Revisiting Second Base Rankings

Robinson Cano and Ian Kinsler have disappointed at the top, but second base has been full of solid performances. Below I’ve taken a stab at the top 15 for rest-of-season value. For the record, Joe Panik (148 wRC+) and Logan Forsythe (136 wRC+) were the toughest omissions. Statistics through June 10.

1. (RotoGraphs group preseason No. 1). Jose Altuve The drop in batting average is easy to explain. It’s all about the BABIP, which has returned to more of a career-norm after spiking last season. The average, on-base percentage, steals have trickled down accordingly.

The home runs have been nice, and they don’t appear to be fluky. His average home run distance is the best of his career by a wide margin. This looks like a natural progression for him. His rate of swinging at pitches out of the zone has remained steady the past three seasons, while his rate of swinging at pitches in the zone has increased. His eye is improving and as that happens, he’s becoming more aggressive on pitches he can drive. Despite the easy assumptions based on his diminutive stature, Altuve was never a threat to have Juan Pierre-esque power. He hit 15 homers between two levels in 2010 and 12 between three levels in 2011.

2. (4) Dee Gordon His BABIP has gone south so far in June, which is a big reason he has zero steals in the month. Look for it to improve since he only had one monthly BABIP below .300 last season. The runs and steals should come along for the ride. You know he’s not a threat to hit .400 as he was doing early, so enjoy what you’re getting with Gordon: Elite speed, a good run total and a solid batting average.

3. (6) Jason Kipnis Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the fact Kipnis had a 56 wRC+ at the end of April and now has a 163 wRC+ on the season. With one of the highest line-drive rates in baseball, maybe his BABIP sitting much higher than his career rate isn’t so scary. He’s also cut down on his strikeouts. The only issue is his steal rate. He’s been caught four times on 12 attempts, more than he was caught on 25 attempts last season.

4. (5) Brian Dozier Maybe he shouldn’t be considered an overachiever since we’re now three seasons into Dozier doing Dozier things. Namely, hitting for plus power at his position with an average that hurts, but doesn’t kill, fantasy teams. He appears to be more of a 14-steal guy like 2013 instead of a 21-steal guy like 2014, but he’s still quite valuable.

5. (10) Kolten Wong Wong’s my biggest jumper and it’s because he’s well on his way to improving on an impressive 2014, with a valuable combination of power and speed. He’s having some trouble with efficiency while stealing as he’s been caught in half of his attempts. Look for that to change as it’s not likely his speed evaporated.

6. (7) Dustin Pedroia He’s already topped last season’s home run total in less than half the games thanks to a career-high HR/FB rate. While doing so he’s making less hard contact and hitting more ground balls than ever, so I don’t expect the power to continue at this pace.

7. (3) Ian Kinsler Kinsler has bounced back from last season’s low walk rate by being more selective. Even at 32, he’s still running, which is great. The problem is with his power, which appears to be eroding. His hard contact is on a three-year decline and he’s hitting the fewest fly balls of his career. I think 10 homers is a fair projection, meaning he looks like Cano with some speed.

8. (2) Robinson Cano He’s got to get better, right? Maybe? Hopefully? When he makes contact, the results look similar to last season, except for increases in Pull% and Hard%. His issue is making contact in the first place. His strikeout rate is a career high and it’s backed up by career-worsts in swinging strike rate and contact rate. One easy reason to point to is his HR/FB rate, which is about half of the lowest he’s ever produced. But that’s a hard sell since his average HR+FB distance has been declining the past few seasons. Because Cano was also sitting on two home runs entering on June 12 last season, a bounceback to last season’s level of power is possible.

9. (12) Howie Kendrick You have to appreciate Kendrick’s consistency. His BABIP and batting average have been essentially the same the past three seasons. His power continues to bounce around a bit, with 2015 being an upward bounce.

10. (9) Neil Walker Walker is performing right in line with what should be expected. He’s not chasing more pitches out of the zone and his swinging strike rate is fine, so I am not concerned about his elevated strikeout rate.

11. (8) Daniel Murphy Murphy rebounded nicely from a .189 BABIP in April and he’s continued to walk nearly as often as he’s striking out. He’s expected back from the DL soon, but the quad injury that sent him there may dampen his stealing prowess for a while.

12. (NR) Devon Travis Travis was so good in 36 games earlier this season I’m leaving him here, though he is close to getting dropped since his rehab was halted with renewed shoulder pain.

13. (NR) Addison RussellThe strikeouts are problematic. The power is intriguing. Russell is 21 and has held his own in the majors.

14. (16) DJ LeMahieu A BABIP boost has infused LeMahieu’s low-ceiling, decent-floor skillset this season. While that likely won’t continue, ZiPS projects he’ll finish with career-bests in runs, RBI and average. He’s been much more patient this season and that’s led to better contact, showing up in his line drive rate and hard hit rate.

15. (17) Brandon Phillips It looks like smoke and mirrors. Phillips’ BABIP is more than 40 points above his career rate. While 33 years old, he’s stealing more efficiently than he has in years. He’s swinging more than recent years, yet striking out less. I have him here because second base gets a little sketchy this late and regardless of how he’s done it, he’s been solid.

Not considered: Ben Zobrist (OF), Marcus Semien (SS), Anthony Rendon (3B), Brett Lawrie (3B)





Adam McFadden contributes to RotoGraphs when he's not working as a sports editor at MSN. His writing has appeared online for FOX Sports and Sports Illustrated.

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Mookie is my 2B. Where would you rank him?