I have long felt that the second base position was one of the weakest in the game. After looking at the numbers and making my list, I feel very differently. I felt I left a couple of deserving names out of the top 10. And the position as a whole has become more of a power hitting position than in recent years.
With my top 10s, I will mainly be looking at what the players have done over the last 3 years, and obviously weighing 2021 the most. I chose to look at a 3 year window because the 2020 shortened season was so funky. I find a ton of value in players who are just consistent year after year. I also did not want to just look at 2021 because it would allow for potential rookies to work their way up the rankings a little too quickly. Not counting anomalies, there needs to be some track record in my eyes to earn one of the top spots. Now, let’s dive into the top 10 second Basemen.
10. Jonathan India
2021: .269 / .376 / .459 / 122 wRC+ / 3.9 fWAR / -0.9 BsR / 0 DRS
India is the only rookie on the list. Typically, I do believe a track record is needed to be considered one of the best at the position but I believe India is one of those rare exceptions. India burst onto the scene in 2021 and ended up winning the NL Rookie of the year. Playing almost all season (150 games), I felt India deserved to be on this list as he showed he could make adjustments all season long. I am extremely high on him as he is on all of my fantasy league rosters. I expect him to continue to jump up this list as he gains experience.
9. Adam Frazier
2021: .305 / .368 / .411 / 114 wRC+ / 3.4 fWAR / -0.1 BsR / 7 DRS
3 Year Range: 365 GP out of 384 / 6.3 fWAR / -0.8 BsR / 18 DRS
Frazier is a classic second baseman. He hits for average and is an above average defender. There are not a lot of players in the game like Frazier as he only strikes out in 10 percent of his at-bats. The Pirates decided to get what they could for Frazier when they dealt him to San Diego. Frazier will have 1 more year before hitting free agency and I will be interested to see if Frazier will put up even bigger numbers in a contract season.
8. Jorge Polanco
2021: .269 / .323 / .503 / 122 wRC+ / 3.9 fWAR / 3.1 BsR / 3 DRS
3 Year Range: 360 GP out of 384 / 8.8 fWAR / 5.6 BsR / 3 DRS
Polanco is similar to another player on this list as he plays for a smaller market team and the casual fan may not realize the type of numbers he puts up. Polanco’s power has only improved as he gains experience and he is putting up big numbers in a pitcher friendly ballpark. The Twins just committed to Byron Buxton and were the biggest disappointment in 2021. If the Twins bounce back in 22’, Polanco will play a big role in that but if the Twins struggle, he will be one of the biggest trade chips on the market due to his team friendly contract.
7. DJ LeMahieu
2021: .268 / .349 / .362 / 100 wRC+ / 2.4 fWAR / -1.7 BsR / -2 DRS
3 Year Range: 345 GP of of 384 / 10.3 fWAR / -1.8 BsR / 0 DRS
LeMahieu only played 81 games at second base in 2021 but has played mostly second base over the course of his career. It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with LeMahieu because Torres showed he cannot play shortstop and would likely move to second base. LeMahieu had back to back top 5 MVP finishes in 20’ and 21’ and won the batting title in the shortened season in 20’ (.364). The Yankees gave him a 6 year / 90 million dollar contract extension and 21’ was a step down from his previous 2 seasons. LeMahieu did have core surgery so if he is healthy for the start of the upcoming season, I expect a bounce back season from him.
6. Brandon Lowe
2021: .247 / .340 / .523 / 137 wRC+ / 5.2 fWAR / 4.9 BsR / -7 DRS
3 Year Range: 287 GP out of 384 / 10.3 fWAR / 13.0 BsR / -4 DRS
Lowe fits perfectly in the Tampa Bay Rays lineup and provides power at a position that power is not typically expected. Lowe is an example of a new age type of hitter as he hits for a ton of power, high on-base percentage, but strikes out in 27 percent of his ABs. Lowe ranks 4th in fWAR in the last 3 seasons and is a hidden gem for the Rays. He is also a great base runner but his defense needs to continue to improve as he was one of the worst defenders at the position.
5. Ketel Marte
2021: .317 / .377 / .532 / 139 wRC+ / 2.9 fWAR / -0.4 BsR / 0 DRS
3 Year Range: 279 GP out of 384 / 10.3 fWAR / 3.5 BsR / 6 DRS
Marte, like Polanco, is a name that casual baseball fans may not be aware of how talented he is because he plays late on the East Coast and plays for a team that has not been competitive at all recently. Marte finished 4th in the MVP voting in 2019 and was having a huge season through the first 90 games of the 21’ season but unfortunately leg injuries caused him to miss the remainder of the season. Marte would have been ranked higher on this list if he did not miss nearly half of the season. You are only as valuable to your team when you are on the field. Marte is super valuable but needs to find a way to stay on the field. Marte is another example of a player who could really help a contending team looking at seriously upgrading at the 2B position.
4. Whit Merifield
2021: .277 / .317 / .395 / 91 wRC+ / 3.2 fWAR / 7.4 BsR / 14 DRS
3 Year Range: 384 GP out of 384 / 7.5 fWAR / 9.0 BsR / 15 DRS
Merifield is more of a traditional second baseman but provides a ton of value to the Royals. Merifield is at the top of the stolen base charts every season and led the league in 2021 (40). He is also an elite defender as he led all second basemen with 14 DRS in 21’. Merifield was a little bit of a late bloomer as he debuted at 27 but has been so steady at the position, despite the Royals not being competitive. Merifield will be entering his age 33 season and I think he could help a lot of contenders if the Royals want to move him.
3. Jose Altuve
2021: .278 / .350 / .489 / 130 wRC+ / 5.2 fWAR / 2.5 BsR / -3 DRS
3 Year Range: 318 GP out of 384 / 8.8 fWAR / - 4 DRS
Altuve continues to play at an elite level and showed a lot of his doubters since the sign stealing debacle in the playoffs that he is an elite hitter without hints from his teammates. Altuve tied his career high in home runs with 31 in 21’ and playing in Houston should allow him to continue to take advantage of the short porch in left field. Altuve’s defense has never been elite but it continues to improve. It will be interesting to see how he ages as smaller players have a tendency to get beat up a little easier as they age. Altuve will be entering his age 32 season and the numbers show he is not slowing down yet.
2. Ozzie Albies
2021: .259 / .310 / .488 / 107 wRC+ / 4.2 fWAR / 8.3 BsR / 1 DRS
3 Year Range: 345 GP out of 384 / 9.3 fWAR / 14.3 BsR / 9 DRS
Albies will be entering his 6th big league season and 2022 will be his age 25 season. Ozzie is an all-around great second baseman as he has elite power, a great baserunner, and an above average defender. Albies has also been durable during his career, something that I value a lot when making these lists. When his teammates Ronald Acuna Jr. went down with his ACL injury, Albies continued to step up and played a big role in bringing a title to Atlanta. I think many people would pick Albies as their second baseman if they were starting a team today.
1. Marcus Semien
2021: .265 / .334 / .538 / 142 wRC+ / 6.9 fWAR / 4 BsR / 11 DRS
3 Year Range: 377 GP out of 384 / 15.4 fWAR / 11 DRS
Semien has finished third in the MVP voting in 2 of the last 3 seasons and that has earned him a massive 7 year / 175 million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers. Semien was a shortstop when he first came up with the Athletics and the move to second has seen him go from an inconsistent defender to one of the game’s best at the second base position. Toronto was not only the perfect ballpark but also the perfect lineup for Semien and it will be interesting to see if the move to Texas will allow for the same type of production. But right now, there is no doubt he is number 1 at the position.
What does your top 10 second basemen look like? Let me know your thoughts.
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