by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Remember the days when second base was viewed more as a “weaker” position, as there were few productive options available. That’s hardly the case now, with impressive potential up and down the rankings (including someone like Jason Kipnis, who was a Top 10 option as recently as last year but fell short of the rankings). Who are the players to target? Who are the ones with the highest upside? Let’s take a look:
1. Jose Altuve – Houston Astros
2. Jose Ramirez – Cleveland Indians
3. Brian Dozier – Minnesota Twins
4. Daniel Murphy – Washington Nationals
5. Dee Gordon – Seattle Mariners
6. Jonathan Schoop – Baltimore Orioles
7. Whit Merrifield – Kansas City Royals
8. Robinson Cano – Seattle Mariners
9. Ian Kinsler – Los Angeles Angels
10. Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers
11. Jonathan Villar – Milwaukee Brewers
12. Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox
13. D.J. LeMahieu – Colorado Rockies
14. Chris Taylor – Los Angeles Dodgers
15. Ozzie Albies – Atlanta Braves
- The hype is going to continue to be there for Yoan Moncada, and no one is going to argue that he doesn’t bring an intriguing mix of power and speed. The problem is that he continues to struggle making consistent contact. In 231 PA in ’17 he posted a 32.0% strikeout rate, as he struggled against breaking balls (19.27% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (27.01%). He does draw walks, and his value will be significantly higher in OBP formats (something we’ll discuss in detail), but his overall potential would be much higher if he can cut down the strikeouts.
- Rougned Odor isn’t likely going to produce a great average, as he hasn’t displayed a good approach at the plate (12.9% SwStr%, 38.3% O-Swing%). That led to strikeouts (24.9%) and a lack of line drives (16.3%), but a .224 BABIP? He should improve upon that while bringing power and speed (30/15), and even a .250 AVG would be more than enough.
- Would it be a surprise to see Ozzie Albies emerge as one of the better options in ’18? He hit .286 with 6 HR and 8 SB over 244 PA as a 20-year old and he could quickly mature into a 15/25 type player. For an in-depth look at why we believe in his breakout potential, click here.
- There’s a lot to like about Whit Merrifield, and with him likely staying atop the Royals (despite a lack of walks) he should continue producing. Of course the team is clearly in a rebuilding mode, and barring a surprising return of its core free agents the lineup around him doesn’t seem likely to produce many runs scored. Just know the risk.
- Jonathan Villar was a bitter disappointment in ’17, but he appears primed to get another opportunity to start and potentially claim the leadoff spot for a solid Brewers’ lineup. With speed harder to find, he remains an intriguing option with significant upside (though there is also obvious risk).
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings: