by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Second base is a position that’s in transition, as there are a lot of young players who are currently eligible at the position and a slew of others who are on their way. So how do we whittle down the list of perspective options? For one, players who are expected to move to another position are going to be excluded. That means Anthony Rendon, who would clearly be #1 on this list, is not going to be included as he’s expected to man 3B this season (the same goes for Brett Lawrie, who was a borderline option). Obviously things change, so keep in mind that he’s the best option, but we’ve talked about him already so we want to use the spot for another player.
Who does make the cut? Let’s take a look (remember these rankings are always going to slightly skewed towards those who have already reached the Majors):
Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers – 21-years old
Odor is expected to open the year as the Rangers second baseman, but Jurickson Profar is going to return and could force Odor to the bench or the minors. That said, Odor proved he could hold his own as a 20-year old in ’14, hitting .259 with 9 HR in 386 AB. He made consistent contact (17.0% strikeout rate), but there are obviously things he can still work on:
- Walk Rate – 4.1%
- Line Drive Rate – 15.0%
- Popup Rate – 16.8%
The potential is there, he just needs time to continue developing.
Jonathan Schoop – Baltimore Orioles – 23-years old
His defense is going to keep him in the Orioles’ lineup and he slugged 16 HR in the Majors last season. The question is going to be if he can turn his average around, as he hit .209 thanks to a 25.4% strikeout rate and 13.9% line drive rate (.249 BABIP). The strikeouts were better in the minors (including 19.0% at Triple-A) as was his line drive rate (23.1% at Triple-A). Even if he could hit .250 with his power potential, what’s not to like?
5. Jurickson Profar – Texas Rangers – 22-years old
Remember him? Considered the top prospect in the game prior to 2013, he struggled in his first taste of the Majors (.234, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 30 R, 2 SB over 286 AB) before missing all of 2014. He’s expected back this season, though he’s going to have to work to regain his job. Still, it’s easy to overlook the upside and long-term we’d have to think that he’ll ultimately get to the ceiling we all know is possible.
4. Javier Baez – Chicago Cubs – 22-years old
The power is for real, but the strikeouts are becoming a significant question. Even playing in Winter Leagues he’s struggled, with 21 K in 43 AB. It’s startling and it’s truly beginning to look like he’s going to need to spend time back at Triple-A to try and work out his issues (41.5% strikeout rate in the Majors in ’14). The potential to hit 30+ HR routinely is extremely alluring, but what if it comes with a sub-.200 batting average? Are the Cubs even willing to tolerate that? Obviously we aren’t about to write him off, but he needs to make significant adjustments.
3. Jose Peraza – Atlanta Braves – 20-years old
Only 20-years old, Peraza will likely make his debut in 2015 (once the team is ready to move on from Alberto Callaspo). He brings a tremendous skill set, with the ability to make contact (10.8% in the minors since 2011) and steal a ton of bases (60+ in back-to-back seasons). While we’d like to see him draw a few more walks (5.3% since ’11) and he offers very little power, a potential .300 hitter who can steal 50+ bases? Especially if that’s hitting atop the lineup, there’s a ton to like.
2. Kolten Wong – St. Louis Cardinals – 24-years old
In his first extended time in the Majors Wong hit .249, but it came with 12 HR and 20 SB over 402 AB. The latter is a believable number and with a 16.4% strikeout rate and 18.9% line drive rate (.275 BABIP), we’d expected more in the average department. He did a great job of improving his popup rate (15.2% to 7.9%) and line drive rate (16.9% to 20.7%) as the season progressed and holds even more upside.
1. Jose Altuve – Houston Astros – 24-years old
Maybe last season’s overall numbers are a little inflated (.341, 56 SB), as he benefited from a .360 BABIP. Still, what exactly is there not to like? He’s stolen 30+ bases in three straight seasons… He makes consistent contact (10.7% career strikeout rate) and hits the ball hard (21.8% career line drive rate)… The lineup around him is improving and the runs scored should improve (85 in ’14 was his career high)… Sure there’s little-to-no power, but who cares. When you get the rest of the package you get one of the best options in the league.
Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our early 2015 rankings:
- First Basemen
- Second Basemen
- Third Basemen
- Starting Pitchers
- Relief Pitchers
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