Welcome back faithful only leaguers. We're making our way around the diamond with our AL & NL only rankings. To this point, we've covered the AL First Basemen, NL First Basemen and AL Second Basemen. Of course that means we make our way to the senior circuit to rank the keystoners for our NL only format friends.
5X5 BA Rankings | 5X5 OBP Rankings
|1||Trea Turner||WAS||1||Trea Turner||WAS|
|2||Daniel Murphy||NYM||2||DJ LeMahieu||COL|
|3||DJ LeMahieu||COL||3||Matt Carpenter||STL|
|4||Dee Gordon||MIA||4||Daniel Murphy||NYM|
|5||Matt Carpenter||STL||5||Dee Gordon||MIA|
|6||Javier Baez||CHC||6||Ben Zobrist||CHC|
|7||Brandon Phillips||CIN||7||Cesar Hernandez||PHI|
|8||Josh Harrison||PIT||8||Neil Walker||NYM|
|9||Neil Walker||NYM||9||Joe Panik||SF|
|10||Ben Zobrist||CHC||10||Javier Baez||CHC|
|11||Joe Panik||SF||11||Kolten Wong||STL|
|12||Cesar Hernandez||PHI||12||Howie Kendrick||PHI|
|13||Kolten Wong||STL||13||Josh Harrison||PIT|
|14||Howie Kendrick||PHI||14||Brandon Phillips||CIN|
|15||Jedd Gyorko||STL||15||Jedd Gyorko||STL|
My major takeaway from the NL second base pool is the overall depth. In fact, I could have extended these ranks out to 25 players and we'd still be dealing with projected positive value assets. While I have yet to compile my shortstop rankings for the NL, this leads me to believe that there's a better chance than not that the majority of NL only teams will use a second basemen at their MI roster spot.
Neil Walker: Potential health issues aside (it sounds like he should be ready for opening day following a back procedure this offseason), Walker has the raw skill to be a 30 home run second base option in 2017. Walker has consistently hit the ball hard over his career, but took it to another level in 2016, posting a 36.0 Hard% according to Fangraphs. For some context, the league average Hard% in 2016 was 31.4%. Since debuting in 2009, Walker has always hit more fly balls than the league average, however, in 2016 that rate jumped considerably to 43%. Of course more fly balls does not always equal more home runs. A hitter must make hard contact to turn these fly balls from easy outs to home runs, but as the Hard% shown above displays, Walker owns that skill. Statcast also confirms this ability with an Average Distance (on hits) 20 feet further than the league average, an Average Generated Velocity a mile-per-hour above the league average and an Average Launch Angle (degrees) that is approaching double the league's rate. Put it all together, add in a full season of at-bats and you have your next 30 home run second basemen. Invest.
Honorable mentions: DJ LeMahieu, Cesar Hernandez & of course Matt Carpenter (Profiled in the first base target section)
Howie Kendrick: If the move to Citizens Bank Park has you excited about Kendrick's potential in 2017, please reconsider. The skills are cratering quickly with Kendrick and any gains he may acquire by moving to a smaller ballpark will be null based on a complete disappearance of a home run approach. The positive with Kendrick is an ability to still make contact at an acceptable rate (80% +/-). Unfortunately, the contact that is made looks like a highschooler, instead of a big leaguer. Kendrick's Average Launch Angle (2.87 degrees) all but kills any chance at a respectable home run total. Remember, the league average Launch Angle last season was 9.97 degrees. This is also shown in his 60%+ ground ball rate in 2016. SIXTY PERCENT. The best case scenario is 10/10 HR/SB, however, at his age (33) and with obvious skill deterioration across the board, the floor has fallen from the second story to the basement. Let someone else believe in a fresh start in Philadelphia.
"Honorable" mentions: Javier Baez (purely based on perceived draft day price)
That does it for National League second basemen. Please leave any questions, comments or other fantasy baseball related banter in the comments below. You can also follow me on Twitter using the icon at the top of the article and feel free to ask questions there as well.