also supported by his 10.1%-barrel rate as he enters the prime of his career.
A quick look at Ketel Marte’s 2021 season shows that he hit 14 home runs to go along with 50 RBI and 52 runs scored while batting .318, but it came in just 50 games. Marte is now healthy entering the 2022 season and, while a full repeat of 2019 (.329/32/92) can’t be counted on, he should come close. At worse, Marte projects to be a .290 hitter – which puts him at the top of the second base list while being a solid contributor in the other three categories. What we do have to be careful of here, is that we are paying a decent price while not getting any stolen bases.
The Reds made certain to make room in the starting lineup for Jonathan India last season, and the rookie didn’t disappoint. India began his career by hitting .269 to go along with 21 home runs, 69 RBI, 98 runs, and 12 stolen bases. There’s nothing that we saw last season that materially impacts a repeat performance as India returns to the top of Cincinnati’s lineup.
We can’t ignore the multiple-position eligibility that comes with Jake Cronenworth, and the same can be said for the fact that Roster Resource currently projects him to bat third for San Diego. The DH in the National League also helps secure a full slate of at-bats for Cronenworth after he hit .266 last season with 21 home runs, 94 runs, and 71 RBI. The fact that Cronenworth only struck out 14% of the time last season also helps here. While he might not truly stand out (100 runs are very realistic here), we get solid production across four categories along with valuable versatility.
When it comes to D.J. LeMahieu, in most cases, you aren’t going to draft him to play him at first base as he is also eligible at second and third. LeMahieu dealt with a hernia last season and took a large step back, and the thought is that he will turn back the clock with improved health. Just don’t expect it to come back, but there are solid plate skills present in a strong lineup.
It is possible that Ty France is likely going to be drafted as more of a second base option, but the eligibility at first base doesn’t hurt. France did a good job boosting his contact rate to 81% last season, although he did trade a fair amount of line drives for ground balls – which could be concerning from a power perspective. While the batting average is there, France does leave you searching for a few more home runs than his competition. The fact that France is currently projected to bat cleanup for Seattle does help from an RBI perspective, though.
There is a theme of multi-positional eligibility, and Chris Taylor continues that. He will find playing time all over the diamond for a strong Dodgers’ team, and a 20/10 season does help as you fill out your roster.
Speed, With Questions
You aren’t going to find many more divisive players at this point in the player pool than Jazz Chisolm. With stolen bases at a premium, we can’t ignore the 23 bases he stole last season. However, I also have questions about all of the other facets of his game. A 31% O-Swing rate has the potential to hold him back and if Chisolm continues to struggle making contact, we will be left searching for stolen bases. However, it’s also possible we get a 20/20 season out of the young infielder, which will make the likely .240 batting average go down a little easier.
Tommy Edman is going to bat at the top of a strong St. Louis lineup and score a ton of runs. We don’t get much power out of Edman, but the fact that he doesn’t strike out much helps him to bat around .260. The main question here is whether we get another 30 stolen base season from Edman, or does he finish closer to the 20 to 25 range?
At this point, we know what Max Muncy is capable of after joining the Dodgers as he reached the 35-home run mark for the third straight full-length season (36 in fact in 2021) while batting .249 and driving in 94 runs. Had he not injured his elbow in October, Muncy would most certainly be in the above tier. Still, it was a serious injury and the lockout isn’t helping here as far as both his rehab goes and the news surrounding his status. I would hold here until we get greater clarity.
When we get to this stage in the draft, these are players who are either going to starting at second base in deeper leagues or we are selecting to fill the middle infield spot. Some are better than others, and you will likely have your preferences, but they are solid sources of production. There are some known quantities here but we have some upside present as well.
For the third straight year, Ryan McMahon got regular playing time with Colorado and, at this point he is cemented as an everyday player. From a batting average perspective (.278 vs. 227), home/road splits do come into play here – but McMahon’s home runs and RBI are divided pretty evenly. With 23 home runs and 86 RBI, McMahon is more than a suitable option in the middle infield if you are looking for some additional power.
Luis Urías found his way into regular playing time with Milwaukee last season and that should continue in 2022. He should bat around .250 again with solid production across the board. Not in the stolen base department, though, as he clearly was going for the long ball last season with a 14.2-degree launch angle. Urias did finish with a 9.2%-barrel rate so we are looking at a solid major league infielder here.
If you find yourself thin in the stolen base department around pick 175 to 200 range, then Kolten Wong will likely end up on your radar. Last season he stole 12 bases in 116 games while hitting a solid .272 to go along with 14 home runs and 70 runs scored. Wong posted a career best 5.5% barrel rate which isn't great but, coupled with a 12.8-degree launch angle, gives him a solid set of skills so he isn’t a complete liability while chasing down those steals.
Eduardo Escobar only shows up after Wong because stolen bases are harder to come by than home runs these days. If you are short there though, Escobar hit 28 home runs last season, and he’s a good bet to finish in the same neighborhood again this year. Escobar also drove in 90 runs and he has a proven history as a run producer, but you are going to have to manage with a batting average in the .250 to .260 range (which isn’t too bad these days). Based on the DH in the National League and Escobar’s versatility at both second and third base, at-bats shouldn’t be an issue – but he’s currently projected by Roster Resource to bat seventh.
Continuing with the theme of augmenting specific categories, Jean Segura hasn’t lost all of his value despite not being as flashy an option as he was a few years ago. While his days as a true stolen-base threat are behind him, Segura did steal nine bags last season – so at least we get something out of him to go along with his .290 batting average. Even if Segura comes closer to the .280 that Steamer has him projected for, he’s still an asset there.
The fact that Jonathan Schoop is eligible at second base (you can also use him at first base) means that is likely where he will be drafted. Detroit’s lineup around Schoop should be better this season and he, once again, is a solid option as we get a pretty consistent floor of at least 20 home runs and a batting average of around .255/.260.
I feel like we have been waiting forever to see Brendan Rodgers carve out a regular role and also to stay healthy – but we might be at that point now. Roster Resources currently projects Rodgers to bat second for Colorado this season after he turned in a solid 2021 campaign, batting .284 with 15 home runs, 51 RBI, and 49 runs scored in 102 games. Rodgers was interesting last year in the sense that 12 of those 15 home runs came on the road and he actually hit better away from Coors Field (.289 compared to .280).
They Can Work at Middle Infield, With Varying Degrees of Risk
Boston likely isn’t done this winter, but for now, Enrique Hernandez is set to return to the leadoff spot in 2022. It does work as Hernandez walked 10.4% of the time last season while “only” sporting an 18.8% strikeout rate. Based on his 17.9-degree launch angle, Hernandez should get back to the 20 home run mark once again this year, and you can do worse.
Not much went right for Jeff McNeil last season as he hit just .251 after being a .300 hitter in each of his three prior major league seasons. I’m not sure if we will see the 23 home runs that McNeil hit in 2019 again, but he does have solid plate skills that he just needs to find once again. Still, with a 4.4%-barrel rate, there isn’t much pop behind the swing.
David Fletcher stole 15 bases last season while batting .262 and playing in 157 games. Fletcher also scored 74 runs and, while that is the extent of his fantasy value, we can live with that production on the right team.
Luis Arraez is a .300 hitter, but that’s the best thing we can say about him. There isn’t any power or speed to see here, but batting leadoff should get Arraez some runs scored and there will be regular at bats. Additionally, Arraez is also eligible at third base – so that does help roster management situations in deeper leagues.
In 68 games last season, Andrés Giménez stole 11 bases and he projects to start at second base for Cleveland this season. In order to steal second base, you have to first reach base – and Gimenez struggled with that in 2021, batting just .218 with a 5.2% walk rate and 25.7% strikeout rate. Again, that is the price you have to pay for stolen bases, though, and Gimenez can get to 20 if all goes well.
It is crazy to see a lead-off hitter strike out 24.9% of the time, but that is the way of the world these days and Josh Rojas isn’t without risk. Rojas did play 139 games last season and I imagine he would get a similar leash this year, but I don’t feel comfortable expecting much more than a .260 batting average, 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases – with room for a little upside.
Considering Abraham Toro only struck out 14.4% of the time last season, I would expect him to hit better than the .239 batting average he finished with last season. Toro did have a BABIP of just .254, but he hasn’t shown much in the power department either to this point. It’s the really the regular playing time and multi-positional eligibility (third base) that puts him on our radar.
Based on what we saw from Gavin Lux in the minor leagues, the potential is there and the Dodgers have yet to give up on him. I would imagine Lux will find his way towards a decent amount of playing time, but I figure they add at least one more veteran bat at some point. If you want to take a chance on Lux with a bench spot, I’m all for it, but there is certainly some risk here.
Like what you read? Get the full Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide today to get access to rankings, projections, strategy articles, sleepers, busts, rookies, prospect rankings, and more!
Fantasy Baseball 2022
- Draft Guide: Shortstop Sleepers to Target
- Draft Guide: Third Basemen Sleepers to Target
- Draft Guide: The landscape of the 2B Position
- Draft Guide: Top 5 Unsigned Outfield Free Agents
- Draft Guide: Front Office Insights on all MLB Teams