Gone are the days of the second baseman who was just a light-hitting man who could hit for decent average at the bottom of the lineup and played solid defense. Today’s second basemen? Well, let’s just hope you like power, because the new second basemen can sure hit for it, and most of the players below are guys who can be put in the thick of the lineup and drive in runs.
Below are the top-10 ranked second basemen, starting with 10. In order to qualify for a ranking a player must have second base be their primary position, so guys like Matt Carpenter and Brock Holt don’t qualify.
10. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
Following his impressive postseason tear, it’s hard not to rationalize Baez’s spot in these rankings. Always known as a magician with the glove but a guy who could easily whiff 200+ times, Baez put together his most complete string of games at the most important time and opened many eyes this postseason. The 24-year-old had eight RBIs and and six extra-base hits this postseason while flashing some really impressive leather.
Baez’s emergence just to the incredible talent level in Chicago’s infield, and it will be fun to watch him over a full season of consistent playing time.
9. Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers
Tabbed as a player to watch heading into 2016, Odor delivered and broke out in a big way, cracking 33 home runs and helping the Rangers to their second consecutive AL West title. While the .296 OBP isn’t glamorous, the 33 homers and 88 RBIs more than make up for it, and the Rangers will gladly take that production in the middle of their lineup as they try to stay atop a rapidly-improving AL West.
8. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
After a few years of injury issues and low power output, Kipnis finally put it all together and helped fuel the Cleveland Indians’ run to the World Series. In 2016, Kipnis set a career high in home runs (23) and slugging percentage (.469) while also driving in 82 runs, no small feat considering he routinely hit second in the lineup. Kipnis also had a big postseason, hitting four homers and recording eight RBIs (four in the World Series). All told, Kipnis compiled a WAR of over 4.0 and will continue to be a big part of the Indians lineup.
7. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Entering his age 33 season, Pedroia’s MVP days are far behind him, but the Red Sox second baseman clearly has a lot left in the tank. Pedroia’s success was due in part to finally overcoming the injuries that plagued him in the previous two years, playing in 154 games this past season and remaining a constant fixture for the Red Sox. With a 2016 season that saw him hit .318 and once again crack 70 RBIs, Pedroia proved he is still among the best at his position and likely will continue to be as he assumes the role of grizzled veteran on a young Red Sox team.
6. DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies
Always known as a glove-first player and stuck in the purgatory of Coors Field, LeMahieu never got much talk when the best at the position were discussed. After a 2016 in which he won the batting title and set a career high in homers, however, LeMahieu has vaulted into the thick of the discussion. His leap forward at the plate, coupled with his stellar defense, earned LeMahieu a WAR of 5.2 and even some MVP votes, and he may have finished 15th but still impressive given the 28-year-old’s relative anonymity prior to the past two seasons.
5. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers
At age 34, Kinsler is getting better as he ages. In 2016, Kinsler accumulated a WAR over 6.0 for the second consecutive season, and his 28 home runs were the most in a single season since 2011 when he hit 32. The former All-Star was able to boost his power numbers while also getting on base at a .348 clip and playing good defense. Kinsler will be 35 in June, but it sure looks like he has a few years of top-notch production left.
4. Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals
The top four is where things get tough, and trust me that finding an order for these guys was no easy task. But alas, here he is checking in at number four: Daniel Murphy. Murphy took 2016 to prove to everyone that the 2015 postseason was no joke, and he delivered. Murphy lost the batting title to LeMahieu by a single point, set a career high in homers (25), topped 100 RBIs for the first time in his career, and led the league in both slugging percentage (.595) and OPS (.985). All told, Murphy helped propel the Nationals to a division title in the NL East and finished second in the NL MVP voting.
3. Brian Dozier, Minnesotta Twins
In 2o15, Dozier hit 28 home runs and recorded a WAR of 2.4. In 2016, the second baseman hit a whopping 42 homers and his WAR jumped to 6.5. Dozier’s increased value can also be attributed to a higher batting average, .268 last year compared to .236 in 2015, but the jump in homers (his career high was 28 going into the 2016 season) is the main reason the 29-year-old has become one of the hottest names on the trade market. According to reports, the Dodgers have been hot after Dozier all offseason, and it’s easy to see why. That power could definitely play in Dodger Stadium, and with the protection of Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner, there’s no telling what Dozier could do in the Dodger blue.
2. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
After a somewhat disappointing 2015 campaign, Cano came roaring back in 2016, completely squashing all the talk of a possible decline. Cano hit .298 and set a career high in homers with 39 last season, also returning to All-Star status and rejoining the MVP talk. Cano’s WAR also jumped from 3.4 to a stellar 7.3. His 2016 campaign firmly entrenched Cano back among the highest ranks, not only at his position but among all players throughout the league. With the Mariners starting to return to relevance, Cano is a big part of that resurgence.
1. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
The top two spots might as well have been 1A and 1B, really. However, Altuve gets the slight edge here due to his more refined all-around game. Altuve swiped 30 bags (compared to Cano’s goose egg), hit .338 (Cano hit .298), and smoked 24 home runs. Remember, the guy is 5-foot-6, so 24 homers and 96 RBIs ain’t too shabby. Altuve’s ascension as a superstar has been one of the key reasons the Astros have been able to rise to playoff contention. Oh yeah, and Altuve is still only 26. The dude isn’t even in his prime yet and he’s putting up big-boy numbers.