Second base is a weird position for Fantasy Baseball. There's a severe lack of potential impact bats, especially in the wake of Jose Altuve's broken thumb, but if you squint, it's kind of a deep position.
At the top end, Marcus Semien (33.84 ADP in NFC drafts) is going to stand alone with Altuve injured. Semien, like Altuve, is 32 and doesn't exactly crush the ball, instead relying on good bat-to-ball skills and pull-heavy profiles to generate his power. Because of that, it's not hard to see either slipping and proving to be a massive disappointment. But his all-around skill set makes him a fine pick in that range, even if he carries some risk.
If you want to have a bit more fun, there's Jazz Chisholm (41.76), the most tooled up player at the position. He'd be one of the best bets in the game for 30 homers and 30 steals if you could trust him to stay on the field. If he does, he just might be the best player at the position and a first-round pick this time next year.
Ozzie Albies (51.41) is still being drafted pretty high despite a terrible 2022, and I'm worried he might just be a victim of the de-juiced ball limiting power across the league. Albies' skill set fit in well during the juiced ball era, but he might not have enough pop to justify hitting the ball in the air as much as he does. He's a bust candidate for me.
You've got two others players going inside the top 100 in ADP: Tommy Edman (73.5), who will hopefully steal 30 bases and score a bunch of runs without hurting your too much anywhere else; and Andres Gimenez (82.28), who took a huge step forward last season but has some question marks about his ability to back it up. Edman is a fine pick at cost if you need steals, but I'd prefer to avoid Gimenez if I can -- and I'd expect Altuve to be drafted in this range when the dust from his injury settles.
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And that's it for early-round picks. Gleyber Torres (112.96) sneaks into the first 10 rounds, Max Muncy (133.45) is hoping that a late-season surge portends better things after he mostly struggled in 2022. We're only eight players in, and already we're crossing our fingers and hoping … and yet, there are still some really good players left!
A big part of why I like the depth at second base is I feel pretty good about waiting and snagging either Jorge Polanco (151.51) or Brandon Lowe (163.07). Both struggled with injuries and disappointed in 2022, but both have also been high-end starters in the past. Polanco hit .269/.323/.503 with 33 homers, 11 steals, and 195 combined runs and RBI in 2021, while you may remember Lowe had 39 homers with 198 combined runs and RBI and seven steals while hitting .247 that same season – and he was even better in the shortened 2020. If either can get back anywhere close to that level in 2023, I'm going to have a very good Fantasy season.
However, those aren't the only good options at the position if you wait. Vaughn Grissom (171.9) has tons of upside, Jonathan India (180.1) has bounceback potential of his own, Brandon Drury (187.1) showed plenty of upside of his own last season, and Ketel Marte (202.6) has been a very good source of batting average and decent power as recently as 2021, too. Jean Segura (237.98), Jeff McNeil (179.95), and Luis Arraez (206.32) should all be excellent sources of batting average, as well; DJ LeMahieu (244.45) could be too if he stays healthy.
Which is to say, I don't find myself sweating second base so much. It's not the best position in Fantasy, but if you miss out on one of the early-round guys, there's still a surprising amount of quality bats out there. I agree with my colleague, Scott White, about a lot, but I'm not quite as concerned about second base as he is.
TEX Texas • #2 • Age: 32
I don't know if you remember, but offense was way down last April. League-wide OPS was down to .676, the lowest mark for any month by more than 25 points, a result of the new deader baseballs plus the utilization of the humidor in every park, leading to batted balls in the air flying much a much shorter distance than they would otherwise. That didn't impact every player, but Semien's middling raw power left him especially harmed by the changes – he hit just .157/.226/.217 in April. That he still ended up with 26 homers, 28 steals, 184 runs and RBI, and a .248 average speaks to how well he did the rest of the season. So, just keep in mind that Semien might get off to another slow start, but he'll still be worth drafting once he gets past it.
In an era where the ball doesn't fly as far, Albies' limited physical tools as a hitter give him a much thinner margin for error than he used to have. That doesn't mean he can't be a very good Fantasy option, but it definitely increases the risk involved in drafting him high, especially if he's going to bat sixth more often than he hits second.
Staying healthy has been a real issue for Chisholm, but he probably has first-round upside as a Fantasy pick if the steps forward he took last season stick. He maintained his strong quality-of-contact skills while hitting the ball in the air more, and he did that without sacrificing contact – in fact, he cut his strikeout by a small amount. Chisholm's is still a combustible profile, both for skill and injury reasons, but there's legitimate 30-30 potential here if he stays healthy, and adding outfield eligibility adds a little flexibility to his profile, too.
Tommy Edman 2B
STL St. Louis • #19 • Age: 27
When Edman hit three homers in his first six games, there was some hope that he might have taken a bit of a step forward. That didn't come to pass, but it didn't really matter, because his final numbers ended up pretty much where they were the prior season. There probably isn't a ton of room for him to improve from here, but Edman is an efficient and enthusiastic base stealer who isn't a zero with the bat. He's kind of a two-and-a-half category contributor, but that's enough.
Jose Altuve 2B
HOU Houston • #27 • Age: 32
Altuve turned the clock back in 2022, putting together what was probably his best season since 2018. The biggest improvement came with Altuve swiping 18 bases, more than he had in the previous three seasons combined. With steals likely to be more plentiful in 2023, it's not out of the question he could return to being a 20-plus steal guy, at least when you account for the pace, because he's likely to miss much of the first two months of the season as a result of the broken thumb.
CLE Cleveland • Age: 24
Gimenez took a big step forward last season, and now there are two questions to ask: Can he sustain the gains from last season, and can he build on them? I'm more confident in the first question, though his combination of middling quality of contact skills and a very aggressive approach at the plate makes it an open question whether pitchers will be able to discover new holes in his swing now that they've seen this new version of him – not to mention he probably overachieved a bit last season. I don't really see a clear path to another step forward for Gimenez unless he just gets a lot stronger in his mid-20s, but his current skill set makes him a fine starter, if not necessarily a standout.
Max Muncy 3B
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #13 • Age: 32
For two thirds of the 2022 season, Muncy was completely lost. Through the end of July, he was hitting just .161/.310/.303, and it sure looked like the elbow injury that raised so many questions last offseason was holding him back. Something clicked in August, however, as he homered in the first game and looked more or less like the best version of himself, hitting .247/.358/.500 from that point on. It's worth noting that the pre-2022 version of Max Muncy's hot streaks were quite a bit more impressive than that – he had a .972 OPS prior to the All-Star break in 2021, for example – so I'm still a bit skeptical that he's just back to being himself. But, he showed enough those final two months to be worth buying into.
Brandon Lowe 2B
TB Tampa Bay • #8 • Age: 28
The risk with Lowe is that the back injury that derailed his 2022 season will linger and continue to limit him, either by forcing him to miss time or, perhaps more concerningly, by limiting his production. That's a risk, for sure, but Lowe has been one of the position's premiere power threats over the past few years, with the kind of quality-of-contact metrics that should help him overcome the dead ball. If his back is okay, Lowe is almost certainly going to be one of the better values at the position.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #25 • Age: 26
Torres has never managed to come close to replicating his massive 2019 season, but he has established himself as a solid Fantasy option, especially since moving to second base. You probably aren't ever going to get an elite season from him again, but Torres did post his best quality-of-contact metrics in 2022, including a career-high 90.4 mph average exit velocity, and if he continues to swipe double-digit bases, there's still room for a very good outcome here.
MIN Minnesota • #11 • Age: 29
Polanco looked, more or less, like himself in the first half of last season, but a right knee injury clearly limited him, and he stumbled to just a .658 OPS after the All-Star game. He looks primed for a bounceback season if he's healthy, and by all indications, he is.
Ketel Marte 2B
ARI Arizona • #4 • Age: 29
Injuries continue to be an issue for Marte, but for the first time, his production wasn't really effective in 2022. There was still a decent amount of pop, just not of the over-the-fence variety, and that's the concern moving forward. Marte hits the ball plenty hard and makes a ton of contact, but he plays in a very tough home park and might not have quite enough pop to be a true home run threat with the dead ball. I'm expecting improvement on his batting average, but he might just be a 15-20 homer guy who doesn't steal bases. Is that worth getting excited about anymore?
CIN Cincinnati • #6 • Age: 26
I was worried about India's chances of following up his Rookie of the Year season, but it's hard to know how much of his struggles were due to regression and how much was due to the injuries he dealt with off and on. India definitely took a step backwards, with his average exit velocity falling from 87.6 mph to 85.1, and even in a good ballpark, with a pull-heavy approach, he's going to struggle to be productive if he doesn't improve on that. I expect him to be better than he was a year ago, but I'm not particularly excited about drafting India, either.
ATL Atlanta • #18 • Age: 22
Grissom made the leap to the majors after just 22 games at Double-A, and he more than acquitted himself, hitting .291/.353/.440 as a 21-year-old at the major-league level. Grissom is likely to be the Braves Opening Day shortstop, and though his likely batting spot will hold him back some, it's not hard to see him moving up the lineup quickly if he hits well. The quality-of-contact metrics suggest Grissom isn't quite there yet, but his youth and relative inexperience give him a high-variance profile that could lead him to eventual stardom.
Jean Segura 2B
MIA Miami • #9 • Age: 33
Segura is no longer as fleet of foot as he once was, but he seems like the kind of player who could benefit from the new rules expected to lead to more stolen bases around the league. As a hitter, he's a solid, consistent source of batting average and should hit near the top of the Marlins lineup, and that's a lineup that is going to have to generate runs through baserunning and putting the ball in play. Segura isn't a star, but he has 15-homer, 20-steal potential and could be a solid source of runs at the top of the lineup.
SF San Francisco • #39 • Age: 27
Estrada is another contact-oriented player who should be a solid source of steals, though I have more questions about his bat than I do with Segura. His quality-of-contact metrics are pretty bad – eighth percentile average exit velocity, 15th percentile barrel rate – so repeating last season's 14 homers might be a lot to ask. If he keeps hitting at the top of the Giants lineup, it might not matter much, especially since he might be a threat for 30-ish steals, but there's risk in his profile.
Trevor Story 2B
BOS Boston • #10 • Age: 30
This is one of those, "Literally, don't forget about this guy" reminders. Story underwent UCL repair surgery in early January, and he is likely to miss four to six months as a result. That might put him out until mid-season, and we have no idea whether he's going to be able to play at a high level even when he does come back – he obviously didn't last season. But, on the optimistic side of things, he could be back in May or June, and Story is just one year removed from being one of the most valuable up-the-middle options in Fantasy. If the surgery helped fix an issue that was holding him back, it's not unreasonable to think there's bounceback potential, and Story often goes outside of the top-150 picks in drafts right now.
DJ LeMahieu 3B
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #26 • Age: 34
We're a long way from 2020, and LeMahieu is never going to play at that level again for a lot of reasons. But he was better than his surface-level numbers might make you think last season – he had an .827 OPS as late as Aug. 9, but a toe injury led to a slide that saw him hit just .149 over his final 25 games as he tried to play through it. LeMahieu didn't have surgery on the toe, so hopefully he can avoid any setbacks as he prepares for the season, but LeMahieu's price is cheap enough that I'm willing to buy him just to see if he can replicate his 19-homer, 195-runs-plus-RBI pre-injury pace.
The breakout arguably already happened last season, as Chisholm took a massive step forward in both his surface-level play and his underlying skill set, and there's clearly still room for improvement if he can continue to improve his plate discipline. He made steps in that direction last season, cutting his chase rate and nudging his in-zone swing rate up, and given his strong quality-of-contact skills and his speed, those kinds of improvements could lead to disproportionate growth in his Fantasy upside. Chisholm has 30-30 upside, with concerns about his ability to stay healthy primarily driving his price down. Chisholm has a volatile skill set, and injuries are just part of it, but he's also a supremely talented player who we could be talking about as a top-20 pick this time next year.
Albies had just rotten luck last season, as he missed three months with a broken foot only to suffer a fractured finger just two games after coming back from that injury. His price has taken a hit since last season, with his ADP falling from 17.74 to 51.73 in NFC leagues … and that might not be enough of a fall given how he played when he was healthy. Albies' quality-of-contact metrics, which have never been incredible collapsed in 2022 – he posted a career-worst .331 expected wOBA on contact, most notably. Albies has always been the kind of hitter who got the most out of his skill set by hitting a lot of his fly balls to the pull side and by crushing lefties, but with the deadened ball in play last season, his middling exit velocities seem to have caught up to him. Albies is a skilled enough player to possibly adjust, but I'm not sure he's a high-level Fantasy option if he's more of a 10-15 homer guy, given how much he has to sacrifice to generate the power he does. If he doesn't bounce back, you're probably looking at a below-average hitter across the board, especially if he hits sixth in the Braves lineup. There's more risk here than you might think.
Second Base Top Prospects
1. Termarr Johnson, 2B, Pirates
Age (on opening day): 18
Where he played in 2022: Rookie, Low-A
Minor-league stats: .222 BA (63 AB), 1 HR, 6 SB, .731 OPS, 16 BB, 21 K
Johnson's hit tool was considered the best of the 2022 draft class, and it must truly be special if his small stature (5-feet-7) and cloudy defensive outlook are mere footnotes. Such concerns would normally pull down a prospect's ranking, regardless of his offensive outlook, but Johnson shows such command of the strike zone and control of the bat head that his best-case outcome seems like a foregone conclusion, even at age 18.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: don't count on it
2. Michael Busch, 2B, Dodgers
Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2022: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .274 BA (552 AB), 32 HR, .881 OPS, 74 BB, 167 K
Though the numbers keep improving for Busch, he's needed some time to adjust at every level, which is why he has yet to appear in the majors at age 25. The Dodgers clearly have a youth movement in mind for this year, though, and the hope is Busch functions like another Max Muncy, overcoming suspect defense with big power and on-base skills.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring
3. Jace Jung, 2B, Tigers
Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2022: High-A
Minor-league stats: .232 BA (108 AB), 1 HR, 1 SB, .706 OPS, 25 BB, 28 K
The younger brother of Josh Jung, though smaller and a left-handed hitter, has a lot of the same traits offensively, namely a mature approach that should give him a high floor. Unfortunately, he's stretched defensively at second base, giving him little margin for error in terms of power development, and Comerica Park won't do him any favors in that regard.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: don't count on it
4. Edouard Julien, 2B, Twins
Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2022: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .300 BA (400 AB), 17 HR, 19 SB, .931 OPS, 98 BB, 125 K
If Kevin Youkilis was the Greek God of Walks, then Julien is like the French emperor of them, having reached base at a .441 clip last year and a .437 clip for his minor-league career. He was a monster in the Arizona Fall League, and scouting reports basically back up everything he does as a hitter. He's buried on traditional rank lists because of ghastly defensive profile, but this bat will find a home.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring
5. Connor Norby, 2B, Orioles
Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2022: High-A, Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .279 BA (477 AB), 29 HR, 16 SB, .886 OPS, 55 BB, 114 K
A new setup and timing mechanism propelled Norby to a .338 batting average, 16 homers and 1.062 OPS in his final 49 games, and it's hard to know whether to evaluate him on that or what preceded it (which itself wasn't bad). Ultimately, he and Jordan Westburg may be jockeying for the same position, with both having the misfortune of being right-handed boppers destined for cavernous Camden Yards.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful