You want to know where you can wait on Draft Day?
Well, I don’t know that any position is so lacking at the top this year that you’d prefer to wait, but the one that offers the best bang for the buck in the middle-to-late stages of the draft is shaping up to be second base, judging from early draft results.
That surprises me because I wouldn’t say it’s the deepest on paper, instead bestowing that honor on third base. But it is what I’d describe as middle-heavy, offering the highest number of similarly valued players at the point in the draft when you’d normally be inclined to think, “Man, I might as well just keep waiting.”
Might you, though?
The Unmatched: Jose Altuve
The Elite: Trea Turner, Daniel Murphy, Robinson Cano, Brian Dozier
The Near-Elite: Jean Segura, Matt Carpenter
The Next-Best Things: Rougned Odor, Ian Kinsler, Dee Gordon, Jason Kipnis, DJ LeMahieu, Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist
The Fallback Options: Devon Travis, Logan Forsythe, Jonathan Schoop, Neil Walker, Joe Panik
The Last Resorts: Ryan Schimpf, Starlin Castro, Brandon Phillips, Javier Baez
The Leftovers: Jedd Gyorko, Cesar Hernandez, Josh Harrison, Kolten Wong, Ozzie Albies, Brett Lawrie, Sean Rodriguez, Howie Kendrick, Derek Dietrich, Raul Mondesi, Dilson Herrera
Right off the bat, you’ll notice I’ve added a tier to the top of the position: The Unmatched, featuring Altuve and Altuve alone. I just wouldn’t want anyone to get any ideas about drafting some other second baseman ahead of him or about letting him slip beyond the first five picks. Just ... don’t do it. I will fight you.
But, man, look at that talent right after him. At some point already this offseason, I’ve tried ranking each of The Elite second overall at the position, just to see how it would fit, but ultimately I’ve settled on Turner because he’s the only one who rivals Altuve in terms of upside. Some obvious questions of proven-ness there, but the same could be said for the other three, including Cano after a career-best power season.
Then, the drop-off. I mean, yes, Segura and Carpenter do stand out from the others, giving you one last chance to separate yourself at the position, but considering the former is also eligible at shortstop and the latter at both first and third base, you may prefer to draft them at those positions -- and probably should, given what remains here and how late you can get it.
It may be a sign that we’re all getting smarter, not wanting to reach for one of seven alike players knowing there may be more than enough to go around, but the smartest player of all finds away to exploit it. Second base is historically a weak position, and so we don’t often think of it as a way to fill our DH spot. But any of these seven is capable of doing that. Pedroia averaged more Head-to-Head points per game last year than George Springer, Starling Marte and Mark Trumbo, to name a few. And then, of course, Zobrist is also eligible in the outfield. Who’s to say you can’t start two or even three second basemen if the value is good enough? You shouldn’t feel like you can’t take a Cano early for fear of missing out on value late.
I should add that Gordon would probably slot a tier higher in Rotisserie leagues, with stolen bases being as scarce as they are, but it’s a concession in other areas. Likewise, you’ll find specialists in the more plentiful home run category -- specifically, Forsythe, Schoop and Walker -- after The Next-Best Things are off the board, but ideally you’d be drafting one as your middle infielder rather than your primary second baseman.