2016 Fantasy Baseball Second Basemen Rankings

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The second base position appears to be getting deeper with usable fantasy players, and in that sense it is probably the next deepest infield position behind first base. However, just because the player pool at the position is deep, that doesn’t mean that there’s a slew of elite talent there. To reference How I Met Your Mother, this is like the “cheerleader effect” when looking at second basemen. As a collective group, this pool of players may look pretty attractive 17 players or so down the list when you see the guys with the name value like Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, and Dustin Pedroia, but when looking at them individually you see that most of them have their own sticking point, and there are really only a few studly looking gentlemen that you actually want to get to second base with. See what I did there?

Below are THE BACKWARDS K 2016 FANTASY BASEBALL SECOND BASEMEN RANKINGS. Included for each player is “The Backwards K Quick Take” and a self-produced player projection for 2016.

***Please note the following:

  • The player’s names are color coded to signal different tiers at the position.
  • The rankings reflect standard 5×5 roto scoring settings (AVG/HR/RBI/R/SB) with position eligibility requirements as 10 total games played at a position in 2015, or 5 total games started at a position in 2015 (i.e. Yahoo! settings).
  • The numerical order is not necessarily a suggested order to draft them in, but it is the order that is calculated based on each player’s listed projections, unless noted otherwise.
  • Noted in some players’ “Quick Takes” is if they gain or lose notable value in points leagues that factor penalize hitter strikeouts and reward hitter walks.

  1. Jose Altuve (Astros) The Backwards K Quick Take:  In 2015, Altuve may have hit 28 points lower and stole 18 less SB than he did in his big breakout 2014 season, but he was practically just as valuable because of 8 more HR and 7 more RBI. He quite notably possesses the smallest frame in the Majors, but he knows how to pack a punch. It reminds me of in Friends when Joey dates a lady named Katie (played by Soleil Moon Frye, AKA Punky Brewster) — she’s tiny in stature, but throws some mean “playful” punches that do a lot of damage. The increase in power for Altuve has been something of a gradual process and the “playful” punches that he unleashes sock opposing pitchers right in the gut. In 2014, the power wasn’t prevalent in his HR total, but he became a doubles machine. Then in 2015 some of those doubles turned into HR. As Eno Sarris notes here, “Altuve added a little bit of a more dramatic step with his front leg in early 2014.” This change gave him better pitch recognition and also more leverage for power, which would lend some credence to Altuve maintaining the power increase that he’s experienced. Also something that could have his value trend even more upwards is his runs total. Altuve’s runs totals in his career have been relatively low for a player of his speed caliber who finds himself on second base a lot via double or stolen base, and who has always batted at or near the top of the order. This especially becomes a point to question for last season when the Astros emerged to be one of the better run producing teams in the Majors. With the players behind Altuve in the batting order projected to be even better than last year — with a full season of Carlos Correa and hopefully healthier seasons from George Springer and Carlos Gomez — Altuve can reasonably be expected to score runs at a higher rate and potentially crack the century mark. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .308 AVG/13 HR/69 RBI/97 R/39 SB/69 K/35 BB in 708 PA
  2. Dee Gordon (Marlins) The Backwards K Quick Take: Gordon’s first year as a Marlin went over quite well as he earned the NL batting crown with a .333 AVG on the heels of a .383 BABIP. Gordon posted career bests in all the right categories to examine for positive BABIP changes (LD%, IFFB%, IFH%, and hard%), but the improvements in those categories were very marginal. So even though players with his skill set (a speed player who sprays the ball toward all fields on the ground a lot) can post high BABIP marks, I have to believe that there is some regression coming toward his previous career high and current career mark of .346. That doesn’t make him a terrible player or a bust candidate at all though, just don’t bank on him to hit well over .300 again — expect something in the .290’s but hope for .320 and be elated if it happens. Oh and of course he’s one of the top two base stealers in baseball and that’s where the majority of his value lies, and that shouldn’t be going away anytime soon. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .297 AVG/4 HR/43 RBI/92 R/61 SB/105 K/32 BB in 676 PA
  3. Robinson Cano (Mariners) The Backwards K Quick Take: When Cano left the Yankees to join the Mariners in 2014 — from a hitter friendly stadium for lefties to one of the more pitcher friendly stadiums in the league — it was pretty easy to presume that he would experience a drop in power. But the drop he experienced in HR/FB% was very extreme and at a level that he hadn’t been at since 2008. That rate persisted through the majority of the first half of 2015 and the speculation of Cano’s demise was certainly heavily on the forefront. However, the Mariners hired Seattle icon Edgar Martinez as hitting coach in mid-June and shortly after that is when Cano began to look like the hitter that he was from 2009-13, as he hit .317 with 19 HR in the final 90 games of the season after Martinez joined. Could that have just been pure coincidence, or did Martinez truly help Cano rediscover something? Despite counting him out after the first half of last season, I’m willing to peg Cano for somewhat of a continuation of the rebound he showed, and he can have a great chance to improve his RBI and R totals with a better lineup around him. 2016 Projection: .302 AVG/21 HR/92 RBI/85 R/6 SB/94 K/53 BB in 660 PA
  4. Matt Carpenter (Cardinals) The Backwards K Quick Take: Extreme Makeover: Matt Carpenter Edition aired in 2015. The smooth hitting lefty blasted 28 HR in 574 AB after having hit just 25 HR in 1,532 AB from 2011-14. The increase in power came with an increase in strikeouts though, but I wouldn’t go as far to say that he was “selling out” for power. Rather, it was just a change in approach and philosophy where he realized that he could potentially be a greater asset to his team by being both a run scorer and run producer instead of just the former — and he knew that he had the talent to make such a change. And through his batted ball profile, it is apparent that he didn’t just “luck” his way into all those HR. He blew away his previous career highs in FB%, pull%, and hard%, which exemplifies the change in approach to go for more power. Now maybe he doesn’t hit as many as 28 HR again, but I would count on 20+. I also envision Carpenter spending more time away from the leadoff spot and more time hitting 3rd in the order, particularly against righties and especially with Matt Holliday’s health concerns and with Jhonny Peralta already slated to miss a couple months. This will give him more RBI opportunities while still giving him the ample run-scoring chances. In this way, the Cardinals as an offensive unit can better utilize the new foundation that this Carpenter has laid. 2016 Projection: .272 AVG/23 HR/86 RBI/95 R/4 SB/148 K/79 BB in 673 PA
  5. Rougned Odor (Rangers)The Backwards K Quick Take: Odor was a popular sleeper heading into the 2015 season, but during the first month of the season he hit the snooze button repeatedly and forgot to ever wake up, which led to his demotion to AAA in mid-May. Down back on the farm, he responded well to the cock-a-doodle-doo’s of the roosters and finally was wide awake. After hitting .352/.426/.639 in a little over a month in AAA, the Rangers brought him back and he continued that torrid pace for two and a half months before tailing off in September. But that stretch was amazing and exemplary of what Odor can be capable of. Odor does have some flaws though such as a high popup rate, inefficiency in stealing bases, and not being very patient at the plate. And another concern with him, by no fault of his own, would be that he is projected to begin the year hitting 7th/8th in the batting order for the Rangers. However, one injury to Shin-Soo Choo or Delino DeShields and Odor could find himself batting 2nd. With all that said, at just 22 years old, Odor still has a lot of room for growth and is going to be a very attractive, yet trendy, pick for a breakout season. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .270 AVG/23 HR/82 RBI/72 R/12 SB/92 K/31 BB in 599 PA
  6. Daniel Murphy (Nationals)The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Murphy in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball First Basemen Rankings, so check that out for more details. But 2B is definitely the fantasy position that Murphy proves to be most valuable at. And while it wouldn’t be to the extreme that Matt Carpenter took things to last year, Murphy showed enough in the final couple months and post-season of last year that he could end up being this year’s version of Carpenter. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .281 AVG/21 HR/87 RBI/70 R/7 SB/65 K/35 BB in 598 PA
  7. Brian Dozier (Twins)The Backwards K Quick Take: We’ve come to know what to expect from Dozier over the last few years. He’ll give a low AVG near .240 because his propensity to hit fly balls (infield fly balls in particular) prevents him from having much better than a .270 BABIP. He’ll get 20+ HR based off of the sheer volume of fly balls he hits to the pull side field — not because he converts fly balls into home runs at a high rate (he was the most extreme pull hitter in the game last year). He’ll get 10+ SB, though his SB attempt rate went down considerably last year. He’ll score a large amount of runs as long as he’s batting at or near the top of the order, but he may not reach 100+ again this season if he continues to have a below average OBP. He’s been rather fortunate to score so many runs the last two years, but 90+ can be projected. Overall, there’s not too much excitement going on with Dozier, but he seems like a solid 2B that will only hurt in AVG. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .238 AVG/25 HR/75 RBI/95 R/12 SB/147 K/61 BB in 699 PA
  8. Joe Panik (Giants)The Backwards K Quick Take: It’s funny that Panik has emerged as kind of the new age version of Dustin Pedroia and he is ranked directly ahead of Pedroia in these rankings. Like Pedroia, Panik is a gritty second baseman on the defensive side and a great contact hitter with discipline and occasional pop on the offensive side. Comparing each player’s first full seasons in the Majors (Pedroia’s 2007 and Panik’s 2015), it’s easy to see that they were very similar in production, and Panik even bested Pedroia in some areas. Does this mean Panik is going to follow the same career path as Pedroia? Possibly, but that’s going to depend on whether or not Panik can get more lift on his batted balls to increase his flyball rate for more HR (though he has a home park disadvantage there), but I have my doubts with that one. Panik will also have to increase his SB in order to officially become the next Pedroia, which actually is something that he might be able to do since he did have double digit SB seasons in the Minors from 2011-13. However, the number one thing to look out for Panik in 2016 is his health. Last season he had two separate DL stints that totaled over 6 weeks because he had a stress fracture to one of his vertebra. At the time it was just described as “inflammation” and “discomfort.” The injury occurred on a hard slide into him at second base, but it is fully healed now and is thankfully not a chronic condition. So that lends some optimism that he can have a more healthy 2016 for a potential growth season (injuries have not been an issue for him in his career). At the very least, Panik should be a good source of AVG and R. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .308 AVG/10 HR/59 RBI/88 R/7 SB/64 K/54 BB in 635 PA 
  9. Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)The Backwards K Quick Take: Pedroia has had some health issues with his hands and hamstring over the last two seasons, so he’s no sure thing to stay healthy. The bright side though is that he regained his power after having a bit of an outage with his hand injuries in 2014. His hamstring injury last year was one reason that he was not as active on the base paths, so perhaps that is the area of his game that he regains this season. After that hamstring injury, Pedroia returned to the lineup too early and promptly went 1 for 23 in July before landing back on the DL with the same injury for 6 more weeks. Take out that July and he had a .307 AVG for the season. But equally as important to having a healthy hamstring is that Pedroia was quoted here as saying that he wants to get back to stealing bases this season. He also elaborates saying that in the last two seasons it has been a conscious decision not to attempt as many stolen bases because he didn’t want to take the bat out of David Ortiz’ hands behind him. But after his success last year, Xander Bogaerts will enter the season as the #3 hitter behind Pedroia, which Pedroia thinks is a better situation to run in now. Pedroia’s skills aren’t really deteriorating much, but it’s just health that might stand in his way of another solid season in his successful career. These projections are based on 135 games played, which essentially projects a DL stint, so Pedroia’s VPRP (value plus replacement player) at that rate would have him ranked as high as 5th ahead of Rougned Odor — pretty solid for a player that can be had relatively cheap. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES AND GAINS VALUE WITH VPRP) 2016 Projection: .291 AVG/13 HR/64/RBI/82 R/11 SB/74 K/54 BB in 606 PA
  10. Ben Zobrist (Cubs) The Backwards K Quick Take: Zobrist joins the Cubs for the 2016 season and he is in a pretty advantageous spot where he should spend a lot of his time hitting 2nd or 5th in a rather talented lineup that is full of guys who get on base and drive in runs well. Zobrist is reunited with his former manager from his days in Tampa Bay, Joe Maddon, who figures to let Zobrist be a little more aggressive on the base paths than he was last year with the A’s and Royals (particularly the A’s). This should present him the opportunity to get back to double digits in stolen bases. Zobrist is a player who looked to be in a decline, but this great spot for him is intriguing. He’s not all that different from Ian Kinsler, but for some reason I would feel safer with Zobrist. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) (EDIT on 3/24/16: Slight adjustments to Zobrist’s projections kept him at #11, but moved him down from the lime green tier to the red tier. EDIT #2 on 3/30/16: Adjusted Zobrist’s projections as it appears he’s going to start the season hitting 3rd a lot and will also get looks hitting 2nd. I previously had him splitting time between 2nd and 5th. He gets bumped back up to the lime green tier from #11 to #10) 2016 Projection: .274 AVG/14 HR/73 RBI/89 R/9 SB/81 K/74 BB in 647 PA
  11. Jason Kipnis (Indians)The Backwards K Quick Take: An oblique injury hurt Kipnis’ 2014 season, but he came back in 2015 with a big rebound in his BABIP to .356 by spraying line drives all over the field like he did in 2013. He did tail off some in the second half, but he’s shown enough in his healthy seasons to be able to set the bar at these higher BABIP levels. His power and speed have evaporated some in the last two years, and he may not ever fully get them back, but at 28 years old there is still hope that he does. Kipnis would be a rock solid fantasy second baseman. 2016 Projection: .284 AVG/10 HR/54 RBI/88 R/16 SB/115 K/61 BB in 637 PA
  12. Addison Russell (Cubs) The Backwards K Quick Take: As one of several top prospects that the Cubs employed last year, Russell had one of the more underwhelming seasons on the surface, but we need to remember that he essentially played a full Major League season as a 21-year old on a playoff team — there aren’t many in the game today who can claim that. I am projecting a good amount of growth from Russell this season because as the season wore on last year, Russell swung less at bad ball pitches and showed overall better discipline. Given that he had a 9.6 BB% and 21.0 K% in his Minor League career, I think that Russell should have little problem improving on his 8.0 BB% and 28.5 K% from last year. Moving out of the 9-hole and up to 7th or 8th (as manager Joe Maddon said he would do) should also help Russell to improve in these areas as he may be pitched more carefully with the pitcher due up behind him. Russell is also eligible at SS universally, where he has more value, and it wouldn’t be crazy to think that he could finish the season as a top 5 SS in standard roto leagues. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .270 AVG/18 HR/71 RBI/70 R/9 SB/128 K/55 BB in 583 PA
  13. Kolten Wong (Cardinals)The Backwards K Quick Take: A popular breakout pick by many heading into the 2015 season (very similar to the way Odor is this year), the left-handed swinging Wong looked like he was well on his way to completing the breakout season as he hit his way into the leadoff role for the Cardinals early on. However, he then collapsed, lost the leadoff job, and also had serious struggles against left-handed pitching. The Cardinals traded for right-handed Jedd Gyorko in the off-season and he happens to play Wong’s position and performs well against lefties. So this does have the makings of a platoon situation, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Wong didn’t have issues with lefties before last season and due to the injury to teammate Jhonny Peralta who could be sidelined until June, Wong may be able to avoid a full on platoon at 2B as Gyorko can see some time at Peralta’s SS position. If Wong proves that he can hit lefties in the early going, then that will go a long ways in earning him more playing time even after Peralta returns. Another thing that could play in Wong’s favor is he might be the team’s best option to leadoff (against righties) with Matt Carpenter’s new found power approach potentially playing better at the 3-spot in the lineup. Wong’s a semi-risky pick and this projection is based off of 125 games started plus pinch-hit appearances, but he would leap frog six players on this list if I could safely project him for 140 games started (which is the number he started last year). 2016 Projection: .269 AVG/12 HR/56 RBI/70 R/20 SB/89 K/33 BB in 561 PA
  14. DJ LeMahieu (Rockies) The Backwards K Quick Take: LeMahieu had the best season of his career last year, but despite profiling as a great #2 hitter, LeMahieu spent time all batting all over the lineup and figures to do so once again this year. The two things that stick out the most from his 2015 season are that he upped his walk rate a couple percentage points by being more patient and swinging less, and he decreased his pull% dramatically to earn the lowest mark in the league, which aided him to have a high BABIP at .362 and subsequently over a .300 AVG. However, even with that batted ball profile, he figures to regress some in BABIP as he likely can’t continue to find all of the infield holes. LeMahieu still figures to be a decent fantasy 2B option though with his good AVG and 20 SB upside. 2016 Projection: .289 AVG/6 HR/56 RBI/72 R/19 SB/101 K/47 BB in 618 PA
  15. Anthony Rendon (Nationals)The Backwards K Quick Take: After his big 2014 season when he had a 21 HR/17 SB season, despite youth being on his side, it was reasonable to assume some regression was coming for Rendon because a large percentage of his HR were “just enough” (i.e. barely cleared the fence) and he stole bases at a rate that he had not yet shown as a professional. But his 2015 season ended up being plagued by injury before it even began (sprained MCL in Spring Training), which then contributed to an even greater magnitude of regression in the end. Rendon also endured a second DL stint later in the season (strained quad). Dating back to his college days at Rice University, he always caught the injury bug, so that really will be the main concern with him going forward after the two DL stints last year. But if able to get through the season healthy, then he’s got top 5 potential at the fantasy position of 2B (though he is projected to spend most of his actual playing time at 3B). The Nationals have a new manager in Dusty Baker who has always been fond of aggression on the base paths, so that is something that can help Rendon get back to double digits in SB. My projection for Rendon is at 135 games played, which in essence is projecting a DL stint, so Rendon’s VPRP (value plus replacement player) would have him approximately right behind Brian Dozier. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES AND GAINS VALUE WITH VPRP) 2016 Projection: .276 AVG/14 HR/62 RBI/85 R/8 SB/100 K/63 BB in 601 PA
  16. Ian Kinsler (Tigers) The Backwards K Quick Take: We’ve already been witnessing a skills decline from Kinsler the last few years, particularly in power, speed, and plate discipline. So in his age 34 season, expecting anything much more than what he gave last season would be foolish. Evidenced in his monthly splits from last season, Kinsler is most productive at the plate when he is pulling the ball. That’s when he gets the most hard contact, line drives, and power. Once he found that pull-side stroke last season, things trended upwards. But at his age with another year gone by, will he have the bat speed to turn on those pitches still? Kinsler can likely be relied on for just squeaking in with double digits in HR and SB while also contributing lots of runs since there is a pretty potent set of hitters behind him. Unfortunately though, the fantasy upside appeal appears to be gone, though it’s impossible to rule it out completely. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .267 AVG/13 HR/63 RBI/87 R/10 SB/77 K/39 BB in 645 PA
  17. Matt Duffy (Giants)The Backwards K Quick Take: Duffy was one of last year’s surprises as the Giants seemingly keep producing these unheralded position prospects who perform well at the big league level. There certainly will be doubt surrounding Duffy on whether he can repeat last season’s performance though, and there are both bad and good takes on it. The bad says that his modest total of 12 HR was just as many HR as his Minor League total from 2013 and 2014 combined in 52 more games played. The good says that his 289 ft. average distance on his HR + flyballs was rather solid and supports the HR total that he had (though doesn’t necessarily predict the future). The bad says that his 4.9% walk rate was well below his 11.0% rate in his Minor League career. The good says that his less patient approach prompted him to put the ball in play a lot and drive in runs at a high rate. The bad says his .366 AVG w/RISP was was led by an incredibly high .424 BABIP and he overachieved in RBI. The good says that he sprays the ball all over the field (going both up the middle and to the opposite field more than the pull-side) so he might be able to sustain higher BABIP marks. And then there are a couple more good things going for Duffy as he will likely begin the year batting 3rd (EDIT on 3/24/16: but I could easily see him getting bumped down as Buster Posey and Brandon Belt get bumped up to #3-4 when Belt has his big breakout). Also, Duffy showed a greater penchant for stealing bases in the Minors, so he can certainly improve in that area. Duffy has decent potential, but this actually smells an awful lot like Josh Harrison entering the 2015 season. Be cautious. (EDIT on 3/24/16: Moved Duffy from #12 to #17 as his projections were adjusted to account for less PA and an eventual move down in the order) 2016 Projection: .290 AVG/9 HR/64 RBI/66 R/13 SB/97 K/36 BB in 601 PA
  18. Cesar Hernandez (Phillies) -.The Backwards K Quick Take: Hernandez took over for Chase Utley at second base for the Phillies in the middle of June and he never looked back. It was about time that the Phillies gave the younger talent a chance and it would appear that he has a firm grasp on the 2B job and the #2 spot in the order for the Phillies. Some of these Phillies players make for nice fantasy targets because they go overlooked since they play for one of the worst teams in baseball, if not the single worst team. Hernandez doesn’t provide much else outside the speed department with 25+ SB capability, but he can contribute just fine in AVG and R too. Hernandez makes for an interesting MI grab and he’s also eligible at SS and 3B in some leagues. 2016 Projection: 277 AVG/3 HR/41 RBI/78 R/27 SB/114 K/55 BB in 615 PA
  19. Logan Forsythe (Rays) The Backwards K Quick Take: After showing a nice blend of power and some speed in previous seasons as a utility player with both the Padres and Rays, Forsythe had a breakout season as a 28-year old last year . He sported a healthy .323 BABIP in 2015, but given that his batted ball profile shows that he hit more flyballs than groundballs, that he had a below average LD%, that he barely had an above average hard%, and that essentially he had a league average spray chart, it can reasonably be concluded that Forsythe’s BABIP could easily have been around the league average of .299. That’s not to say that he can’t change his batted ball profile, because he did in fact post very healthy LD% and hard% rates in 2012-13 with the Padres, though that was also in limited action. Forsythe split time batting 4th and 5th last year, and he should continue to hit no lower than 5th if he’s producing okay, but he could even hit leadoff for the Rays. In that case he obviously would score more runs and have less RBI, but he could get more SB opportunities as a leadoff man. The bottom line is that we shouldn’t take Forsythe’s 2015 season’s numbers and just assume that’s the player he is now — some of it can stick and there’s some things to like, but expect regression. (EDIT on 3/27/16: As expected, Forsythe is going to get time in the leadoff spot and his manager, Kevin Cash, went as far to say that Forsythe will be the team’s primary leadoff man against both lefties and righties to begin the season. So I’ve adjusted his projected PA/G upward, which led to some small changes to his projection but no change to his ranking/tier)  2016 Projection: .257 AVG/16 HR/64 RBI/79 R/10 SB/123 K/55 BB in 650 PA
  20. Jonathan Schoop (Orioles)The Backwards K Quick Take: I know his last name is pronounced “scope,” but I can’t help but to sing in my head the chorus to the song “Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa anytime I see his name. Schoop took some big strides last year and had he not missed two and a half months with a torn ligament in his knee, then he would have flirted with or surpassed 25 HR. But the good news is that he came back from the injury and absolutely crushed the ball, showing no ill effects. The 24-year old man definitely has power, and we can see that in the fact that his average distance on flyballs + HR was 306 ft., which ranked 8th in the Majors. Also, his healthy hard hit rate of 34.5% coupled with an increase in his LD% gives us reason to how he pulled off a .329 BABIP. But there are some things to be wary about. One, I wouldn’t count on another BABIP so far north of .300 from Schoop. I think it is too small of a sample size to say that is the hitter that he is now. Second, the guy has a major plate discipline issue. Out of players with a minimum of 300 PA last year, Schoop had the second highest swing% (61.4%) and the second highest swinging strike% (17.5%), so I would say that he is rather fortunate to have only struck out 24.6% of the time. If he doesn’t make some adjustments there then he could be in for a rude awakening. As such, treat him as a potential 25-30 HR hitter, which is certainly valuable at 2B, but know that his AVG could easily fall under .250 and he won’t help much in the SB department either. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .257 AVG/24 HR/74 RBI/63 R/3 SB/141 K/17 BB in 554 PA
  21. Josh Harrison (Pirates)The Backwards K Quick Take: Harrison broke out in 2014 as a relative unknown player, but took steps backwards in a few areas last year to end up as quite a bust. Much of the bust factor was due to the fact that he only appeared in 114 games due to tearing ligaments in his thumb, but even so, he would likely not have matched his 2014 season. His power was down, his SB attempt rate was down, he was more inefficient in SB attempts, and his AVG was down after experiencing BABIP regression. It wasn’t that he was a bad player or bad hitter necessarily, but Harrison just wasn’t as advertised in 2014. He might be the most suitable option as a leadoff hitter for the Pirates against lefties, but against righties he should be hitting in the bottom half. Basically I think you can extrapolate last year’s numbers to 145 games played or so and that would be around where Harrison ends up at. 2016 Projection: .291 AVG/8 HR/54 RBI/66 R/13 SB/87 K/23 BB in 580 PA
  22. Starlin Castro (Yankees) The Backwards K Quick Take: Castro made the switch from SS to 2B in the second half of last season to allow the more defensively talented Addison Russell to take over at SS for the Cubs. It may be pure coincidence, but Castro had an offensive surge after he switched positions. It is entirely possible that less pressure on the defensive side of the ball eased his mindset to be more relaxed at the plate. I don’t totally buy into that narrative, but hey, it’s possible. Castro was then traded to the Yankees in the off-season where he figures to bat near the bottom of the order when everyone is healthy, but he should see at least some time a little higher in the order and also in the 2-hole on occasion. It may not seem like it since he’s been around for a while, but Castro is only 26 years old and should still have room for growth to fulfill some of the promise he showed early in his career. The dual eligibility up the middle of the infield is also a nice quality. 2016 Projection: .281 AVG/13 HR/65 RBI/63 R/7 SB/94 K/27 BB in 596 PA
  23. Brandon Phillips (Reds)The Backwards K Quick Take: There was a time when Phillips was an annual 20 HR/20 SB player, or when he at least flirted with those marks. But then he lost the speed, then he lost the power, and then he stooped to an all-time low when he hit just .266 with 8 HR and 2 SB in 121 games in 2014. The guy was on his last leg, right? Well, not so fast. The veteran second baseman had a resurgence last year to hit .294 with 12 HR and 23 SB. However, I am here to warn you to take that with a grain of salt. I’m not saying that Phillips won’t do that again, but I’ll tell you why he can’t. Double digits in HR should be attainable, health permitting, but he should see some regression in AVG. The SB total is going to be reliant on where he hits in the batting order. Phillips isn’t the ideal cleanup hitter, but that’s where he has spent the most time in his career, and it was only because of Billy Hamilton’s ineptitude with the bat that Reds manager Bryan Price was forced to put Phillips in the leadoff spot for much of last year. As a leadoff man, Phillips attempted a SB 16.9% of the time he was on 1st or 2nd, but only 8.1% of the time when he hit cleanup. If Hamilton figures things out and even gets his OBP up to .300, then I think he will likely remain hitting leadoff. This would have Phillips in his most common cleanup role, which could have that SB total coming back down to single digits. And let’s not forget that Phillips is a trade candidate and could easily find himself hitting lower in the order on a new team. 2016 Projection: .273 AVG/11 HR/68 RBI/59 R/9 SB/75 BB/26 K in 584 PA
  24. Yangervis Solarte (Padres) The Backwards K Quick Take: To put it simply, Solarte is a starting third baseman in a utility infielder’s body. He’s an excellent contact hitter, but beyond that he isn’t flashy and he only happens to be a starter because he plays on a team with a poor offense. But sometimes that’s all it takes to become fantasy relevant! He had a nice second half last year when he hit .292 with 9 HR, but I don’t see a whole lot to declare that is who he is now. He’ll probably garner a little more playing time than last season if he remains a Padre and he’ll probably perform at relatively the same rate, hitting anywhere from 1st-5th on any given day, which isn’t terrible, but incredibly boring. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .274 AVG/14 HR/68 RBI/69 R/1 SB/63 K/42 BB in 611 PA
  25. Howie Kendrick (Dodgers)The Backwards K Quick Take: Back with the Dodgers, Kendrick can be projected to have similar output to last year. He might lose some playing time when he is healthy, just so the Dodgers can feed playing time to guys like Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez. So HK-47 is a rather uneventful fantasy player. With a new manager, Dave Roberts, who was a speedster in his playing days, perhaps that will lead to a few more SB for Kendrick. 2016 Projection: .290 AVG/8 HR/58 RBI/58 R/9 SB/93 K/30 BB in 538 PA
  26. Neil Walker (Mets) The Backwards K Quick Take: Walker hooked on with the Mets this off-season and it is a situation where he could potentially lose playing time. Walker is a switch-hitter, but virtually all his power comes as a left-handed swinger against righties. Judging by his career numbers, he has managed an okay .260/.317/.338 line as a right-handed swinger against lefties, but last year he was at .237/.284/.290 — and the Mets have a young righty middle infielder, Wilmer Flores, who will need playing time to keep his skills sharp, and he beat up on lefties last year with a line of .310/.355/.600 with 7 HR in 100 AB (looking down at AAA for the Mets, there’s also Dilson Herrera, a right-handed hitting 2B prospect who is ready). There’s been no commitment to making this a strict platoon, but even so, I cannot project Walker to start more than 70% of the games. However, at least there’s a distinct chance he will hit 2nd when in the lineup against righties. 2016 Projection: .275 AVG/16 HR/59 RBI/65 R/3 SB/89 K/40 BB in 509 PA
  27. Brett Lawrie (White Sox)The Backwards K Quick Take: Lawrie is somewhat of a mystery. When he first came up with the Blue Jays as a top prospect, he had the makings of being a 20 HR/20 SB player, but it just never came to fruition in Toronto as he battled injuries year after year. Included in the trade to Oakland for Josh Donaldson, Lawrie’s first season in green and yellow last year was a healthy one for the first time in his career, but it was very much mixed results. He hit a respectable .260 with 16 HR and 5 SB, which wasn’t terrible output from a fantasy eligible 2B, but that also came with a big jump in his strikeout rate from 17.4% to 23.9%. And also, he finished with a decently high .320 BABIP even though his batted ball profile was mediocre across the board. Now with the White Sox in a great home hitters park, Lawrie could be intriguing if any fantasy owner can figure him out. Can he somehow become this year’s Mike Moustakas? Or is he going down the same road as Gordon Beckham? I project a DL stint for him at some point, so he does have some implied extra value when factoring in VPRP (value plus replacement player). (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES AND GAINS VALUE WITH VPRP) 2016 Projection: .255 AVG/18 HR/65 RBI/57 R/5 SB/120 K/28 BB in 532 PA
  28. Jace Peterson (Braves) – The Backwards K Quick Take: There’s great similarities between Peterson and Padres second baseman Cory Spangenberg, which is rather ironic since the Padres traded Peterson prior to the 2015 season to get Justin Upton from the Braves, and that is what allowed Spangenberg to eventually assume the starting role at the keystone for the Padres. I project the players to put up eerily similar roto numbers (see Spangenberg below), but I do like Peterson a little more because of his good ability to draw walks. Peterson worked his way into a starting role early last year for a deprived Braves squad and he also became one of their chief table setters. However, in June he suffered a torn tendon in his thumb, and even though he took a few days off to rest it, it was something that lingered the rest of the way and he actually had his hand in a cast for one and a half months in the off-season. So it’s actually quite amazing that he played through it. But after that injury there was a noticeable dropoff in his performance as he was quoted as saying that he just wasn’t confident swinging with the bum thumb. He’s fully healed now though and makes for an interesting deep league sleeper if looking for speed. He wasn’t very efficient in stealing bases last year, but there’s no question that he is fast and his base running game is likely something he worked on in the off-season. Peterson will begin the year hitting at the bottom of the order with Ender Inciarte and Erick Aybar around as new acquisitions, but both will be trade candidates at the deadline so Peterson could eventually be back hitting 1st or 2nd at some point where his OBP skills fit nicely. 2016 Projection: .263 AVG/5 HR/44 RBI/59 R/20 SB/103 K/57 BB in 561 PA
  29. Eduardo Escobar (Twins) The Backwards K Quick Take: The switch-hitting Escobar is only fantasy eligible at 2B and 3B in some leagues, but he does have universal eligibility at OF and SS. He is set to begin the year as the starting shortstop for the Twins and he showed some interesting developments last season with an improvement in plate coverage that turned into more power and better output against right-handed pitching. This will be his age 27 season, which is a good age to further development even more, so perhaps he can remain relevant. If anything, he makes for a nice late round/cheap flier and if he pans out then he would be a pretty nice fantasy Swiss army knife being eligible at three of the shallower positions in some leagues. 2016 Projection: .267 AVG/13 HR/61 RBI/57 R/5 SB/101 K/33 BB in 531 PA
  30. Cory Spangenberg (Padres)The Backwards K Quick Take: Spangenberg is a former 1st round pick from 2011, but he finally made his way to more than just a utility/reserve role in the Majors. In the Padres lineup, he is going to be an option to hit leadoff or in the 2-hole, but if he loses the gains he had in walk rate last year (he was never one to take a walk in the Minors) then he could find himself at the bottom of the order. He’s a sleeper for SB, but things could also go sour for him rather quickly. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .267 AVG/5 HR/39 RBI/56 R/20 SB/118 K/34 BB in 560 PA
  31. *BONUS PLAYER* Devon Travis (Blue Jays)The Backwards K Quick Take: Travis falls just outside of the top 30 2B, but I’m including him as a bonus because his implied value with VPRP (value plus replacement player) would launch him to at least the orange tier where Logan Forsythe and Jonathan Schoop are. Travis was one of the best players in the first month of last season before he suffered a shoulder injury that shelved him for a while — and then re-shelved him again! That shoulder ended up costing him over three months of the season. Travis had it surgically repaired in the off-season and if all goes well then he will be ready to return to the Blue Jays active roster in late May or early June, which would still leave him 2/3 of a season to do some damage. If he proves himself to be healthy, and that certainly is no guarantee as the shoulder can end up being problematic to his swing, then he could be end up being a nice DL stash with very little risk. (**GAINS VALUE WITH VPRP) 2016 Projection: .270 AVG/10 HR/49 RBI/56 R/8 SB/75 K/32 BB in 423 PA



Rougned Odor (Roto leagues)

Daniel Murphy (Roto and Points leagues)

Joe Panik (Roto and Points leagues)

Dustin Pedroia (Roto and Points leagues)


Cesar Hernandez (Roto and Points leagues)

Jonathan Schoop (Roto leagues)

Jace Peterson (Roto and Points leagues)

Cory Spangenberg (Roto leagues)

Devon Travis (Roto and Points leagues)


Ian Kinsler (Roto and Points leagues)

Anthony Rendon (Roto and Points leagues) (Though, he is properly valued when factoring in VPRP)

Neil Walker (Roto and Points leagues)

Brett Lawrie (Roto and Points leagues) (Though, he is properly valued when factoring in VPRP)


2 thoughts on “2016 Fantasy Baseball Second Basemen Rankings

  1. Pingback: 2016 Fantasy Baseball Third Basemen Rankings | The Backwards K

  2. Pingback: 2016 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings | The Backwards K

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