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Staff Post: Second basemen to avoid in 2020

The lads tell you who to consider avoiding at the keystone in 2020.

USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

We need to discuss this word “avoid,” okay? It’s a strong word. In my mind, some of what follows can be considered as potential reasons to avoid. The other side of the coin, so to speak. One additional caveat: I am the humble curator of said content. I want no part of actively avoiding at least one of these guys. Exactly which one, you’ll just have to check back later to scope out our targets at the position...

2019 ALCS Game 3 - Houston Astros v. New York Yankees Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Gleyber Torres, Yankees (Jonathan Butler)

NFBC ADP: 29.73

2019 was a fantastic year for Torres. However, a third of his home runs came against the Orioles alone, against whom he slashed .394/.467/1.045. His slash line against the rest of the league was .263/.318/.465, with a 103 wRC+. Torres is unlikely to repeat his stellar performance against the Orioles and this will make him undeserving of top billing as the No. 1 second baseman. He is currently the first off the board at pick 29 and even as early as 15th overall.

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game Seven Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Jose Altuve, Astros (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 34.29

39.13 is the current ADP of one Ozzie Albies, who is my choice for top honors among all second basemen. Albies is only 23 years old and has back-to-back 24-homer seasons to his name. He has also topped 100 runs in each of the last two years (105, 102) and swiped double-digit bags in both (14, 15). He’ll bat after Ronald Acuña Jr. and ahead of Freddie Freeman, in one of the best seats in all of fantasy baseball. I detailed my concerns about Altuve’s decline yesterday—why in the world would I take a declining Altuve over an ascending Albies? Maybe it’s a bad year to fade Altuve. Maybe he’ll be motivated to prove the detractors wrong. But even if so, I don’t think I’m losing ground with Albies—who seems like a better bet for power and speed than Altuve.

Milwaukee Brewers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 45.06

Often we just go back one year or a few months and assume that is the new normal going forward. Looking at Marte’s last three years—plus some weak contact relative to his positional peers—and I am not sold on him as a top 5 lock. I will likely be avoiding him at that high price. It’s too risky for me.

Humble curator’s note: While Marte hasn’t always hit the ball hard, he has shown steady improvement, topping out at a 40.0% hard hit rate last year (55th percentile). For reference, Jose Altuve (27th percentile) and Whit Merrifield (12th percentile) don’t compare favorably to Marte in this regard...just sayin’!

Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Whit Merrifield, Royals (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 52.34

The downfall has begun, and it could get even worse in 2020. On the surface, Merrifield had a pretty similar season in 2019 compared to 2018. The big difference was 25 less steals. That’s crushing, especially since Merrifield is a 10-15 home run player, even with the happy, fun baseball. His hard hit rate was just 28.9% and his barrels per plate appearance was 3.3%. Those marks are among the worst in baseball. Without the speed, Merrifield is not worthy of his current price tag around 50th overall.

Divisional Series - Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees - Game Two Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Luis Arraez, Twins (Zack Waxman)

NFBC ADP: 243.60

This guy is a two-trick pony at best. So is Mallex Smith. I am not touching either of these players with a 10-foot pole. They are reserve round players in my view. They can be slotted in in case of an injury and help you in one scarce category. With Arraez, his main source of value is batting average. Despite his limited major league track record, it is clear he is an elite contact hitter. However, the Twins lineup is loaded and it is uncertain if he is afforded a spot atop the lineup. If he fails to positively contribute in runs scored, this pony has one trick.

That’s it for staff avoids at the second base position. Be sure to circle the wagons back around in a bit and catcher our favorite targets!