With the off-season fading and the sweet light of baseball brightening up, we continue our countdown of the Major League Baseball’s best players. Last week, we looked at the top First Basemen, now we shift in the infield to the top five Second Basemen in baseball.
Just missed the cut
DJ LeMahieu: If there were ever a player who would be the poster child of the “Coors Field Effect,” it would be DJ LeMahieu. His home-away splits are pretty telling. Away from home, LeMahieu’s OBP droped 44 points (.396 to .352), his OPS dropped 60 points (.813 vs .753) and his strikeouts increased (39 vs 51).
LeMahieu is still a very good player with his solid hitting and defense, but it’s hard to rank him in the top five with these splits.
Javier Baez: If you like defense from your second basemen, then Javier Baez is your guy. He has incredible skill and range, making impossible throws look easy. He’s basically the Giancarlo Stanton of fielding grounders.
Where Baez struggles is in his consistency, particularly with his hitting. Baez has flashed some serious power with his bat, especially last season with his career-high 23 home runs. However, his OBP is still fairly below average at .317. His approach at the plate is still very poor, given his 144 strikeouts last season.
Baez needs to clean up his hitting and remain consistent if he’s going to take the step forward the Cubs are expecting.
Dustin Pedroia: Pedroia is typically a mainstay on top second basemen lists. But Pedroia struggled last season, particularly with injuries.
In 2017 Pedroia missed 57 games. He also took a step back last season offensively. His home run total was cut in half from 2016 and his OBP and OPS both dropped.
If Pedroia is able to stay healthy and improve his offensive numbers while still being the defensive stable for the Sox, he’ll move back into this list.
5. Cesar Hernandez
Cesar Hernandez has flown under the radar as a player for most of his career. It’s probably due to the fact that the Phillies have been pretty awful his entire tenure.
Regardless, he has been an extremely solid player for the team. He has seen consistent growth offensively, particularly using his speed, evidenced by his 26 doubles and six triples. He gets on base well, with an OBP of .373. His defense is very good as well.
Once the Phillies move from tanking to actually participating, maybe Hernandez will get the attention he deserves.
4. Daniel Murphy
Above Hernandez is another player from the NL East, Daniel Murphy. Murphy is one of the most gifted hitters in the MLB today. Murphy’s 2015 postseason was some of the greatest hitting ever.
His time for Nationals has been very good, with him falling just shy of a MVP in 2016. His offense has been incredible for the Nationals, knocking in at least doubles in back-to-back years, coupled with at least 20 homers both years. In 2017, he had a .384 OBP and a .543 slugging percentage.
So why the low ranking? Murphy plays pretty bad defense. Murphy will never be a good defender, and he’s not even an average defender. While his offensive stats are impressive, his defense hurts him overall.
3. Robinson Cano
When Robinson Cano signed that staggering 10-year $240 million contract in 2013, many thought there was no way Cano would be able to keep up his production by the end. Well, we are not exactly at the end, but we are getting there, and he’s still putting up the numbers.
Last season, Cano was an All-Star. His numbers were 23 homers, .338 OBP and .453 slugging percentage, and it was a down year. If he’s able to put up a season like 2016, where he finished eighth in the MVP race, he’ll put those doubters completely to rest.
2. Brian Dozier
The Twins shocked many in the baseball world last season by making it into the last Wild Card spot only one year after finishing with over 100 loses. Many will point to the defense of Byron Buxton and the revival of Ervin Santana.
However, Brian Dozier deserves a lot of credit as well. Coming off a season with 42 homers, Dozier hit 34 more with an OBP of .359. Dozier was the heart of the offense for the Twins last season and will be for many seasons to come.
1. Jose Altuve
There’s no way this could be a surprise. Altuve is the reigning AL MVP with a ridiculous 8.3 WAR. In 2017, Altuve had a batting average of .346, which earned him the batting title. His OBP was .410, which is insane. He hit 24 homers, leading to a slugging percentage of .547 and an OPS of .957. This is all coupled with excellent speed (32 stolen bases) and defense.
It’s not even close. Sorry Dozier, Cano, Murphy and Hernandez.
Featured image by Troy Taormina / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters
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