Fantasy baseball drafts can be very unpredictable. All of sudden, there’s a major run at the second base position, and you’re left empty-handed! In that case, what do you do?
The key is to not panic. At every position, there is going to be at least one or two players whose production vastly exceeds their draft position. This is quite apparent at second base. While there is plenty of talent at the top, the overall depth is much better than it has been in previous years, causing productive players to fall down the draft board. If you’re in the situation we illustrated, this is excellent news!
These three second basemen are being drafted late in drafts but could be quality starters for you in deeper drafts, or nice bench/utility options in shallower formats. Who are these three diamonds in the rough? Let us dive right into it!
ADP Data via NFC.com
Stats via Baseball Savant and Fangraphs
Brendan Rodgers (COL)
2021 Stats (415 PA): .284/328/.470, 15 HR, 49 R, 51 RB, 0 SB
Once upon a time, Brendan Rodgers was considered one of the best prospects in the sport. As recently as 2018, MLB Pipeline considered him the #9 prospect in the sport, and his stock didn’t fall much (14th-best prospect) heading into 2019. Now, all of a sudden, as he’s dealt with multiple injuries, he has gone under the radar.
Finally healthy last season, Rodgers put together a productive season. He provided a lot from the batting average department and also tended to hit at the top of the lineup. As someone who plays for the Rockies, this appears to be an approach change to hit for more power, which can give him a more balanced approach moving forward.
Although he isn’t a sexy option, Rodgers is likely to hit for a well-above-average batting average and more power than usual, steal about ten bases, and score runs slotted in at the top of the Rockies lineup. With average power, having contact skills is key, and that’s exactly what Rodgers has. His 23% whiff rate is on the higher side for someone who is going to hit for average, but that is mitigated by his even sprays (30.8%) and lack of pop-ups (3.9%). The combination of the two should allow him to overachieve his expected batting average and post a high BABIP, especially since he’s playing in Colorado.
Furthermore, I think there is more power to be untapped here. Rodgers only had a 6.2% barrel rate last year due to a 50.8% ground ball rate, but his 111.8 mph max exit velocity ranked in the 82nd percentile. There’s true power potential here, as he demonstrated in the minor leagues, but, at the very least, he should be on track for about 20 home runs. Add in a .280 batting average and runs scored due to hitting at the top of the lineup, and there is a lot Rodgers can bring to the table.
In fantasy baseball, you always want to bet on a young player ascending than an older player who could be on the way down. Rodgers has former top-prospect pedigree on his side, is in a very advantageous situation, and demonstrated last year that he can more than hold his own at the MLB level. Plus, he should finish with shortstop eligibility as well this year! Rodgers is a player that has been intriguing for some time, and with Trevor Story out of the picture, he’s one of the players that is going to have to step up to give Rockies fans some form of hope moving forward. That’s exactly what I’m expecting him to provide this year, and he’s a great value at his current average draft position.
Jean Segura (PHI)
2021 Stats (567 PA): .290/.348/.436, 14 HR, 76 R, 58 RBI, 9 SB
Whereas Rodgers is a player with upside, Jean Segura is the opposite. The 32-year-old isn’t someone who is going to hit for 30 home runs or be a league winner. What he is going to do for you, however, is provide you with steady production, and that cannot be overlooked!
With a .299 batting average since the start of 2016, excluding the shortened 2020 season, Segura is going to provide a major boost for you in that department, allowing you to chase other categories elsewhere. While some may point to his expected statistics, which were lower than his overall numbers, I’d point out that he’s overperformed his xwOBA every season by a notable margin (career .338 wOBA vs .318 xWOBA). Why? Even sprays. His career 28.1% pull rate is well below the league average (36.1%), while he also hits fewer fly balls and pop-ups than the average player. Add in his elite contact skills (career 7.1% swinging-strike rate), and he’s a lock to hit for a very high average.
Slowly but surely, Segura is also starting to hit for more power. In 2020, he teased this with a career-high 6.1% barrel rate, and he added on to that with a 5.9% barrel rate, which was the highest it’s been in a full season. With an elevated 7.7% ft position of a 14th rounder in 15-team drafts, he’s more than worth the investment. It seems like Segura is undervalued every year, but perhaps THIS is the year he vaults out of sleeper territory!
Abraham Toro (SEA)
2021 Stats (375 PA): .239/.315/.373, 11 HR, 45 R, 46 RBI, 6 SB
Although Abraham Toro’s overall statistics aren’t particularly impressive, they certainly don’t tell the complete story of his talents. With a 159 wRC+ in the minors since the start of 2019, Toro has always demonstrated excellent offensive potential. Unfortunately, he played the same positions in Houston as Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, leaving him only getting MLB work in a pinch. This lack of certainty likely impacted his overall MLB numbers, as he wasn’t able to find solid footing for the Astros.
Then, Toro was traded to the Mariners. Immediately, with a home run against the Astros in his first plate appearance in Seattle, it was clear that he was finally going to be able to take advantage of the opportunity of everyday playing time. Toro slowed down towards the end of the season, but he was a league-average hitter with Seattle, though perhaps he deserved better. His 8.2% barrel rate with the Mariners indicates better power than his .115 ISO showed, and his .254 BABIP is on the lower side. I’d expect positive regression from his 18% line drive rate, which should help him in the BABIP department significantly.
With excellent contact skills (14.4% K), the speed (76th percentile) to steal bases, and second base/third base flexibility, I am a big fan of what Toro brings to the table. His plate discipline is excellent, and the power he has shown in the minors is still there. With everyday playing time in Seattle, there is clear upside here, and that’s more than worth a 17th or 18th round pick in 15-team formats.
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