But we hardly miss them given how the position has transformed over the past year. From up-and-comers like Matt McLain, Zack Gelof and Bryson Stott to category standouts like Nico Hoerner, Nolan Gorman and Luis Arraez, you should have no trouble finding a second baseman who appeals to you.
The challenge for a rank list like this one is in measuring the degree of that appeal. The most honest interpretation, particularly for leagues that use 5x5 categories scoring, is that the right choice depends on the team you've built to that point. Maybe you want to shoot for upside. Maybe you just want to secure some stolen bases.
- Early rankings: | | | | | | |
Granted, it's only an issue once the elites are off the board, but I would say that the distinction between Nos. 5-11 is less how good they are than what they're good for. And the same is true for Nos. 12-17.
Ultimately, I have to put them in some order -- and I have -- but I want you to recognize the level of parsing that went into it. Unlike at, say, first base, there isn't a clear hierarchy but rather clumps of players who are similarly useful.
Note that the focus here is standard 5x5 scoring (such as Rotisserie leagues), but scroll a little further and you'll see my rankings for points leagues.
Mookie Betts Los Angeles Dodgers RF
|It's weird for a player of Betts' ilk to be draftable at second base, and no one else at the position even has a case to go in Round 1. But the mid-tier options are so attractive here that you might still prefer to use him in the outfield.
Jose Altuve Houston Astros 2B
|Altuve has turned back the clock the past couple years, proving twice over that he's still a significant source of batting average and stolen bases. Durability may be an issue, but only eight hitters had more Head-to-Head points per game than him in 2023.
Ozzie Albies Atlanta Braves 2B
|Albies bounced back from an injury-plagued 2022 with the sort of numbers that have made him an early-round staple over the years, actually setting career highs in home runs (33) and RBI (109). The launch angle that allows for so many home runs can sometimes come at the expense of bating average, but his place in the Braves lineup will keep the runs and RBI high.
Marcus Semien Texas Rangers 2B
|Albies and Semien are near equals in terms of statistical profile and lineup context, and it's worth noting that their per-game production for Head-to-Head leagues was within one one-hundredth of a point. Semien takes a back seat because he's in his mid-30s now, putting him at real risk for decline.
Matt McLain Cincinnati Reds SS
|McLain kicks off a deep tier of seven players, getting the nod mostly because of upside. There are contact issues that raise the question of how much we should take his rookie production at face value, but playing in a small park and batting high in a burgeoning lineup could bring him pretty close to Semien numbers.
Nico Hoerner Chicago Cubs 2B
|Hoerner is the safe choice for No. 5 as a superlative base-stealer who's at least pretty good for batting average and runs scored, and you may be surprised to learn just how high he finished in both Rotisserie in points leagues. But the lack of power makes him ill-suited for certain builds and limits his overall ceiling.
Ha-seong Kim San Diego Padres 2B
|Kim is similar to Hoerner but with more power and less batting average -- that is, if everything goes right. But the stolen base prowess is new, the power is only to his pull side, and the modest batting average was dragged down by some considerable dry spells, all of which makes him a bit like a house of cards.
Ketel Marte Arizona Diamondbacks 2B
|It would be superstitious to say Marte struggles in even-numbered years, but it would be factual to say he's failed to sustain his best from year to year. And because he's not a base-stealer, it's easier to hold it against him in Rotisserie leagues even if his overall upside is better than the two players ahead of him here.
Zack Gelof Oakland Athletics 3B
|Gelof brings a lot of the same qualities as Matt McLain, being a second-year player with pretty good power and speed but some underlying contact issues that so far haven't hindered him. The gap is mostly explained by his lesser venue and supporting cast, which goes to show the level of parsing requried for this range of the rankings.
Bryson Stott Philadelphia Phillies 2B
|Stott is sort of the happy medium between Nico Hoerner and Ha-seong Kim, coming closer to the former in batting average poential and the latter in home run potential. He runs a little less and bats lower in his team's lineup, but knowing he's out there may be justification to pass up the other two if the cost is that different.
Gleyber Torres New York Yankees 2B
|After some ups and downs to begin his career, Torres has settled into being a solid all-around option the past couple years, making him a fine choice for the risk-averse who don't need a big base-stealer. Talk of the Yankees dealing him away this offseason is a bit disconcerting, though.
Andres Gimenez Cleveland Guardians 2B
|Though his 2023 was clearly worse than his 2022, Gimenez managed to shake off the bust label with a big uptick in steals in the second half. His 22 over the final three months suggest that he simply needed some time to acclimate to the new rules, and he could turn out to be a discount version of Ha-seong Kim in 2024.
Nolan Gorman St. Louis Cardinals 2B
|There may not be a second baseman with more power potential than Gorman, but while the 23-year-old came closer to meeting his potential in 2023, his season was still defined by peaks and valleys, which may be unavoidable given the amount of swing-and-miss in his game. The hope is that his success against left-handers gets him in the lineup more.
Luis Arraez Miami Marlins 2B
|This may seem low for a guy who just hit .354, but the thing about hitting .354 is that it's virtually unsustainable on a mathetmatical level, which is why we haven't really since it since prime Ichiro Suzuki. Arraez is a safe bet to hit .315, probably, but since he's a D contributor in home runs and stolen bases, that would make him a C contributor overall.
Jonathan India Cincinnati Reds 2B
|The problem with India is he has no carrying tool, so while he's shown over the past three years that he can contribute in a variety ways, it's hard to predict how committed he'll be to stealing bases or how many of his fly balls will sneak over the left field fence. And if a playing-time crunch forces him out of Cincinnati, the power will be even harder to come by.
Tommy Edman St. Louis Cardinals 2B
|Having carved out a niche as a steals specialist, Edman contributed as usual in 2023, but seeing as the rest of the league improved in that area, the status quo simply wasn't good enough. There still comes a point in the draft when a .260-hitting, 12-homer, 30-steal guy has value, particularly one with his defensive versatility, but it's more of a resignation than in years past.
Brandon Lowe Tampa Bay Rays 2B
|Part of me still believes Lowe is the same guy who homered 39 times and drove in 99 runs in 2021, but after back-to-back years of repeated injuries and the Rays fiddling with his playing time, his best-case scenario may be a pipe dream. Still, if you want a slugging second baseman, he's your best bet once Nolan Gorman is gone.
Ronny Mauricio New York Mets 2B
|Mauricio may not be a finished product, but he flashed some exciting tools in a late-season trial with the Mets, delivering the team's hardest-hit ball of the year in his first ever at-bat and never missing an opportunity to steal a base. He's worth a flier in the hope he elevates more and chases less.
Thairo Estrada San Francisco Giants 2B
|Estrada is basically Tommy Edman lite, projecting for a similar batting average (meh) and home run total (blah) but with 20-25 stolen bases instead of 30-35. He also isn't as much of an asset defensively, so it's possible his new manager isn't as committed to him as Gabe Kapler was.
Edouard Julien Minnesota Twins 2B
|Julien is an on-base freak who often bats leadoff for the Twins and impacts the ball reasonably well, but he has yet to earn the right to play against lefties. He also strikes out too much and underimines his power by hitting the ball the opposite way, so while a big step forward is possible, it's asking a lot.
What changes in points leagues?
1. Mookie Betts, LAD
2. Jose Altuve, HOU
3. Ozzie Albies, ATL
4. Marcus Semien, TEX
5. Matt McLain, CIN
6. Ketel Marte, ARI
7. Nico Hoerner, CHC
8. Zack Gelof, OAK
9. Gleyber Torres, NYY
10. Ha-seong Kim, SD
11. Bryson Stott, PHI
12. Luis Arraez, MIA
13. Jonathan India, CIN
14. Nolan Gorman, STL
15. Andres Gimenez, CLE
16. Brandon Lowe, TB
17. Tommy Edman, STL
18. Edouard Julien, MIN
19. Ronny Mauricio, NYM
20. Jorge Polanco, MIN