Fantasy Baseball Notes: Second Base Becoming a Powerhouse Position

Every year in fantasy baseball there is a certain position that takes over the landscape and provides the most fantasy value. This year the early leader in that facet is the second base position. This does not come as a big surprise given how the second base position has changed overall throughout the years, plus the fact that the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, Jose Altuve, is leading the way.

Gone are the days in which second basemen were viewed as table-setters for the bigger bats later in the lineup. The position as a whole has evolved thanks in large part to premiere talents like Altuve and Robinson Cano, whom both provide power and game-changing offense from the position. Now a new group of young talent is following the path blazed by players like Altuve and Cano, and this influx on talent to one position has made it, without doubt, the most valuable offensive position in fantasy baseball.

What may come as a shock to some is that it is not the reigning American League MVP whom is leading the way for second basemen this year, at least to this point in the season. That honor belongs to the well-traveled Jed Lowrie, who is back with the Oakland Athletics for his 11th Major League Baseball season. Lowrie is currently slashing an astounding .356/.406/.614 with eight home runs and 31 runs batted in, a category in which he currently leads all of Major League Baseball. Lowrie had a fine 2017 campaign, finishing with a .277 batting average and 14 home runs, but nothing to suggest that he would get off to such a monstrous start in 2018.

Having just turned 34 this past April, many expected Lowrie to either maintain his 2017 numbers or begin to decline. He has done just the opposite through the first month of the 2018 season as he is currently on pace to surpass his 2017 numbers by a large margin. Lowrie’s numbers will surely regress to the mean at some point, but at present the 34-year-old is on pace to have the best season of his career. Fantasy owners should not shy away from him if he is still, somehow, sitting on the waiver wire.

Another veteran player currently enjoying a career renaissance is New York Mets’ second baseman, Asdrubal Cabrera. He is slashing an impressive .330/.383/.591 thus far with six home runs and 10 doubles. The Mets are off to a solid start, going 17-13 in their first 30 games, and Cabrera is a big reason as to why. The 32-year-old former shortstop seems to have settled in nicely to his new position with the Mets. Cabrera struggled during his 2013-2016 seasons during which he was a part of three different teams, but now that he has a stable position in New York, he has thrived. He finished the past two seasons with a .280 batting average and a combined 37 home runs. Cabrera, should he stay healthy, is on pace to far exceed those numbers in 2018, making him an absolute, “add now” candidate.

Cesar Hernandez of the Philadelphia Phillies is another player that is off to a hot start. When the Phillies announced that they had signed top prospect, Scott Kingery, to a six-year contract many wondered what impact that would have on Hernandez, since Kingery is also a second baseman by trade. It appears to have put the proverbial bee under Hernandez’s bonnet as the 27-year-old has suddenly become walk machine. Hernandez is currently fifth among all of Major League Baseball in most walks drawn (24) behind a few names you may have heard of: Rhys Hoskins, Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, and Bryce Harper. This is a radical shift in style for Hernandez, who drew just 61 walks throughout the entire 2017 season.

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Along with the increased walk rate Hernandez is currently slashing .286/.409/.420 with three home runs and 32 hits through his first 31 games. With J.P. Crawford currently on the disabled list the Phillies will look to Scott Kingery to fill in at the shortstop position. Even when Crawford eventually returns Hernandez seems to have plenty of job security, seeing as the much lauded Kingery is hitting just a meager .208 so far this season. Hernandez’s contract expires at the end of the season, and the Kingery contract virtually signals the end of Hernandez’s time with the Phillies once the 2018 season is concluded. He has plenty of reason to keep his hot start alive, so fantasy owners should grab him while he’s still available.

As mentioned earlier it is not just the veterans leading the way at second base. A new crop of young players has landed in Major League Baseball, which includes Ozzie Albies, Yoan Moncada, and Daniel Robertson.

Albies, perhaps the most impressive of the group, is just 21 years old and is starting to look like an all-world talent for the Atlanta Braves. He is currently slashing .281/.322/.607 with 10 home runs and 13 extra-base hits through the first 31 games of his Major League Baseball career. Albies is not unlike other rookies, however, and does have his struggles. He has been caught stealing twice so far this season, and he currently holds an underwhelming 28:7 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

Yoan Moncada of the Chicago White Sox holds similar power potential to Albies, belting six home runs so far through his first 29 games. However, much like Albies, Moncada is a strikeout liability. He has already struck out 49 times so far this season, second only in all of MLB to Giancarlo Stanton (51). While fantasy owners should not be deterred by high strikeout numbers it is still something to keep an eye on.

A young standout whom does not possess this problem is Daniel Robertson of the Tampa Bay Rays. Robertson is currently slashing .297/.447/.500 with three home runs and a much more stable walk-to-strikeout ration of 23:18. Robertson is a bright spot on a rebuilding Rays team and could end up becoming a focal point of their offense should he continue his hot start.

Not only are second basemen throughout the league, both young and old, exceeding expectations but very few are legitimately struggling. Reliable veterans such as DJ LeMahieu, Javier Baez, Scooter Gennett, and Starlin Castro are all performing right at their usual levels. All of these players are hitting close to or above .300 with power, and their track records indicate that they will not regress from that level of production. In fact, the only second baseman that fantasy owners should actively avoid at the moment is Jason Kipnis, whom is struggling mightily with a .194/.273/.287 line and just one home run so far this season. Kipnis may yet turn things around at some point this season, but there is too much talent still available at the second base position that fantasy owners would be better suited to go with.

Major League Baseball is trending towards a major surge of talent at the second base position, and fantasy owners would be wise to follow that trend and add these second basemen to their rosters.

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