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

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2017

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

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Once a weak spot around the league, second base has quickly become one of the deepest positions in the majors with a good mix of established stars and young players on the rise.

    There's legitimate superstar talent in guys like Robinson Cano, Jose Altuve and Dustin Pedroia, an emerging star in Jonathan Schoop and even a few out-of-nowhere veterans exceeding expectations like Scooter Gennett and Eric Sogard.

    And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    Ahead we've set out to rank the top 30 second basemen here at the midway point of 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 this season is .268/.331/.421.
    • Eligibility: To be considered for inclusion, a player must have played at least 51 percent of his innings at the second base position this season.
    • Preseason rank: Included is a look at where each player stood in our preseason rankings, which can be found here.

    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.

    Is someone like Jason Kipnis a better bet to produce going forward than Scooter Gennett?

    Probably, but that's not what this is about—it's about ranking players based on their performance so far this season.

          

    Previous top 30 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen

30. Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers (Preseason Rank: 10)

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .211 BA, .633 OPS, 52 H, 18 XBH (8 HR), 29 RBI, 31 R

    2017 Defense: 3 DRS, -13.0 UZR/150, -2.1 DEF

    WAR: 0.1

        

    Player Summary

    Jonathan Villar was expected to be little more than a placeholder for rising prospect Orlando Arcia last season after the Milwaukee Brewers acquired him in a trade with the Houston Astros.

    Instead, the 26-year-old hit .285 while racking up 60 extra-base hits and an NL-high 62 stolen bases on his way to a 3.9 WAR, albeit with some serious regression indicators—including a .373 BABIP.

    That regression has indeed hit hard and he's also struggled defensively while making the transition from shortstop to second base. He's still been a threat on the bases, though, as he's tied for 10th in the majors with 15 steals.

29. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (Preseason Rank: 7)

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .229 BA, .676 OPS, 55 H, 23 XBH (8 HR), 26 RBI, 28 R

    2017 Defense: -1 DRS, -8.5 UZR/150, -1.7 DEF

    WAR: 0.2

        

    Player Summary

    Jason Kipnis slugged a career-high 23 home runs last season while posting an .811 OPS that also included 41 doubles, 82 RBI and 91 runs scored to help the Cleveland Indians reach the World Series.

    This season's stat line has been markedly less impressive.

    The two-time All-Star began the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, missing a good chunk of spring training and the first 15 games of the regular season as a result and still hasn't found his groove.

    A return to form in the second half would provide a major in-house boost for the Indians as they pursue another AL Central title.

28. Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs (Preseason Rank: 8)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .218 BA, .700 OPS, 42 H, 16 XBH (7 HR), 21 RBI, 22 R

    2017 Defense: 5 DRS, 12.6 UZR/150, 3.1 DEF

    WAR: 0.5

        

    Player Summary

    Ben Zobrist has been battling a sore back for much of the season and he was just recently activated from the disabled list after missing 17 games.

    When he has managed to take the field, the reigning World Series MVP has assumed more of a super-utility role this season with a fair amount of time spent at both corner outfield spots in deference to slick-fielding Javier Baez at second base.

    The 36-year-old is still as tough as anyone in the game to strike out and his professional approach at the plate can be contagious for the young Cubs hitters. If he can put the back issues behind him, he could quickly climb up these rankings going forward.

27. Daniel Robertson, Tampa Bay Rays (Preseason Rank: NR)

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .224 BA, .679 OPS, 38 H, 12 XBH (5 HR), 16 RBI, 19 R

    2017 Defense: 1 DRS, 6.4 UZR/150, 1.3 DEF

    WAR: 0.8

        

    Player Summary

    Daniel Robertson was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Oakland Athletics system and the No. 66 prospect in baseball heading into the 2015 season, per Baseball America.

    Oakland sent him to Tampa Bay as part of the Ben Zobrist trade that same offseason, and while his prospect star has since faded, the 23-year-old has carved out a spot replacing the departed Logan Forsythe this season.

    A .278/.368/.412 hitter in parts of five minor league seasons, Robertson is capable of more than he's shown so far offensively. He's providing good value defensively, though, and he has the low-cost upside that the Rays consistently covet.

26. Chase Utley, Los Angeles Dodgers (Preseason Rank: 29)

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .224 BA, .717 OPS, 41 H, 18 XBH (5 HR), 22 RBI, 24 R

    2017 Defense: -1 DRS, 0.6 UZR/150, 0.7 DEF

    WAR: 0.3

        

    Player Summary

    Chase Utley hasn't exactly found the fountain of youth since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, but at the very least he seems to be wading around in an adjacent puddle.

    The 38-year-old signed on for another season after making a bigger impact than expected last season when he posted a .716 OPS with 26 doubles and 14 home runs in 565 plate appearances.

    Expected to serve as the backup to offseason addition Logan Forsythe, he's instead seen the bulk of the playing time with Forsythe once again battling injury. He's not the impact player he was in his prime, but he's still a passable everyday option and a relative bargain at $2 million.

25. Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays (Preseason Rank: 12)

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .259 BA, .729 OPS, 48 H, 23 XBH (5 HR), 24 RBI, 22 R

    2017 Defense: 3 DRS, 3.3 UZR/150, 2.6 DEF

    WAR: 0.7

        

    Player Summary

    Devon Travis likely won't take the field again until September after undergoing surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee.

    Still just 26 years old, he's quickly developing a reputation as someone who can't stay healthy long enough to tap into his vast potential.

    His 162-game average during his time in the majors: .292/.331/.462, 49 2B, 18 HR, 83 RBI, 114 R

    That's top-five production at the position if he can just find a way to stay healthy. For now, he occupies a spot near the bottom of the rankings for what he was able to do in 50 games this season pre-injury.

24. Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals (Preseason Rank: 20)

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .301 BA, .838 OPS, 46 H, 18 XBH (1 HR), 19 RBI, 23 R

    2017 Defense: -2 DRS, -7.1 UZR/150, -1.9 DEF

    WAR: 0.7

        

    Player Summary

    This could very well be a make-or-break season for Kolten Wong.

    The 26-year-old has shown flashes of being a dynamic two-way player for the St. Louis Cardinals over the past few seasons, but he's also dealt with injuries and struggled to find any sort of offensive consistency.

    The Cardinals gave him a five-year, $25.5 million extension prior to last season and a vote of confidence at the start of this year, but the impressive play of Paul DeJong has given the team something to think about.

    Wong is recovering from a triceps strain and should return shortly after the All-Star break. He was swinging it well before he got hurt with a team-best .301 average, so he'll look to pick up right where he left off.

23. Brandon Phillips, Atlanta Braves (Preseason Rank: 26)

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .291 BA, .768 OPS, 82 H, 26 XBH (7 HR), 29 RBI, 41 R

    2017 Defense: -4 DRS, 3.0 UZR/150, 2.0 DEF

    WAR: 0.9

        

    Player Summary

    The Atlanta Braves picked up Brandon Phillips at a discount this offseason to serve as a stopgap to top prospect Ozzie Albies.

    In the final year of his current contract, the Cincinnati Reds are paying all but $1 million of the veteran's $14 million salary and all it cost in terms of talent was a pair of low-level prospects.

    Expect plenty of trade talk surrounding Phillips leading up to the deadline with Albies knocking on the door and the two teams unlikely to be a fit beyond this season. The 36-year-old is still capable of making some noise as a free-swinging run producer and plus defender.

22. Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies (Preseason Rank: 23)

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    Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .277 BA, .735 OPS, 66 H, 17 XBH (5 HR), 14 RBI, 40 R

    2017 Defense: 2 DRS, 9.0 UZR/150, 4.6 DEF

    WAR: 1.0

        

    Player Summary

    A former top prospect who took a bit longer than expected to develop, Cesar Hernandez turned in a breakout season last year, when he hit .294/.371/.393 with 31 extra-base hits and 17 stolen bases for a 3.3 WAR.

    The 27-year-old could wind up being a trade chip for the Philadelphia Phillies with second base prospect Scott Kingery crushing high minors pitching to the tune of a .987 OPS with 22 home runs and 21 stolen bases.

    He'll never hit for a ton of power, but he provides a good mix of average and on-base ability while also playing an above-average second base. That coupled with team control through the 2020 season should add up to a decent return for the Phillies if and when he's finally moved.

21. Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants (Preseason Rank: 18)

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .278 BA, .743 OPS, 78 H, 23 XBH (5 HR), 26 RBI, 36 R

    2017 Defense: -2 DRS, 2.8 UZR/150, 2.6 DEF

    WAR: 1.2

        

    Player Summary

    An All-Star in 2015, Joe Panik struggled to a .239/.315/.379 line last season while his WAR plummeted from 3.4 to 1.1 in the process.

    He hasn't quite returned to form this year, instead landing somewhere in the middle of his 2015 numbers and where he bottomed out last year.

    The 26-year-old is one of the toughest players in the league to strike out with just 157 career punchouts in 1,562 plate appearances, and when he's swing it well, he profiles as a prototypical No. 2 hitter with good on-base skills and gap power.

20. Eric Sogard, Milwaukee Brewers (Preseason Rank: NR)

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .326 BA, .916 OPS, 44 H, 15 XBH (3 HR), 14 RBI, 24 R

    2017 Defense: 3 DRS, 16.0 UZR/150, 1.2 DEF

    WAR: 1.7

        

    Player Summary

    After seven seasons with the Oakland Athletics, Eric Sogard missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing knee surgery before departing in free agency this past winter.

    The Milwaukee Brewers scooped him up on a minor league deal and he began the season in Triple-A, where he hit .330/.421/.516 with 11 extra-base hits in 107 plate appearances before being promoted to the big league club.

    Regression is no doubt coming, but he should still be a valuable veteran presence and solid utility option for a Brewers team on the rise.

19. Yangervis Solarte, San Diego Padres (Preseason Rank: 20/3B)

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .268 BA, .775 OPS, 68 H, 20 XBH (10 HR), 40 RBI, 28 R

    2017 Defense: -3 DRS, -4.3 UZR/150, -0.4 DEF

    WAR: 0.8

        

    Player Summary

    Yangervis Solarte shifted to second base this season after playing primarily at the hot corner since joining the San Diego Padres.

    The 29-year-old signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal in the offseason that includes a $5.5 million option for 2019 and an $8 million option for 2020, as the rebuilding San Diego Padres clearly view him as an important piece of the puzzle.

    After quietly posting an .808 OPS with 15 home runs and 71 RBI last year, he's well on his way to another solid offensive season, provided he can put the oblique injury that currently has him on the disabled list in the rearview.

18. Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks (Preseason Rank: 28)

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .286 BA, .797 OPS, 75 H, 30 XBH (8 HR), 39 RBI, 27 R

    2017 Defense: 0 DRS, 3.0 UZR/150, 2.0 DEF

    WAR: 1.0

        

    Player Summary

    Despite hitting .282 with 31 doubles and 16 home runs as a rookie last season, Brandon Drury posted a 0.0 WAR as he struggled at times defensively while shifting all over the diamond in a utility role.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks' offseason trade of Jean Segura cleared a path to the everyday second base job, and he's settled in nicely with plus defensive metrics and similarly impressive offensive numbers as well.

    The 24-year-old was a doubles machine in the minors and that gap power has translated nicely to the next level. He may never win a Gold Glove or be a 30-homer threat, but Drury is a steady contributor for a Diamondbacks team on the rise.

17. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs (Preseason Rank: 14)

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .258 BA, .756 OPS, 59 H, 25 XBH (10 HR), 33 RBI, 30 R

    2017 Defense: 5 DRS, 2.9 UZR/150, 0.2 DEF

    WAR: 1.1

        

    Player Summary

    One of the breakout stars of last year's postseason, Javier Baez is still searching for the consistency needed to become a legitimate top-tier player for the Chicago Cubs.

    He's a human highlight reel defensively, regardless of where he lines up in the infield, but the Cubs have made him their primary second baseman this season after using him in a utility role of sorts last year.

    With lightning-quick bat speed and plus raw power, he has the tools to be a 30-homer guy if he can make enough contact, but he remains susceptible to the strikeout and is still a streaky offensive player as a whole.

    We haven't seen the best of Baez just yet, but the current version is still pretty fun to watch.

16. Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins (Preseason Rank: 13)

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .284 BA, .677 OPS, 90 H, 16 XBH (0 HR), 18 RBI, 44 R

    2017 Defense: 3 DRS, 4.9 UZR/150, 2.8 DEF

    WAR: 1.2

        

    Player Summary

    After signing a five-year, $50 million extension, Dee Gordon played just 79 games last season while serving an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

    The speedster is back atop the Miami Marlins lineup this season and he's once again been a disruptive presence on the basepaths with 29 stolen bases in 34 attempts.

    The 29-year-old is never going to be a power threat with just nine home runs in 2,661 career plate appearances, but he knows how to use his speed in all aspects of the game and he's also developed into a very good defensive second baseman after beginning his career as a shortstop.

15. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins (Preseason Rank: 5)

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .248 BA, .760 OPS, 77 H, 30 XBH (13 HR), 38 RBI, 37 R

    2017 Defense: 0 DRS, -2.1 UZR/150, -0.6 DEF

    WAR: 1.1

        

    Player Summary

    Brian Dozier launched 28 home runs after the All-Star break last season on his way to becoming just the fourth second baseman in MLB history to reach the 40-homer mark in a single season.

    He returned to the Minnesota Twins after an offseason of trade rumors, and as expected, he's regressed a bit from the all-world slugger we saw in the second half of 2016.

    Dozier remains one of the elite power threats at the position, though, and his $6 million salary this year and $9 million price tag next season still give him plenty of trade value if the Twins do in fact decide to flip him. For now, he's a valuable veteran presence and a key run producer on a surprise contender.

14. Neil Walker, New York Mets (Preseason Rank: 16)

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .270 BA, .820 OPS, 60 H, 24 XBH (9 HR), 33 RBI, 35 R

    2017 Defense: -2 DRS, 3.5 UZR/150, 1.0 DEF

    WAR: 1.2

        

    Player Summary

    Neil Walker accepted a qualifying offer from the New York Mets during the offseason, hoping to improve his free-agent stock after undergoing back surgery in September.

    After hitting .282/.347/.476 a year ago, he's posted a nearly identical triple-slash line at .270/.352/.468 so far this year.

    The 31-year-old has been a consistent 20-homer threat and middle-of-the-order producer throughout his career. He'll have a hard time matching his $17.2 million salary this year over a multiyear deal in free agency and he's actually on the shelf again right now with a hamstring injury, but he still has plenty left in the tank.

13. Yolmer Sanchez, Chicago White Sox (Preseason Rank: NR)

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .272 BA, .741 OPS, 63 H, 19 XBH (4 HR), 23 RBI, 32 R

    2017 Defense: 6 DRS, 11.4 UZR/150, 3.1 DEF

    WAR: 1.6

        

    Player Summary

    Yolmer Sanchez looked like little more than a placeholder for top prospect Yoan Moncada when the season started, but here we are in July and he's still manning the keystone for the Chicago White Sox.

    Formerly known as Carlos Sanchez before switching to Yolmer this offseason, the 25-year-old has been a pleasant surprise for the South Siders, who are still in the early stages of rebuilding and in a position to give young players ample opportunities as a result.

    Sanchez has always been a plus defender, but he hit just .224/.261/.330 in 643 plate appearances his first three seasons in the league, so the uptick in offensive production has been a welcome development.

12. Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals (Preseason Rank: NR)

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .290 BA, .783 OPS, 71 H, 25 XBH (6 HR), 31 RBI, 29 R

    2017 Defense: 3 DRS, 2.5 UZR/150, 1.3 DEF

    WAR: 1.8

        

    Player Summary

    A rookie last season at the age of 27, Whit Merrifield hit .283 with 27 extra-base hits and 44 runs scored in 332 plate appearances as a pleasant surprise for the Kansas City Royals.

    Raul A. Mondesi was expected to take over as the everyday second baseman this season with Merrifield filling more of a utility role, but the former top prospect struggled to the point of demotion and Merrifield has slid into an everyday role as a result.

    His offensive game is not without flaws, most notably a 4.9 percent walk rate that ranks 149th out of 168 qualified hitters, but he makes consistent contact and has been a steady defender as well.

11. Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics (Preseason Rank: NR)

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .278 BA, .817 OPS, 83 H, 37 XBH (9 HR), 28 RBI, 50 R

    2017 Defense: 1 DRS, -2.4 UZR/150, -0.5 DEF

    WAR: 2.3

        

    Player Summary

    Jed Lowrie didn't even crack the top 30 in our preseason rankings after playing a combined 156 games the past two seasons and hitting .246/.313/.354 with six home runs and 28 RBI.

    The 33-year-old is finally healthy this season, though, and he's been a bright spot for the Oakland Athletics, who will likely look to flip the veteran at the deadline while continuing on with the current youth movement.

    His solid offensive numbers and defensive versatility should make him an attractive target for a number of contenders, and a $6 million team option for next season potentially makes him more than just a rental option if he carves out a role.

10. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (Preseason Rank: 6)

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .303 BA, .771 OPS, 76 H, 16 XBH (2 HR), 36 RBI, 29 R

    2017 Defense: 2 DRS, 11.8 UZR/150, 5.2 DEF

    WAR: 1.1

        

    Player Summary

    Dustin Pedroia is still going strong in his age-33 season and he's fresh off one of the best offensive campaigns of his storied career.

    He hit .318 with an .825 OPS, 36 doubles, 15 home runs and 74 RBI last season while playing his usual stellar defense, and he's been right in the middle of things once again this year.

    Pedroia still has four years and $56 million left on his contract after this season, but he's showing no signs of slowing down and should continue to be an offensive catalyst and clubhouse leader for the Boston Red Sox.

9. Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds (Preseason Rank: NR)

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .311 BA, .948 OPS, 60 H, 26 XBH (13 HR), 43 RBI, 36 R

    2017 Defense: -3 DRS, 23.3 UZR/150, 1.5 DEF

    WAR: 1.9 

        

    Player Summary

    Scooter Gennett turned in one of the best single-game performances in MLB history on June 6 when he went 5-for-5 with four home runs and 10 RBI.

    While that certainly boosted his stat line, his offensive game has been a pleasant surprise for the Cincinnati Reds all season after they claimed him off waivers in March from the division rival Milwaukee Brewers.

    The early struggles of Jose Peraza—who was expected to be the primary second baseman—have opened the door for Gennett to see more playing time, and as long as he keeps hitting, it will be awfully tough return him to a bench role.

8. DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies (Preseason Rank: 9)

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .309 BA, .750 OPS, 101 H, 18 XBH (3 HR), 38 RBI, 44 R

    2017 Defense: 7 DRS, 7.0 UZR/150, 5.6 DEF

    WAR: 1.4

    2017 All-Star

        

    Player Summary

    DJ LeMahieu probably doesn't belong on the NL All-Star team over the likes of Kris Bryant, Justin Turner and a number of others, but he's still having a solid season.

    The 28-year-old won the NL batting title last year with a .348 average and he's hitting over .300 once again as a key component of the Colorado Rockies stacked offensive attack, albeit with limited power.

    He's also one of the game's best defensive second basemen, and a second career Gold Glove Award could be on the way if he maintains his current defensive metrics.

7. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers (Preseason Rank: 3)

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .243 BA, .734 OPS, 62 H, 22 XBH (9 HR), 21 RBI, 48 R

    2017 Defense: 8 DRS, 19.3 UZR/150, 6.2 DEF

    WAR: 2.0

        

    Player Summary

    Ian Kinsler was a 6.1 WAR player last season and his 55.0 career WAR is good for 17th all-time among second basemen.

    He's no longer the 30-steal threat he was in his prime, but he still provides a combination of power and speed that few players in the league at any position possess.

    The 35-year-old was finally rewarded with his first career Gold Glove last season—a long overdue honor for one of the league's best defenders at the keystone. It will be interesting to see how aggressively the Detroit Tigers decide to sell at the trade deadline, as Kinsler is certainly a candidate to be moved if they decide to blow things up.

6. Starlin Castro, New York Yankees (Preseason Rank: 25)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .313 BA, .835 OPS, 92 H, 26 XBH (12 HR), 45 RBI, 52 R

    2017 Defense: -5 DRS, -8.9 UZR/150, -2.0 DEF

    WAR: 1.6

    2017 All-Star

        

    Player Summary

    Starlin Castro was a three-time All-Star with the Chicago Cubs and he's now earned his first trip to the Midsummer Classic as an AL player in his second season with the New York Yankees.

    The 27-year-old hit a career-high 21 home runs last season, but he did it while hitting a mediocre .270/.300/.433 and he finished the season as a 1.3 WAR player.

    He's already provided more value in 73 games this season, and while his defense at second base remains below average, he's more than made up for it at the plate in what is shaping up to be a career year.

5. Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates (Preseason Rank: 24)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .284 BA, .805 OPS, 85 H, 27 XBH (9 HR), 27 RBI, 35 R

    2017 Defense: 4 DRS, 2.9 UZR/150, 1.3 DEF

    WAR: 2.5

    2017 All-Star

        

    Player Summary

    Josh Harrison has been one of the few bright spots for a Pittsburgh Pirates team that could be headed for a rebuilding period of sorts after a precipitous drop-off last season and an equally slow start this year.

    After thriving in a utility role at the start of his career, he's settled in as the primary second baseman since Neil Walker was traded to the New York Mets prior to last season.

    The 29-year-old should easily surpass his previous career high of 13 home runs and a 20/20 season is not out of the question for the 5'8" sparkplug.

4. Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles (Preseason Rank: 17)

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .294 BA, .886 OPS, 86 H, 39 XBH (16 HR), 51 RBI, 45 R

    2017 Defense: -8 DRS, -7.8 UZR/150, -2.7 DEF

    WAR: 1.8

    2017 All-Star

        

    Player Summary

    Jonathan Schoop has always had as much power as anyone at the second base position, but the rest of his offensive game lagged behind.

    The 25-year-old racked up 38 doubles and 25 home runs last season, but he hit just .267 with a .298 on-base percentage in the process on his way to a 2.1 WAR.

    He's been a different player this season, though.

    A modest improvement in his walk rate (3.2 to 5.8 percent) and a significant uptick in hard contact (26.6 to 34.1 percent) have resulted in his OPS climbing over 130 points. He'll be a deserving first-time All-Star Tuesday.

3. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (Preseason Rank: 2)

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .280 BA, .835 OPS, 82 H, 30 XBH (17 HR), 60 RBI, 42 R

    2017 Defense: 0 DRS, -1.1 UZR/150, 1.9 DEF

    WAR: 2.1

    2017 All-Star

        

    Player Summary

    Who remembers the great Robinson Cano power outage of 2014?

    After averaging 28 home runs in his final five years with the New York Yankees, Cano signed a massive 10-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners and promptly hit just 14 long balls in his first season with the team.

    That was followed by 21 home runs in 2015 before he exploded for a career-high 39 last season, and the 34-year-old is proving that was no fluke as he leads all second basemen in home runs (17) and RBI (60) this year.

    With 295 home runs and 1,146 RBI already to his credit, Cano will go down as one of the most productive players to ever man the position.

2. Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (Preseason Rank: 4)

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .333 BA, .957 OPS, 101 H, 41 XBH (14 HR), 55 RBI, 54 R

    2017 Defense: -12 DRS, -11.1 UZR/150, -3.2 DEF

    WAR: 1.5

    2017 All-Star

        

    Player Summary

    After making a run at NL MVP honors last season, Daniel Murphy has once again been a force in the middle of the Washington Nationals lineup.

    It's easy to forget now that he was essentially the team's third choice when he joined them in free agency, as they first missed out on their pursuit of Ben Zobrist and then had a potential trade for Brandon Phillips fall through.

    Murphy has always been one of the game's better pure hitters, but his added power production since joining the Nats has made him a truly elite offensive player.

    His defense is another story entirely...

1. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (Preseason Rank: 1)

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    2017 Offense: .326 BA, .917 OPS, 101 H, 36 XBH (11 HR), 40 RBI, 53 R

    2017 Defense: 3 DRS, -2.1 UZR/150, -0.4 DEF

    WAR: 4.0

    2017 All-Star

        

    Player Summary

    Deciding who claims the No. 1 spot is a tough call at a number of positions.

    Second base is not one of them.

    Jose Altuve has shown that last year's power surge (24 home runs) was the real deal and it's awfully rare for a player to take such a significant step forward in that area without sacrificing anything in the way of batting average and contact ability.

    The 27-year-old is a legitimate AL MVP candidate once again for the first-place Houston Astros and he'll be making his fifth All-Star appearance.

    All due respect to Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, but before all is said and done, Altuve could stake claim to being the best player in Houston Astros history—especially if he's able to deliver a title.

          

    Standard stats and WAR totals courtesy of Baseball Reference and current through Monday. Other advanced stats (DRS, UZR/150, BABIP, etc.) courtesy of FanGraphs.