This is my first month on the second-base beat, and I can’t wait to hear who I’ve ranked too high or too low, preferably in caps lock in the comments section below or on Twitter. Either way, caps lock is crucial here. Don’t let me down. Jokes aside, I’ve got over 40 players in these seven tiers, and I hope you find them useful.
Even after two solid months of sub-.100 isolated power, I am still placing Cano in his own tier. The first part of my reasoning here is that, despite the fact that he hit just one home run in each of the season’s first two months, he did everything else so exceptionally well in May that he was still the No. 4 2B for the month. His batting line was a robust .355/.393/.458, he struck out just ten times while drawing eight walks, he swiped a couple bases, drove in 19 runs, etc.
Secondly, it’s Robinson Cano. The same guy with five consecutive 25+ HR seasons. I know he’s now in a ballpark that suppresses power, I know he’s hitting way too many ground balls, I know that the rest of the Seattle lineup at times looks like some terribly misguided attempt at self-deprecating humor. Still, it’s Robinson Cano. He has performed at such a high level for so many years that I can’t imagine him ending the season with fewer than 15 homers, barring injury (he’s currently sidelined with a contusion on his hand, but it’s considered a minor issue). Would you be surprised if he turned it on and finished the season in the 20-25 HR range? Me either. It’s Robinson Cano.
With all that said, the gap between Cano and the next tier has shrunk significantly. Part of that is a very slight downgrade to my expectations for Cano himself, but most of it is that I’m buying into some of the breakout performances we’ve seen over the last two months. If Cano only hits one homer again in June, and the guys in the second tier continue to excel, he will certainly find himself struggling to hold onto the top spot on this list.
I’m still no fan of Gordon’s hit tool, but let’s get real here. He stole 21 bases in May, despite hitting just .244/.311/.309. That’s more steals in one month than Altuve — the American League leader in stolen bases (20) — has on the season. He’s a total one-trick pony, but I don’t care one bit what the rest of your skill set looks like when you’re stealing 20+ bases in a single month for my fantasy team. Is this ranking aggressive? You bet it is, but he could steal 100 bases if he keeps this up. I still don’t even view Gordon as much more than a second-division regular, but this is fantasy baseball, not real baseball, and I want those 100 steals, thank you very much.
I’m not a big believer in Dozier’s ability to post a solid batting average either, but through two full months, he’s on pace for a 30/30 season. His .232 AVG leaves plenty to be desired, but he’s still scoring a ton of runs at the top of the Twins lineup, thanks to the fact that he’s drawn 32 walks in 53 games. Dozier’s ability to pile up the counting stats makes him a legitimate top option. Honestly, what more does this guy have to do before people buy in 100 percent? He’s been producing at this level for an entire calendar year now.
As previously mentioned, Altuve leads the American League in steals with 20, and he’s hitting .318/.360/.430. He has struck out just 19 times in 242 plate appearances. Altuve is awesome.
This tier probably has the most volatility. The top portion is made up of four relatively known quantities who are having very good seasons. Then you’ve got Rendon, who was hitting .169 in May until closing the month on a 6-for-10 run that made his month look slightly less horrible. It was a very disappointing way to follow up his fantastic April, in which he hit 14 extra-base hits, compared to May, when he amassed all of five. I still love Rendon, but I can’t ignore the fact that he was a black hole for four weeks.
Still, these guys are all in the same tier for a reason. Any of the seven options in this tier have the potential to put up top-five production at the position in any given month — through two months, Murphy has done just that, as he’s currently the No. 5 fantasy 2B. There’s high-floor, low-ceiling guys like Kendrick in here. You’ve got toolsy guys like Rendon and Zobrist, who can be somewhat boom-or-bust types. Carpenter’s in here because I had to stick his empty batting average somewhere, while still acknowledging that said batting average has value…you get the idea. If you own one of the guys in this tier, you’ll likely be fine going forward, but the players in this third tier have more warts than those in the first two.
Here’s your “formerly productive veterans on the decline” paired with “youngsters on the rise” tier. Oh, and Gordon Beckham’s here too. Phillips doesn’t run anymore and his plate discipline (3.6% BB-rate, 20.2% K-rate) has been so ugly that it’s borderline-NSFW, but he’ll still probably hit around .270 with 18 homers like he does every year. Hill is making his awesome 2012 feel like it was a decade ago, whereas Prado has turned back the clock to his ugly 2011, except with way more strikeouts. These three are all still somewhat productive in at least a category or two, but are likely over-owned in general due to name recognition.
Even though I have him ranked behind those guys, I’d personally take a shot at Wong over any of them. He’s been white-hot since returning from Triple-A, and I was high on him coming into the year. However, he’s ranked where he is because, while he does appear to have made a significant adjustment, we can’t forget that the Cardinals had to send him back down to Triple-A in the first place. I’ll need more than a 53 PA sample to buy in completely. I’m also still not convinced he can hit lefties. Still, he’s looked awfully good lately.
Gyorko is just depressing right now. Even thinking about the season he’s had so far makes me feel kind of sad and hollow inside. Consensus top-100 prospect in 2012 and 2013, hit 23 homers in his first major-league season last year…currently hitting .169/.214/.282. His weighted on-base average is .219. If I was trying to spin this in a positive fashion, I could point out that he hit four home runs in May after just one in April. However, he also hit .186 in May, striking out 24 times and drawing just two walks.
It’s a shame that Aviles will see less playing time with Kipnis once again healthy. His Swiss army knife defensive abilities (he’s started games at 2B, 3B, SS and LF this year) will keep him in the lineup at least semi-regularly, but he was hitting well as a regular — he posted a .743 OPS in May.
Green’s been hitting quite well, Odor has upside, Johnson is better than terrible…yep, that’s all the good things I have to say about this part of the list. Sigh. Abandon all hope, ye who enter Tier Six.
Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.