Fantasy Baseball 2B preview: Jonathan Villar an easy fade in 2021
Second base is a minefield. It's ugly. If you came here looking for a positional pep talk ... well, sorry. Ain't happenin'. Second base is full of bad ideas. There's a decent chance you're gonna screw it up.
Honestly, if the fantasy football community ever had to deal with a problem as messy as this year's second base situation, someone would launch a #Ban2B movement and try to replace the position with an additional flex spot.
[Positional Previews: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]
Because c'mon, those folks are constant complainers. Football managers really only have to confront positional scarcity like once every decade, so they inevitably panic and start begging for rule changes.
Veteran fantasy baseball players are, of course, made of tougher stuff. We've navigated plenty of seasons in which there were no more than two or three reliable options at second base — years in which whiffing on Chase Utley at the top of your draft meant you'd spend six months suffering with Ty Wigginton.
We can definitely handle the challenges of 2021.
[Batter up: Join or sign up for a fantasy baseball league now]
Still, it's kind of a hellscape at second. You won't have an easy time identifying a legitimate fantasy difference-maker, even at the top of the ranks. Ozzie Albies is the consensus No. 1 fantasy second baseman, yet a reasonable projection for his full-season production wouldn't land him among the top-10 (or possibly 15) outfielders. We're all just hoping for a 25-15-.280 season with run-scoring — stellar production by the standards of his position, but it's not carrying you to a mixed league title.
Albies is the first name in a clear big three at this spot, ahead of DJ LeMahieu and Whit Merrifield. LeMahieu is an AVG-dependent fantasy option who rarely runs and Merrifield is a modest-pop batter with declining speed in an underwhelming lineup. So, um ... hooray, second. Woo.
[Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]
And yet my personal preference is to land one of those top three (or Gleyber Torres or Keston Hiura) somewhere in the first five rounds because they're all established contributors across multiple categories without being severe liabilities in any stats. Everywhere else we look at this position, we can find reasons to worry. But that's not to say we can't find a little upside, too.
Players to reach for at 2B
Nobody at this position barreled the ball as consistently or as viciously as Tampa Bay's BRANDON LOWE last season. He homered 14 times over 224 plate appearances last year, and plenty of 'em were no-doubters. Was it a small sample? Yeah, sure. But it was a pretty [profane] awesome sample. Lowe will hit near the top of a fun lineup and he has the surplus power needed to thrive despite a deadened ball. He's the seventh second baseman off the board in a typical Yahoo draft and clearly has the skills to outperform his ADP.
We should also note that Seattle's DYLAN MOORE has homered 17 times and swiped 23 bags over 151 major league games (441 PAs), plus he offers positional flexibility (2B-3B-SS-OF). In this era, we need to take an interest in any player who can steal 20-plus bases without being a disaster in every other category. NICK SOLAK of the Rangers isn't quite as interesting as Moore, but he's eligible at three spots (2B-3B-OF) and he has clear double-digit power-speed potential. Solak produced a 19/21 season at Double-A in 2018. He's also available outside the top-200 picks, so no need to reach.
Second basemen to fade
Go take a look at KETEL MARTE's year-by-year career stats and you'll notice that he briefly transformed into prime Nomar Garciaparra for one season, but has otherwise been Nick Ahmed. I mean, it's certainly possible that the 2019 version of Marte will reappear, but he wasn't that guy in either 2018 or 2020. Last year, he slashed .287/.323/.409 across 45 games, which is more or less what he'd done two seasons prior (.260/.332/.437). And yet in between those campaigns, he went supernova: 32 HR, 19.0% HR/FB, .329/.389/.592.
Maybe the true version of Marte is something close to 2019, but I'm not gonna spend an early-ish pick (Round 7-8) on that hope. He's never produced a high percentage of flyballs (30.6% career), so he'll need 'em to leave the yard at a crazy rate if he's going to approach 30 homers again.
The easiest fade in the player pool might be JONATHAN VILLAR, who landed with a team that doesn't have an everyday position available to him. He can obviously see a bunch of plate appearances in a super-utility role, but that makes him a high-maintenance fantasy option. He was a mess at the plate in 2020, hitting just .232/.301/.292 with two homers and 54 Ks in 52 games. No thanks. Villar's base-stealing ability keeps him in the fantasy conversation, but, again, we need to get those bags from players who contribute elsewhere.