Whereas J.T. Realmuto and Cody Bellinger are the undisputed top options at catcher and first base, the keystone lacks similar clarity.
Ozzie Albies, Gleyber Torres, Ketel Marte, and Jose Altuve are all being drafted within six picks of each other per recent NFBC ADP data. There’s also Keston Hiura just a few picks after that cluster, a guy who could also finish with top honors at second base.
You’ll have to make some decisions early on at this position in 2020.
1. Ozzie Albies 2B (ATL)
2. Ketel Marte 2B,SS,OF (ARI)
3. Gleyber Torres 2B,SS (NYY)
4. Yoan Moncada 2B,3B (CWS)
5. Jose Altuve 2B (HOU)
Anyway, Altuve has some concerning trends. His swing rate has declined for four straight years. His contact rates have all dropped for four straight years. His steals attempts have cratered, from 40, to 38, to 21, to just 11 attempts last year. The good news is that he had a blistering second half of 2019, but how much of that was due to the bouncy ball and to his home digs (i.e. the Crawford boxes)? Sure, he bashed a career-high 31 homers in 2019, pulling the ball more than ever at 50.0%. He also posted his highest ground ball rate (49.9%) since 2012, the 17.6% line drive rate was the worst of his career, and his .298 batting average was supported by a .282 xBA–marking the first time he’s failed to hit .300 since 2013. I’m not saying he’s not a good hitter or a quality MLB player. I’m just saying he’s not the same guy he used to be.
6. Keston Hiura 2B (MIL)
Here’s another volatile profile. You’ll have to ask yourself if you trust this profile–the free-swinging, hard-hitting type of player. Hiura burst onto the scene in 2019 with a whopping 51.3% swing rate and 35.0% chase rate. His 17.5% swinging strike rate means he’s reminiscent of a guy like Javier Baez. Hiura’s 7.2% walk rate was tolerable, though, especially after posting a 9.5% mark at Triple-A. And when he did connect with the ball, he obliterated it. He was inside the top 10% of the league or better on barrel rate, average exit velocity, wOBA, XWOBACON, and hard hit rate last year. You’ll just have to live with the strikeout rate and what that could do for his batting average, depending on his batted ball luck. It’s possible he’s more of a .275 hitter than he is a .300 hitter, especially over the course of a full season. Lastly, Hiura’s 51st percentile sprint speed isn’t stellar, but he’s been savvy enough over the last two seasons, hovering around a 76% success rate. He’s a guy that could chip in with 10 or so steals over the course of a full year, though that wouldn’t help too much in an abbreviated 2020. Overall, I’m buying in. This guy is a 30-homer bat waiting to happen.
7. Jonathan Villar 2B,SS (MIA)
8. Max Muncy 1B,2B,3B (LAD)
9. DJ LeMahieu 1B,2B,3B (NYY)
10. Jeff McNeil 2B,3B,LF,RF (NYM)
11. Whit Merrifield 2B,CF,RF (KC)
He ranked first in the majors with 559 batted ball events last year, and he’s one of the premier line drive hitters in the league. Last year’s 28.5% line drive rate ranked first among all qualified hitters. And the year prior, his 29.8% rate ranked third. However, after a steals success rate of over 80% in both 2017 and 2018, Merrifield was caught 10 times on 30 attempts in 2019 (66.6% success rate). That coincides with the loss of a little speed, as he fell from the 92nd percentile to the 85th, his score dropping from 29.0 ft/s to 28.6 ft/s. He’s still fast compared to the average player, but it’s at least a slight concern given that he’ll turn 32 years old this season. Draft him for batting average help and runs scored, but don’t count on power (career 4.4% barrel rate) or speed.
12. Mike Moustakas 2B,3B (CIN)
13. Cavan Biggio 2B,RF (TOR)
You know who hates ground balls? Mike Trout. You know who else hates ground balls? Cavan Biggio. In his 100-game debut last year, Biggio posted a 25.4% ground ball rate, one that would have ranked second-lowest in the MLB had he qualified. Who had a lower rate, you wonder? If you guessed Mike Trout at 24.3%, you’d be correct. Anyway, Biggio’s 27.6% line drive rate, 47.0% fly ball rate, and above-average hard hit and barrel rates paint a pretty picture. He’s passive at the plate, as the 35.9% swing rate from 2019 was well below the MLB average of 47.0%. However, he DOES NOT chase bad pitches. His absurdly low 15.8% chase rate would have been the best mark in the MLB by far had he qualified, with Alex Bregman a distant second place at 18.8%. He may not post the best batting average, but the plate discipline guarantees a double-digit walk rate, so that 16.5% walk rate last year wasn’t a fluke. Give him a massive boost in leagues that utilize OBP, and don’t forget he’s got 80th percentile sprint speed, too. He’s an ideal No. 2 hitter for Toronto, and being surrounded by Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Lourdes Gurriel is going to be a heck of a spot to hit.
14. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 2B,SS,LF (TOR)
15. Tommy Edman 2B,3B,SS,RF (STL)
His walk rate has dropped over two levels since he posted a 10.5% walk rate at Triple-A back in 2018–but it’s tough to argue with the results. Despite rates of 6.9% (2019 Triple-A) and 4.6% (2019 MLB), Edman has posted quality OBPs of .356 and .350 over the last two levels. A well above-average 8.3% swinging strike rate, .287 xBA, and eye-popping 97th percentile sprint speed all factor in. He’s a candidate to displace an aging Matt Carpenter in one of the top two spots in the Cardinals lineup, and/or displace Kolten Wong when the Cards draw a southpaw. Question the power if you like, but Edman is a 30-steal threat with his on-base skills and speed. Add that to double-digit pop and multi-positional eligibility…Edman is a fine play in all formats in 2020.
16. Gavin Lux 2B,SS (LAD)
17. Eduardo Escobar 2B,3B,SS (ARI)
He quietly hit 35 homers last season. I’m not sure where it came from, given that his batted ball profile and launch angle were fairly static. His barrel rate actually dropped from 8.3% in 2018 to 7.0% last year. His hard hit rate ticked up slightly to 31.5%, but that uninspiring mark still ranked below the 20th percentile. He also had a career-worst 12.0% swinging strike rate. On fly balls and line drives, Escobar’s 91.1 average exit velocity ranked 202nd of 250 qualified hitters. In general, this doesn’t read like a 30-homer bat, but more like a 20-homer guy. You can hold onto the 162 balls that Escobar hit over 95 MPH, ranking 67th in the MLB. That, and his average distance was 212 feet, ranking fourth in the big leagues. That’s a strange stat to end on, but I thought it worth noting. Just enjoy the 20 homers and five steals, okay?
18. Scott Kingery 2B,3B,SS,LF,CF (PHI)
19. Ryan McMahon 1B,2B,3B (COL)
20. Danny Santana 1B,2B,3B,SS,LF,CF,RF (TEX)
21. Kolten Wong 2B (STL)
22. Kevin Newman 2B,SS (PIT)
23. Brandon Lowe 1B,2B (TB)
24. Garrett Hampson 2B,SS,CF (COL)
25. Ian Happ 2B,3B,LF,CF (CHC)
26. Nick Solak 2B,3B,DH (TEX)
27. Michael Chavis 1B,2B,3B (BOS)
28. Starlin Castro 2B,3B (WSH)
29. Rougned Odor 2B (TEX)
30. Nick Senzel 2B,CF (CIN)
2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros