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2021 Fantasy Baseball Primer: Second Base

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Feb 19, 2021

Second base is an intriguing position this year. And you can take “intriguing” any way you want, and it probably fits.

There are no players at the position going within the first two rounds of standard 12-team drafts according to NFBC ADP, but there are three going between picks 25 and 40. After that, there are a ton of question marks.

The question with the position is whether or not you’re willing to invest in one of the second basemen in Round 3 or 4, or if you’re OK waiting for a bounceback candidate (José Altuve, Jeff McNeil), a wildcard (Nick Solak, Andrés Giménez), or a player in a good spot (Kolten Wong, César Hernández). 

Like we have in past years, we’ll be ranking them in tiers for you using NFBC ADP, breaking down the categories they can help you in.

Check out all of our 2021 fantasy baseball draft prep content >>

2020 Recap

The hardest thing for any fantasy analyst, projection model, or fan to do when preparing for their upcoming drafts is to know how much stock to put into the shortened 2020 season. Normally, if a player was red hot or cold for part of a 60-game stretch, we’d be preaching not to overreact too much. That’s the approach I’m taking, as it’s such a small sample to go off of overall, and each player needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis.

A few of the biggest standouts from last season at the position were DJ LeMahieu and Brandon Lowe. LeMahieu showed that his 2019 wasn’t a fluke, as he once again absolutely raked for the Yankees. Re-signing with the Bronx Bombers was the smartest move he could have made for his fantasy value. Meanwhile, Lowe had good numbers at the end of the season, but somehow in a three-month sample, he had a great month, a terrible month, and a great month again. That’s what we have come to expect from him, and the strikeout rate is still a concern, though he did lower it substantially last season.

On the flip side, we saw struggles for Ketel Marte, who was coming off a career year – by far – in 2019. His power all but disappeared, and despite having the same HardHit% (FanGraphs) as 2019, his Barrel% shrunk from 9.1% to 3.7% (also FanGraphs). He’s a nice bounceback candidate, but what’s concerning is the deadened ball this year. A guy like Marte, who really only showed the type of power he had in 2019, which was the biggest home run season on record, could be drastically hurt from a change in the ball. 

If we are looking at the out-of-nowhere guys who became fantasy producers in 2020, all eyes are on Dylan Moore was a surprise for the Mariners, as he was red hot at the beginning of the season and after returning from injury. His peripherals back up the play, and his speed is much-needed for fantasy managers, but there’s always a reason to be skeptical about late-age breakouts who didn’t have a ton of pedigree. 

2021 at a Glance

In the first round of drafts, we have no first-round second basemen in 12-team leagues and none in the second rounds, either. Speed and pitching are being pushed up, causing the standouts at the position to fall to the third and fourth rounds in 12-team leagues. With this happening, you’ll see quality hitters fall further than they used to – especially first and second basemen. You can nab your starting second basemen in the third- to fourth-round range if you want one of the top ones, or you can wait until the middle rounds to grab your second baseman if you so choose. It’s more likely than not that your starting middle infielder will be a shortstop since that position is so deep.

We always want to identify potential breakout players at a position, and second base, while not as deep, does have its upside plays. Keston Hiura, who will be first base eligible in Milwaukee, and Nick Solak lead the way for potential breakouts. Hiura was red hot in his rookie year in 2019 but looked overmatched in 2020 with a 30-plus K%. Solak is this year’s Trent Grisham. You heard it here first. Other players who could breakout out are post-hype prospect Gavin Lux, Andrés Giménez, Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, and Nick Madrigal.

Grade Legend*

  • A: A no-doubt stud capable of winning you a category
  • B: A solid, consistent contributor
  • C: Won’t lose you the category, but won’t win it, either
  • D: You can do better here
  • F: You’re getting NOTHING

(*Grades listed are relative to the position and take positional depth into consideration.)

Players who just missed in ADP who I’d take above everyone after Wong in the tier above:

César Hernández, Jonathan Schoop, Scott Kingery, Enrique Hernández, Luis Urías, Kevin Newman, Brendan Rodgers

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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