Second base is often thought of as a top-heavy Fantasy Baseball position, with some elite performers headlining the list, a few mid-level guys with flaws in their game further down the board, and then a bunch of flotsam and jetsam comprising the balance of the available talent. Where are the Fantasy breakout second basemen?
I believe that this is outdated thinking, and it’s my opinion that some significant depth has developed at the keystone sack over the past few seasons.
Take last year for example:
- Mid-rounder Jose Altuve joined the ranks of the Fantasy elite by winning the batting title and stealing 56 bases.
- Dee Gordon was, at best, a late-round flier in deeper Fantasy leagues, and all he did was lead the league in stolen bases.
- Neil Walker was not someone you sought out, he was someone you ended up with, but owners who rostered him were rewarded with a .271-23-76 line.
- Brian Dozier was one of only five players to amass at least 20 homers and 20 steals, and he should make a run at repeating that feat in 2015.
There is plenty of depth at second base these days, but there are also performers that may still be somewhat below the radar.
These are the breakout second basemen that we’ll be talking (and writing) about at this time next year.
3 Breakout Second Basemen Candidates for 2015
Let’s have a look at a few of these players and find out why they just might be the “Next Big Things” at the keystone sack.
Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals
Wong batted .303 with 10 homers and 20 steals at Triple-A in 2013 (caution: it was the hitters’ pinball machine known as the Pacific Coast League) and was called to the majors in mid-August amid the widespread assumption that he was the Cards’ second baseman of the future.
Wong struggled in the bigs, and then he was picked off first base to end Game 4 of the World Series. He scuffled badly out of the gate last season, and was batting just .225 when he was sent back to Triple-A in late April.
Though, he had fallen off many Fantasy radar screens by then, Wong fared much better upon his return to the bigs in mid-May. He spent some time on the DL due to a shoulder injury in late June and early July, but he finished the year tied for ninth in home runs and sixth in steals among second basemen with at least 400 plate appearances.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@STL_Cards_nut) February 20, 2015
Wong’s partial-season 2014 counting stats extrapolate to 16 homers, 56 RBI and 27 steals over the course of a 150-game season, and it’s that upside that have many Fantasy owners expecting great things from the 24-year-old in 2015. His batting average was a rather pedestrian .249, but his .275 BABIP tells me that bad luck played a role in holding down his final season’s number. I’m also encouraged by the fact that Wong owns a .305 career average in the minor leagues; there is room to grow here, folks.
Wong looks to be entrenched as the starting second baseman in St. Louis, and his combination of power and speed makes him an intriguing breakout candidate for 2015.
Even if his power doesn’t fully blossom this season, Wong’s speed alone should ensure that he carries plenty of Fantasy value. He won’t come too cheaply on Draft Day; Wong’s current expert Consensus Ranking ADP translates to a pick somewhere around Round 10 or 11 in a 12-team league, but his tools tell us that he has the potential to provide a fine return on that investment.
Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers
Odor was on several “deep sleeper” lists (including mine) before the news broke regarding one-time uber-prospect Jurickson Profar’s impending shoulder surgery. Now that the Rangers have confirmed that Profar will indeed miss the entire 2015 season, Odor’s sleeper status as a breakout second basemen has attained a considerably higher profile.
Odor’s 2014 numbers were rather underwhelming, but it’s important to remember that he played the entire season as a 20 year-old — an age at which most prospects are still working their way through the minor-league system.
Odor started the season at Double-A, and batted .279 with six homers and six stolen bases in 32 games before being called to the majors in early May. He accorded himself fairly well early on at the big-league level, batting .278 with three homers and 17 RBI through his first 41 games.
Odor hit a bit of a rough patch thereafter, though, and his average had fallen to .248 by the end of play on September 1 — though he did knock in 15 runs in August. He rescued his season with a .296-2-13 line in September, and it’s that strong finish — and Profar’s aforementioned injury woes – that have Odor in line for a potential breakout season in 2015.
He will need to improve his batting eye (4.1 percent walk rate last season, 5.1 at Double-A), but his power potential appears to be very real. He swiped 32 bases across two minor-league levels in 2013, and pilfered six bags in 32 games at Double-A last year, so there is definitely double-digit stolen-base upside here.
Perhaps Odor’s primary Fantasy value lies simply in the fact that he seems to have a lock on the job at second base, and a full season’s worth of at-bats could produce about a .260 average with double-digit homers and steals. That’s solid production from a player who is currently ranked number 257 by FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings. (Ranking correct as of February 25; follow the link for his current ranking).
Brett Lawrie, Oakland Athletics
Yeah, yeah, I know: it seems like Lawrie is always on some sleeper or breakout second basemen list, and then he finds a way to land on the DL for a big chunk pf the season. Granted, Lawrie has been around a while – but he just turned 25 years old in January.
When healthy, he has shown a fine combination of power and speed that figures to win him plenty of Fantasy favor … but he just hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to properly showcase those tools. For more on Lawrie, have a look at what I wrote about him over in our Fantasy Sleepers section. He’ll be available at a bargain price on draft day, and if this is the year he breaks out, you’ll look like a genius — okay, a bigger genius, come October.
I hope you enjoyed this look at a few breakout second basemen that could provide a fine return on their Draft Day value. please check out the rest of our 2015 Fantasy breakout candidates!
Brett Lawrie/Rougned Odor Photo Credits: Keith Allison
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