The general "fantasy guy" party line entering the season was that second base is a shallow position. Fake Teams' preseason position rankings featured such luminaries as Rickie Weeks at No. 10, Dustin Ackley at No. 14, and Omar Infante at No. 19. It was...let's say uninspired.
But the season so far has seen a rise. Matt Carpenter burst onto the scene. Anthony Rendon, Jedd Gyorko, Nick Franklin, Jurickson Profar... New names have arrived. The position might not have 1B-level depth, but it's no longer the wasteland we considered it a few months ago.
To wit, below are our top-20 second basemen the rest of the way, follow by a deeper look at some of the names:
Robinson Cano, NYY
Cano was the unanimous top guy in our rankings, and for good reason. In what can only be described as a bad Yankee lineup, Cano has been the bright spot, tallying a slash line of .302/.386/.531. In typical times, Cano gives you corner-infielder production in the middle of the field, which carries crazy value. On the flip side, Cano does have some risk. He took a Matt Harvey fastball off the knee in the All-Star Game, and while reports say he's day-to-day at worst, those things can linger. More worrying, though, is the lineup around him. Mark Teixeira is out for the year. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson are down for now, and who knows what to expect out of them if and when they get healthy. While lineup protection is a bit of a myth, Cano will still need guys on base in front of him, will still need hitters behind him to drive him in. His rate stats will probably stay fine, but his runs and RBI might struggle, and the more guys who make outs around him, the fewer at bats he'll get.
Matt Carpenter, STL
In the preseason, I wrote about using Carpenter (and Jedd Gyorko) as short-term injury replacements, under the auspices that he would at least have a full-time job. Carpenter, though, has done far more than even I guessed, notching a 146 OPS+, making the All-Star Game, and maintaining eligibility at second and third base for next year. Five of our seven rankers had Carpenter in the top 6, ahead of guys like Ben Zobrist and Chase Utley in most ranks. He's not far from a .300/.400/.500 slash line, and while that's probably not his reality, even a regression from those numbers is still pretty valuable.
Anthony Rendon, WSH
It's hard to imagine anyone really expected this out of Rendon this soon. Since replacing the what-the-heck-happened-to-him Danny Espinosa, Rendon hasn't stopped hitting, and his season slash line now sits at .301/.352/.460. There was a wide range in his ranks, with two rankers slotting him at 7, two of us at 20, and Zack Smith didn't rank him at all. If there was some way to ensure Rendon would stay healthy, those of us who had him lower would probably not have done so. But this is a guy who suffered two serious ankle injuries in college, and now is playing a new (and potentially ankle-ouchying) position at second, and that is a scary combination. He's one awkward double-play turn away from leaving us for a while. But healthy, he's a producer.
Neil Walker, PIT
Walker has historically been a "what if" sort of player, with fantasy analysts and players always seeing him as right on the verge of making the leap, of playing a full season. It's why the preseason Fake Teams ranks had him at 13th. It seems, though, like it's might never happen. He's already hit the DL twice this year (including right now), and his when-healthy numbers are good, but nothing insanely good. He's down to 19th in our rankings, and didn't even get a spot on two lists.
Jurickson Profar, TEX
Everyone looked forward to Profar's arrival in the bigs, and when Ian Kinsler went down earlier in the year and Profar came up, it was with much fantasy fanfare. He stayed up when Kinsler returned - partly because Leury Garcia was bleedin' awful - but he hasn't actually produced a lot. His slash line sits at .235/.309/.346, and he's 0-for-3 on stolen-base attempts. It's nice that Profar's playing time is spread out across several positions, so his eligibility might go up for next year, and he's only 20. His best days are coming, but that's just the thing - they're coming. They aren't here yet. He didn't make our consensus ranks, and, while I had him at 19th, it's hard to argue the others were wrong.
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