There’s a changing of the guard, as a new group of young second basemen is set to dethrone what was a tried and true group for years. This should lead to a lot of unexpected results for the position.
Here are my five BOLD predictions for the second base position this year in fantasy baseball.
1. Andres Gimenez leads the league in stolen bases
I thought I would start off strong to get everyone’s attention. Gimenez had a speed score of 9.1 last year. This was fourth fastest in the league and the highest among anyone with at least 100 PA last year. Faster than Adlaberto Mondesi, Garrett Hampson, and Fernando Tatis Jr. He is now with the Indians, who have not stopped Jose Ramirez or Francisco Lindor from stealing in past years. Last year he stole eight bases and was only caught once in the process.
2. Keston Hiura leads all second basemen in homers AND RBI, while also having a batting average above .250
Hiura came out strong rookie year with a .303 average, 19 home runs and 49 RBI across just half a season. Last year he maintained the HR and RBI posture, finishing among the top three—but he regressed heavily with a .212 batting average. Digging in, his BABIP was an insane .402 during his rookie year, but dropped to .273 last year. He’s NOT a .303 hitter, but likewise he’s not a .212 hitter, either. He dropped his hard hit rate and hit more ground balls in 2020. Pitchers doubled up on changeups as he increasingly struggled last year, and Hiura struggled as such. He will likely gain first base eligibility this year as well.
3. Jake Cronenworth is among the top five second basemen in fantasy this year
The sample size is small and he could be in for a sophomore slump, but man am I on board with Cronenworth. In 54 games last year he had 26 runs and 20 RBI, which would put him in the 60-70 area for both. He stole a few bases, he had a .285 batting average with excellent batting posture (9.4% walk rate; 16% strikeout rate). He was top 10% of the league in xBA, xSLG and xWOBA, and he held a .250+ batting average vs. fastballs, breaking AND offspeed pitches.
4. Jeff McNeil falls outside the top 20 at second base
McNeil has now had two consecutive years of decreased fly ball and increased ground balls, while seeing his hard hit rate drop from 2019 to 2020. He’s among the bottom 20% percent in the league in exit velocity, hard hit rate, and barrel rate. Pitchers figured out he struggles vs. breaking balls and upped those last year. He has patience, but last year saw decreases year over year in exit velocity, launch angle, barrel rate, hard hit rate, xBA, BA, xwOBA, xSLG, SLG, K-rate, Swing rate, and Whiff rate. Just a wide spectrum of some patience but less powerful contact.
5. Ty France lands among the top three second basemen in batting average for at least two months
France knows how to get on base, as evidenced by two full year batting averages above .300 across the last two years (Triple-A one year, MLB the next). He avoids soft contact and hits line drives across the each area of the field. While he was even across all pitch types in 2019, he excelled with fastballs and breaking balls in 2020 (and struggled with offspeed pitches). It looks to me like the more at-bats he gets, the more comfortable he is—which would explain his struggles in 2019 and how he came into his own during the 2020 season.