Hello, and welcome (back) to the 2020 Pitcher List second base rankings. These rankings were initially compiled in March, but have been updated to reflect the impact of the 60-game season as well as any recent news. These positional write-ups were originally written by Austin Bristow II, and here’s what he had to say:
I see second base as the shallowest (non-catcher) position in fantasy. There are about a dozen players at the position 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 offseason. That said, we want to hear your feedback. If you disagree, let us 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.
Tier 1: Elite
No. 1: José Altuve (Houston Astros)
Let’s say this off the bat: José Altuve is not the player 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 bases at a 10-20 full-season pace rather than at the 30+ pace he showcased in earlier years.
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 nine-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 benefited 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. Although 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 who 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 xBA (94th percentile), .521 xSLG (86th percentile), and a .370 xwOBA (88th percentile). Those seem like fair projection markers for Marte in 2020. I would expect a slash line near .295/.360/.525 with about 8-11 home runs, 3-5 steals, and 65+ combined R and RBI in a shortened season. 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)
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 in 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 rate vs. oppo rate 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 at 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 grab more than a handful of stolen bases, and he won’t be a standout in batting average either. His .260 xBA from 2019 was almost exactly league average. All that said, I do expect Torres to hit 10-12 home runs in 2020 along with 70+ 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.
Tier 2: Near-Elite
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 those 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 fly balls. Pair this with an improved outcome against all pitch types, especially fastballs, and you have a reliable stud.
I see Albies as a player with a 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 xBA of .291 was among the top 10% of the league. Expect Albies to contribute a high batting average, with 6-9 homers, 4-6 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 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 in 2019. Last year, Villar posted a .249 xBA, 25 points lower than his actual .274 average. Tack on a career-high fly ball rate (and a counter-intuitive BABIP increase) and there is reason to believe there will be regression in store for Villar in 2020. However, if he still steals 12+ bases in the shortened season, 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 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 xBA with an insane .322. I was certainly wrong, as LeMahieu 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/ground ball/fly ball 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 off-speed 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 off-speed 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 off-speed pitches.
While you will have the option to play LeMahieu 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.
Tier 3: Solid
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, but we should not expect his .402 mark from 2019 to repeat in the majors. Hiura is likely closer to a .270 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 pitching.
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 slash line 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 off-speed pitches, but makes up for it by mashing fastballs. That said, I fully expect him to produce at a full-season 35-homer pace again with lots of 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. And just like with LeMahieu, you’ll have the option to play Muncy at both first and third base as well.
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 a full-season 35 home run pace 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 more combined runs and RBI. I’d be surprised to see Moustakas compete in counting stats, as he’ll likely be batting cleanup for a good portion of the year, and I just don’t trust the hitters behind him to drive him in as often as Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger likely will for Muncy. 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 xBA, with a .288 mark in 2019. I’d expect to see a .290-300 AVG from the 31-year-old, with 4-6 HR, and nearly 35 runs. While the Royals lineup may not be very good, Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier should provide enough power to get Merrifield around the basepaths, especially when he’ll be sitting at the very top of the lineup all season long, 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 xBA, reaching the top 12% of the league with a .290 mark. What is most interesting about him are 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 that 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 over a full season 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 clear 20-20 potential here over a full season, 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. He rated among the lowest hitters in terms of swing rate, swinging less often than all players except for 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 in bad hitter’s counts. He’s then forced to change his approach and expand his zone with two strikes, which leads to an abysmal 47% contact rate on pitches outside of the zone and a 28.6% K rate.
The path to being a productive fantasy player is clear: He could easily reach the 20-20 mark over a full season 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. 13: Gavin Lux (Los Angeles Dodgers)
The addition of the National League DH is a huge boon to Lux’s value, as he looked to be competing with Max Muncy, Enrique Hernandez, and Chris Taylor at the keystone during Spring Training. 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 around seven HR and around three stolen bases.
Tier 4: Fallback Options
No. 14A: Danny Santana (Texas Rangers)
I’ve denoted Danny Santana as the 13th 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 discovering 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 xBA 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 toward 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 pace from Santana.
No. 14B: Eduardo Escobar (Arizona Diamondbacks)
As Eduardo Escobar is second base eligible in all formats, he’s been denoted as 14B.
After a 2018 season where he led the NL in doubles with 48, 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’ll be passing on Escobar at his 10th-round cost, as I would prefer some of the names on this list who come at a cheaper price, like Biggio, Santana, and a number of guys below.
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. An xBA 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 five homers and stealing 10 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, and in a short season his physical endurance likely won’t be tested as much. Canó has been among the leaders in hard-hit rate the past two seasons, while his strikeout rate has remained in line with his career numbers. This leads me to believe his bat speed hasn’t slowed to the point where we should expect a diminished performance. 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 who 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 xBA (.291), so fully expect another season of a near .300 batting average with 4-7 steals. Just don’t expect much power.
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 xBA. He 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 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)
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 produce at a 30-homer full-season pace in 2020, especially now that the National League DH has opened up a spot for him at first base. Bear in mind though, McMahon struggled on the road, and if for some reason the Rockies are not playing games at Coors this season, he may be worth fading considerably.
No. 20: Garrett Hampson (Colorado Rockies)
Garrett Hampson may be able to get close to full-time at-bats in 2020, with Brendan Rodgers representing his only real challenge at second base now that Ryan McMahon has been tapped as the team’s primary first baseman. 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 during the last two months of the season. In his last 42 games, he batted .291 with six homers and 10 steals in 10 attempts. Should Hampson see close to 60 games in 2020, I’d expect a .250-260 AVG with around four homers and 10+ SB. It’s a tantalizing skill set if he can secure the at-bats.
Tier 5: Deep-League Options
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 slash line 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 guy who could produce at a 30-homer pace with a .250-260 AVG and a handful of 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 that his renaissance actually seems legit. Kendrick led all hitters in xBA (.336), trailed only Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz, and Cody Bellinger in xSLG (.622), and 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, lending 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 xBA 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. The main concern is how playing time will work out with David Fletcher also in the picture, though there have been rumblings that La Stella could grab some at-bats at first base.
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 stolen bases to their profile. A potential .260-270 AVG, and seven-to-ten homers 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 at 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 xBA 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, assuming he can secure close to full-time at-bats.
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 seemed to go by 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, five HR and five steals in the shortened season. It’s not the worst by any means, but in the late rounds, I would much rather look for upside plays.
Tier 6: Leftovers
No. 28: 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 from what we saw last season, but, hey, playing in Detroit means he will certainly have safe playing time.
No. 29: 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; it’s always been his speed that has 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 6-8 steals and negligible power numbers. The biggest concern will be if Gordon starts losing significant playing time to some of Seattle’s younger, up-and-coming players. If he’s in a part-time role, he’s essentially unrosterable.
No. 30: Michael Chavis (Boston Red Sox)
If you want a Hail Mary speculative pick at second, Michael Chavis isn’t a bad option. He’ll likely split time at second base and first base this year, and still holds some pedigree as a first-round pick in 2014. He has 25-30 homer upside over a full season, 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)