2016 Rankings: Top 15 Second Basemen: Breakouts, Rebounds & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While there are questions throughout the rankings, second base has suddenly developed into a rather deep position. We saw players emerge last season, including Dee Gordon, Rougned Odor and Logan Forsythe. We should see some players rebound in 2016, including Anthony Rendon, Jason Kipnis and Robinson Cano. How does it all shake out? Let’s take a look:

1. Jose Altuve – Houston Astros
2. Dee Gordon – Miami Marlins
3. Anthony Rendon – Washington Nationals
4. Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians
5. Robinson Cano – Seattle Mariners
6. Brian Dozier – Minnesota Twins
7. Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers
8. Ian Kinsler – Detroit Tigers
9. Brandon Phillips – Cincinnati Reds
10. Logan Forsythe – Tampa Bay Rays
11. Kolten Wong – St. Louis Cardinals
12. Brett Lawrie – Chicago White Sox
13. Neil Walker – New York Mets
14. Starlin Castro – New York Yankees
15. Joe Panik – San Francisco Giants

Thoughts:

  • When you look at the players ranked 3-5 there are obvious questions. Rendon struggled with injuries in ’15, limiting him to 80 games, but if he returns to health he should be a 15/10 option (with the potential for more). Kipnis did hit .303 last season, but there wasn’t a lot behind it (9 HR/12 SB). He added 43 doubles, though, and is a good bet to rebound and bring a 10/20+ campaign. As for Cano, we all know the story and the strong finish (.331, 15 HR, 49 RBI). He’s not going to be the player he was in New York, but he’s going to be productive all the same.
  • There’s a lot to like regarding Rougned Odor, though there are questions regarding his average. Last season he struggled with both line drives (14.6%) and popups (19.1%), making his pedestrian .261 average look unsustainable. Of course he was also just 21 (he turns 22 in February), so there’s a good chance that he takes a step forward in his development.
  • Logan Forsythe was one of the bigger breakout performers in 2015, but can he maintain it (.281, 17 HR, 9 SB)? We tackled that question earlier in the offseason, which you can read by clicking here, concluding that he may take a small step backwards but should continue to produce solid numbers.
  • Moving from the A’s to the White Sox is obviously going to be beneficial to Brett Lawrie, who has the potential to post the first 20+ HR season of his career. The caveat, though, is if he can stay healthy… That’s something he’s had problems doing.
  • We looked at Neil Walker, prior to his trade to New York, which you can read by clicking here. At the time we declared him an ideal bounce back candidate, as the underlying average metrics (18.2% strikeout rate, 21.4% line drive rate, 4.9% popup rate) were all promising and his average distance on non-groundballs were similar to his ’14 mark (263.527 vs. 264.396). The trade does little to impact our outlook, so continue to view him as a strong buy.

*** Want a chance to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with a “Thor” inscription?  Find out how by clicking here!! ***

Make sure to check out all of our 2016 rankings:

 

18 comments

  1. Bbboston says:

    What happened to Travis? Injury concerns?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Injuries/missed time to starts he season has to keep him on the outside looking in

      • Bbboston says:

        If he comes back strong in spring, is he a top ten 2b?

      • Braden says:

        If Travis is healthy to start the season, he is without question a Top 10 guy.

      • Rotoprofessor says:

        He’s not going to be healthy though. Expectations are that he’s going to start baseball activities in April, meaning we are looking at a return mid-May perhaps? If healthy he is a Top 10 option, but he’s not healthy.

        • Bbboston says:

          Not familiar with Travis’ injury. What’s the track record for players with it?

          • Rotoprofessor says:

            Neither am I, honestly, but reports are he had screws inserted to stabilize one of the bones in his shoulder and he won’t be ready for activity until some time in April (16-20 weeks after the procedure)

  2. Alex says:

    Taking a look around at rankings, some people are regarding last year’s season by Brian Dozier as a fluke in terms of stolen bases. Do you think he’ll get back to a 20/20 line or do you think last year was indicative of the fact that he’s more power than speed? He also dealt with a hip injury, which might have limited his running…

  3. Chris says:

    Still no love for Schoop eh? Power, speed and defence.

  4. Marky Mark says:

    This is the first place I’ve seen that doesn’t have Zobrist in the top 12.

    I hope everyone else ends up being as down on him as you are, so he’ll be a nice sneaky bit of value for me.

  5. Rotoprofessor says:

    Alex – He had 9 SB in the first half, so I’d say that there’s a good chance the speed rebounds. He may fall short of 20 SB, but 15+ seems like a good bet

    Chris – There’s power there for sure, and I like him in that regard, but there’s risk in the average given his strikeouts (24.6%), popups (14.0%) and potentially unstable BABIP (.329 with a less than stellar 19.3% line drive rate). We’ll talk about him in much more detail in the coming days.

    Marky Mark – A lot of Zobrist’s value stems from his flexibility as opposed to his bat at this point. He’s a career .265 hitter who hasn’t shown much power of late and also seemingly lost his speed last season. Is that really a player we want to target?

    • Marky Mark says:

      Yeah, Zobrist is exactly the type of player I want to target.

      The knee injury he had early in the season skewed his numbers, especially those SB totals. Now that he’s had a full offseason to recover, no real reason to expect them to remain that low. And Maddon loves to run. If Zobrist is healthy, he’ll be stealing.

      As for his power…it’s the same as it’s always been. For his career, he’s got 127 HR in 5,013 PAs, which equals a HR in every 39.4 plate appearances. After he came off the DL from that knee surgery last year, he had 12 HR in 479 PAs, which equals a HR in every 39.9 plate appearances. Where are you getting the idea that his power has vanished?

      And that’s not even mentioning that he’s likely to be batting at the top of the best lineup in the NL, maybe in the majors…given his OBP skills, he should be a lock to score 100 runs with those mashers behind him.

      Like I said before, I hope everyone else becomes as sour on him as you are. He might well be one of the bigger steals on draft day.

      • Alex says:

        It will be interesting to see how much Zobrist ends up running. In his late twenties he was always considered to get somewhere around 20 stolen bases. Now that he’s 35 I wonder if the most that can be expected is 10 or so. Given the line up and the hope for some of that speed returning, I can see him land behind Kinsler somewhere in the rankings above. The runs would be great as well, but I thought the same amount of runs would occur with Kole Calhoun last year in front of Pujols/Trout (it didn’t). So where does another 2013 Zobrist rank, plus Cubbie benefits?

        • Mike says:

          I don’t think Castro belongs to top 15, while Phillips, Forsythe, Zobrist, Walker and Panik are probably of similar value at this stage, with Phillips having probably the least upside of all. I would rank Lawrie a bit behind the group above due to question marks about him and the CWS lineup.

      • Rotoprofessor says:

        It’s all fair points about Zobrist and there certainly is hope that he can produce bigger numbers. Generally speaking, though, #2 hitters aren’t going to score a ton as they could be asked to move runners, etc. Also, at his age, it’s hard to bank on the speed fully coming back. I’d be banking on single-digits there

  6. Dan says:

    Where is LeMahieu?

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