MLB Position Power Rankings: B/R's Top 30 Second Basemen

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2017

MLB Position Power Rankings: B/R's Top 30 Second Basemen

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    The second base position has rapidly become one of the deepest in all of baseball.

    Superstars Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano are the headliners, but they're by no means the only star-caliber options at the keystone.

    Daniel Murphy was a legitimate NL MVP candidate, Brian Dozier joined exclusive company with a 40-homer season, and both Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia are still going strong.

    And that's to say nothing of World Series MVP Ben Zobrist or MLB stolen base leader Jonathan Villar.

    Ahead, we've set out to identify the top 30 second basemen in the league heading into the 2017 season.

    A few things to consider before we get started:

    • League averages: For the sake of reference, the league average triple-slash line for a second baseman last season was .276/.333/.435.
    • Eligibility: A player must have played at least 300 innings at second base last season to be eligible for inclusion on this list. The exception to that rule was players set to make a position change this coming season. That notably included Brandon Drury, Danny Espinosa, Brad Miller, Jose Peraza and Jonathan Villar and excluded Jean Segura.

    The other important thing to note is that the goal here was to identify the 30 best second basemen for the 2017 season—and the 2017 season alone.

    Someone like Devon Travis has more upside than Dustin Pedroia going forward, but is he going to be better this coming year?

    For draft fans, think of this as a big board for the position if the entire league was doing a redraft for one all-or-nothing season in 2017.

     

    Previous top 30 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen

30. Ryan Schimpf, San Diego Padres

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    2016 Offensive: .217 BA, .869 OPS, 60 H, 42 XBH (20 HR), 51 RBI, 48 R

    2016 Defensive: -9 DRS, -11.6 UZR/150, -4.9 DEF

    WAR: 1.8

     

    Player Outlook

    So, who saw that one coming?

    After seven anonymous seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system, Ryan Schimpf joined the San Diego Padres organization on a minor league deal last offseason.

    The trade of Jedd Gyorko and an early-season injury to Cory Spangenberg provided Schimpf with his first big league opportunity, and he made the most of it.

    The question now is just how sustainable his out-of-nowhere breakout will be.

    A 31.8 percent strikeout rate and 17.7 percent home-run-to-fly-ball ratio are not promising signs for future success, but it's impossible to completely ignore those 42 extra-base hits in 330 plate appearances.

    The No. 30 spot seems right for a player facing a "prove it" season.

     

    Honorable Mentions 

    Ozzie Albies (ATL), Scooter Gennett (MIL), Ryan Goins (TOR), Jed Lowrie (OAK), Raul Mondesi (KC), T.J. Rivera (NYM), Cory Spangenberg (SD), Whit Merrifield (KC)

29. Chase Utley, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Age: 38

    2016 Offensive: .252 BA, .716 OPS, 129 H, 43 XBH (14 HR), 52 RBI, 79 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, 0.6 UZR/150, 2.7 DEF

    WAR: 2.0

     

    Player Outlook

    Father Time hasn't caught up to Chase Utley just yet.

    A .212/.286/.343 line during the 2015 season looked like the end of the road for the six-time All-Star, but he enjoyed a solid bounce-back season for the Los Angeles Dodgers and played his way into being the starting second baseman.

    While Utley rejoined the Dodgers on a one-year, $2 million deal this winter, the addition of Logan Forsythe means he'll be relegated to a bench role, and it sounds like he's ready for that move.

    "I think it's not [a] secret that I'm not getting any younger," Utley told Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times. "I understand that things change, and if I want to be part of a winning organization, there's a possibility that I take this type of role. I'm up for it. I'm up for the challenge."

    The 38-year-old enters the season 23 RBI away from 1,000 for his career, something only 17 other players who played primarily second base have accomplished.

28. Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    2016 Offensive: .282 BA, .786 OPS, 130 H, 48 XBH (16 HR), 53 RBI, 59 R

    2016 Defensive: 0 DRS, -25.6 UZR/150, -1.6 DEF

    WAR: 0.0

     

    Player Outlook

    Despite hitting .282/.329/.458 with 31 doubles, 16 home runs and 53 RBI as a rookie last season, Brandon Drury was a 0.0 WAR player due to his struggles defensively.

    Those struggles may well have stemmed from the 24-year-old not having a set position as he spent time at second base (16 games), third base (29), right field (32) and left field (62).

    The offseason trade of Jean Segura will allow him to play second base on an everyday basis in 2017, and that should allow him to settle in defensively.

    That said, his value will always stem from his bat.

    "In my eyes, he's as good a young, right-handed hitter as I've seen," Diamondbacks hitting coach Dave Magadan told Nick Piecoro of AZCentral. "The sky is the limit."

27. Danny Espinosa, Los Angeles Angels

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .209 BA, .684 OPS, 108 H, 39 XBH (24 HR), 72 RBI, 66 R

    2016 Defensive: Did not play 2B in 2016

    WAR: 1.7

     

    Player Outlook

    Danny Espinosa is never going to contend for a batting title.

    There's still plenty of value in a plus defender with 20-homer power, though.

    The 29-year-old played exclusively shortstop for the Washington Nationals last season, when he tallied an 8 DRS and a 1.4 UZR/150 and surprised more than a few people by holding onto his spot over rookie phenom Trea Turner.

    Now a move to the Los Angeles Angels means a shift to second base, as he'll join perennial Gold Glove candidate Andrelton Simmons to form one of the better defensive middle infields in the majors.

    The Angels got a .235/.275/.345 line with 10 home runs and 47 RBI from the second base position last season, so Espinosa will be a welcome addition to the lineup.

26. Brandon Phillips, Atlanta Braves

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Age: 35

    2016 Offensive: .291 BA, .736 OPS, 160 H, 46 XBH (11 HR), 64 RBI, 74 R

    2016 Defensive: -7 DRS, -2.3 UZR/150, -0.1 DEF

    WAR: 0.8

     

    Player Outlook

    The Atlanta Braves will be paying Brandon Phillips just $1 million this season.

    Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds are ponying up $13 million for him to play elsewhere, as the rebuilding club cut ties with the long-tenured veteran to open a spot for the second baseman of the future Jose Peraza.

    There's a time when Phillips was one of the game's top offensive second baseman.

    From 2006 to 2012 he posted a .775 OPS and averaged 30 doubles, 20 home runs and 80 RBI per season while making a pair of All-Star Game appearances and earning MVP votes twice.

    The 35-year-old still has some decent pop, but his OPS has dropped to .712 over the past four seasons.

    His glove also appears to be in decline as he posted a negative DRS (-7) and negative UZR/150 (-2.3) for the first time in 10 years last season.

    Phillips is in the final year of his contract, and he'll likely be pushed by prospect Ozzie Albies in the second half.

25. Starlin Castro, New York Yankees

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    Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .270 BA, .734 OPS, 156 H, 51 XBH (21 HR), 70 RBI, 63 R

    2016 Defensive: -8 DRS, -7.7 UZR/150, -4.4 DEF

    WAR: 1.2

     

    Player Outlook

    The good: Starlin Castro has piled up 1,147 career hits before his 27th birthday, and he reached a career-high 21 home runs last season in his first year with the New York Yankees.

    The bad: His .270 batting average was accompanied by a .300 on-base percentage thanks to a 3.9 percent walk rate, and he graded out as a below-average defender in his first year of full-time duty at second base.

    So where does that leave us?

    It's probably safe to say Castro is behind Didi Gregorius in terms of the team's middle infield pecking order, so once top prospect Gleyber Torres is ready, it's going to be Castro who winds up as the odd man out.

    A move to third base could solve that in the short term, but another top prospect is charging hard at that position in Miguel Andujar.

    Castro is under contract through 2019 with a $16 million option for 2010, but he could be on the move again before that time comes.

    He's not a franchise cornerstone, but there's value in his contact skills and still budding power.

24. Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .283 BA, .699 OPS, 138 H, 36 XBH (4 HR), 59 RBI, 57 R

    2016 Defensive: 8 DRS, 2.4 UZR/150, 3.1 DEF

    WAR: 1.8

     

    Player Outlook

    After three seasons in a seldom-used utility role, Josh Harrison broke out in a big way in 2014.

    He hit .315/.347/.490 with 38 doubles, 13 home runs and 52 RBI in a superutility role to earn a spot on the NL All-Star team and eventually finish ninth in NL MVP voting.

    That earned the infielder a four-year, $27.3 million extension prior to the next season and some added stability in the form of the everyday third base job.

    While the 29-year-old has continued to hit for a solid average with .287 and .283 marks the past two seasons, it's been an empty average.

    His OPS plummeted from .837 to .717 in 2015 and dipped even lower to .699 this past season as he shifted over to second base to replace the departed Neil Walker.

    A solid average, a good glove, some versatility and a handful of steals are enough to earn him the No. 24 spot, but it's clear at this point his 2014 performance was an outlier.

23. Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .294 BA, .764 OPS, 161 H, 31 XBH (6 HR), 39 RBI, 67 R

    2016 Defensive: 4 DRS, 12.6 UZR/150, 15.6 DEF

    WAR: 3.3

     

    Player Outlook

    Everything seemed to click for Cesar Hernandez midway through last season.

    The 26-year-old was hitting .253/.299/.346 on June 26, and he had been benched a handful of times earlier in the month as a result of his middling performance.

    A three-hit game on June 27 seemed to finally jump-start his season, and he went on to bat .326/.421/.429 in 365 plate appearances the rest of the way.

    Hernandez will never hit for much powerthough he did lead the NL with 11 triples last season—and he was just 17-for-30 on stolen base attempts last season, so there are some holes in his game.

    The strong on-base percentage and good glove make him an intriguing piece of the puzzle going forward, though, and he appears to have an upper hand over Freddy Galvis as the future double-play partner of J.P. Crawford.

22. Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    2016 Offensive: .324 BA, .762 OPS, 78 H, 13 XBH (3 HR), 25 RBI, 25 R

    2016 Defensive: 1 DRS, -2.6 UZR/150, 0.0 DEF

    WAR: 0.1

     

    Player Outlook

    The fact that the Cincinnati Reds are paying Brandon Phillips $13 million this coming season to play elsewhere speaks volumes to how badly they wanted to get Jose Peraza in the lineup on an everyday basis.

    And why not?

    The 22-year-old hit .324/.352/.411 with 13 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases in 72 games last season while splitting his time between second base, shortstop and the outfield.

    Peraza has top-tier speed with a pair of 60-steal seasons to his credit, and he makes a ton of contact with a 10.7 percent strikeout rate during his time in the minors.

    He could team with Billy Hamilton to form a one-two punch similar to Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo during their time with the Florida Marlins.

21. Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Age: 21

    2016 Offensive: .211 BA, .513 OPS, 4 H, 1 XBH (0 HR), 1 RBI, 3 R

    2016 Defensive: Did not play 2B in 2016

    WAR: -0.2

     

    Player Outlook

    The spring release of Brett Lawrie doesn't mean uber-prospect Yoan Moncada is going to break camp as the Chicago White Sox starting second baseman.

    Does anyone really expect Yolmer Sanchez and Tyler Saladino to hold him off for long, though?

    Moncada was 4-for-19 with 12 strikeouts in his first exposure to MLB pitching late last season, so a bit more time down on the farm can only help his development. The rebuilding White Sox have no reason to rush him.

    Still, there's a reason the Cuban phenom is viewed as a future superstar, and it might not take him long to force the team's hand.

    The 21-year-old hit .294/.407/.511 with 31 doubles, 15 home runs, 62 RBI, 94 runs scored and 45 stolen bases in 106 games between High-A and Double-A last season.

    If he's not up by the All-Star break, it will be a surprise.

20. Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Michael Thomas/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .240 BA, .682 OPS, 75 H, 19 XBH (5 HR), 23 RBI, 39 R

    2016 Defensive: 5 DRS, 7.1 UZR/150, 5.6 DEF

    WAR: 1.5

     

    Player Outlook

    All signs point to this being a make-or-break season for Kolten Wong.

    After spending time in the minors last season and briefly appearing in center field, he'll once again open the season as the everyday second baseman, where manager Mike Matheny told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com that he thinks Wong can provide elite defense:

    None of us have shied away from the fact that this should be a top-tier defender at second base. And we're never going to back off that, and neither should he. … He's going to have to go out there, and he's going to have to fight through some of those lulls that the game just brings. I saw him grow up last year through the adversity, and I see some exciting things ahead for him.

    Wong possesses a rare mix of power, speed and instincts that gives him the potential to develop into a perennial All-Star.

    The Cardinals are banking on him realizing that potential with the five-year, $25.5 million extension he was given last spring.

19. Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    2016 Offensive: .243 BA, .786 OPS, 133 H, 65 XBH (30 HR), 81 RBI, 73 R

    2016 Defensive: Did not play 2B in 2016

    WAR: 1.6

     

    Player Outlook

    The Tampa Bay Rays have long been seeking a left-handed hitting power complement for Evan Longoria in the middle of the lineup.

    Brad Miller finally provided that last season.

    Acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the offseason, Miller gave the Rays their first 30-homer player other than Longoria since Carlos Pena hit 39 bombs back in 2009.

    A natural shortstop who moved to first base in the second half last year, Miller will now shift over to second base to replace the departed Logan Forsythe.

    It's doubtful the 27-year-old will be able to duplicate his 20.4 percent HR/FB rate so another 30-homer campaign might be out of reach, but 20-25 longballs in a run-producing role isn't out of the question.

18. Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .239 BA, .695 OPS, 111 H, 38 XBH (10 HR), 62 RBI, 67 R

    2016 Defensive: 3 DRS, 8.3 UZR/150, 9.3 DEF

    WAR: 1.1

     

    Player Outlook

    The 2015 season was a breakout year for Joe Panik.

    He hit .312/.378/.455 and earned a spot on the NL All-Star team in his first full season in the majors, and his 3.3 WAR ranked eighth among second basemen.

    However, last season amounted to a lost year.

    The 26-year-old missed some time with a concussion, and his OPS dropped from .833 to .695 over the 526 plate appearances he did make.

    By season's end, he had been dropped from No. 2 to No. 7 in the lineup, though he closed out the year on a positive note by going 6-for-10 with two doubles against the Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series.

    His struggles at the plate didn't affect his work in the field and he's still young enough to return to his 2015 form, but for now it's tough to rank him any higher.

17. Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    2016 Offensive: .267 BA, .752 OPS, 64 XBH (25 HR), 82 RBI, 82 R

    2016 Defensive: -1 DRS, -1.8 UZR/150, 0.1 DEF

    WAR: 2.1

     

    Player Outlook

    Jonathan Schoop is currently suiting up alongside Xander Bogaerts, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius and Jurickson Profar on Team Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

    The 25-year-old enjoyed the best season of his young career in 2016 as he ranked fifth among second basemen with 38 doubles and set new personal bests with 25 home runs and 82 RBI.

    His overall approach at the plate remains a work in progress, evidenced by his 3.2 percent walk rate and .298 on-base percentage.

    However, he's a quality defender and the power speaks for itself.

    There's still plenty of room for him to take another step forward, and a spot in the top 10 in the near future is not out of the question.

16. Neil Walker, New York Mets

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    Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    2016 Offensive: .282 BA, .823 OPS, 116 H, 33 XBH (23 HR), 55 RBI, 57 R

    2016 Defensive: 0 DRS, 11.1 UZR/50, 10.9 DEF

    WAR: 2.4

     

    Player Outlook

    Neil Walker had a strong first season with the New York Mets, but it ended with offseason back surgery.

    That made him a fringe candidate for a qualifying offer, but the Mets extended one and he accepted the one-year, $17.2 million pact.

    Now the question is how well he'll bounce back from the operation, and from the sound of it, he's feeling better than ever this spring.

    "I can tell as soon as I wake up in the morning, anything that I dealt with for basically four years is completely gone," Walker told Christian Red of the New York Daily News after making his spring debut.

    Over the past seven seasons, Walker has averaged 26 doubles, 17 home runs and 68 RBI, and his consistent production is enough for the Mets to be exploring a potential three-year extension, according to Marc Carig of Newsday.

15. Logan Forsythe, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    2016 Offensive: .264 BA, .778 OPS, 135 H, 48 XBH (20 HR), 52 RBI, 76 R

    2016 Defensive: 1 DRS, -5.0 UZR/150, -0.8 DEF

    WAR: 3.4

     

    Player Outlook

    It's fair to say Logan Forsythe turned a corner in 2015 when he was finally given an everyday role for the first time.

    Take a look at his averages:

    • 2011-14: .235 BA, .646 OPS, 10 2B, 4 HR, 21 RBI
    • 2015-16: .273 BA, .791 OPS, 28 2B, 18 HR, 60 RBI

    The Tampa Bay Rays gave him a two-year, $10.25 million extension that includes an $8.5 million option for 2018, and that team-friendly deal made him a valuable trade chip this winter.

    He wound up going to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a one-for-one deal in exchange for top pitching prospect Jose De Leon, and he'll bring some much-needed righty power to the Dodgers lineup.

    The Dodgers got a .237/.309/.381 line from their right-handed hitters a year ago.

14. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    2016 Offensive: .273 BA, .737 OPS, 115 H, 34 XBH (14 HR), 59 RBI, 50 R

    2016 Defensive: 11 DRS, 16.3 UZR/150, 12.7 DEF

    WAR: 3.4

     

    Player Outlook

    Javier Baez still has work to do at the plate.

    However, if his breakout postseason performance is any indication, he's destined for big things in the years to come.

    The 24-year-old was a 3.4 WAR player last season despite not having a set position, and he racked up an impressive 16 total DRS while splitting his time between second base, shortstop and third base.

    If there was a Gold Glove award for a utility player, he'd have been a no-brainer.

    He also trimmed his strikeout rate from 30 to 24 percent, a big step in the right direction for someone who will always be a free swinger.

    Baez will return to the super-utility role once again this season, but the bulk of his playing time figures to come at the keystone, where he was the everyday starter during the postseason.

13. Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    2016 Offensive: .268 BA, .641 OPS, 87 H, 14 XBH (1 HR), 14 RBI, 47 R

    2016 Defensive: 1 DRS, 6.0 UZR/150, 4.1 DEF

    WAR: 0.8

     

    Player Outlook

    At this time last year, Dee Gordon would have had a strong case for a top-five spot in these rankings.

    He paced the NL in batting average (.333), hits (205) and stolen bases (58) in his first season with the Miami Marlins and also took home his first Gold Glove on the strength of a 13 DRS and a 6.4 UZR/150.

    After signing a five-year, $50 million extension last offseason, he was slapped with an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs in April that kept him from ever really getting things going.

    He did provide one of the more memorable moments of the season with his dramatic leadoff home run in the Marlins' first game back following the tragic death of Jose Fernandez.

    So how close can he come to returning to his 2015 form this coming season?

    We shall see, but for now, it's tough to rank him any higher considering his relatively short track record of productivity.

12. Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .300 BA, .785 OPS, 123 H, 40 XBH (11 HR), 50 RBI, 54 R

    2016 Defensive: 2 DRS, 2.4 UZR/150, 2.7 DEF

    WAR: 2.9

     

    Player Outlook

    Devon Travis has performed like a top-tier second baseman when healthy.

    In 671 total plate appearances over his first two seasons, he's hit .301/.342/.469 with 46 doubles, 19 home runs, 85 RBI and 92 runs scored for a combined 5.4 WAR.

    However, a left shoulder injury that eventually required surgery limited him to 62 games as a rookie, and he followed that up by playing 101 games last season after he didn't debut until late May.

    Then, he suffered a knee injury during the postseason that again required offseason surgery, and his status for Opening Day is in question as a result.

    All of that makes the 26-year-old tough to place in these rankings, as he has the tools to be an easy top-10 guy but enough health concerns that another injury shortened year is by no means out of the question.

11. Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Age: 23

    2016 Offensive: .271 BA, .798 OPS, 164 H, 70 XBH (33 HR), 88 RBI, 89 R

    2016 Defensive: -9 DRS, -13.2 UZR/150, -10.7 DEF

    WAR: 2.4

     

    Player Outlook

    Let's get this out of the way: Rougned Odor is a terrible defensive second baseman with zero on-base ability.

    He graded out as the worst overall defender among 21 qualified second basemen last year, and his .271 average was accompanied by a .296 on-base percentage thanks to a dismal 3 percent walk rate.

    Those two gaping holes in his game are enough to cost him a top-10 spot in these rankings.

    However, he's also fresh off a 33-homer performance in his age-22 season as he emerged as an important middle-of-the-order threat for a 95-win Texas Rangers team.

    There's plenty of time for further development on both sides of the ball.

    For now, though, his game simply isn't well-rounded enough to justify a spot any higher in these rankings.

10. Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    2016 Offensive: .285 BA, .826 OPS, 168 H, 60 XBH (19 HR), 63 RBI, 92 R

    2016 Defensive: -1 DRS, 11.7 UZR/150, 0.4 DEF

    WAR: 3.9

     

    Player Outlook

    Cy Sneed is a 23-year-old pitcher in the Houston Astros organization who pitched to a 4.04 ERA over 118 innings at the Double-A level last season and does not currently rank among the team's top 30 prospects, per MLB.com.

    That's all it cost the Milwaukee Brewers to acquire Jonathan Villar last offseason, but to be fair, he had not accomplished much at the MLB level at the time of the deal.

    Here's a look at how his first three seasons in the league stack up to his breakout 2016 performance:

    • 2013-15: 658 PA, .236/.300/.353, 44 XBH (10 HR), 46 RBI, 75 R, 42 SB
    • 2016: 679 PA, .285/.369/.457, 60 XBH (19 HR), 63 RBI, 92 R, 62 SB

    He went from organizational depth to a legitimate building block for the Milwaukee Brewers, as he'll shift over from shortstop to second base to former the double-play combination of the present and future with Orlando Arcia.

    There are obvious regression concerns with such an out-of-nowhere breakout, but his speed will always be a weapon.

9. DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    2016 Offensive: .348 BA, .911 OPS, 51 XBH (11 HR), 66 RBI, 104 R

    2016 Defensive: 3 DRS, -3.4 UZR/150, -0.9 DEF

    WAR: 5.2

     

    Player Outlook

    If we were ranking players based on 2016 performance, DJ LeMahieu would be a lock for a spot inside the top five.

    The 28-year-old won the NL batting title with a .348 average, and his .911 OPS ranked third among second basemen as he set new career highs in doubles (32), home runs (11), RBI (66) and runs scored (104).

    This is a player who had a career 81 OPS+ heading into last season, and even when he hit .301 in 2015, it was accompanied by a 95 OPS+.

    That raises some red flags about his chances of duplicating those big numbers, and an unsustainably high .388 BABIP doesn't help his case.

    Still, LeMahieu has proven he can make consistent hard contact, and he remains one of the better defensive second basemen in the game despite a down year from a metrics standpoint.

8. Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs

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    Pool/Getty Images

    Age: 35

    2016 Offensive: .272 BA, .831 OPS, 142 H, 52 XBH (18 HR), 76 RBI, 94 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, -1.5 UZR/150, 0.8 DEF

    WAR: 3.8

     

    Player Outlook

    Ben Zobrist gave the Chicago Cubs exactly what they were hoping for when he signed a four-year, $56 million deal last offseason.

    He was an on-base machine (.386 OBP) who recorded more walks (96) than strikeouts (82) and was a steadying veteran presence both in the middle of the lineupas he saw the bulk of his at-bats in the cleanup spotand in the clubhouse.

    The cherry on top was a 10-for-28 showing in the World Series that earned him MVP honors.

    With Javier Baez set to return to a super-utility role after serving as the primary second baseman during the team's playoff run, Zobrist should again be the primary second baseman.

    He could be pushed into a part-time role before his contract is up, but for now, he's as integral a part of the Cubs offense as anyone.

7. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians

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    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .275 BA, .811 OPS, 68 XBH (23 HR), 82 RBI, 91 R

    2016 Defensive: 4 DRS, 6.3 UZR/150, 9.5 DEF

    WAR: 4.1

     

    Player Outlook

    A rough 2014 season aside, Jason Kipnis has been one of the league's most productive second baseman for some time now.

    • 2013: .284 BA, .818 OPS, 36 2B, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 30 SB
    • 2014: .240 BA, .640 OPS, 25 2B, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 22 SB
    • 2015: .303 BA, .823 OPS, 43 2B, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 12 SB
    • 2016: .275 BA, .811 OPS, 41 2B, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 15 SB

    A more aggressive approach at the plate last season resulted in a lower batting average and more strikeouts, but it also netted him a career-high 23 home runs.

    Kipnis has quickly become overshadowed by double-play partner and budding superstar Francisco Lindor, but he's a star-level middle infielder in his own right.

    The six-year, $52.5 million extension he signed prior to the 2014 season now looks like one of the better bargains at the position.

6. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

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    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    Age: 33

    2016 Offensive: .318 BA, .825 OPS, 201 H, 52 XBH (15 HR), 74 RBI, 105 R

    2016 Defensive: 12 DRS, 13.9 UZR/150, 14.8 DEF

    WAR: 5.6

     

    Player Outlook

    Dustin Pedroia still has plenty left in the tank heading into his age-33 season as he's fresh off one of the best years of his impressive career.

    His .318 batting average was his highest since 2008 (.326) and his .825 OPS was his highest since 2011 (.861), and on the defensive side, his 12 DRS represented a nice rebound from an uncharacteristic minus-3 showing the previous year.

    He also put together just the second 200-hit season and fourth 100-run season of his career as he played 154 games after missing some time to injuries in 2014 and 2015.

    His 50.7 career WAR is currently ninth among active position players, and with five years left on his contract, he should be able to add plenty of that total in the years to come.

5. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    2016 Offensive: .268 BA, .886 OPS, 165 H, 82 XBH (42 HR), 99 RBI, 104 R

    2016 Defensive: 3 DRS, 0.2 UZR/150, 2.5 DEF

    WAR: 6.5

     

    Player Outlook

    The list of second basemen to post a 40-homer season is a pretty short one.

    • Rogers Hornsby (42, 1922)
    • Davey Johnson (43, 1973)
    • Ryne Sandberg (40, 1990)
    • Brian Dozier (42, 2016)

    That's it.

    Dozier reached that milestone on the strength of a ridiculous second half, as he posted a .990 OPS with 28 home runs and 58 RBI in 72 games.

    The Minnesota Twins gauged the trade market for the 29-year-old this offseason, but with two years left on his contract at a team-friendly $15 million, no one was willing to meet their steep asking price.

    Expecting another 40-homer season is asking too much, but there's no question Dozier is one of the game's premier offensive second basemen and an above-average defender to boot.

4. Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    2016 Offensive: .347 BA, .985 OPS, 184 H, 77 XBH (25 HR), 104 RBI, 88 R

    2016 Defensive: -9 DRS, -9.5 UZR/150, -5.2 DEF

    WAR: 4.6

     

    Player Outlook

    Daniel Murphy is one of the league's best pure hitters, and he took his power game to another level last season.

    Along with hitting a career-best .347 to finish second in the NL batting race, he also led the NL in doubles (47), slugging percentage (.595) and OPS (.985) while setting new personal bests in home runs (25) and RBI (104).

    And to think, he was the Washington Nationals' third choice to man second base after they missed out on signing Ben Zobrist and were unable to acquire Brandon Phillips from the Cincinnati Reds.

    Now that three-year, $37.5 million deal he signed looks like one of the best moves of the 2016 offseason.

    As impressive as his offensive exploits were, Murphy is still miscast as a second baseman.

    He's tallied a negative-49 DRS over the past five seasons and really belongs at one of the corner spots, and those defensive shortcomings cost him a run at the top spot.

3. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers

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    Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Age: 34

    2016 Offensive: .288 BA, .831 OPS, 178 H, 61 XBH (28 HR), 83 RBI, 117 R

    2016 Defensive: 12 DRS, 7.5 UZR/150, 10.8 DEF

    WAR: 6.1

     

    Player Outlook

    Over the past four seasons, Ian Kinsler ranks sixth among position players and second only to Robinson Cano (24.8) among second basemen with a 22.8 WAR.

    He's as steady a power/speed threat as anyone in baseball with a pair of 30/30 seasons to his credit, and he boasts nearly identical career totals in home runs (212) and stolen bases (211).

    Three years later, that swap with the Texas Rangers for Prince Fielder looks like one of the best moves of the Dave Dombrowski era.

    While it's his offensive game that gets the most attention, Kinsler has also been a steady defender throughout his career.

    His 15.2 dWAR is second among active second basementrailing Chase Utley (17.7), who has played three more seasons—and he finally won a long-overdue first Gold Glove award last year.

    He doesn't take the top spot, but Kinsler might be the most well-rounded second baseman in the game.

2. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Age: 34

    2016 Offensive: .298 BA, .882 OPS, 195 H, 74 XBH (39 HR), 103 RBI, 107 R

    2016 Defensive: 11 DRS, 2.2 UZR/150, 3.9 DEF

    WAR: 7.3

     

    Player Outlook

    So much for the Robinson Cano power outage.

    After hitting 35 total home runs in his first two seasons with the Seattle Mariners, Cano launched a career-high 39 last season, joining Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager to form one of two 30-homer trios in the league.

    That should help quiet some of the doubters of that massive 10-year, $240 million deal that Cano signed with the Mariners, at least for the time being.

    With a .307/.355/.498 career line that includes 479 doubles, 278 home runs and 1,086 RBI to go along with a 62.4 WAR, Cano may only be a few more strong seasons away from solidifying his place in Cooperstown, if he hasn't already.

    As the Mariners chase their first postseason appearance since 2001, Cano will again be the driving force in what could be one of the league's most dangerous lineups.

1. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .338 BA, .928 OPS, 216 H, 71 XBH (24 HR), 96 RBI, 108 R

    2016 Defensive: -2 DRS, -5.4 UZR/150, -1.3 DEF

    WAR: 7.7

     

    Player Outlook

    Jose Altuve remains a slightly below-average defender but he's come a long way in that regard, and that's really the only flaw in his game at this point.

    The (somehow still only) 26-year-old has paced the AL in hits each of the past three seasons and won a pair of batting titles during that span.

    He's also stolen 192 bases since the start of 2012, second only to Dee Gordon (194) during that time.

    However, it's his budding power stroke that has really taken his game to another level.

    After homering a grand total of 21 times in his first four seasons, he hit 15 home runs in 2015 and then muscled up for 24 long balls last year.

    There have only been three 30/30 seasons by a second baseman in MLB history, with two by Ian Kinsler and one from Brandon Phillips.

    Altuve could join that list in the years to come, and he has to once again be considered among the AL MVP front-runners after a third-place finish in 2016.

     

    Standard stats and WAR totals courtesy of Baseball Reference. Other advanced stats (DRS, UZR/150, BABIP, etc.) courtesy of FanGraphs. Contract information via Spotrac.