MARKET PULSE: Second Base, 2020

NOTE: Our preseason Market Pulse column is an exercise in identifying the gaps between the valuation of the "popular" market (as reflected in Average Draft Position, or "ADP") and that of BaseballHQ.com. If a player is not listed here, it's likely that he qualifies at a scarcer position, or he's not in the ADP Top 500-600 (it's a bit fluid). Remember that this is an exercise in relative valuation, not absolute.

Each hitter is being considered at his scarcest qualified position (in order: C/DH, SS, 2B, 3B, 1B, OF), as it is the scarcest eligible position that typically drives fantasy value. The rankings are a risk- and position-adjusted estimate using current BaseballHQ.com projections. It is a purely quantitative ranking, with no specific consideration of "upside" (aside from reliability scores). The dollar values are position adjusted, but do not incorporate risk. Average auction values are approximate. These are not the "official" BaseballHQ.com straight draft rankings, but they should be close.

The article assumes a standard 15-team, mixed, 5x5 league, though the recommendations here will generally apply in most formats. A positive number in the "Diff" column indicates a player that BaseballHQ.com ranks higher than the "market," and a negative number indicates we have the player ranked lower, based on ADP. The list is split into tiers, based on the ADP. The ADP itself is based on recent NFBC drafts.

Previous columns: C/DH | SS 

(NFBC ADP Report) | Unofficial Rankings

While we traditionally identify second base as a "scarce" position, it kind of doesn't look that way, does it? There are 18 second-base eligible players being taken in the first 15 rounds so there are a lot of good options here, though it's a bit thin at the top. There are more potential land mines than bargains, but there are solid, relatively safe players available at all levels.

                                     HQ                      --  HQ Projections --
Player               TM POS REL ADP Rank Diff HQ$ AAV Diff |  AB AVG HR RBI  R  SB
==================  === === === === ==== ==== === === ==== | === === == === === == 
Altuve, Jose        HOU   4 BAC  32   45  -13  22  25   -3 | 530 310 24  71  90 10
Albies, Ozzie       ATL   4 AAA  38   33    5  23  23    0 | 598 285 24  72  95 18
Hiura, Keston       MIL   4 AFF  42   78  -36  17  22   -5 | 567 276 27  71  84 11
Marte, Ketel        ARI o84 ABC  44   53   -9  19  21   -2 | 559 293 23  73  84 10
Merrifield, Whit     KC 4o9 AAB  50   38   12  22  20    2 | 603 298 17  63  86 22

LeMahieu, DJ        NYY 453 BAC  65   52   13  21  18    3 | 567 310 18  78  97  6
Muncy, Max           LA 435 ACF  75   96  -21  14  16   -2 | 464 253 32  85  87  3
McNeil, Jeff        NYM o45 ACD  85   41   44  22  15    7 | 572 304 22  79  93  8
Moustakas, Mike     CIN  54 CAB 100  107   -7  15  13    2 | 560 262 34  92  77  2
Escobar, Eduardo    ARI  54 AAB 114  115   -1  12  12    0 | 569 262 26  85  77  4
Biggio, Cavan       TOR   4 ADA 134  112   22  13  11    2 | 485 240 22  77  80 18

Edman, Tommy        STL  54 ACB 138  111   27  13  10    3 | 514 272 22  48  73 21
Lux, Gavin           LA   4 AFC 154  278 -124   3   9   -6 | 400 274 13  44  69  8
Hampson, Garrett    COL 4o8 AFD 171  743 -572  -8   8  -16 | 252 262  7  20  31 14
McMahon, Ryan       COL  45 ACF 182  145   37  10   8    2 | 560 262 25  85  70  4
Lowe, Brandon       TAM   4 CDC 195  216  -21   7   7    0 | 466 244 24  78  66  8

Odor, Rougned       TEX   4 BAB 226  335 -109   1   5   -4 | 472 219 25  65  61  8
Wong, Kolten        STL   4 BBC 228  150   78  10   5    5 | 531 270 12  62  69 19
Chavis, Michael     BOS  34 BDB 235  356 -121   0   5   -5 | 443 241 21  60  59  3
Arraez, Luis        MIN 4o7 AFD 242  232   10   5   5    0 | 494 308  7  41  67  5
Castro, Starlin     WAS  45 BAB 268  146  122  10   4    6 | 517 285 20  71  69  4
Hernandez, Cesar    CLE   4 AAB 270  304  -34   2   4   -2 | 524 250 11  53  72 12
Madrigal, Nick      CHW   4 AFF 281  254   27   4   3    1 | 344 286  3  34  66 21
Gordon, Dee         SEA   4 BAB 283  336  -53   1   3   -2 | 424 271  2  29  48 26
La Stella, Tommy    LAA  45 FFC 285  393 -108  -1   3   -4 | 404 272 16  49  55  1
Profar, Jurickson    SD   4 BBD 323  237   86   5   2    3 | 485 252 16  68  71  8
Schoop, Jonathan    DET   4 BBC 331  128  203  12   2   10 | 555 263 30  79  76  2
Kendrick, Howie     WAS  34 FDC 338  270   68   5   1    4 | 382 305 14  51  57  5
Cano, Robinson      NYM   4 FBD 346  266   80   5   1    4 | 504 272 17  67  69  0
Alberto, Hanser     BAL  45 DDB 353  432  -79  -2   1   -3 | 496 277  9  49  53  3
Dubon, Mauricio      SF   4 ACB 369  230  139   5   1    4 | 491 267 16  48  63 12
Cabrera, Asdrubal   WAS  54 BBA 384  710 -326  -8   0   -8 | 276 263  9  44  38  1
Mateo, Jorge        OAK   4 AFF 430 1027 -597 -15  -1  -14 | 163 250  4  18  22  6
Frazier, Adam       PIT   4 ABA 433  305  128   2  -1    3 | 473 275 10  48  66  6
Rodgers, Brendan    COL   4 DDA 449  706 -257 -10  -1   -9 | 290 265  7  30  34  3
Long, Shed          SEA   4 CDA 463  996 -533 -15  -2  -13 | 218 241  6  23  27  4
Hernandez, Enrique   LA 4o8 BCC 474  563  -89  -5  -2   -3 | 339 244 13  47  50  4
Diaz, Isan          MIA   4 ADB 481  422   59  -1  -2    1 | 424 229 12  60  67  8
Barreto, Franklin   OAK   4 ACB 499  926 -427 -11  -2   -9 | 221 237 11  27  34  6
Gennett, Scooter    FAN   4 DCF 511  512   -1  -5  -3   -2 | 324 270 11  45  46  1

Fantasy GMs can be excused for their enthusiasm over Keston Hiura (2B, MIL), who put up excellent numbers (.303-19-49-51-9 in 314 AB) in 60% of an MLB season in 2019. His xPX says his hr/f was legit, and he has at least average speed, so 10-15 SB are a reasonable projection. The biggest issue is his BA, which was 40 points higher in 2019 than his xBA. His 66% ct% is the culprit here, and it points to the possibility of some struggles in 2020. His projected .275 BA is a good hedge, and his BaseballHQ projection is conservative overall. However, there's just too much risk and unknown here, especially when you can grab proven commodities like George Springer (OF, HOU) or Whit Merrifield (2B, TOR) at this ADP.

Jeff McNeil's (2B/3B/OF, NYM) best tool, aside from defensive versatility, is his hit tool. He makes excellent contact which, combined with his league-average power, produces a strong BA expectation. His ability to play everywhere helps assure PT, which generates good counting stats. The biggest issue with his 3rd-round projection is that it's very much BA driven, and GMs don't like to pay that much for average. We tend to agree with the GMs here; we'd slot him maybe a round earlier than his ADP.

Gavin Lux (2B, LA) has a murky path to playing time. For full-time AB, he'd need to beat out Corey Seager (SS, LA) at SS or Max Muncy (2B, LA) and Kike Hernandez (2B, LA) at 2B. Long-term, he's probably better than any of them; the skills sure are there, with excellent power, good contact, and some speed. He has multiple paths to PT, but you can't pay as if he's already transversed them—if you pay for full-time AB, there's only downside. Let somebody else roll those dice.

Speaking of murky paths... Garrett Hampson (2B, COL). While he can play second, third, or short, he's the second or even third option at each of those positions. He also struggled for much of 2019, until he exploded in September. However, that mini-explosion comes with some caveats, the biggest of which was is .252 xBA. Hampson can hit and he will probably steal 30-40 bases someday, but at his ADP, you're getting very little upside and a whole lot of downside.

We have personally sworn off shares of Rougned Odor (2B, TEX) for good. Usually, a .205 BA like Odor's 2019 will scare GMs off, but that doesn't seem to have happened here. To boot, he has a five-year declining trend in ct%, and was at 66% in 2019. Sure, his 157 xPX made up for a lot of those whiffs, but he remains a BA anchor (the negative kind). His double-digit steals are in jeopardy, too, as he's barely been successful on half his attempts the past two years. It's strange forecasting a decline for a guy who's 26, but there's a lot more downside than upside here.

Kolten Wong's (2B, STL) surge in 2019 came down to two main factors: he was healthy, and he got back to running; his skills overall were not much different from previous seasons. His 2020 BA is a concern, as his xBA was 25 points lower than his BA in 2019, and that could affect SB opportunities. Otherwise, there's every reason to expect a repeat of 2019. GMs appear to expect a big backslide, but his BaseballHQ projection should be easy to reach. That creates a buying opportunity, maybe around the 13th-14th rounds.

... excuse us, we had to yawn here: Starlin Castro (2B, WAS). If our Spanish wasn't actually decent, we might think that "Starlin" was Spanish for "boring veteran." Nobody fits that mold better than Castro. His minor blip in 2019 was mostly due to the extreme playing time that comes with being an actual professional hitter in Miami. He's The Guy in Washington now, and while there are a lot of moving parts in that infield, he should get 80% playing time and a modest power boost from the change in home parks. He's not a guy you reach for, but he'll have some good value if you use him to plug a hole around the 15th-16th rounds.

Like several others on this list, Jonathan Schoop (2B, DET) has league-average power (103 xPX in 2019), and enough contact (73% ct%) to generate decent HR totals if he plays full-time. He moves to Detroit, where there are a lot of bodies, but not a ton of tough competition, so he should get enough AB where 30 HR is within reach. His BaseballHQ projection is heavily based on getting that PT, his defense is bad, and his bat only moderately reliable ("C" consistency), but the 13-round difference between his BaseballHQ rank and ADP leaves a ton of room for profit. He's a good value play anywhere in the last third of the draft.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.