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Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings, Tiers & Strategy: Second Basemen (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings, Tiers & Strategy: Second Basemen (2024)

Pay up at the corners, lay back in the middle.

That sums up my infield strategy for 2024.

In my positional overviews of first base and third base, I recommended an aggressive acquisition strategy, Both of those positions are top-heavy and have a shortage of solid middle-class options. The middle infield is different. Second base and shortstop are deep positions. Whereas the talent at the corner infield positions drops off quickly beyond the top stars, second base and shortstop both have a large and productive middle class.

The last fantasy manager to draft a first baseman or third baseman in a 12- or 15-team mixed-league draft probably isn’t going to be overjoyed with the choices. The last person to draft a second baseman or shortstop in a 12- or 15-team mixed-league draft is likely to be pretty content with what’s available.

That’s why I’m adhering to the “pay up at the corners, lay back in the middle” mantra in my drafts and auctions this year. I want to invest early-round draft picks and significant auction money in top corner infielders because I have no desire to pick through the leftovers. After those positions (and perhaps a few others) are filled, I’ll turn my attention to second base and shortstop, where there will still be good players left on the board.

If depth is the best thing about the 2B position this year, variety is probably the next-best thing. Power, speed, batting average — there’s a little bit of everything here.

That’s another reason why waiting on middle infielders makes sense in drafts and auctions. Acquiring a handful of players at other positions before addressing the middle infield will underscore your categorical priorities. In other words: You’ll already have firm footing in some stat categories but will have a glaring need in others, and that will help guide you in your choice of a second baseman.

Let’s say you’ve gone heavy on power in the first few rounds but don’t have a lot of speed. Tommy Edman, Thairo Estrada and Bryson Stott are among the second baseman who can give you a turbo boost.

If you loaded up on speed early and could use more power, Brandon Drury or Nolan Gorman would be helpful.

Maybe your early-round craving for speed and/or power left you with some batting average vulnerability. Luis Arraez is just the tonic you need. (And Jeff McNeil is a reasonable batting average Band-Aid a few rounds later.)

And then there are the multi-category, jack-of-all-trades types who provide a little bit of help in most offensive categories, such as Andres Gimenez, Jonathan India and Zack Gelof.

The top-tier talent at second base is enticing, but leveraging the depth at the position is a prudent strategy.

Let’s take a look at the second base tiers. In addition to the rankings and tiers themselves, I’ll offer a few words about some of the players from each tier.

And by the way, Mookie Betts is included in the outfield section because he appeared at more games there than he did at second base — although many Betts investors will elect to put Betts in their 2B spot.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings, Tiers & Strategy: Second Basemen (2024)

(Please note that these rankings are limited to players who appeared in at least 20 games at second base or played more games there than at any other position.)

Tier 1

After an injury-truncated 2022 season, Ozzie Albies bounced back nicely in 2023, establishing new career highs in home runs (33) and RBI (90). He also scored 96 runs, batted .280 and chipped in 13 stolen bases. Entering his age-27 season, Albies is at the height of his powers and should continue to provide five-category satisfaction.

Power and extraordinary durability make Marcus Semien an attractive option at second base, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who wanted to rank Semien ahead of Albies. Semien hit 29 home runs last year and drove in 100 runs — his second season with 100 or more RBI in the last three years. Semien also stole 14 bases and bumped up his batting average from .248 in 2022 to .276 in 2023. Semien has led MLB in plate appearances in each of the last three seasons and four of the last five. It’s hard to overstate how meaningful that sort of durability is for a player as productive as Semien.

Jose Altuve remains on Tier 1, but he’s the riskiest of the top three options at second base. The 33-year-old Altuve had the start of his 2022 season delayed by a thumb injury, then missed some midseason games with an oblique injury. There are some minor causes for concern here, including a rising strikeout rate, a falling walk rate, and a 10th-percentile hard-hit rate. But even with all the missed time last season, Altuve hit 17 home runs and had 14 stolen bases in 90 games, and his batting average (.311) was excellent as usual. Yes, age and injuries ratchet up the risk level, but Altuve is still a good bet to provide five-category production.

Tier 2

A terrific 2023 season has Nico Hoerner knocking on the door of Tier 1. Hoerner stole 43 bases last season, scored 98 runs and batted better than .280 for a second consecutive season. He won’t give you a lot of power, but he has 19 home runs and 123 RBI over the past two seasons, which is something at least. The 26-year-old Hoerner is entering his prime, and his speed and bat-to-ball skills have laid out a clear path to significant fantasy value.

Some people are addicted to power hitters with poor batting averages. If you’re a Eugenio Suarez addict, consider investing in Luis Arraez to offset the damage to your batting average that a high-strikeout, low-average slugger like Suarez can do. A line-drive machine, Arraez batted .354 last season, has led the league in BA for two straight years and has a lifetime average of .326. He won’t give you many home runs or stolen bases, but Arraez can singlehandedly undo a lot of the damage that low-average power hitters can do to your team BA.

Andres Gimenez lost 46 points of batting average last season, falling from .297 in 2022 to .251, but he made up for it by ramping up his stolen base total from 20 in 2022 to 30 in 2023. With mediocre hard-hit and contact rates, Gimenez’s batting average will probably be closer to .250 than .300. But you can live with that when you’re getting a healthy dose of steals and around 15 home runs.

Ha-Seong Kim is basically the National League version of Gimenez, offering abundant speed, a little bit of power and a decent batting average. Kim’s walk rate jumped last year, and if the plate patience sticks, he has a chance to match last season’s SB total (38).

I tend to avoid Ketel Marte in drafts because I have no idea what to expect from him. His yearly batting averages have ranged from .329 to .240, with a career BA of .279. Marte hit 25 home runs last year and hit 32 bombs in 2019, but in 2022, he hit only 12 home runs in 139 games. He’s had a couple of seasons of double-digit steals, and in some years, he barely runs. His yearly run and RBI totals have oscillated wildly. I don’t want to deal with the unpredictability that comes with rostering Marte.

Gleyber Torres played a career-high 158 games last season, lifted his average to .273 (his highest BA since 2019), banged out 25 home runs and stole 13 bases. It feels as if Torres has been around forever, but he’s only 27, still squarely in his prime

Tier 3

Tommy Edman’s stolen base totals the last three years: 30, 32, 27. His average slipped to .248 last year, but he’s a career .265 hitter. Edman has also provided double-digit homers (though just barely) in each of the last three years. It’s a nice little stat package from a player who’s eligible at second base, shortstop and the outfield.

Zack Gelof turned in an unexpectedly strong debut season, with 14 home runs, 14 stolen bases and a .267 batting average in 270 at-bats. Gelof wasn’t a highly touted prospect and had never hit more than 18 home runs in any of his minor league seasons before belting 26 last year between Triple-A Sacramento and Oakland. Maybe Gelof tapped into latent talent, and this is the new reality. But we should probably expect some regression, and it won’t help that Gelof is playing in a toothless A’s lineup.

Jonathan India hasn’t been able to stay healthy since winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2021. There’s 25 HR/25 SB potential here, but health is a skill that India doesn’t seem to have. He’s been waylaid by hamstring and foot injuries the last two years. If you’re going to invest in India, insist on a discount.

Nolan Gorman showed off his big-time power last season by bopping 27 home runs in 464 at-bats. He even chipped in seven steals. But subpar batting averages are probably going to be the norm for this free swinger, who hit .236 last year after hitting .226 in his 2022 debut season.

Tier 4

A free agent as of this writing, 35-year-old Whit Merrifield could conceivably be a part-time player this season, depending on where he lands. His surface stats with Toronto last year were fine — 11 home runs, 26 stolen bases, a .272 batting average — but Merrifield’s average exit velocity and hard-hit rate were bottom 1 percent and bottom 2 percent (dis)respectfully, and the steals could start to dry up as Merrifield enters the twilight of his career. Tread lightly.

In recent years, Jeff McNeil investors have willingly forgone power and speed in order to get a big dose of batting average help. McNeil began his career with the Mets with batting averages ranging from .311 to .329 over his first three seasons. His batting averages over the last three seasons: .251, .326, .270. If we can’t take exceptional batting averages for granted anymore, there’s not much incentive to roster McNeil. (Although, to be fair, he had a career-high 10 stolen bases last season.)

Jordan Westburg didn’t do much in his debut season with the Orioles, with 3 HRs, 23 RBI, 4 SBs and a .260 average in 208 at-bats. But Westburg blasted 27 home runs and stole 12 bases in his last full minor-league season and should eventually provide fantasy managers with a nice power-speed blend, perhaps as early as this year.

Tier 5

Davis Schneider arrived in Toronto last season with an unimpressive prospect pedigree, but he was a pleasant surprise for the Jays in a limited sample size, with 8 home runs and a .276 average in 116 at-bats. The mustachioed Schneider has a chance to earn the Jays’ starting 2B gig and offers intriguing power upside, but his career minor-league batting average of .253 hints at BA risk in the majors.

Brice Turang and Jose Caballero are late-round sources of speed, but both come with batting average risk. Turang had 26 steals for the Brewers as a rookie last year but batted .218. Caballero is now with the Rays, but he had 26 steals in 106 games with the Mariners last season. He batted only .221, however.

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