Brace yourself for some bad news.

You may not be prepared for how bad it is because we were afforded the gift of a temporary position change for Trea Turner two years ago, and he carried that second base eligibility with him into 2022. It's gone now. You may also remember that, at this time a year ago, Jorge Polanco, Brandon Lowe and Ketel Marte were all coming off incredibly productive seasons, including career bests for the former two. They, um, didn't follow up on those.

Remember how Jonathan India was a rising star? Yeah, he fell flat on his face. Remember how Whit Merrifield was old reliable? Not anymore, he's not. What about Javier Baez? He's no longer eligible, and you wouldn't be so eager to draft him if he was. 

Position Strategy: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP  

Any way you slice it, in every manner possible, second base racked up loss after loss after loss last season. And the gains? Well, Andres Gimenez was pretty good.

The position wasn't that strong to begin with, so to suffer such losses without a corresponding influx of talent is nothing short of catastrophic. It's what makes the few standouts at second base -- none of them first-round material, mind you -- such a high priority for me in drafts this year. I'd argue the top priority, even.

Miss out on those, and wow, you're really grasping at straws. It's not crazy to think any of Polanco, Lowe or Marte could bounce back, but how likely are you to pick the right one? And what's the alternative if you don't?

The Studs

2023 ADP2022 PPG2022 BA2022 HR

Here it is: my top priority in every draft this year. Specifically, I'm talking about Jose Altuve and Marcus Semien, in that order, with Ozzie Albies being more of a fallback option. And I suppose Jazz Chisholm is something of a fallback as well, but I'm not as bullish on him because he has yet to prove he can hold up for a full season. Still, the upside is there.

You know how I said I prefer Altuve to Semien, despite the gap in ADP? Here's a stat for you: the position with the biggest gap between No. 1 and No. 2 in Fantasy points per game was ... well, it was the outfield with Aaron Judge. But the one with the second-biggest gap was second base, where Altuve led the way. And lest you think the gap only exists in points leagues, note that Atluve's batting average was 52 points higher than Semien's. He also got back to being a base-stealer for the first time in four years, swiping 18 bags in 19 chances.

But whatever, Semien, who's coming off a 25/25 season, is fine too. And Albies, for basically his entire career, has been in the running for top second baseman as well. His numbers look bad because he was healthy for the coldest stretch of the season, when offense was down across the league, and then missed significant time with a couple of fluke injuries -- a fractured foot and a fractured finger. Judging from the ADP, you could potentially get him in Round 4, but considering a top second baseman is my top priority in drafts this year, I'm not letting any of Altuve, Semien or Albies get by me in Round 3.

Other Deserving Starters

2023 ADP2022 PPG2022 BA2022 HR

I talk about how there's nobody to fall back on at second base, but this stretch is better than at third base, a position that's deeper in studs but shallower overall. Tommy Edman has become a reliable option in Fantasy even if his game is almost entirely speed, and Andres Gimenez, at only age 23, came within three points of a .300 batting average and within three homers of a 20/20 campaign. It's not hard to imagine a stud outcome for him, but he was one of the biggest overachievers by Statcast's estimates last year. A step back seems more likely.

As for which of Polanco, Lowe and Marte is most likely to bounce back, my vote is for Polanco, and drafters would seem to agree. He underperformed his Statcast estimates last year, consistently delivers high line-drive and low ground-ball rates, excels at pulling the ball in the air and is pretty fast, even, enough to take advantage of the rules being implemented to encourage base-stealing this year. He has so many more paths to improvement than Lowe and Marte, each of whom really does just one thing well.

I went ahead and included Jake Cronenworth, Jeff McNeil and Luis Arraez because they're draftable in most contexts, more so than some of the sleepers I'm about to highlight, but they're the sort of second base targets you concede to rather than aspire to. The point of these position strategy guides is to give you an overview to game plan around. They should not be part of your game plan, even though you may see fit to draft them at some point.

The Sleepers

2023 ADP2022 PPG2022 BA2022 OPS

*minor-league stats

I'm tempted to put Vaughn Grissom in the previous group. That's how confident I am that he'll have an impact this year. I just don't think the Braves, a team with World Series aspirations and a reputation for covering all their bases, would leave themselves so vulnerable at shortstop (the position he'll actually be playing rather than second base) if they didn't think he could handle it. And early returns last year were great. I'd prefer him to any of Jake Cronenworth, Jeff McNeil and Luis Arraez, who I mentioned earlier.

But Grissom is unproven, which does make him a more appropriate fit here, alongside other emerging options like Gavin Lux, Nolan Gorman and Michael Massey. Even though his ADP is way lower, I think Massey is my preferred choice of the three. He won't have to share his at-bats, in all likelihood, and I think he has the most well-rounded skill set, profiling for average and power as well as a little speed. As sleepers go, he's a pretty deep one, but the underlying data suggests he deserved better than he got in his first big-league stint.

Trevor Story's ADP makes him seem out of place, but presumably, it's skewed by the drafts that took place before the news of him needing UCL surgery on his elbow. You can stash him away for later in the year. Jonathan India and Brendan Rodgers still have some carryover appeal for me, but I'm no longer as confident in their upside in a post-juiced ball league.

The Base-Stealers

2023 ADP2022 SB2023 hopeAlso eligible

Yeah, it's a long list, such that you're putting yourself at a steals disadvantage if you're not getting some from your second baseman. In fact, I could have included more if I set the bar as low as at catcher and first base -- Gleyber Torres, Jorge Polanco, Brandon Lowe and others are all in the running for double digits, especially with the league introducing new rules to make stealing bases easier -- but as any sixth grade teacher will tell you, there's no point in highlighting the entire page.

I wouldn't say I'm particularly excited about any of the players not already mentioned in previous sections. Thairo Estrada probably deserves some love seeing as he had 14 home runs to go with his 21 steals, but I'm not sure I'm buying any of it. I suppose a Whit Merrifield bounce-back is in the realm of possibility, but the cost is higher than Vaughn Grissom, for goodness' sake. Josh Rojas seems like a popular late-round choice for his favorable eligibility, but I'm not even confident he holds down a full-time role all year.