2017 Fantasy Baseball: Top 10 Second Basemen

Oct 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy (20) reacts after scoring a run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning during game five of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Who are the top 10 second basemen for 2017 Fantasy Baseball?

Over the next few weeks here at Call to the Pen, we are going to get you ready for your 2017 fantasy baseball draft. In this space, I’ve done some prospect diving, talking about prospects to target and then prospects to stash with a late pick who may help you down the road during the season.

Now it’s time to get to the positional ranks.

I’m going to give you top 10 rankings at all positions and then top 25 for outfielders and starting pitchers because there’s just so many of them.

We’ve already gone over catchers, first basemen and today we are going to take a look at the top 10 second baseman in 2017 fantasy baseball.

For every player, we’ll give you their stats from last season and Steamer projections from Fangraphs.

Second base isn’t the deepest position that you can build your team around. There are some obvious elite choices at the top and it drops off a bit from there, but it doesn’t mean that the players further down on the list aren’t good options if you don’t get a top tier player.

There are some quality veterans who rebounded last year as well as younger players who broke out. Some will help you with power. Others will give you more speed. It’s really about what your team needs at the time you are targeting the position.

So who is in the top 10? To get it started, we’re taking a look at the NL Batting Champion

Jun 14, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu (9) hits a single in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Coors Field. The Rockies won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

10. DJ LeMahieu– Colorado Rockies

2016 stats-146 games .348/.416/.495 11 homers 66 RBI

2017 steamer- 142 games .308/.369/.425 nine homers 59 RBI

The NL batting average champion broke out last season in Colorado and won’t turn 29 until July.  LeMahieu has had a steady improvement  in his walk rate, K rate, average, OBP, slugging, WRC+ homers and RBI. His WRC+ was sixth among all second baseman last season, higher than that of Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler. LeMahieu has also improved his chase rate over the past three seasons as well.

His hard contract rate went over 35%, an improvement of nine percent from 2015. He’s emerged as someone who a couple of years ago wasn’t really a draft target in most leagues to someone who can be a nice support piece to your squad.

His steamer predictions are on line with what I think you can expect from Lemahieu for 2017. Can you expect him to hit .348 again? No. That’s unreasonable. But a batting average over .300 with 30 doubles and 90 runs on a team that is in an excellent hitting environment and with a deep lineup behind him. I think you’ll take that on your team every time.

Aug 27, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) hits an RBI single during the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

9. Dustin Pedroia– Boston Red Sox

2016 stats- 154 games .318/.376/.449 15 homers 74 RBI 105 runs

2017 steamer- 140 games .289/.355/.419 12 homers 64 RBI 84 runs

After a couple of seasons dealing with injuries, Dustin Pedroia looked like his old self in 2016, posting his best numbers since 2013. He had his best slash line and RBI since 2013 and his most homers since 2012.

With David Ortiz retired, Pedroia is not just the leader of the team anymore, but arguably the face of the franchise.

If Pedroia is healthy, you are going to get consistent production all year long in a lineup surrounded by talented young bats like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. You won’t get many steals from him, but I think something in between his 2016 stats and 2017 steamer projection is what you’ll get from him.

Pedroia’s hard contact bounced back to over 31%, which is what it was back in 2013 and 2012. If it’s in that range this season, you’re going to get a lot of production from him if you take him to be your second baseman.

April 28, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon (9) hits an RBI single in the seventh inning against Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

8. Dee Gordon– Miami Marlins

2016 stats- 79 games .268/.305/.335 one homer 14 RBI 30 steals 47 runs

2017 steamer- 140 games .279/.321/.361 three homers 44 RBI 47 steals 76 runs

The 2015 batting average champ was suspended 50 games for PED’s last season which derailed his totals. His lone homer was one of the best moments of last season, but when you draft Gordon you want steals, runs and a good OBP and batting average from him.

Even in limited action last season, it was encouraging to see Gordon’s walk rate go up a couple percentage points. Once Gordon reaches first base, he cause absolute havoc to opposing defenses. With Christian Yelich, Martin Prado and Giancarlo Stanton coming up behind him, there’s good chances for him to score runs.

Gordon is not a player you have to worry about contact rates with. Because of his speed, he can beat anything out and pick up a few extra infield hits a year.

If he’s healthy, he’ll give you speed and runs, and that’s the kind of thing you’ll take from your second baseman in fantasy.

Oct 7, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (12) in the dugout prior to game two of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

7. Rougned Odor– Texas Rangers

2016 stats- 150 games .271/.296/.502 33 homers 89 RBI 14 steals

2017 steamer- 146 games .275/.314/.496 27 homers 90 RBI 13 steals

We all know Odor can scrap (just ask Jose Bautista) but the 23 year old can pack a punch with his bat as well, and that’s we care most about in fantasy baseball. There aren’t many second baseman capable of putting up 30 homers with a slugging percentage over .500, but Odor is one of those guys.

He’s in a great hitting environment in Texas, in a lineup that even with some losses this off-season, should still be pretty productive. It will be interesting to see how Odor is pitched this season because of that.

Odor’s walk rate decreased and K rate spiked last season, but like Steamer, I think it think it should reverse a little bit to give you a little higher OBP than he had last season.

His hard contact rate was over 35% last season. If he does that again, he’s going to produce the type of power numbers you saw last season. 17% of his fly balls went for homers last season as well. Keep an eye on those stats if you are fortunate enough to have Odor on your fantasy team throughout the season.

Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. The Tigers won 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

6. Ian Kinsler– Detroit Tigers

2016 stats- 153 games .288/.348/.484 28 homers 83 RBI

2017 steamer- 146 games .268/.321/.420 17 homers 71 RBI

Kinsler had a bit of a renaissance last season, scoring the most runs and hitting the most homers and had his best slugging percentage since 2011. Kinsler turns 35 this June and is going into a contract year this season. He could have his option for 2018 or he could be a free agent.

I think the truth on Kinsler may lie in between his steamer projections and what he did last season. I don’t think you can expect him to put those kind of numbers up this coming season.

Kinsler’s K rate was his highest of his career and his BABIP actually dropped from 2015 when he hit .296.  His hard contact rate of 34% was his highest since 2013.

There were trade rumors surrounding Kinsler this off-season, so if the Tigers scuffle, it is possible they make a move and deal Kinsler to make way for someone like Dixon Machado. Something to keep in mind if you end up drafting Kinsler to your squad this year.

Sep 7, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) crosses home plate for the tying run during the seventh inning on a double by right fielder Miguel Sano (not pictured) against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. The Twins won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

5. Brian Dozier– Minnesota Twins

2016 stats: 155 games .268/.340/.546 42 homers 99 RBI

2017 steamer: 147 games .240/330/.450 26 homers 82 RBI

Speaking of second baseman in trade rumors, Brian Dozier checks in at number five. There were rumors all off-season of Dozier going to the Dodgers, but they acquired Logan Forsythe instead of paying the price for Dozier.

Dozier was spurred on last season by going on one of the best second half runs you will see. In 72 games, he hit .291 with a .646 slugging percentage, 28 homers and 56 RBI.

No one can see that kind of power spike during one stretch come, however, I think the Steamer projection of Dozier is going to be pretty accurate, maybe with a little higher of a batting average. Dozier has struck out around 20% of the time the past two seasons and walked around 8%, so that’s something to keep in mind. His BABIP of .280 was the highest of his career.

Dozier will turn 30 during this season, so he’s still in the prime of his career. He will be subject to trade rumors during the year, so keep that in mind, but feel totally confident drafting him.

Apr 17, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Jonathan Villar (5) slides into third base on a steal attempt against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fifth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jonathan Villar– Milwaukee Brewers

2016 stats- 156 games .285/.369/.457 19 homers 63 RBI 62 steals

2017 steamer- 138 games .255/.333/.397 15 homers 54 RBI 47 steals

Villar came out of nowhere to have an excellent 2016 in his first full season of playing time after being acquired from the Astros. Villar stole 30 or more bases in the minors three times, but had never hit more than 11 homers in any minor league season, so the power was a bit unexpected. If you picked him up in fantasy last season, you certainly reaped the benefits.

Villar will be playing second this season for the Brewers, but he will be eligible at second, third and short in fantasy, making a Swiss-Army knife kind of player that is extremely valuable.

I think the truth for Villar probably lies in between his Steamer projection and his stats from last season. Villar’s walk and K rates were around what they were for most of his time in the minors. His BABIP of .373 may be a bit unsustainable, even with his speed, but having your second baseman hit 15 homers and steal you around 50 bases is production you will take every time in fantasy.

Sep 17, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy (20) runs to first against the Atlanta Braves in the third inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

3. Daniel Murphy– Washington Nationals

2016 stats: 142 games .347/.390/.595 25 homers 104 RBI

2017 steamer: 130 games .317/.362/.482 14 homers 75 RBI

Murphy’s adjustments in 2015, especially during the postseason where he put the Mets on his back offensively to a pennant, continued in 2016 when he put up careers high in every major offensive category and put himself into MVP conversations in the NL.

Another upside to having Murphy, is his multiple position eligibility. You can put him at first and third as well in most leagues.

You can’t expect Murphy to do what he did in 2016 again, but if he’s your second baseman this year, you’ll gladly take that steamer projection. His soft contact rate of 12% is probably unsustainable, but his rate of pulling the ball probably is at around 40%.

Murphy is a guy who is going to put the ball in play. His K rate was under 10% for the second consecutive year as was his walk rate. He was always someone I’d like to take late in drafts or in the middle rounds and get good production. You can’t do that anymore.

Sep 26, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Seattle Mariners shortstop Ketel Marte (4) celebrates with second baseman Robinson Cano (22) after the Mariners defeated the Houston Astros 4-3 in eleven innings at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

2. Robinson Cano– Seattle Mariners

2016 stats: 161 games .298/.350/.533 39 homers 103 RBI

2017 steamer: 146 games .289/.344/.472 24 homers 89 RBI

Speaking of former second baseman who played in New York, Robinson Cano checks in at number two for 2017. Cano finally put up numbers like he used to while playing in Yankee pinstripes in 2016, as he seemed to be healthy for the first time in a long time.

Cano is entering his age 34 season and is signed with the Mariners until 2023, so they have to hope he has more seasons like last year left in the tank.

Cano started to hit the ball harder last season, as his 35% hard contact rate was his highest since going to the Mariners. He also started pulling the ball more as his 38% rate was his highest since going to Seattle as well.

If Cano is healthy you’re going to get the numbers out of your second base spot that are corner outfield like. Of course, you  are going to have to pay a premium for that.

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Jun 11, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) hits a sacrifice RBI during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jose Altuve– Houston Astros

2016 stats- 161 games .338/.396/.531 24 homers 96 RBI 30 steals

2017 steamer- 147 games .312/.365/.465 16 homers 77 RBI 28 steals

Altuve’s led the league in batting average two out the last three years, hits the past three years and steals two out of the last three. Now he’s added power to his game with a career high in homers and RBI. The crazy thing is he will just be 27 in May.

His steamer projection has his numbers dropping a bit, but that is still elite production out of the second base position. He’s increased his power every year over the past three years while still stealing bases. So is he a potential 30/30 guy moving forward, or more like a 20/20 guy with a high batting average.

Altuve brought his soft contact rate down to just 13% and his hard contact to 34%. He doubled his walk rate to a little over 8% while his K rate was just under 10%

He will go in the first round and if that’s who you get, just relax and enjoy the production.

There it is the top 10 at second base for your fantasy team. Is Altuve your number one? Anyone need to be replaced? Leave a comment below.

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