The Top 10 2nd Baseman Right Now

Diamond Digest's version of the Top 10 Right Now

Some of the most fun sports fans have with each other is debating which player is better. Player A or Player B. Here at Diamond Digest, we are no different. I have asked our staff to name their top 10 players at each position on the baseball field and we will look to compare ours to The Shredder. Over the course of the next few weeks, Diamond Digest will release our composite lists for each position right now, and later on from the past 10 years.

The scoring system works like this: Each one of our writer’s top player at each position will receive 10 points, their second best 9, third best 8 and so on. The most points a player could receive was 240 points (All 24 first place votes).

My Rankings:
Jordan Lewin-Skversky
Diamond Digest’s
Staff Rankings
MLB Network’s
“The Shredder”
1Jose AltuveJose Altuve (240)Jose Altuve
2Whit MerrifieldWhit Merrifield (201)Jed Lowrie
3Robinson CanoScooter Gennett (165)Whit Merrifield
4Jed LowrieRobinson Cano (152)Robinson Cano
5Scooter GennettJed Lowrie (125)Chris Taylor
6Gleyber TorresT6. Gleyber Torres (124)Scooter Gennett
7Ben ZobristT6. Ozzie Albies (124)Joey Wendle
8Ozzie AlbiesJoey Wendle (55)Gleyber Torres
9Joey WendleDJ LeMahieu (47)Ben Zobrist
10Ketel MarteBen Zobrist (22)DJ LeMahieu

Others receiving votes: Brian Dozier (20), Kolten Wong (16), Ketel Marte (9), Cesar Hernandez (4), Yoan Moncada/Chris Taylor/Jurickson Profar/Starlin Castro (2)

10. Ben Zobrist – 37, Chicago Cubs

Zobrist won back to back world series with the Cubs and Royals

2018 Stats: .305/.378/.440, 123 wRC+, 3.0 UZR, 3.6 fWAR

It’s pretty clear that the second base position going into 2019 is split into two easily definable categories. The young guys, and the established veterans. Enter Ben Zobrist. Zobrist’s 2018 season was consistency at a basic level. At age 37, he managed to bounce back from a disappointing 2017 season from an offensive standpoint. He hit over .290 in every month but May, collecting 139 hits along the way, and was on base a lot. Only Jose Altuve ended the season with a higher on-base percentage (.386) than Zobrist (.378) at second base. While not known for his power, he slugged .440 with 40 extra base-hits. Going into his age 38 season, staying healthy is key for Zobrist. If he can manage that, the plate production is sure to follow, as the on-base machine continues to collect base-hits, and stay a veteran presence in Chicago. – Nick Tucker

9. DJ LeMahieu – 30, New York Yankees

2018 Stats: .276/.321/.428, 86 wRC+, 18 DRS, 11.0 UZR, 2.0 fWAR

Former Rockies 2nd baseman, DJ LeMahieu, has joined the Evil Empire in the Bronx, and he’s bringing his golden glove with him. The 30-year-old is coming off of one of the worst years of his career, but the Yankees hope he can find the contact ability and patience that won him the batting title in 2016. LeMahieu hit .317/.360/.433 at home, yet only .229/.277/.422 away from hitter-friendly Coors Field. Whether he is producing at the plate or not, LeMahieu’s defensive value can’t be overlooking, contributing 23 defensive runs saved at 2nd base just last year. While he’s not the same player he was a few years ago, LeMahieu still has a bunch of value and can be a big weapon to the Bombers. – Adam Koplik

8. Joey Wendle – 28, Tampa Bay Rays

2018 Stats: .300/.354/.435, .353 BABIP, 116 wRC+, 4.3 UZR, 3.7 fWAR

Joey Wendle was one of the most pleasent surprises in 2018, finishing 4th in the AL ROY voting, and helping to lead the Rays to 90 wins. Wendle solidified his starting role as a player who is above average at all facets of the game; his wRC+ was 16 points above average, was worth 1.3 UBR (Ultimate Base Running) above average, and a 4.3 UZR. In a time where many players are talking about launch angle and power, Joey Wendle was one of the best contact hitters, pushing the ball to the entire field, and making his name doing the little things. However, Wendle had a very high BABIP of .353, likely meaning he is due for some regression in 2019. To continue, he had a .323 batting average on 191 ground balls this season despite a .254 expected batting average based on exit velocity and launch angle furthering the expectations his numbers could drop with a little less luck. While Joey Wendle is 28 years old, with not as high of potential as other star rookies, he has put up good enough numbers so far to rank number 8 on Diamond Digest’s top 10 list- Jordan Lewin- Skversky and Ryan McLaughlin

Tied 6. Ozzie Albies – 22, Atlanta Braves

The young star has true 5 tool potential: contact, power, speed, fielding and arm

2018 Stats: .261/.305/.452, 24 HRs, 14 SB, 100 wRC+, 6.7 UZR, 3.6 fWAR

2018 was a tale of two halves for Ozzie Albies. On the surface, the 22-year-old’s numbers were strong. Albies posted a .757 OPS with 24 HR. His presence at the plate combined with great defense at second base resulted in 3.8 fWAR. But if we dig deeper, we see that most of his success was had in the first half of the season. 20 of his 24 HR were hit in the first half, and his batting average dipped from .281 to .226. Albies will be entering his second full season in the big leagues in 2019 and there is a lot to like from his game, including his sweet swing from both sides of the plate. There’s plenty of reason to believe that the young Braves star is only beginning to tap into his potential. – Jonah Conway

Tied 6. Gleyber Torres- 22, New York Yankees

2018 Stats: .271/.340/.480, 24 HRs, 120 wRC+, -7.7 UZR, 1.9 fWAR

Gleyber Torres came up to the big leagues in late-April, just in time for the Yankees to coincidentally gain one year of control (nothing suspicious going on here). He came up with high expectations, being ranked as a top-five prospect in baseball, and he turned those expectations into reality. Entering the All-Star Break, Torres was slashing .294/.350/.555 with 15 HR and 42 RBI. He was a front runner for the AL Rookie of the Year, but a hip injury sidelined him for the beginning of the second half. Torres couldn’t find his groove for the rest of the year. Despite this, Torres has shown the patience at the plate, and bat on ball ability to be one of the better second basemen in the game, and a big year could be on its way for the 21-year-old. – Adam Koplik

5. Jed Lowrie – 34, New York Mets

Lowrie and Jose Altuve at the all star game

2018 Stats: .267/.353/.448, 23 HRs, 122 wRC+, 6.1 UZR, 4.9 fWAR

Lowrie is coming off back to back years of 119 and 122 wRC+ on the offensive side and this past year showed better than his usual defense with 1 DRS and a 6.1 UZR. He has improved his hard contact rate to 34.5% in 2017, and all the way up to 40.1% in 2018, good for second among all eligible 2nd baseman. Lowrie’s 2018 was phenomenal, but his average sprint speed of 26.7 feet/second ranked 349th in the MLB meaning a player already bogged by injuries could start to see signs of decline even after these two breakout years. All in all, not many players have the two best seasons of their career at 33 and 34, but Jed Lowrie your average 2nd baseman, and deserves his spot as a top 5 player at his position – Jordan Lewin- Skversky and Ryan McLaughlin

4. Robinson Cano- 36, New York Mets

2018 Stats: .303/.374/.471, 136 wRC+, 2.8 UZR, 2.9 fWAR (80 games)

It’s safe to say that Robinson Cano is coming off a down year in 2018. Or is it? Injury and suspension caused him to play only 80 games in 2018, but his numbers during those games were still enough to keep him on the Top 10 list. The most notable of those 80 games were the 41 he played after August 14th. At this point, his suspension had been lifted and he was fully recovered from a broken hand suffered in May. In that period Cano had 12 multi-hit games, including a 5 game multi-hit streak from September 18-23 where went 13 for 19, with 1 homerun, 7 RBIs, and zero strikeouts. Cano only hit 10 homeruns in 2018, and the move to a ‘somehow-less-hitter-friendly-than-Safeco,’ Citi Field might bode ill for his homerun numbers in the future, he still remains a tough at-bat, and one of the silkiest defenders the game has ever seen. – Nick Tucker

Robinson Cano is back to New York, only this time with the Mets

3. Scooter Gennett- 28, Cincinnati Reds

2018 Stats: .310/.357/.490, 23 HRs, 125 wRC+, 2.1 UZR, 4.5 fWAR

Cincinnati Reds’ Scooter Gennett made his first All-Star team after being just a waiver pickup from the division rival Milwaukee Brewers before the 2017 season. While a top 10 prospect in the Brewers system from 2011-2013, he was never able to full establish himself as a starter. However, he announced his arrival as a legitimate starter shortly after being claimed, becoming just the 17th player in MLB history to hit 4 homeruns in a game. Following, in 2018, he established himself as one of the marquee keystones in the league, posting a slash of .310/.357/.490 with 23 homeruns and 4.5 fWAR, good for 5th in the MLB among second basemen and 2nd in the National League. – Jared Enochs

Gennett’s 4 homer game that put him on the map

2. Whit Merrifield- 29, Kansas City Royals

2018 Stats: .304/.367/.438, 43 2B, 45 SB, 120 wRC+, 1.1 UZR, 5.2 fWAR

Merrifield emerged as the best player on the Royals last season, continuing his upward trend as he led the MLB in stolen bases and hits. Despite making it to the majors at a relatively old age of 27, Merrifield has quickly developed into an elite offensive player and plus-value defensive second baseman. Whit led the majors in hits (192) and steals (45) last year while improving his OBP 43 points, .324 to .367, and his wRC+ by 15, 105 to 120. As the cornerstone of an underwhelming 2018 Royals lineup, Merrifield was a consistent player who put up an impressive 5.5 bWAR to capture attention and shoot himself up the rankings at a weak second base position. From a value standpoint, you can’t get much better than Whit: he is still in his last pre-arbitration year in 2019, costing just over half a million dollars both for his fantastic 2018 season and for his production in 2019. – Ryan Ruhde

1. Jose Altuve- 28, Houston Astros

2018 Stats: .316/.386/.451, 17 SB, 135 wRC+, -3.2 UZR, 4.9 fWAR

The 2017 American League MVP looked to retain his award in 2018, but an early season slump (for his standards) only got worse as he suffered a knee injury. It is clear that the injury hampered him. He hit only .276/.366/.409 (121 wRC+) while played through the injury compared to .329/.392/.464 (139 wRC+) prior to it. The 5’6″ Altuve has become a symbol of success for those who are constantly doubted for their size, ironically serving as the David to Aaron Judge’s Goliath in 2017. Looking forward, the Astros can expect one of the sport’s most premier superstars, an other worldly run producer, to return to his usual self and get closer to a 150-160 wRC+. Even through injury and in a down year, Altuve was able to improve his hard contact rate to 33.3% in 2018, up from 28.2% in his MVP season. Jose Altuve was still the best second baseman in all of baseball and will only improve as he gets fully healthy and enters his prime years.

This is what Altuve looks like in MVP form

Watch out for The Top 10 3rd Baseman Right Now coming later this week!

Feel free to debate any of our rankings on twitter @diamond_digest or my personal account @JordanSkversky

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