SSG Baseball – Top 10 Second Basemen for the 2020 Season

Welcome back. Today we have the top 10 SSG second basemen. This field was much thinner than the Catchers and First Basemen lists. As you’ll see, the top player was an easy choice, 2-5ish were difficult to discern between, and 9-10 could have easily been swapped with a few of the “just missed” players. Enjoy the article and the new format!   10) Chris Taylor (29), Seattle Mariners 2019 – 139 games, .258/.342/.337 (81 OPS+), 3 HR, 2.5 WAR   + Best defensive 2B in the AL (back-to-back defending Gold Glove winner)   +  Good base stealer (47 SB and only 5 CS over the last 2 seasons)    –  No home run power (13 homers combined over the past 4 seasons)   9) Devon Travis (29), New York Mets 2019 – 157 games, .275/.334/.409 (97 OPS+), 18 HR, 2.8 WAR   +  Stays on the field (has played in all but 5 of the Mets’ games over the past two seasons)   +  Just one year removed from 6.2 WAR All-Star season in 2018   +  Good defense (average of +3.4 ZR over the past two seasons)   –    Regressed from one of the league’s best second basemen in 2018 to league average in 2019, which is not a good sign considering his age   8) Andy Ibanez (27), Washington Nationals 2019 – 133 games, .306/.348/.485 (114 OPS+), 15 HR, 3.4 WAR   +   No holes in his game skill-wise, with good on-base skills, good gap power, good defense, decent speed, and low strikeout numbers   –   2019 has been his only good season so far (3.4 WAR in 2019, 0.1 WAR in career previously)   7) Kolten Wong (29), St. Louis Cardinals 2019 – 161 games, .283/.338/.454 (106 OPS+), 17 HR, 4.0 WAR   +  Definition of consistency over the past 4 seasons (Averages: 159 games, .280/.333/.438, 17 HR, 3.8 WAR, 27 SB and only 5 CS)   +   Set career highs in slugging in past two seasons (.435 and .454)    –   Low ceiling offensively and defensively, and therefore rather unexciting   6) Ju-Il Pak (32), Chicago Cubs 2019 – 74 games, .217/.353/.386 (93 OPS+), 9 HR, 1.1 WAR

“Pak never really got out of the gate last year. He got a bruised thumb 3 weeks into the season and I suspect that impacted his fielding and plate performance early on…Then the two injuries in May and July basically derailed the season for him. I think that my expectation for him next year would be to get back to the player that he was in 2018…If he stays healthy, I do believe he is capable of putting up above average numbers and being an integral part in bringing this team back to the postseason.” 

Marcus McConnell, SSG Chicago Cubs GM

   +   1 year removed from one of the best rookie seasons ever in 2018;

   +   Even in a very down year, still walked a lot (14.6% in 2019, was 19.4% in 2018) and had a good OBP

   +   Injuries could be to blame for how mediocre he was last season, and he could bounce back and make this ranking look very foolish

    –     The 2019 numbers speak for themselves, and they are why “sophomore-slump” is a phrase that exists

    –    He has been called “fragile”, but time will tell     –    Like everyone else above 30, he’s not getting any younger–2020 will be a make-or-break year for him.   5) Scooter Gennett (30), San Diego Padres 2019 (with MIL) – 162 games, .318/.352/.493 (117 OPS+), 19 HR, 4.7 WAR    +   One of the most durable players at his position over the past 5 years (Average of 158 games played)    +   Doubles machine (finished 3rd, 1st, 8th, and 2nd in past 4 seasons among all hitters)    +   A strong leader who could help the Padres get over the hump in 2020     –   Rarely walks and strikes out a lot (4.8% walk rate was 3rd lowest and 17.7% SO rate was 5th highest among second basemen in 2019)   4) Jeff Young (23), Arizona Diamondbacks 2019 – 135 games, .307/.375/.529 (122 OPS+), 22 HR, 4.0 WAR

“I’ve always liked [Young] but I knew he was blocked at third base by [Li-Jen] Chu. So I took advantage of the winter league to switch his position to second base and he did great. He basically skipped Triple-A with only 39 plate appearances as I was desperate for a second baseman, so I am really nervous about a “sophomore-slump”. I was really happy to see all of his offensive scout ratings increase in this month’s report so maybe I shouldn’t worry.”

Dave Lengen, SSG Arizona Diamondbacks GM

   +   All around great rookie season (1st among rookies in slugging and runs scored, 2nd in OPS+, extra-base hits, total bases and triples, 3rd in OBP, and 5th in WAR)     –   Below-average defense     –   Possible “sophomore-slump” candidate    3) J.P. Crawford (25), Philadelphia Phillies 2019 – 136 games, .295/.381/.414 (110 OPS+), 7 HR, 4.4 WAR    +  The consistency of Kolten Wong, but 4 years younger (4.4 WAR or higher in first 4 seasons of career)    +   Great defense, with the skills to play SS if needed    +   Boosted his OBP last season, setting a career high (previous high was .350)    +   He has always had blazing speed, but his base running skills have greatly improved in the past two seasons (63% SB success in 2016-17, up to 81% in 18-19)    +   Except for a 5 week IL stint in 2019, he has consistently been healthy (Average of 157 games played in 2016-18)     –   Little home run power in 2019 despite a hopeful 2018 season (16 HR in 2018)   2) Forrest Wall (24), Colorado Rockies 2019 – 149 games, .308/.390/.479 (111 OPS+), 20 HR, 4.4 WAR

“I love Forrest Wall. He’s an absolute spark-plug at the top of the order. I liked him as a prospect when I started in 2015 but he has crushed all expectations…He wouldn’t hit 20 HR in another park but he is always on base in front of our big guns.”

Phil Macioce, SSG Colorado Rockies GM

    +   On-base plays at home and on the road (.403 at home, .378 on the road in 2019) and overall had the 2nd highest OBP among second basemen      +   Great speed (42 SB, 15 triples in 2018-19)      +   OBP, SLG, HR, 2B, H, and WAR all have increased each year since he debuted in 2017      –    Power wise, he is definitely been helped a lot by Coors Field (.547 SLG at home, .417 SLG on the road in 2019)      –   Significant platoon splits (.918 OPS against righties, .702 OPS against lefties), A lot of competition for the number 2 spot on this list, and he could have been anywhere from 2-5   1) Toshikuni Kondo (27), San Francisco Giants 2019 – 145 games, .329/.437/.449 (137 OPS+), 3 HR, 6.3 WAR

“Kondo was a player I went after and got him on a very team friendly contract. We knew he would be solid but he was way better than expected. We see him as someone who can be the cornerstone of our rebuild as we slowly start bringing up players from our farm system. I think he can avoid a sophomore slump but it will also be important that other players bounce back and pick up any drop off that he may have.“

– Greg Copeland, SSG San Francisco Giants GM

      +    Easy choice for number 1     +    Led NL in OBP and triples as a rookie in 2019     +    Also led all rookies in walks, batting average, OPS+, stolen bases, and WAR     +    Great defense (+5.6 ZR  at second base in 2019) and he can play 3B, SS, LF and RF when needed as well     +    More walks than strikeouts (94 BB, 43 SO), one of only 2 qualified hitters with that distinction in 2019 (OF Jonathan Roberts, WAS).       –     Like with Jeff Young, pitchers could figure him out and he could be subject to a “sophomore slump”     –     No home run power   Three down, seven to go for the All-MLB team for 2020. Stay tuned for the top 10 Shortstops coming up soon. Thanks for reading, and thanks to the GMs who contributed to the article!