2017 Second Base Tier Rankings – May Update

With six weeks of baseball in the books, those early-season samples are getting a bit larger. I usually post updates to this list at the beginning of each month, but the extra two weeks helped me compile rankings I’m more confident in, from a rest-of-season perspective. (Isn’t it crazy that we’re already nearly a quarter of the way through the regular season?) For reference, here’s my preseason rankings.

TIER ONE

I made the silly mistake of not giving Altuve his own tier to begin the season, a wrong which I am presently righting. The 27-year-old spent the last six weeks doing typical Jose Altuve things, being a solid five-category contributor with no clear holes in his fantasy game. He’s on pace for about 25 homers and 40 steals, and he’s flirting with a .300 average despite posting a career high 17.2% strikeout rate.

If you need to nitpick, that K-rate is where you’d want to do it, but I’m not that worried. Altuve’s whiff rate is only up slightly — from last year’s 6.7% to 8.2% — and he’s seeing a freakishly high number of first-pitch strikes (68.7%; league-average is about 58%). The strikeouts will come down, and the average will probably pop back up a bit.

What’s so impressive about Altuve isn’t just that he’s best second baseman in fantasy, it’s that he’s so consistent in maintaining that top spot. He truly does deserve his own tier.

TIER TWO

If you can’t have Altuve, second base is stacked with near-elite options. Cano is a four-category stud with a ceiling capped only by his lack of speed. Murphy is well on his way to proving that 2016 actually wasn’t a fluke, as he’s nearly maintained his power spike while continuing to hit well over .300. I thought Segura might regress a bit in Seattle, but nope, as it turns out he’s just really good at baseball now.

I feel great about singing Carpenter’s praises all offseason, because he’s been every bit as good as I expected. He’s already got eight bombs, and he’s currently the top 2B in many OBP formats, due to his absolutely bonkers .410 on-base percentage. Dozier is still Dozier, a four-category guy who unfortunately takes a bite out of your AVG.

I didn’t really know what to do with Turner. He doesn’t deserve to be in this tier based on his performance so far this season, but if he can put it all together, his fantasy upside is probably higher than any 2B not named Altuve. He’s staying here for now.

TIER THREE

It sure seems like Castro’s 2016 power spike was far from a fluke. The 27-year-old averaged just over 10 home runs in his six seasons with the Cubs, then suddenly swatted 21 bombs last year. He’s already got seven this year, with isolated power sitting at an even .200. This is probably a good time to mention that he’s hitting .343 — a number which is sure to drop, but indicates just how hot he is right now.

I was concerned about Villar coming into 2016, and now that he’s on pace for 200+ strikeouts, I feel validated for being a bit down on him. He’s just not getting on base enough to be an elite stolen-base threat like he was last year, but he’s still a solid four-category fantasy contributor.

Gyorko is playing the best baseball of his career right now, and it’s not even close. He won’t maintain a .333/.390/620 slash all year, but he’s well on his way to a second straight 30-homer season. Hernandez is one of the most pleasant surprises of 2017 so far, as he’s scoring runs by the truckload, thanks to his near-.400 OBP out of the leadoff spot. The power isn’t real, but everything else seems to be legit.

Gordon is a one-trick pony, but he has more steals than any other 2B, which should surprise absolutely no one. Ramirez doesn’t wow you in any one way, but he quietly chips away at all five categories. Kinsler turns 35 next month, and has to decline eventually, but it’s going to take more than a subpar 30-game sample to sour me on a guy who’s been a consistent fantasy contributor for the last decade.

TIER FOUR

This is where I stop being comfortable with having one of these guys as my mixed-league starting 2B. This is a large tier, but I honestly don’t see much value differential between Schoop and Solarte, or Baez and Peraza. The players in this tier are fine options for AL/NL-only leagues, or MI slots in mixers.

TIER FIVE

Bench pieces and streaming options.

TIER SIX

I was going to put Espinosa in a Tier Seven all by himself (I used to do this with Dan Uggla all the time, it was great fun), because Espinosa with a bat in his hands is turning into one of baseball’s best unintentional comedies. In fact, from 4/20-5/13, Espinosa managed to go a Eugenio Velez-esque 1-for-56 with 21 strikeouts. I’ll type that again, and also italicize it so that you know it wasn’t a typo: 1-for-56 with 21 strikeouts!

However, Espinosa both homered and drew a walk yesterday, while only striking out one time! In the whole game! Amazing. This one-game sample was so good that it temporarily vaulted Espinosa back into the same echelon as the Tyler Saladinos and Jace Petersons of the world. For now.





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.

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What tier would Owings, newly eligible in some places, slot into?