Even though the depth at second base has been scarce at times, plenty of talent fills the second base player pool in 2017 fantasy drafts. Fantasy owners are drafting eleven players in the top 100 at the keystone position in NFBC drafts, and there are some decent cost-effective options before pick #250.
First Round Finds
Owners that love five-tool players can draft Jose Altuve in the top five. His 24 HR and 30 SB from the second base position place him among the elite talents in MLB. Altuve's ability to draw more walks (8.4% BB%) raised his OBP by 43 points (.396) while his strikeout percentage (9.7% K%) held steady. While Steamer projects Altuve to hit 16 homers, he improved his ISO (.194) by almost fifty points last season, and he improved his hard contact from 25.9% in 2015 to 33.8% in 2016. When he hit third in the lineup (390 AB), Altuve hit 14 HR with 58 RBI and 12 SB, which could signal a slight drop in stolen bases if he continues to hit third. His consistency versus LHP (.885 OPS) and RHP (.942 OPS) and average fly ball distance (298.15'-51st in MLB) bode well for his future.
NFBC owners are going all-in on Trea Turner's breakout performance over 307 AB in 2016. His speed will keep him at the top of draft boards, but there is some risk here. While he successfully stole 33 SB (out of 39), he stole almost half (15 SB) of his bases in September. Once he reached Washington, his walks dropped (4.3% BB%) from his minor league average, but his strikeout percentage (18.3% K%) remained consistent with his minor league numbers. He made hard contact 34.8% of the time, and Steamer projects 15 HR in 625 PA. While all keeper league owners should keep Tuner, his first-round price tag is too risky for redraft leagues.
Finding Value at SS
The Second Tier
The third round brings four options at second base. Brian Dozier will try to repeat his 40 HR season, but a 25.5% HR/FB aided some of his 28 HR in the second half. On the positive side, Dozier increased his hard contact (41.7%) in the second half, and hit more balls (49.1% FB%) in the air, which led to a .990 OPS and a .354 ISO. Steamer projects Dozier to slip to 26 HR with 85 RBI and 13 SB in 2017.
Robinson Cano improved his slugging (.533) last year, and he is leaving the draft board around the same pick as Dozier. His walks (7.2%) and strikeouts (14%) remained similar to his career numbers, but an increase in fly balls (36.1 %) and hard contact (35.5%) contributed to 39 HR, albeit with a lofty 19.8% HR/FB. He averaged 93.4 MPH on his FB/LD, and he hit 28 of his HR versus RHP. Owners should note that Steamer projects Cano to regress to 24 HR with 89 RBI and 79 R.
Fantasy Baseball 2B Rankings
Fantasy Baseball 2B Rankings
Even with a below-average fly ball distance (280.63'-154th in MLB), Daniel Murphy hit 25 HR for the Nationals, and he increased his SLG from .449 in 2015 to .595 in 2016. Even though Murphy's 12.4% HR/FB helped his HR total last year, he increased his fly-ball percentage (41.9%) and hard contact (38.2%). His ability to make consistent contact (88.8%) will help with stabilize his batting average if his .348 BABIP regresses to his .319 career BABIP. Steamer's projections of 14 HR with 75 RBI and 72 R echo the theme of regression.
The last second baseman going in the third round is Rougned Odor. Odor sold out for power last year, as he drew fewer walks (3%) and struck out (21.4%) at a higher rate. His ability to lift the ball (42.2% FB%) with hard contact (35.4%) helped him post a career-high in home runs. His launch angle on 127 fly balls helped his home run total.
Although selling out for power may limit his projected .314 OBP, Odor's launch angle on fly balls should give him a good chance of reaching Steamer's projections of 27 homers along with 90 RBI and 79 R.
Those owners looking for speed at second base in the fourth round will want to target Dee Gordon and Jean Segura. Gordon's suspension cut into his stolen bases (30), and his BABIP fell from .383 to .319, which hurt his batting average (.268). His speed and ability to keep balls on the ground (58.7%) should help Gordon reach 35-40 SB if he can push his contact% (85.3% in 2016) closer to his career 87.1% contact%.
Segura takes his 33 SB to Seattle in 2017. Segura reached base more often (.368 OBP), and he drew more walks (5.6%) last season. Segura's move away from Chase Field and a 13.5% HR/FB in 2016 should lower his home run totals, as seen in Steamer's projection for 13 HR. A .353 BABIP in 2016 versus a .314 career BABIP leads Steamer to predict that his batting average will drop to .274. He is projected for 24 SB and 74 R, which could be too high of a price to pay in the fourth round.
Elite Options at 3B
DJ LeMahieu offers batting average and a few counting statistics at the 5th/6th turn. He developed into a more patient hitter (10.4% BB% and 12.6% K%) last season as he continued to drive the ball (26.6% LD%). He made more contact (90.1%) and improved his hard contact (35.2%) by almost 9% from 2015. LeMahieu hits for more power at Coors Field (.391 with 7 HR and 43 RBI), but he still hit .303 on the road. Steamer projects a few more stolen bases (13) in 2017 with 9 HR and 84 R.
Jason Kipnis improved his counting stats last year as his walks (8.7%) remained consistent. Most owners will take the uptick in strikeouts (21.2%) as long as he delivers another 20 HR season. Kipnis hit 16 of his 23 HR off RHP, as he hit more fly balls (41.9%) versus RHP with more authority (38.9% HARD%). With health, his Steamer projection (15 HR, 83 R, and 13 SB) could provide strong value in the 6th/7th round at 2B/MI.
Hitting in a strong Red Sox lineup, Pedroia consistently draws walks (8.7%), and his career .366 OBP will help teams. His consistency provides H2H owners with a cheaper option that performs well each week. He traded fly balls (26.8%) for line drives (24.2%) in 2016, and he provides decent value (.290 with 12 HR, 84 R, 64 RBI, and 7 SB) in all five categories.
Playing in another strong lineup helped Ben Zobrist, as he hit 18 HR with 94 R. He sees the strike zone well (15.2% BB% and 13% K%), which led to a .386 OBP. He hit .261 with 14 HR against RHP in 380 AB and .301 with 4 HR in 143 AB versus LHP. A 32.5% HARD% and a 21.6% LD% helped him in 2016, and Steamer projects slightly lower numbers (13 HR, 71 R, and 59 RBI) for 2017.
Camden Yards is a nice play to hit. Jonathan Schoop offers 20 HR power at the end of the 11th round, which should provide decent value. Owners should be aware that he hit fewer fly balls (34.9%) last season, and his hard contact (26.6%) rate also dropped. Fantasy owners in OBP (.298) leagues may want to go in another direction with his low walk rate (3.2%), but other formats can benefit from his projected 22 HR and 72 RBI.
Owners can still find value at MI before pick 300.
If Devon Travis can accumulate 533 PA like Steamer projects, he could hit double-digit HR (13) with a few steals (7) for Toronto.
Jedd Gyorko offers power two rounds later if he finds the playing time. Last season, he drew more walks (8.4%) and hit more balls (40.3% FB%) in the air. Steamer projects some regression in PA (339) and HR (15) partly due to a 28% HR/FB in the second half.
Starlin Castro hit 21 HR with 70 RBI in his first year with the Yankees. His strikeout percentage grew (19.3%) as his inability to take many walks (3.9%) stymied his .300 OBP. Owners looking for some power can draft Castro's 16 HR and 60-65 RBI.
The trade to LA puts Logan Forsythe in a stronger lineup. His contact percentage (79.2%) dropped last year, but he hit more line drives (22.8%) and raised his hard contact to 36%. Steamer sees similar numbers to last year (18 HR, 76 R, and 61 RBI), which could provide strong value in the 16th round.
In his first season with the New York Mets, Neil Walker continued to hit for power (23 HR). He also improved his patience (9.2% BB%) at the plate. More fly balls (43.3%), harder contact (36%), and an elevated HR/FB (16.2%) boosted his total home runs. Steamer projects similar home run numbers (20) with more RBI (66).