Continuing on with the series of each teams position strengths ranked, we head to second base, where in all honesty, there is not a significant amount of talent built up here. While there are definitely some stand outs, overall, the strength of the position has seen a good deal of young player start at second, and then almost immediately move to a differing position, whether that be short, third or a corner outfield spot.
With that being said, once again there are standouts, but the bottom tier of this list, is well below average, or young players who have not yet proven themselves at the Major League level.
As always, I will be keeping track of the total points for each team from these lists, and posting them at the bottom (30th place finish =1 point, 1st place finish=30 points, and so on).
Nicky Lopez (KC)
Starting off the list with 25 year old Kansas City Royals second baseman, Nicky Lopez, who while still a young player, has shown next to nothing in terms of offensive ability. In his two seasons in the big leagues, Lopez has slashed a .228/.279/.307 line with an .586 OPS and 57 OPS+. Along with this, Lopez ranked in the bottom 4th percentile in Exit Velocity in 2020, with an average velocity of 84.9, a full 3 MPH below the league average. Fielding on the other hand, Lopez is a well above average fielder, with 6 OAA (Outs Above Average) in 2020, and in two seasons has totaled 11 DRS as a second baseman. Moving forward, Lopez is looking more to be a Brendan Ryan type of player, who is an offensive liability, but can really pick it with the glove.
Roughned Odor (TEX)
Wow, what else can you say about how disappointing Odor has been, after showing true promise in 2016, having a career high .502 SLG and hitting 33 Home Runs, to being one of the bottom offensive second baseman in the league the last two seasons. Since that great 2016 season, Odor has managed a .207/.267/.418 slash line, with an .685 OPS. He has quickly gone from a power hitting machine, into a well below average hitter. Speaking of below average, Odor also plays a below average second base, ranking in the bottom 11th percentile in OAA, and having -14 DRS in his career as a second baseman. It might be that when looking back on Odor’s career, the one thing that will stick out is when he absolutely molly wopped (https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Molly%20Wop) Jose Bautista.
Scott Kingery (PHI)
Kingery, the 26 year old that the Phillies felt so confident was going to be the next Chase Utley, that they gave him a 6yr/24 million dollar extension before he even played a game at the Major League level, has not had the hottest start to his career. In 2019, Kingery looked like he was turning the corner on becoming that player the Phillies envisioned, when he hit .258/.315/.474 with a .788 OPS. But after the conclusion of the 2020 season, Kingery’s stats were horrendous, posting a career low .511 OPS, and struggling once again hitting pitchers off speed pitches, not once collecting a hit off of one, batting .000 against them, and a paltry .166 in extended plate appearances in 2019. Possibly one of the things hampering Kingery so much, is the fact he does not have a stable position on the diamond, playing at every position, minus catcher, in the last three season, with extended time at second, third, short and center.
Tyler Wade (NYY)
As of right now, Tyler Wade would be the opening day second baseman for the power house Yankees, which is absolutely insane to believe. Wade, a career .190 hitter across the span of four seasons, has always been a defensive minded player, seeing as his career OPS is at .575. Although it is tough to judge Wade fully off of the time he has had, seeing as he has only been a part time player, and accumulated 346 PA during his four seasons. Wade does not lack tools though, as he is a speedy left handed hitting bat, that ranked in the top 86th percentile in Sprint Speed at 28.3 ft/second. With the glove, he has steadily been getting better, collecting 5 DRS in his last two seasons, after the previous two saw him be at -3 for his career. Moving forward, it is unsure if the Yankees will resign star D.J Lemahieu, and if not, their stacked lineup can carry Wade, as long as he can continue to hold his own at second.
The Mariners second baseman Shed Long is up next, after posting a season in 2019 that inspired hope in the front office, Long landed on his face in 2020, posting a slash of .171/.242/.291 with a .533 OPS. An argument could most definitely be made that Long deserves to be lower on this list, because on top of his extreme down season in 2020, he also has been a well below average defender in his career, totaling a -6 DRS in his two years as the M’s second baseman. Everyone of Long’s stats were down in 2020, so finding just one thing that went wrong was tough, but the one I would like to talk about is the fact he received a very similar percentage of fastballs in 2020 than he did in 2019 (54.6 in 2020, 56.6 in 2019) but his numbers dropped significantly. In 2019, Long feasted on fastballs, hitting .321 against them (and a combined .182 against everything else) and in 2020 hit a paltry .209 against fastballs (.122 against everything else). Long needs to go back to hunting the fastball and looking to turn and burn, or else the Mariners will replace him sooner rather than later.
Ryan McMahon (COL)
The soon to be 26 year old McMahon, got his first full time gig with the Rockies in 2019, and looked like a piece they could combine with Story, Arenado and Blackmon to build around in the coming years. In that season he hit 24 Home Runs, with a .779 OPS. Fast forward to 2020, and McMahon managed a .714 OPS in hitter friendly Coors Field, and saw his strikeout numbers again head in the wrong direction. In 2020, McMahon finished with a 34.2 percent K%, which was in the bottom 5th percentile, and almost 13 percent higher than the league average of 21.8. And while he was still making solid contact (90.1 average Exit Velocity), he was just swinging and missing too much to be counted on in the lineup.
Nick Madrigal (CHW)
The start of the youth on this list, coming in first is White Sox fourth best prospect coming into 2020, and Oregon State Alumni, Nick Madrigal. Madrigal is a one of a kind player, because in the minor leagues, he only struck out an amazing 21 times in over 703 PA, and that looks to continue into the Major League level. He only struck out seven times in 109 plate appearances in 2020, and managed a .340 batting average with a .745 OPS. It is a little worrisome though, that in his first full season, he averaged an 84.0 Exit Velocity, which was 4.3 MPH below the league average, and his walk rate and hard hit percentage were also well below league average. Going forward, Madrigal should be a very nice piece for a team that is slowly looking more and more like World Series contenders, and just wait till this guy (https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=vaughn000and) gets called up.
Michael Chavis (BOS)
The next young player on a team with the word “Sox” in it, is 25 year old Michael Chavis, who is looking to recover in 2021 from a down season, after having a great rookie campaign in 2019. Chavis finished 2020 with a .636 OPS and 69 OPS+ (nice). Along with that, he, like Kingery, does not have a defined spot on the field, playing left, first and second in 2020, and being pretty subpar at all three (LF: -2 OAA, 2B: -3 OAA, 1B: 0 OAA). He might be a first baseman in the making, but if he can return to his 2019 form, he will be more than serviceable.
Hanser Alberto (BAL)
The recently DFA’d Alberto, will still be the second baseman we will look at for the Orioles, because he has received the most time at the position in the last two seasons and they do not have an established backup. Alberto was a surprise to see designated for assignment, as he has been one of the few consistent hitters on the dumpster fire Orioles in the last few seasons. Combined in the last two seasons, Alberto has managed a .294/.318/.408 slash with a .725 OPS. While these numbers are not outstanding, they are serviceable, especially for a team lacking options. With the glove, he is a versatile player, and an average second baseman, accumulating 4 DRS in five seasons split between the Texas Rangers and the Orioles.
Adam Frazier (PIT)
The soon to be 29 year old Frazier, is entering his sixth season with the Pirates, and the fifth as the full time second baseman for the club. In that time, he has been a pretty under the radar player, posting a .273/.336/.413 slash with a .749 OPS and even 100 OPS+. Frazier lacks to make solid contact though, as evident by his career .413 SLG, and his 2020 7th percentile finish in Exit Velocity, and 3rd percentile finish in Hard Hit percentage. With Kolten Wong being in the same division and league as him, his defense is constantly overshadowed, as he was the 8th overall finisher in 2020 in OAA, and first among all second baseman. While Frazier might not wow you on the offensive side of the ball, he is much needed on a Pirates team that has no idea if even 60 wins in 2021 is a possibility.
Gavin Lux (LAD)
Is it too early to put him this high on the list? I dont think so. The number one prospect for the already powerhouse Dodgers, was for some reason not a factor on the 2020 team, and spending most of the season in the “taxi squad” portion of their roster (likely for service time worry’s). But what Lux has shown to earn him the number one prospect title in the minors, was an ability to mash, posting a .852 OPS in parts of four minor league seasons, including a 2019 that saw him maintain a 1.028 OPS in AA and AAA. Moving forward, Lux will be the starting second baseman for the Dodger for sure, with Kike Hernandez likely leaving, and look for him to have a huge true rookie season in 2021.
Jon Berti (MIA)
WHO?? Oh you know, just Jon Berti, the man who made his rookie debut at the age of 28 for the Toronto Blue Jays, and then found his way to the Marlins in the offseason headed into 2019. Since then, the 18th round pick from Bowling Green University, has been a versatile piece of what made the Marlins successful in 2020. In 2020, Berti got reps at every position on the diamond besides pitcher, catcher and left field, but spent most of his time at second base. With the bat, he has posted back to back 100 or better OPS+ seasons, and might actually be the fastest guy you’ve never heard of, ranking in the top 97th percentile of Sprint Speed at 29.3 ft/second. On top of that, with a career OPS of .368 in Miami, he “gets on base” to quote Brad Pitt.
Jason Kipnis (CHC)
The lifelong Cleveland Indian, found himself taking I-80 this season, after signing with the Chicago Cubs in the offseason, after spending the first nine seasons of his career with Cleveland. After three bad seasons in 2017-2019, it is understandable why the Indians decided to give up on Kipnis, especially going into his age 33 season in 2020. But Kipnis looked a little more like the player that was a mainstay for the Indians in 2020, posting a .744 OPS and walking at a great .341 rate. While Kipnis may not ever get back to the same form that earned him two All-Star appearances between 2013-2015, last years version of himself will keep him in the league for a little while longer.
Jake Cronenworth (SD)
Cronenworth, the 17th best Padres prospect entering 2020, burst on the scene, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting, and posting a slash of .285/.354/.477 with an .831 OPS. Cronenworth, who was part of the trade that also brought Tommy Pham to San Diego, actually should have better statistics according to XBA, XSLG & XWOBA, which measure the likelihood of a batted ball becoming a base hit. According the these stats, Cronenworths 2020 stats should have ended up looking more like, .324/.383/.541, which would have put him at a .924 OPS. With the glove, he impressed too, posting a 3 DRS rookie season, along with ranking in the top 89th percentile in OAA. Big things are coming out of San Diego and Cronenworth will be a large part of it.
Starlin Castro (WSH)
Before I start, can we just appreciate that Starlin Castro in 11 seasons, has posted 1633 hits? If he were to post his career 162 game average of 178 hits, he would reach 3000 hits by his age 38 season. So basically Starlin Castro is a budding Hall of Famer. On the negative side of things, Castro missed basically all of 2020, for the defending World Series Champions, after playing in 150 of more games in seven of his first 11 seasons, and being a mainstay on the field. During that time, Castro has been a career .733 OPS hitter and a four time All-Star and garnering MVP votes in 2011. We will see how Castro comes back next season, and if his Hall of Fame candidacy can make me seem less crazy.
Keston Hiura (MIL)
So, positives and negatives. Positives being that besides a down year in 2020, that saw Hiura lead the NL in strikeouts with 85, he still managed a .707 OPS, with all the power he has. And after a .938 OPS season in 2019, I wouldn’t be too worried about him moving into his age 24 season in 2021. So there’s the good news, the bad news is he is by far the worst fielding second baseman in baseball, posting a -13 DRS in his two seasons in the league, and ranking in the bottom 11th percentile in OAA in 2020. A whole lot of question marks surrounding Hiura in 2021, but I’m sure at least with the bat, he will sort them away.
Cesar Hernandez (CLE)
Hernandez, Berti and Frazier should make a club for being underrated second baseman in baseball, because all Hernandez does, is get on base (.352 for his career) play above average defense (94th percentile in OAA in 2020) and find ways to make his team better. While his career OPS of .736 leaves some to be desired, that is mainly because of him lack of power in the earlier stages of his career, as he led the Majors in doubles in 2020, with you guessed it, 20. Entering his final year before free agency, someone in the big’s will find Hernandez ability to get on base and be an every day contributor to pay him like he deserves.
Jonathan Schoop (DET)
After being an above average player for Baltimore from 2015-2017, Schoop entered a tough 2018, that saw him finish with a .682 OPS and a declining ability to get on base. But something has clicked for Schoop in the last two seasons, and he is beginning to look more like the man who was an All-Star in 2017. Between 2019 and 2020, Schoop has posted a slash of .267/.314/.474, good for a .788 OPS. While Schoop will never be a batter who gets on base a significant amount, with a career 4.0 BB%, he is one who will find solid contact and hit for power to all fields. Along with that, he is a tremendous fielder, having 44 DRS in his eight years in the big leagues.
Tommy La Stella (OAK)
After having an average first five years of his career with the Braves and Cubs, averaging a .733 OPS in those five seasons, La Stella broke out in 2019, garnering a .832 OPS and being named to his first All-Star game just a few days before injuring himself on a foul tip, ending his amazing 2019 season. In 2020, it was more of the same for La Stella, who spent time with the disappointing Angels, and the new age Moneyball A’s, finishing his 2020 with a .819 OPS. Entering free agency for the first time in his career this offseason, it will be interesting to see how many teams line up for his services.
David Fletcher (LAA)
The man that is so popular in Anaheim, that there is an official fan page for the second baseman, and I don’t blame them, he has gotten better and better each season, and entering his age 27 season in 2021, the Angels are counting for a big seasons out of him. Posting an amazing .376 OBP in 2020, Fletcher excels at getting on base, and was in the best of the best when it came to K% in 2020, as he struck out only 10.9% of his plate appearance’s, ranking him in the 100th percentile in that category. With the glove he is great as well, totaling 15 DRS in his three seasons in the Majors. While the power numbers leave something to be desired, Fletcher is turning himself into a mainstay in an Angels lineup that desperately need someone not named Trout to actually hit the ball.
Cavan Biggio (TOR)
Often overshadowed by the likes of Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr., Biggio is a budding young star in his own right, as evident by his .798 OPS to this point at the prime age of 26. Out of the three of the young Blue Jays, Biggio has the best eye at the plate, sporting a career 16.1 BB% (league average is 8.3). While not being the best defensive player on the team, he holds his own, posting a 2 DRS seasons in 2020. Moving forward for Biggio, will be about beginning to develop a little more of the power we saw glimpses of in 2019, and if he does that, Toronto is going to be even scarier than they are shaping up to look in the future.
Wong was a tough player to find out where to put on this list, because on one hand, he is a well below average hitter, with a career OPS hovering at .717, but on the other hand, he is by far the best defensive second baseman in the league, totaling 55 DRS in eight seasons. I place a high value on a defender, but I couldn’t constitute putting him any higher on this list, because of how poor he is with the bat, as he was in the bottom 6th percent in Hard Hit percentage in 2020, along with a bottom 15th percentile in Exit Velocity. Wong finds himself a free agent for the first time in his career this offseason, and coming off of a Gold Glove, there will be plenty of teams looking for him to play second for them.
Luis Arraez (MIN)
The Twins found themselves their future second baseman in Luis Arraez, after showing an amazing ability to put the ball in play in 2019 (just 29 strikeouts in 366 PA) and the ability also to get on base, with an outlandish .390 OBP so far through his career. Arraez will likely have some room to grow in the power category in the future, only entering his age 24 season in 2021, and averaging a below average .429 SLG for his career. With the glove, Arraez took a step forward in 2020, after posting a ghastly -8 DRS his rookie season, making positive progress with a 2 DRS season in 2020.
Donovan Solano (SFG)
I still cant believe im writing this, but Donovan Solano is one of the top 10 second baseman in baseball. After posting a .627 OPS between his time with the Marlins and Yankees in 2012-2016, Solano has posted a .822 OPS for the San Francisco Giants between 2019-2020, and took home a Silver Slugger in 2020. While he rates at average to below average in most of his percentile rankings in 2020, he just finds a way to get it done, we will see moving forward, if Solano who is entering his age 33 season, gets even better, and if he does I really don’t know what ill do with myself.
Jose Altuve (HOU)
A lot harder to hit without knowing what pitch is coming isn’t it champ? The six time All-Star and 2017 MVP winner (should’ve been Judge), had absolutely the worst year of his career in 2020, posting a .629 OPS, and seemingly could not throw or field a ball anymore, posting the worst fielding percentage of his career at .979. Altuve is not the player he was in 2020, he is better than that, but without the cheating, I’m really unsure how much better.
Mike Moustakas (CIN)
Moustakas, the long time Kansas City Royal, has experienced a good deal of success even after leaving the franchise. Since 2018, Moustakas has spent his time in the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers, and Cincinnati Reds, posting a .804 OPS in that span, including an All-Star appearance in 2019 with the Brewers. Moustakas has proven he is a premier power hitting player, having posted a .491 SLG in the past four seasons. Since transitioning to a full time second baseman from third, he has struggled a little bit, posting a -4 DRS in his two seasons at second, but has never truly been known for his glove. Moustakas will continue enjoying launching baseballs out of LHH heaven Cincinnati for years to come, unless you know the Reds decide they actually are rebuilding.
Ketel Marte (ARI)
Talk about a breakout season in 2019, after being a career .718 OPS hitter for the first four seasons of his career with the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks, Marte became the best hitter on the Diamondbacks in 2019, after posting a .981 OPS and finishing fourth in MVP voting. In 2020 though, Marte looked more like the respectful but not great player we saw in 2018, posting a .732 OPS, and ranked in the middle of the pack in Exit Velocity and Hard Hit percentage. Marte does a terrific job of limiting strikeouts, as he ranked in the top 99th percentile in K%, and 98th percentile in Whiff %. With the glove also, Marte is well above average, posting 20 DRS for his career, with a gaudy 12 DRS season in 2018. I imagine Marte is due for another big season in 2021 for the sleeper Diamondbacks.
Jeff McNeil (NYM)
While Pete Alonso’s 2019 seasons, stole the spotlight for the New York Mets, Jeff McNeil just casually posted a .916 OPS season with 23 Home Runs, played all over the diamond, and had 5 DRS combined between five differnt positions. McNeil will likely be the everyday second baseman going into 2020 for the Mets, and if not, he will see the lions share of time there. In 2020, McNeil has another tremendous season, posting a .836 OPS and 131 OPS+ season, and continued his habit of not striking out, punching out only 11.5 percent of the time, ranking him in the 98th percentile in K%. The Mets have a nice tandem with McNeil and Alonso moving forward, in a crowded NL East.
Brandon Lowe (TB)
The 26 year old Lowe looked poised to win his first MVP in 2020, before a second half slump tainted his stats, but all in all, Lowe finished with a .916 OPS and an 8th place finish in the MVP voting. Every season since Lowe came up, he has looked better, posting a .774 OPS in 2018, .850 in ’19 and his .916 in 2020. Lowe specializes in finding barrel and loud contact, ranking in the 98th percentile in Barrel percentage at 17.5 (league average is 6.4). While Lowe does strikeout at a high rate (29.9 percent for his career) you will gladly sacrifice the strikeouts for the offense he brings your team. Lowe is a positive fielder, and a little above league average, totaling 4 DRS in the last three seasons. If Lowe continues the trend of getting better each season, it wont be long before he takes home his first MVP.
Ozzie Albies (ATL)
The soon to be 24 year old, Ozzie Albies has done nothing but be a consistent force of both offense and defense for the Atlanta Braves since being called up as a 20 year old in 2017. Averaging a .803 OPS in his career, and just all around solid play in every facet of his game, he was the clear choice for number one. Albies in his short four year career so far, has posted 27 DRS, along with a 94th percentile finish in OAA in 2020. There just isn’t much to dislike about Albies, and there’s no reason to believe he wont get even better going forward.
Updated Team Standings
30th: Colorado Rockies (10)
29th: Texas Rangers (12)
28th: Seattle Mariners (25)
27th: Miami Marlins (27)
26th: Detroit Tigers (28)
25th: Baltimore Orioles
24th (TIE): Los Angeles Angels (31)
Kansas City Royals (31)
Pittsburgh Pirates (31)
21st: Washington Nationals (35)
20th: Toronto Blue Jays (36)
19th: Milwaukee Brewers (38)
18th: New York Yankees (41)
17th: Tampa Bay Rays (44)
16th (TIE): Houston Astros (51)
Boston Red Sox (51)
Cleveland Indians (51)
13th: Cincinnati Reds (53)
12th (TIE): Philadelphia Phillies (55)
San Diego Padres (55)
10th: Arizona Diamondbacks (56)
9th: San Francisco Giants (57)
8th: Los Angeles Dodgers (59)
7th: Chicago Cubs (63)
6th (TIE): St. Louis Cardinals (64)
Minnesota Twins (64)
New York Mets (64)
3rd: Chicago White Sox (65)
2nd: Oakland A’s (66)
1st: Atlanta Braves (88)