As we continue our 2020 Pitcher List positional rankings, we find ourselves making a stop halfway around the basepaths at second base. I see second base as the shallowest (non-catcher) position in fantasy. There are about a dozen players at the position that I think you could feel good with as your starter, but it gets dicey beyond that.
These are not my personal rankings but rather the consensus rankings from the Pitcher List managerial staff. A lot of brilliant minds put this together over the course of the winter. That said, we want to hear your feedback. If you disagree, let me know!
A couple of things to note before reading: These rankings are for standard category formats that use AVG, R, RBI, HR, and SB. Also, whenever I report hard-hit rate, I am referring to the Statcast figure available at Baseball Savant, as opposed to the Baseball Info Solutions data available at FanGraphs.
No. 1: José Altuve (Houston Astros)
Let’s say this off the bat: José Altuve is not the player that he was two years ago. From 2012-2017, Altuve would produce 30+ steals with a batting average often well above .300. Injuries have hampered his playing time and derailed his running game the past two seasons. He is still among the 85th percentile in sprint speed, but it seems more likely that Altuve will steal 10-20 bases rather than 30+ in 2020.
That said, Altuve is still one of the best hitters in the majors. He sacrificed some of his contact-oriented swing to increase his power production, posting career-highs in home runs (31), SLG (.550), and ISO (.252) despite playing only 124 games. A clear change in approach can be seen in his 9-point increase in Pull% (50%). It will be interesting to see if he continues to pursue this new approach or revert to his previous all-fields approach that won him three batting titles and an MVP award.
Worth noting, I do not personally believe Altuve benefitted much from any Astros cheating in 2019. Inquiring minds may disagree, but I am not concerned about a drop in production due to any loss of outside assistance. Though, Altuve may see a career-high in hit-by-pitches in 2020.
No. 2: Ketel Marte (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Ketel Marte was among the best and brightest breakouts in baseball (say that five times fast) this past season. A player that has had his resolute believers in past years, even they did not expect Marte to put up a season like his 2019 campaign. The 26-year-old made a drastic change to his plate approach, nearly doubling his barrel rate from 5% to 9.3%, raising his launch angle, and increasing his hard-hit rate to a career-high 40%. Essentially everything that we would want to see a young player do, Marte did in 2019.
The question remains, can he sustain these changes and the top-tier performance in 2020? Well, Statcast’s expected stats from his 2019 seem to believe the majority of his breakout. Marte posted a .299 xAVG (94th percentile), .521 xSLG (86th percentile), and a .370 xwOBA (88th percentile). Those seem like a fair projection markers for Marte in 2020. I would expect a slashline near .295/.360/.525 with about 25-30 home runs, 10-15 steals, and 185+ combined R and RBI. You shouldn’t draft Marte expecting to get a repeat of his 2019, but you don’t have to with his ADP resting near 44th overall.
No. 3: Gleyber Torres (New York Yankees)
The top second baseman in NFBC’s past month of ADP, Gleyber Torres is coming off a career year and is projected to bat third in what may be the best offense in baseball. What’s not to like?
I’m glad you asked! Honestly, there’s not a lot of negatives to point to in Gleyber’s profile. However, there is an interesting lack of positives as well. Despite leading all 2B eligible players with 38 home runs, Torres only put up a 35.8% hard-hit rate, well below league-average at the 33rd percentile. But Austin, Torres plays at Yankee Stadium and can hit his homers to the short porch in right! I agree, he could do that, but he doesn’t. Torres had a 44-24 Pull% vs Oppo% overall, with a comparable 47-25 figure at home. As shown in the graphic below, only eight of Torres’s 38 home runs were hit to right field (seven of which came in Yankee Stadium).
Torres doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard, he doesn’t really take advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short porch, he likely won’t crack 10 stolen bases, and he won’t be a standout in batting average either. His .260 xAVG from 2019 was almost exactly league average. All that said, I do expect Gleyber to hit 30-35 home runs in 2020 along with 200+ R and RBI combined. You won’t be upset to have Torres as your second baseman, but you may want to wait until the third round to take him.
No. 4: Ozzie Albies (Atlanta Braves)
We move from one 23-year-old star 2B to another, as we transition into the “Near-Elite” tier. Ozzie Albies has had an interesting beginning to his career. After his up-and-down 2018, many were concerned about his plate approach while others were already tagging him as a streaky player. Albies hushed both of camps as he had a very consistent and productive 2019 season that saw him hit .295 with 24 homers and 15 steals in 160 games. The Braves second basemen returned to a plate approach that was more akin to his minor league self, focusing on line drives rather than flyballs. Pair this with an improved outcome against all pitch types, especially fastballs, and you have a very reliable stud.
I see Albies as a player with a very high floor. While he may not be as exciting as the players ahead, or even some behind him, his most likely outcome is comparable, if not higher. His 2019 xAVG of .291 was among the top 10% of the league. Expect Albies to contribute a high batting average, with 20-25 homers, 12-18 steals, and a ton of runs as he hits ahead of Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna throughout the season.
No. 5: Jonathan Villar (Miami Marlins)
The list of active players that are capable of a 20-40 season only requires one hand. This scarcity has led Jonathan Villar to be a very unique player, in that he is highly regarded almost exclusively in the fantasy baseball community and nowhere else. The Orioles, a team full of below-average players, decided they did not want to keep Villar after a season in which he batted .274 with 24 homers and 40 steals. Now a member of the Marlins, Villar is in a notably worse ballpark for hitting, though it should be noted that the walls have been moved in at Marlins Park.
As we take a closer look at Villar’s profile, I’m led to believe we should expect a season closer to his 2018 campaign than his 2019. Last year, Villar posted a .249 xAVG, 25 points lower than his actual .274 average. Tack on a career-high flyball rate (and a counterintuitive BABIP increase) and there is reason to believe there will be regression in store for Villar in 2020. However, if he still steals 35+ bases, you will likely be fairly happy having drafted him. After all, that’s why you took him in the first place.
Drafting Jonathan Villar will be a decision that an owner ought to make prior to the beginning of the draft. If you want to take a player like Villar, Adalberto Mondesi, or others whose main draw is their capacity to carry you in stolen bases, you should plan your draft around that. Now, if it doesn’t work, that’s OK; you can still pivot in the middle and late rounds of your draft. Just think about the types of players you are able to take in the first three rounds if you didn’t have to worry about steals; target those players, take Villar, and feel good about yourself.
No. 6: DJ LeMahieu (New York Yankees)
I was among a large crowd in the fantasy baseball community that was almost completely out on DJ LeMahieu last offseason, as he left the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field. Do me a favor real quick: Take a look at the preview of DJ LeMahieu‘s skills in the top-right corner of his Baseball Savant page. I’ll wait… Yeah, the dude was very good in 2019! At least among the 88th percentile in exit velocity, hard-hit rate, xwOBA, xSLG, and third in the majors in xAVG with an insane .322! I was certainly wrong, as DJ had a mid-career breakout that is backed up by almost every underlying metric.
LeMahieu was able to prove me wrong without changing a lot from his batted-ball profile. His line drive/groundball/flyball ratios are in line with recent years, as are his pull/center/oppo ratios. The key to his improvements seems to lie in a more aggressive approach, as he swung more frequently than he had since 2014. LeMahieu also obliterated offspeed pitches, increasing his AVG against them from .232 in 2018 to a whopping .372 in 2019. This could be due to the Coors Hangover effect, a phenomenon Rockies hitters seem to deal with. Essentially, breaking balls and offspeed pitches act noticeably differently in Denver’s thin air than they would elsewhere. So, Rockies hitters are left without seeing a proper changeup for a week or two, then aren’t prepared for the movement outside of their home ballpark. Without having to readjust to differing environments, LeMahieu feasted on offspeed pitches.
While you will have the option to play DJ at first or third base, you’ll more than likely want him here at 2B. Like I said at the top, second base is not very deep. You’ll see, we’re getting there.
No. 7: Keston Hiura (Milwaukee Brewers)
Young Brewers phenom Keston Hiura took the baseball world by storm in 2019. When the Brewers recalled him from Triple-A in late June (his second shot at the majors in 2019), the 22-year-old took no time at all to impact the team, slashing .308/.376/.580 with 14 homers and 8 steals in 67 games. His underlying figures show he mashed the ball, reaching the top 8% of the league in barrel rate and seventh overall in hard-hit rate, with a wild 50.3%. He was really good in that fairly small sample, but there is reason for concern.
The glaring problems with Hiura’s game lie in his strikeouts and BABIP. Throughout the minors, Hiura has had very high BABIP figures, however, we should not expect his .402 mark from 2019 to repeat in the majors. Hiura is likely closer to a .270 batting average hitter, which is nothing to sniff at but should definitely be noted. If it all comes tumbling down, it will be because his strikeout rate gets in the way of his overall production. In his initial 16-game stint with Milwaukee, Hiura managed only a 4% walk rate while striking out in a third of his plate appearances. This was improved in his second stretch, as those figures were 8% and 30% respectively in his last 67 games of the season. It would not be entirely surprising to see Hiura struggle to a greater extent against major league hitting.
No. 8: Max Muncy (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Man, I really like Max Muncy. Although we did see a bit of a step back from his 2018 numbers, the Dodgers infielder still put up a .251/.374/.515 slashline with 35 homers and nearly 200 combined R and RBI. Clearly he is more valuable in a league that awards walks; in an OBP or points league I’d likely bump him up to the “Near-Elite” tier. Even if we can only expect a .250-260 AVG from him, I’m still thrilled to take Muncy at his current ADP of 74th overall.
I feel like Muncy is a fairly clear case of “What you see is what you get.” His drawbacks are clearly AVG and steals, where you’ll be lucky to get four. He does struggle against breaking and offspeed pitches, but makes up for it by mashing fastballs. That said, I fully expect him to hit around 35 homers again with 200+ runs and RBI. He’s projected to bat behind Mookie Betts and ahead of Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger; there may not be a better lineup situation in the majors.
Just like LeMahieu, you’ll have the option to play Muncy at both first and third base, but you’ll probably have him playing 2B more often than not.
No. 9: Mike Moustakas (Cincinnati Reds)
I see Mike Moustakas as a very similar player to the above Max Muncy. Both are 2B/3B eligible players in very good lineups. You can expect around a .250-260 AVG and around 35 home runs from both. Obviously Muncy will walk more often, which will help him amass more runs scored, but Moustakas strikes out less which may lead to a higher batting average. Maybe the biggest difference is their ADP; you’ll need to draft Muncy in the fifth or sixth round, while Moustakas is often available in the eighth.
Now, let’s be clear, I prefer Muncy to Moustakas in a vacuum. Muncy seems very likely to have near, if not more than, 200+ R and RBI combined. I’d be surprised to see Moustakas reach that figure, as he’ll likely be batting cleanup for a good portion of the year, and I just don’t trust Jesse Winker and Freddy Galvis to bat him in as often as Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger would. Another case of “What you see is what you get,” and you have to like what you see from Moustakas.
No. 10: Whit Merrifield (Kansas City Royals)
Whit Merrifield burst onto the fantasy scene as a late bloomer in 2017 when he stole 34 bases while hitting .288 with 19 home runs. He followed that up with a 12-45 season in 2018, but only managed a 16-20 campaign this past year. The sudden drop in steals is concerning, especially given the 20/30 success rate. He did lose a tick on his sprint speed, dropping from 29 ft/sec to 28.6, a difference that is a bit more significant than it may seem. It will be interesting to see how the Royals new manager, Mike Matheny, decides to handle Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi on the base paths. The Cardinals were 29th in the league in SB during Matheny’s tenure as manager in St. Louis, so that may not bode well for the Royals’ steals production in 2020.
Aside from his value on the base paths, Merrifield is a safe bet for a high batting average. He was among the 86th percentile in xAVG, with a .288 mark in 2019. I’d expect to see a .290-300 AVG from the 31-year-old, with 13-18 HR, and nearly 100 runs. While the Royals lineup may not be very good, Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier should provide enough power to get Whit around the basepaths, especially when he’ll be sitting at the very top of the lineup all season, barring a trade.
No. 11: Jeff McNeil (New York Mets)
Another late bloomer, Jeff McNeil provides a skill set that has become rare in today’s landscape: a contact-first plate approach. McNeil seems as safe a bet as anyone to contend for the NL batting title, as we’ve seen him bat well over .300 in both of his first two MLB seasons. He rates quite well in xAVG, reaching the top 12% of the league with a .290 mark. What is most interesting about him is the gains in power he showed in the latter half of the 2019 season.
From July through the end of the season, McNeil hit 17 home runs in just 62 games. That is a 42-homer pace over a full season! This power approach did come with a dip in his average, but he still hit .284 in this span. McNeil clearly made a change halfway through the season, as he hit the ball in the air more often (36% in second half vs 33% in the first) and pulled the ball more often, lowering his Oppo% from 25% to 20%. It’s also worth noting that McNeil saw a very low 5.8% HR/FB in his first 544 plate appearances between 2018-19, while the second half of 2019 saw him put up a 23.3% mark. Given the large disparity, I’d expect to see that figure settle around the 12-15% range, giving McNeil a reasonable 25-30 HR outlook going forward.
No. 12: Cavan Biggio (Toronto Blue Jays)
I have not been a fan of Cavan Biggio, but the upside is undeniable. In his first 100 games of big-league experience, he hit 16 homers and had a perfect 14/14 stolen base success rate. There’s clearly 20-20 potential here, but the plate approach is very unconventional and has me worried.
The best word I can use to describe Biggio’s approach at the plate is passive. Cavan rated among the lowest hitters in terms of swing rate, swinging less often than all players except Alex Bregman and Daniel Vogelbach. The difference between Biggio and Bregman, though, is contact ability. Biggio managed a league-average 76% contact rate, while Bregman boasts an 87% rate. While Biggio will take a lot of walks (his 16.5% BB rate was fourth in baseball), he will also take a lot of strikes and put himself into bad hitter’s counts. He’s then forced to change his approach and expand his zone with two strikes, which leads him to an abysmal 47% contact rate on pitches outside of the zone and a 28.6% K rate.
The path to a productive fantasy player is clear: He could easily reach the 20-20 mark and score a lot of runs with his .364 OBP. However, it would not surprise me to see Biggio struggle before he finds that success, as major league pitchers challenge him more often when the scouting report of his passive approach becomes widely recognized. I will not be drafting Biggio in 2019, but with an ADP in the 11th round, there are certainly worse options.
No. 13A: Danny Santana (Texas Rangers)
I’ve denoted Danny Santana as the twelfth second baseman on this list with an asterisk: He is only 2B eligible in Yahoo and Ottoneu leagues where his 17 games at 2B are enough for him to maintain eligibility.
Santana has been a classic example of a journeyman, never finding much success with Twins or Braves, but finally finding an approach that worked with the Rangers. In his breakout 2019 season, Santana slashed .283/.324/.534 with 28 HR and 21 steals. His underlying figures seem to back up the skill change, with a .275 xAVG and a .496 xSLG. The problem lies in his strikeout rate; Santana struck out at a nearly 30% clip, a range that is acceptable in today’s game but concerning nonetheless. Should that figure creep up towards his 2018 mark of 34%, well, his .179 AVG that year could rear its ugly head.
Santana is another case of a mid-career breakout seemingly out of nowhere. While most of the expected stats back it up, there is still reason to be a bit skeptical. But, with a price in the 10th or 11th round, you may be able to afford to take a risk on the potential of another 20-20 from Santana.
No. 13B: Eduardo Escobar (Arizona Diamondbacks)
As Eduardo Escobar is second base eligible in all formats, he’s been denoted as 12B.
After a 2018 season where he led the NL in doubles with 48, Eduardo Escobar followed it up by pushing most of those doubles over the wall. He hit a career-high 35 homers while knocking in 118 runs and scoring 94 himself. An impressive season to be sure, but I am inclined to believe that may have been a career year that will be hard to repeat.
Escobar needed a career-high 15.2% HR/FB rate to hit his 35 homers. That figure in a vacuum isn’t egregious by any means, but when we consider his hard-hit rate, it seems a bit suspicious. Escobar’s 31.5% hard-hit rate is among the 17th percentile of the league, putting him in the company of Austin Hedges, Brett Gardner, and Raimel Tapia. What’s worse, that 31.5% was another career-high mark for Escobar. I just can’t see him reaching the 30 HR mark in 2020 or beyond with a profile like that. I’ll be passing on Escobar at his 10th-round cost, as I would prefer some of the names on this list that come at a cheaper price, like Biggio, Santana, and a number of guys below.
No. 14: Gavin Lux (Los Angeles Dodgers)
This ranking of Gavin Lux is due less to talent level or more to opportunity for playing time. It’s unclear at this point if Lux will have a regular role in the Dodger’s lineup, and the addition of Mookie Betts doesn’t necessarily help. With Betts set to play right, that increases the likelihood of certain lineups featuring Bellinger at first, Muncy at second, and leaving Lux on the bench. Dodgeritis effects hitters as well as pitchers, and I would have loved seeing Lux go to Boston in the Betts trade.
That said, Lux’s talent may force the Dodger’s hand. In Double-A, Triple-A, and MLB action last year, Lux totaled a .340 AVG, 28 HR, 82 RBI, 106 R, and 11 SB. While those figures would clearly come down in big league play, I could see a 2020 season in which he hits .260-270 with 20-25 HR and steals 10 bases. That is, of course, if the Dodgers decide to give him the opportunity to do so. Watch his spring training carefully to determine what kind of role he’ll be expected to get at the beginning of the year.
No. 15: Tommy Edman (St. Louis Cardinals)
I like Tommy Edman a lot. The 24-year-old utility player put up a .304 AVG in his 92-game stint in the majors this past season, while hitting 11 homers and stealing 15 bases in 16 attempts. The xAVG of .287 backs up his impressive contact skills, but his speed is what has me intrigued. Edman boasts a sprint speed of 29.4 ft/sec, a mark that puts him just ahead of popular early picks for steals Fernando Tatis Jr. and Victor Robles. Clearly he has the propensity to steal when given the chance and the speed to back it up. I would not be at all surprised to see Edman put up a .285-.295 AVG while hitting 15 homers and stealing 30 bases. He’ll certainly be a target of mine in drafts, where he is averaging a price of an 11th-round pick.
No. 16: Robinson Canó (New York Mets)
Going into his age 37 season, Robinson Canó is still a worthy pick for a safe floor. Injuries have held Canó back in recent years, as he hasn’t managed to reach 500 plate appearances since 2017. However, the skills are still there for a reliable bat. Canó has been among the leaders in hard-hit rate the past two seasons, while his K-rate has remained in line with his career. This leads me to believe his bat speed hasn’t slowed to the point where we should expect a diminished performance. Also, Canó is an afterthought in most drafts, often going completely undrafted. He could be a solid value for a manager willing to take a shot with a late-round pick.
No. 17: Kevin Newman (Pittsburgh Pirates)
After the Starling Marte trade, the Pirates now have the lowest payroll in baseball and are clearly committing to a rebuild. That should give ample opportunity to Kevin Newman, a contact-first hitter that finally got his shot at the majors in 2019. He impressed in his first full season, hitting .308 with 12 homers and 16 steals, though I’d expect the power numbers to regress. Newman is not a power hitter, falling among the bottom 5% of the league in both exit velocity and hard-hit rate. That said, he was among the top 10% in xAVG (.291), so fully expect another season of a near .300 batting average with 13-18 steals. Just don’t expect double-digit homers.
No. 18: Rougned Odor (Texas Rangers)
Remember when we were drafting Rougned Odor as a potential high-end second baseman? Yeah, he isn’t that, but with an ADP around the 19th round, he may be worth a flyer. Odor’s tools are still fairly impressive, as he ranked among the league leaders in barrel rate (13.6%), but the swing-and-miss shackles his upside. He suffered from a career-high 30.6% K-rate last year, contributing to a disappointing .205 AVG and .229 xAVG. He’s essentially sold out for power, hitting 48% of his batted balls in the air, which did net him 30 homers, but I really can’t see him improving much on that total given his contact deficiencies. If you miss out on second base, you might consider grabbing Odor and another 2B and praying on the upside.
No. 19: Ryan McMahon (Colorado Rockies)
You can easily swap Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson in these rankings depending on who you prefer and who you believe will get more playing time in the Rockies lineup. The two are very different players and will offer your team a late option for either power or speed.
McMahon ranked among the league leaders in both exit velocity and hard-hit rate in 2019, though his 30% K-rate held back his overall production. He only managed to hit 24 homers in his first full season, while batting .250. I believe he could easily reach 30 homers in 2020 if given the opportunity for consistent playing time. But, as the Rockies have proven the past few seasons, regular playing time is a rare commodity for young hitters.
No. 20: Garrett Hampson (Colorado Rockies)
The Rockies may also choose to give Garrett Hampson a chance at playing time in 2020. Hampson offers fantasy owners a potential late-round steals source, as he boasts a 30.1 ft/sec sprint speed that ranks fourth overall in the majors. Hampson was also much improved at the plate in the last two months of the season. In his last 42 games, he batted .291 with 6 homers and 10 steals in 10 attempts.
I’d imagine that Hampson’s path to playing time is in the outfield rather than the infield, as it is essentially guaranteed that David Dahl will miss time and a Sam Hilliard/Ian Desmond split is certainly not the biggest roadblock. Should Hampson see 150 games in 2020, I’d expect a .250-260 AVG with around 10 homers and 30+ SB. It’s a tantalizing skill set, but a risky play without a guaranteed opportunity.
No. 21: Brandon Lowe (Tampa Bay Rays)
Boy oh boy, is the Tampa Bay infield packed! It seems Brandon Lowe is the most likely player to get the lion’s share of playing time at 2B, but he’ll almost certainly lose some at bats to Yandy Díaz, Daniel Robertson, and Willy Adames throughout the year.
Still, I’m interested in taking a 16th-round flyer on Lowe. His .270/.336/.514 slashline certainly impressed, especially when you take his .507 xSLG into account. His 34.6% K-rate will have to improve if he’s to continue his productive MLB career. You’re drafting Lowe for his upside, which is a 30-homer 2B with a .250-260 AVG and possibly double-digit steals. You could do a lot worse as a backup 2B or INF option.
No. 22: Luis Arraez (Minnesota Twins)
Twins second base prospect Luis Arraez (Uh-RISE) may simply be a better version of Kevin Newman. The 23-year-old put up an impressive .334/.339/.439 slash line in 92 games last season. He’s an elite contact hitter, leading the league in contact rate (93.3%), swinging-strike rate (2.8%), and strikeout rate (7.9%). There is a distinct possibility that he is the best contact hitter in baseball, even boasting a 10% walk rate! That said, don’t expect much from him in the power department. His 22.1% hard-hit rate was among the worst in the league, falling in the lowest 4% of hitters.
With an ADP in the 20th round, this is my pick for the best sleeper at second base.
No. 23: Howie Kendrick (Washington Nationals)
At age 35, Howie Kendrick had the best season of his career, slashing .344/.395/.572 while helping lead the Nationals to their first World Series title. The wild part is, his renaissance actually seems legit. Kendrick led all hitters in xAVG (.336), trailed only Miek Trout, Nelson Cruz, and Bellinger in xSLG (.622), trailed only Trout, Bellinger, and Christian Yelich in xwOBA (.419). The exit velocity and hard-hit rate were also in the top 8% of the league, bringing even further credence to his unexpected performance. It’s hard to look at those numbers and expect Kendrick to regress a ton. Sure, I don’t expect him to hit .344 again, but I’d honestly be surprised if he hit below .300. If you believe in xStats, batted ball data, and most other sabermetrics, you kind of have to believe in Howie Kendrick, and you should absolutely take him with the last pick of your draft.
No. 24: Tommy La Stella (Los Angeles Angels)
Tommy La Stella‘s fractured tibia in July was really disappointing, as the 30-year-old was making some really impressive changes at the plate. Hitting 16 homers with a .300 batting average in his first 77 games of the season, he was named an All-Star but missed the game after he was injured. His .295 xAVG absolutely backs up the results, though the power may have been bit overblown. La Stella doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard (30.8%), so I’d be surprised if we see him hitting at a 30 homer pace again. All in all, if La Stella can maintain the gains he made last year, he could be a late-round source of batting average while potentially turning in a surprising number of RBI, batting behind Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani.
No. 25: Kolten Wong (St. Louis Cardinals)
Kolten Wong has long been known as a plus defensive player with a middling bat. In 2019, however, he added a stolen base threat to the profile, making him notably more interesting in fantasy circles. Wong batted .285 with 11 homers and 24 steals this past season, reaching the 20-steal mark for the first time since 2014. After years of the Cardinals ranking among the lowest teams in stolen bases, 2019 saw them tie for third-most steals in baseball. Mike Shildt seems far more inclined to send his runners than Mike Matheny, a boon to Wong and others who can now add steals to their profile. A potential .260-270 AVG, 7-10 homers and 20+ steals from Wong is certainly worth consideration when the price is only a 19th-round pick.
No. 26: David Fletcher (Los Angeles Angels)
David Fletcher proved his worth as a super-utility player in 2019, playing all across the diamond while solidifying his place as one of the best contact hitters in the league. Fletcher is eligible to play 2B, 3B, SS, and OF in 2020, making him a very safe pick in deep leagues as a fill-in for injuries. Aside from his versatility, Fletcher topped the plate discipline charts, leading all qualified hitters in contact rate (91.1%) and swinging-strike rate (3.2%), while his .302 xAVG was top 12 in the league. Fletcher’s ADP is sitting at 342, essentially a 28th-round pick, though he has been taken as early as the 14th round. He’ll be a very cheap source of batting average in the late rounds and a great versatile bench bat to fill in throughout your lineup.
No. 27: César Hernandez (Cleveland Indians)
I was excited about César Hernandez after his 2018 season, in which he stole 19 bases while posting a 13.4% walk rate. However, both of those skills seem to go to the wayside in 2019, as his walk rate fell to 6.7% and he only managed nine steals. Now a member of the Cleveland Indians, Hernandez is in a worse hitting environment and lineup, which certainly won’t help the R and RBI totals. I see Hernandez as a safe but boring bet for a .260-270 AVG, 10-15 HR, and 10-15 steals. It’s not the worst by any means, but in the late rounds, I would much rather look for upside plays.
No. 28: Dee Gordon (Seattle Mariners)
Dee Gordon is not a very good hitter anymore. His Baseball Savant page is covered in blue, which is not a good sign. But, Gordon has never been drafted for his bat; its always been his speed that drawn fantasy owners. While he has taken a step back in sprint speed (28.5 ft/sec), he still swiped 22 bags last year. He seems like another case of “What you see is what you get,” though his package just isn’t very exciting. I’d imagine he’ll bat between .260-270 with 20-27 steals and negligible power numbers. The biggest concern will be if Gordon starts losing playing time to infield prospect Shed Long. I doubt the Mariners are ready to do that, but it is certainly a possibility.
No. 29: Jonathan Schoop (Detroit Tigers)
I was pretty excited to see Jonathan Schoop signed by the Twins last offseason, expecting him to be another useful piece in their dominant offense. Alas, it wasn’t to be, as Schoop batted just .256 with 23 homers. It appears now that his 2017 campaign in which he hit .293 with 32 homers was an outlier as opposed to the breakout many hoped it would be. Now a member of the Tigers, who will once again be vying for the worst record in baseball, Schoop’s supporting cast has essentially taken a 180. Nothing in his profile leads me to believe he’ll improve much of what we saw last season, but, hey, playing in Detroit means he will certainly have safe playing time.
No. 30: Michael Chavis (Boston Red Sox)
If you want a hail-mary speculative pick at 2B, Michael Chavis isn’t a bad option. He seems to have the inside track on the Red Sox starting second base role, and still holds some pedigree as a first-round pick in 2014. He has 25-30 homer upside, but will need to improve on his 33% strikeout rate to really take advantage of the opportunity for playing time. However, due to Shiny New Toy Syndrome, Chavis has an ADP in the 19th or 20th round. You may have to pay more than a last-round pick for Chavis, but if you believe in the upside, he could certainly turn a profit at that price.
Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)