Brian Creagh opened Second Base week here at Fake Teams with the landscape of the position for fantasy purposes earlier this morning. Today we bring you our consensus fantasy second base rankings for 2016. We used a points system for each of the 30 second baseman ranked by each of the Fake Teams writers who participated in the consensus rankings series.
The writers who participated in this series are the following:
We feel that by providing you our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than one writers' opinion, which inherently may include some bias. You will see some players ranked higher by one Fake Teams writer than the others, so this helps the reader see both sides of the argument for/against a certain player who might be getting too much love this offseason.
Each of the position rankings will be split into two parts, rankings and player profiles for second basemen ranked 1 - 15 in part 1, and rankings and player profiles for second basemen ranked 16 - 30 in part 2 to be published on Tuesday morning. Consensus rankings should bring about discussion amongst you, our readers, and the Fake Teams writers who participated in this series.
In addition, our rankings are based on the standard 5 x 5 fantasy/roto baseball league scoring, including: batting average, runs scored, home runs, RBI and stolen bases for the hitters, and wins, saves, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts for the pitchers, relievers and closers.
Finally, we are using 5 games as our eligibility requirements to be ranked at a particular position. Your leagues may have more games played requirements to be eligible at a position, so keep that in mind when viewing our rankings.
1. Jose Altuve, Astros (Last Year: 3)
Like Dozier, Altuve is hitting atop one of the most improved lineups in 2016 and both will be fun to watch. Altuve is coming off his best overall fantasy season , where he hit .315 with a career high 15 home runs, a career high 86 runs scored, a career high 66 RBI and still stole 38 bases. It appeared he focused on hitting for more power, as his fly ball rate increased from 30% to 35% in 2015, he made harder contact which resulted in more balls landing in the seats. The question for fantasy owners is whether he can repeat the double digit home runs in 2016. If he can, he is a solid second round pick in fantasy drafts.
2. Dee Gordon, Marlins (LY: 9)
With stolen bases down across baseball over the last few seasons, I wouldn't fault anyone for grabbing Gordon ahead of Dozier or Altuve in drafts in 2016. Gordon put up career highs in home runs, RBI and batting average in 2015, while stealing 58 bases to lead the majors. The Marlins are moving in the fences this season, so we could see a few more bombs from Gordon this season, but I wouldn't count on it. What I would count on is another .300 batting average with around 90 runs scored and 50+ stolen bases.
3. Robinson Cano, Mariners (LY: 2)
Age is catching up to Cano, but after a slow start in 2015, where he hit just .251-.290-.370. he had a solid second half and ended the season hitting .287 with his sixth 20+ home run season of his career. He hit .331-.387-.540 in the second half and looked like the old Cano, but he comes with real questions heading into the 2016 season. Which Cano will we get in 2016? The first half Cano or the second half Cano? His age, hard hit rate trend, fly ball rate trend and home ball park tell me that his home run total could drop back into the mid-teens in 2016.
4. Brian Dozier, Twins (LY: 5)
Earlier this offseason, I ranked Dozier as my #1 fantasy second baseman, but after a closer look at the drop in stolen bases across baseball, I dropped him a few spots in favor of high batting average, stolen base guys like Gordon and Altuve. Despite the low batting average, Dozier put up yet another excellent season for his owners in 2015, hitting 28 home runs, scoring 101 runs and stealing double digit bags. That said, he has hit more home runs, scored more runs and stolen more bases than Robinson Cano over the last three seasons.
5. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals (LY: DNQ)
Carpenter had a breakout power season in 2015, hitting more home runs (28) than he had in the previous three seasons combined (6, 11, 8). He traded contact for power, as he struck out in 23% of his plate appearances last season, compared to just 16% in 2014. As a result, he set a career high in RBI (84) and scored 100 runs for the second time in his career. The Cardinals lineup lacks power, so I see manager Mike Matheny asking Carpenter to focus his game on more power once again in 2016. His fly ball rate jumped to 42% from 36% in 2014, and his hard hit rate increased as well, so I can see another 20 home run season from him in the coming season.
6. Anthony Rendon, Nationals (LY: 1)
Rendon is coming off a season where he missed 82 games due to injury. He figures to be healthy once again and will probably see more games at third base than second base in 2016. He will be hard-pressed to repeat his breakout 2014 season where he hit 21 home runs, scored 111 runs, drove in 83 runs and stole 17 bases. Rendon is coming off an ankle injury, so I don't see him stealing anywhere near 17 bases in 2016, but he should hit for a high average with 15-18 home runs, and drive in 70-75 runs.
7. Rougned Odor, Rangers (LY: 21)
Odor is going to be a popular pick on draft day, as he had a mini-breakout last season, hitting .261 with 16 home runs, 54 runs scored, 61 RBI and 6 stolen bases in just 470 plate appearances. His fly ball rate suggests he could be a 15-20 home run hitter at the keystone, assuming he gets enough plate appearances. One has to wonder if a long slump could result in former #1 prospect Jurickson Profar getting the opportunity to take over the second base job.
8. Ian Kinsler, Tigers (LY: 4)
Kinsler is one of the most consistent fantasy second baseman, as he has put up double digit home runs and stolen bases, driven in 70 or more runs, and scored 80 or more runs in five consecutive seasons. He almost looks boring compared to some of the other second baseman in our top 15, but he consistently hits double digit home runs, steals double digit bags, scored 85+ runs and drives in 70+ runs, so there is a lot to like here. I look for more of the same from Kinsler in 2016, so invest accordingly.
9. Jason Kipnis, Indians (LY: 7)
Kipnis might be a better real second baseman than he is a fantasy second baseman, as he has not been able to duplicate his breakout 2013 season where he hit .284 with 17 home runs, 86 runs scored, 84 RBI and stole 30 bases. Since 2013, he has hit 15 home runs and stole 34 bases in just over 1,160 plate appearances. He is more of a line drive hitter than he is a fly ball hitter, so he may be nothing more than a low double digit home run hitter. His stolen bases have dropped in each of the last two seasons, so one has to wonder if manager Terry Francona doesn't want him running much going forward. Looking at his success rate on the bases last season, that may the case.
10. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (LY: 6)
Pedroia is another second baseman where age and injury may be catching up to him. It happens to many second baseman due to how grueling the position can be. The positive is that he will hit atop one of the better lineups in the game, and is coming off a relatively productive season despite missing close to 70 games due to injury. We might see one last Pedroia-like season in 2016, where he hits for a high average, with double digit home runs, 80-90 runs scored and 70+ RBI. In addition, he has talked about running more this season, so we could see another double digit stolen base season from him in 2016.
11. Addison Russell, Cubs (LY: DNQ)
Russell struggles to make contact, as he whiffed in near 29% of his plate appearances in 2015. That said, I see him improving the whiff rate in 2016, and should he do so, we could see a breakout season from the young second baseman. He showed that he can hit for power last season, and he hits enough fly balls to support a 20 home run season in 2016.
T-12. Ben Zobrist, Cubs (LY: 12)
Zobrist is one of the more consistent hitters in the game, but he doesn't do much in any one category. That said, for a second baseman, he does just fine, as he will hit double digit home runs, scored 70+ runs, drive in 60 runs and hit for a solid average. Last season he walked more than he struck out, so if you play in an OBP league, he moves up these rankings a bit.
T-12. Daniel Murphy, Nationals (LY: 10)
Tim Finnegan recently wrote a piece on Murphy's power breakout in 2015 which you should read. In that piece, Tim provides evidence that Murphy's power breakout in the second half and in the playoffs was a result of fine-tuning his swing:
Alderson credited a new approach for Murphy: "...a lot less going the other way and a lot more damage up the middle and on the pull side and I think that's a function of his approach. He's always been great mechanically as a hitter and he's made some adjustments with the help of the coaching staff. That doesn't explain the last six or seven games, but it does explain a general trend of his at the plate over the last couple of months."
Mike Puma in the Post detailed some of those changes Murphy made with hitting coach Kevin Long:
Murphy said a simple change in mechanics started the transformation.
"He sent me some video about, ‘I think you can use your legs a little more, you put your foot down, you're late,' " Murphy said. "I said, ‘This guy is talking my language, because I have been. I've spent my entire career late to the ball.'
Murphy's fly ball rate, hard hit rate and HR/FB rate all increased in 2015, and his slugging percentage was just under .500 in the second half last season, so the power may be here to stay. If so, he could be a 20 home run, 80 RBI second baseman in 2016.
T-14. Neil Walker, Mets (LY: 8)
Walker moves from one pitchers park to another in 2016 after his offseason trade to the Mets for starter Jon Niese. If you are looking for a second baseman who will hit 15-18 home runs and score and drive in 60-70 runs, Walker is your guy as he has averaged that in his six big league seasons.
T-14. Kolten Wong, Cardinals (LY: 14)
Like Odor, Wong is another second baseman who could lose playing time next season due to the acquisition of second baseman Jedd Gyorko. The Cardinals need more power in their lineup and all it would take is for Gyorko to get hot for Wong to be lose at bats to right handed pitchers as well. That said, Wong has a solid chance to put up double digit home runs and stolen bases once again in 2016.
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