Instead of updating these rankings monthly like I did for the past few years, I decided to dial that back this year, with this being the third and final edition for 2017. In the past, I found the four-week turnaround to be a bit quick, as the samples since the previous entry were always small. This year, I’ve given myself more like 6-8 weeks between updates, giving me a format I’m much more confident in.
For reference, here’s what these tiers looked like in mid-May.
I always flirt with the idea of putting someone in the top tier with Altuve, and I’ve even done it a couple times. In the end, I come back to the fact that he’s been performing at a level above nearly every other second baseman since 2014. There are times when someone else will keep up with him for a month or two, but it doesn’t last, and Altuve always ends up distancing himself from the pack again.
The 27-year-old is having his best-ever season at the dish, with a juicy .350/.420/.561 slash. His Offensive Runs Above Average (33.2) is higher than anyone in baseball not named Aaron Judge. In the context of a standard 5×5 fantasy league, it doesn’t get much better than .350, 14 HR, 19 SB, 65 R, 51 RBI through 89 games.
Regardless of position, Altuve is one of the most dangerous five-category offensive weapons in modern-day fantasy baseball. A true generational talent.
Ramirez is making a pretty good case to join Altuve in that top tier, but he’s not quite there yet. In fact, Ramirez is putting up numbers close to Altuve’s, but Ramirez is a bit more slanted toward power, whereas Altuve’s advantage is in steals:
- Altuve: .350, 14 HR, 19 SB, 65 R, 51 RBI
- Ramirez: .326, 17 HR, 10 SB, 62 R, 48 RBI
Good lord, Daniel Murphy! Lots of people were skeptical of Murphy’s huge year in his age-31 season last year, but the way he’s silenced the doubters is just amazing.
- 2016 (582 PA): .347/.390/.595, 25 HR, 104 RBI, 88 R
- 2017 (365 PA): .348/.400/.595, 16 HR, 71 RBI, 61 R
I’m tempted to nudge Murphy ahead of Ramirez, but I think those 10 SB outweigh 20ish RBI and 20ish points of AVG. But man, not by much.
There haven’t really been any substantial updates in the 2 1/2 weeks since Turner hit the DL with a broken wrist, but even optimistic views had him out until mid-August, and who knows if he’ll be back to normal when he does return. It’s a shame, because he was really cooking on the basepaths, with a ridiculous 35 swipes in 315 PA. Even with the uncertainty regarding the wrist, I’d still probably take him above anyone other than Altuve/Ramirez/Murphy on a per-game basis when he comes back.
Dee Gordon is doing Dee Gordon things, like stealing 32 bases with no homers. As long as he keeps flirting with a .300 AVG, he’s a very good fantasy 2B, but he doesn’t have much wiggle room for that average because he’s entirely worthless in two categories (0 HR, 18 RBI in 384 PA).
Take your pick between the Mariners starting middle infielders. Despite having nearly opposite fantasy skillsets, Segura and Cano are roughly equally valuable. Give Segura a bump if you need AVG or SB, give Cano the nod if you need HR or RBI.
Schoop has been a really pleasant surprise this year, and his career-best .295 AVG is paired with an improved power stroke (18 HR, .235 ISO). He’s playing a lot like Cano for fantasy purposes. No really, a lot like Cano:
- Cano: .271 AVG, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 49 R
- Schoop: .295 AVG, 18 HR, 54 RBI, 51 R
Cano still slots in barely ahead of Schoop because his plate discipline and track record make him more of a sure thing, but they’ve been essentially the same player in standard leagues so far this year.
The Diamondbacks having great pitching this year is possibly serving as a bit of a distraction from the fact that Chase Field still inflates hitter stats more than any other non-Coors park. Chris Owings is not just a product of his home environment, he’s still nearly unplayable on the road for fantasy purposes. But wow those home stats:
- Home: .341/.376/.581, 8 HR, 10 SB, 36 RBI, 29 R
- Road: .238/.270/.371, 4 HR, 2 SB, 14 RBI, 11 R
This tier in general is the “guys I’d be okay with starting semi-regularly in a mixed league” range. Gyorko is putting up surprisingly balanced numbers. Until this year, he had never hit .250 and hadn’t stolen a base since 2014. Now he’s hitting .294 and he’s a perfect 5-for-5 on the basepaths.
Gennett is a great guy to play splits with. He’s hitting .335/.392/.671 against righties and .209/.244/.372 against lefties.
Taylor’s .389 BABIP is still unsustainable as hell, but I’m certainly enjoying this while it lasts. He’s been great, and might be the most surprising player in the majors with double-digit HR and SB.
- Josh Harrison
- Whit Merrifield
- Matt Carpenter
- Rougned Odor
- Brandon Phillips
- Dustin Pedroia
- Cesar Hernandez (DL)
- Logan Forsythe
- Ian Kinsler
Second base is super-crazy-deep, as evidenced by the fact that these are all perfectly good players who still aren’t quite good enough to make the cut as a standard mixed-league 2B. They are all good options for a MI slot, or to platoon with an Owings or Gennett.
All of these guys have some warts, of course. For example, some of them are past their primes (Kinsler, Pedroia, Phillips), some of them have names that sound like rejected F. Scott Fitzgerald characters (Whit Merrifield), some of them are hitting .245 (Forsythe, Carpenter), etc.
- Javier Baez
- Ian Happ
- Jonathan Villar
- Paul DeJong
- Eric Sogard (DL)
- Yangervis Solarte (DL)
- Neil Walker (DL)
- Joe Panik
- Jed Lowrie
- Jose Peraza
Even these guys are viable bench pieces or AL/NL-only options.
- Kolten Wong
- Howie Kendrick (DL)
- Ben Zobrist
- Brad Miller
- Brandon Drury
- Jason Kipnis (DL)
- Steve Pearce
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.