Bust is such a strong word. Looking up and down the projected second basemen enter 2023, I like many of the options. The players at the top—Jose Altuve, Marcus Semien, and Jazz Chisolm—are all there for a reason. Around the second or third round in a draft, one of the three would be great gets.
However, there are a few names that I would avoid at the price they currently are at.
2022 stats (558 PA): .240 AVG, 68 R, 12 HR, 52 RBI, 5 SB
2019 Ketel Marte was so good. It seemed the Diamondbacks had a star that they could build around for years. However, since that season, Marte has not been himself due to a slew of injuries.
Look at those peaks, he was flirting with a .600 SLG in 2019! I want that Marte back.
Ketel reminds me so much of Carlos Gonzalez. When he is healthy, he is incredibly fun to watch and puts up fantastic numbers. But like Cargo, we will never know for certain when those healthy years happen. Plate appearances over the years vary wildly for both.
Predicting health is impossible, but when the peaks and valleys start to form over time with playing time and plate appearances, it becomes easier to see the writing on the wall.
He still hits the ball hard and has a great launch angle, but I think I’m finally out on Ketel Marte. This was a difficult sentence to write. He is projecting around the 17th round. This could be a steal if Marte is healthy. But that has become a massive “if.” This year it might be worth it to save yourself the headache.
2022 stats (541 PA): .260 AVG, 71 R, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 21 SB
Thairo Estrada enjoyed a nice season in 2022 showing off a power-speed combo for the San Francisco Giants. The issue with Estrada for 2023 is where he is currently being drafted. Names like Brandon Lowe, Vaughn Grissom, and Jonathan India are all going within 12 picks of Estrada around the 14th and 15th rounds.
Estrada’s expected numbers tell a different tale of what may have happened in 2022. A SLG of .400 as opposed to an xSLG of .352 and a wOBA of .317 compared to an xwOBA of .299 are quite a bit of difference. The SLG is already lower at .400 meaning we could see a SLG in the .350-.400 range for 2023.
There is also the question of the lineup he is hitting in. Estrada profiles to be the lead-off hitter but behind him in the Giants order looks a bit bleak. There are additions like Michael Conforto and Mitch Haniger, but I worry about Estrada getting a high run total because of this middling Bay Area lineup.
There is a nice floor with Estrada, something around a 20-20 season is not out of the question. But because of where he is predicted to go in the draft, and the suspect xSLG, I’d go for a different second baseman that you can bank on around 20 home runs.
2022 stats (568 PA): .263 AVG, 87 R, 28 HR, 87 RBI, 2 SB
When I heard Brandon Drury was having a successful season for Cincinnati in 2022, my brain would not accept that it was the same Brandon Drury from the Arizona Diamondbacks days.
It’s really cool what Drury did in 2022. He came back to relevance and was rewarded with a two-year contract in Anaheim. But, I’m not sure we see the 2022 Brandon Drury in 2023.
Drury didn’t get much worse when he was traded to San Diego at the deadline. But it did feel like Great American Ballpark was helping Drury to regain some power. As a Red, Drury was a downright All-Star, slashing .274/.335/.520 and hitting 20 home runs in 385 PAs. The San Diego numbers aren’t bad, and it’s a smaller sample size, but .238/.290/.435 is a much different player. This is the slash I suspect we see in Anaheim with closer to 20 home runs.
2018-2021, who knows what happened to Drury, but it does look like he is back to being a contributing player on offense. Drury’s wOBA over his career is basically a jack-o-lantern.
It feels like what we are going to get in 2023 is what Drury did for the Diamondbacks in 2016 and 2017; float around the 20-home run mark and give decent production all around.
Drury has a lot of position eligibility so where he is going in drafts will vary. Right now, he is predicted to go around round 16 right behind Estrada. These are two guys to skip and wait for the next tier.
2022 stats (550 PA): .250 AVG, 70 R, 11 HR, 58 RBI, 16 SB
Whit Merrifield only stole 16 bases last year, and that’s a bummer. 2022 was a weird year for Merrifield. There were off-field issues regarding the Covid jab and he was finally traded from the Royals to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Once with the Blue Jays, we saw a very Merrifield slash line: .281/.323/.446 with five home runs, but he stole only one base in Toronto. One is not a good number to see when next to a Whit Merrifield stolen base total. This is a player who stole 40 bags in 2021.
It was also an odd place for Merrifield to end up in because they used him as more of a platoon player. All signs point to this happening again with the Kevin Kiermaier signing as well as having Santiago Espinal at second. So where does Merrifield fit with the Blue Jays? I could still see a 10-15 home run season and around 20 stolen bases, but he isn’t going to put up even close to what we saw in 2021 and earlier.
Merrifield is predicted to go in the 16-round or so. At that time, and if you are looking for a starting second baseman, I’d almost punt the position entirely and wait for a Kolten Wong, Brendan Rodgers, or Nick Gordon.
2022 stats (510 PA): .269 AVG, 66 R, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 23 SB
Josh Rojas going in the 17th round shows that there is a point where this position definitely thins out. The problem is, there are much better options past Rojas for 2023.
Rojas made much of his fantasy mark in 2022 off of stealing 23 bags. The nine home runs could increase to something around 15, but I don’t expect much more than that.
And much like Estrada, there are expected stats that do not paint a great picture of what could’ve happened in 2022. I want to show all of Rojas because of the disparity.
Just about a 20-point dip in each category, which is not a good sign.
If Rojas was at the end of a draft and a throw-in, yes, draft him. There seems to be some Diamondback hype going into the season. The emergence of Corbin Carroll definitely does help their lineup look better. But even with the Carroll addition, I don’t see much fantasy relevance for Rojas in 2023 unless you are chasing steals.
Ketel Marte Wikicommons | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)