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January 30, 2014

Dynasty League Positional Rankings

Top 50 Second Basemen

by Bret Sayre

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The Primer:
Because dynasty league rankings are relatively league dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, where there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever and owners have minor league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or only formats.

Second base is a position that is on the move—especially this season. You’ll notice that four of the top ten names on this list were ranked at different positions only twelve months ago. The problem is that we don’t know who is going to maintain that eligibility and for how long. It’s been talked a lot this week about how the position is lacking in the star department, and it’s going to have to rely on this infusion of talent to stick if that’s going to change. There are not a lot of second base prospects in the minors who project as fantasy useful players, let alone stars. As is somewhat common, the position is going to have to continue to rely upon movement from elsewhere on the diamond, or else it’s going to be stuck with this glut of decent options for years to come.

And now, your top 50 second basemen in dynasty formats:

[Obligatory Jay Z reference]. Cano may see his stock slipping in some peoples’ eyes, but he’s still a top-12-overall player in dynasty formats and he’s going to be valuable for a long time. Not even Safeco can contain his ability to hit. There’s certainly risk long-term of him moving off the position, but I think he’s pretty safe for the next three to four years. [Obligatory second Jay Z reference].

And here’s where things start to get interesting. I’m still not 100 percent comfortable with Kipnis’ performance, but his combination of age and success the past two seasons gets him the two-spot here. Profar over Pedroia may raise some eyebrows, but he’s nine and a half years his younger and I think by 2016, he’ll be outperforming him on a yearly basis. Plus, Profar will be playing now, so this isn’t a situation where you’ll have to wait for him to put up stats—even though you will probably have to wait for him to put up elite stats. Don’t let prospect fatigue diminish the star that Profar is. He will one day rule this position.

Another player who seems to be getting lost in the post-prospect shuffle is Rendon, who at one time was a no doubt offensive star at Rice. His star has faded slightly due to continued injury issues and a relatively pedestrian rookie season, but stick with him. He will lead you someplace special, even if he ends up back at third base (where he’s likely to be after 2014).

There really is not a whole lot separating these next five guys in my book. Kinsler should see his value hold tight in Detroit—he won’t steal many bases, but we shouldn’t have expected more than 15 from him in Texas anyway. Carpenter will take a step back, but how much? And with a very good chance he loses his eligibility after this season, he gets docked again. Gyorko may have topped out with his power in 2013, but there’s room to grow in average—don’t be surprised to see him in the .270-.280 range as soon as 2014. Hill and Zobrist are both going to start the 2014 season at age-32 and things can get go downhill fast as keystone strongholds approach their mid-30s.

The same disclaimer for this group of five as the previous one. Murphy was great last year, but that may have been his career year from a fantasy value standpoint. Utley was great last year, but he’s not getting any younger or healthier. Altuve is going to see his steals start to decline soon, and when that happens, he won’t be able to offset it with a ton of value elsewhere. Walker and Prado are good options and should have the same expectations over the next couple of seasons (solid average, counting stats, 15-homer pop, and a sprinkle of steals).

Both Wong and Franklin are promising young hitters who are facing opposite situations this year. The Cardinals moved David Freese to clear space for Wong, while the Mariners purchased a superstar at Franklin’s position leaving him no place to play at the moment. Franklin has more upside in the long run, but the current opportunity sparks Wong’s edge here. If Franklin were to be traded tomorrow to a team that were going to give him a starting job, I’d bump him up into the Murphy/Utley/Altuve range.

I keep going back and forth on Alcantara versus Odor. It’s extremely close no matter how you slice it, but for today, the Cubs’ middle infielder gets the edge. The route to playing time is easier to visualize and he has the better skill to fall back on for value (steals). They’re both worth investing in, so don’t let that detract you from Odor at all—it’s much more of a pro-Alcantara argument. If you know what you’re going to get from Guerrero, you’re either insane or you’ve learned how to time travel. If you’ve learned how to time travel, I have so many other questions more important than what the Cuban import is going to do at the plate. Rosario has the suspension looming and is not a lock to stay at second, but he can hit and won’t need that much more time in the minors.

I ended the last episode of Flags Fly Forever with a public service announcement that I wasn’t ready to bail on Dustin Ackley. This is just an affirmation of that moment of weakness. Or does that make it two moments of weakness?

The last of the interesting tiers, this one is a real hodgepodge in terms of what kinds of players these are. Dozier has the power/speed combo, but is unlikely to hit for much average. Betts has some sexy numbers in the minors, but I’m not totally buying in yet—another year and he could be 15 spots higher on this list. Infante is a rich man’s Marco Scutaro. Schoop could have 20-homer pop at a position severely lacking in power, but it’s not a lock by any means.

These two are like the ghosts of second basemen past. Except they’re still alive. Sort of.

This is when the crop of second basemen get really, really boring. Lindsey, LaStella, Herrera, and Gennett could all be starters, but they’re not going to provide a ton of fantasy value. Callaspo and LeMahieu may be starters now, but they’re not going to provide much fantasy value either.

Some of you may have been wondering why you hadn’t seen Josh Rutledge yet. Well, here he is. I’ve been a long-time non-believer in Rutledge and I continue to not see him as a viable major-league hitter. I know he plays at Coors, but he’s still Josh Rutledge. If I’m gambling on a player who has had some success at the major league level but likely won’t have a job to start the season, I’m rolling the dice on Danny Espinosa. We know he can’t hit for average, but the power and speed is real and an Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, or Adam LaRoche injury would get him playing time (and frankly, neither of those things would be a surprise)—plus, he could win that job back once Rendon moves to third or get traded.

And the dregs of the position. At best, some of these guys could play and be OK. Maybe Beckham rediscovers some of his past magic. Maybe Roberts can stay healthy for 50 games or so. Maybe Giavotella can… ah, forget it.

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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