25 & Under Rankings (2018): Top 5 Second Baseman: Somewhat Of A Surprise At The Top

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Who are the next wave of superstars in Major League Baseball? That’s what we are about to dive into, as we go position-by-position, looking for the best players who are 25-years old or younger (as of April 1, 2018). Obviously, things will be slightly skewed to those who have already reached the Majors and produced, but minor leaguers and their upside will not be ignored.

Second base is often as a position with little offensive upside, though that’s hardly the case anymore.  There’s also more talent primed to emerge, whether it’s already at the Major League level or coming up through the minors.  Let’s take a look:

Note – Jose Ramirez would be the clear #1 option but he’s expected to be the primary 3B in ’18 with Jason Kipnis playing 2B.  Therefore we have left him off these rankings for now.

 

1) Ozzie Albies – Atlanta Braves
Age – 21

Albies played the year at 20-years old, so considering the age his SwStr% compared to the levels were impressive:

  • Triple-A (448 PA) – 11.7%
  • Majors (244 PA) – 10.3%

Obviously the fact that he improved upon reaching the Majors is a big positive, with his worst Whiff% being 17.98% on offspeed pitches.  He should improve with experience, pairing that with some power (12-16 HR) and plenty of speed (29+ SB in each of the past three seasons).

He’s not there yet, but Albies has the upside of being the elite player at the position.  For a closer look at why a breakout is possible in ’18, click here.

 

2) Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox
Age – 22

Moncada posted a 32.0% strikeout rate over 231 PA in the Majors, which obviously raises a significant red flag.  However it’s not due to a poor approach, as he drew a 12.6% walk rate, and while his SwStr% is elevated it’s a mark that he may be able to improve upon with experience:

  • Triple-A (361 PA) – 12.6%
  • Majors (231 PA) – 12.6%

He clearly needs to improve on his ability to make consistent contact against breaking balls (19.27% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (27.01%), but that’s something that could come with experience.  If he gets there, and he could quickly, pairing it with power and speed could create an impressive player across the board.

He’s a step behind Albies, for now, but it’s easy to argue that the upside is actually greater.

 

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3) Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers
Age – 24

Odor took a significant step back in terms of his average, going from .271 to .204 last season, but he continued to show both power (30 HR) and speed (15 SB).  The question here is if he’ll ever be able to get his average into a viable range once again.  First off consider his abysmal plate discipline:

  • SwStr% – 12.9%
  • O-Swing% – 38.3%

Couple that with the lack of a line drive rate (16.3% in ’17) and without a change in approach the outlook doesn’t look strong.  There’s a good chance that he’s never more than a .250ish hitter, and while coupling that with power and speed will keep him as a solid fantasy option it’s one with a capped value.  He’s not quite the Joey Gallo of second baseman, but he could go down that road quickly.

 

4) Scott Kingery – Philadelphia Phillies
Age – 23

He’s going to arrive in the Majors in ’18, it’s just a matter of when the Phillies deem him ready, and after breaking out between Double and Triple-A last season it’s hard to argue against the upside (.304 with 26 HR and 29 SB).  The power surge was the biggest surprise, and even if he is closer to his Triple-A number (8 HR in 286 PA) you are talking about a 15/25 type second baseman with a strong approach (9.5% SwStr% between both levels he played).  Without having played in the Majors it’s hard to sell him as deserving, but the upside is simply greater than the others who just missed inclusion.

 

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5) Brandon Drury – New York Yankees
Age – 25

Right now the problem for Drury is if he’s going to be able to sustain his playing time, as he looks like more of a placeholder for either Miguel Andujar or Gleyber Torres (or both) before ultimately transitioning to a utility role.  Of course we’ve seen players carve out productive careers in that role, and if used right he could still be on the field 4-5 days per week.

There is no questioning the power potential, especially now that he moves to New York, as he could easily start turning doubles (37 doubles in 480 PA in ’17) into home runs (13 HR in ’17).  Throw in the likely improvement in his second half average (.238) considering his proven command of the strike zone, and it’s easy to envision the breakout.  If he was locked into a starting role long-term he’d jump at least one spot on these rankings and you could argue for two.

 

Just Missed:

  • Javier Baez – Chicago Cubs (25-years old) – It seems far more likely that he loses his job thanks to his abysmal plate discipline than that he figures it out at this point
  • Paul DeJong – St. Louis Cardinals (24-years old) – He’s included because he does have eligibility, though he’s viewed more as a shortstop and also carries significant risk in his batting average (benefited from luck and owns an elevated SwStr%)

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catchers03/14/1802/02/18
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/1802/13/18
Shortstops03/21/1802/27/18
Third Basemen03/09/1803/06/18
Outfielders1-20: 03/18/18

21-40: 03/19/18
1-20: 03/12/18

21-40:
Starting Pitchers1-20: 03/24/18

21-40: 03/24/18
--
Relief Pitchers02/12/18--

2 comments

  1. Fred says:

    I have 2 keeper slots remaining in a H2H 6×6 league. Trying to choose among Trevor Story, Andy McCutcheon and Rougned Odor. Which 2 do you like?
    Thanks.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      How long do you keep for, because that plays a role. Long-term it’s definitely Story/Odor, though ideally I’d package Story/McCutcheon for a better option

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