MLB Position Power Rankings: B/R's Final Top 25 Second Basemen of 2017

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterOctober 9, 2017

MLB Position Power Rankings: B/R's Final Top 25 Second Basemen of 2017

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Bleacher Report's final positional power rankings for the 2017 Major League Baseball season now heads from behind the plate to the middle of the diamond, starting with second basemen.

    Second base wasn't as star-studded in 2017 as it was in 2016, which was potentially the best year ever for the position. There were nonetheless 25 players worthy of inclusion in the final 300.

    Here are the ground rules: 

    • Players must have logged the majority of their games at second base.
    • Players were ranked both on the quantity and the quality of their work.
    • Hitting, defense and baserunning fell under the "quality" umbrella.
    • As a general rule, second base is not home to MLB's best hitters, defenders or baserunners. But the position has players who satisfy all three categories and were treated as such.

    The rankings were a simple judgment call. Baseball Reference's version of wins above replacement was useful in this respect but was treated more as a guideline than the word of the baseball gods.

    Lastly, this was neither a far-reaching retrospective nor a gaze into the future. Only what happened in 2017 counted.

A Few Statistics to Know

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    In the year 2017, it's ill-advised and arguably irresponsible to talk about players in detail without using statistics to contextualize their talents and shortcomings.

    So, be warned: There are indeed statistics in these rankings.

    Many stats will simply be alluded to via links that go to relevant data at Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball and Baseball Prospectus. But a few to know are...

                                  

    Wins Above Replacement (WAR): As a stat that puts a number on a player's hitting, baserunning and fielding contributions, WAR is a good go-to in any circumstance.

    On-Base Plus Slugging Plus (OPS+): This takes a player's OPS, adjusts it for league and ballpark factors and puts it on a scale where 100 represents average. It shows how well a hitter performed relative to his peers.

    Defensive Runs Saved (DRS): It sounds like a measurement of a player's defensive quality, and that's what it is. It's the main defense component for Baseball Reference's version of WAR. Some play multiple positions, but the DRS listed for them here is that of their primary position.

    Launch Angle: This Statcast specialty measures the angle of the ball off a hitter's bat. It provides a snapshot of the shape of a hitter's swing—i.e. whether it's flat and tailored for ground balls and line drives or lofty and tailored for fly balls. The MLB average in 2017 was 11.1 degrees.

    Exit Velocity: Another Statcast specialty that measures the speed of the ball off a hitter's bat. As you'd expect, there's a strong correlation between high speeds and hitting success. The MLB average in 2017 was 86.6 miles per hour.

    Plate Discipline: Although they'll rarely be mentioned explicitly, Swing% (percentage of swings at all pitches), Z-Swing% (in-zone swing percentage) and O-Swing% (out-of-zone swing percentage) paint a picture of a hitter's approach. These figures are found at FanGraphs.

    Pull Percentage (Pull%): Also from FanGraphs, this shows the rate at which hitters pull the ball—to left field for righties and to right field for lefties. Pulling the ball is a double-edged sword: It can make a hitter vulnerable to shifts but is also by far the best avenue to power.

25. Chase Utley, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Age: 38

    Key Stats: 127 G, 353 PA, .236/.324/.405, 92 OPS+, 8 HR, 6 SB, 1 DRS

    WAR: 1.0

                     

    2017 Player Report

    Chase Utley is far from his former MVP-caliber self, but his advancing age isn't robbing him of his usefulness.

    Some of that has to do with how the Los Angeles Dodgers deploy him as a part-time player who only sees at-bats against right-handers. But Utley still has tricks up his sleeve.

    In 2017, an old one was a selective approach that ensured he'd be a tough out. A new one was an increase in batted balls to left field, which helped quell the shift onslaught he saw in 2016. That wasn't a cure-all for his hitting, but it helped keep his bat relatively close to league average.

    Utley still runs well for a guy who's pushing 40, sprinting faster than the league average of 27 feet-per-second, and continues to have energy to burn on defense. Even if it's far from its vintage form, said energy kept his defensive range from drying up into nothing.

                

    Honorable Mentions: Rougned Odor (TEX), Ben Zobrist (CHC), Yoan Moncada (CHW), Ozzie Albies (ATL), Ronald Torreyes (NYY)

24. Eric Sogard, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    Key Stats: 94 G, 299 PA, .273/.393/.378, 104 OPS+, 3 HR, 3 SB, 5 DRS

    WAR: 1.9

                        

    2017 Player Report

    Eric Sogard wasn't known for his bat during his six seasons with the Oakland Athletics, so it was never likely that his hot start with the Milwaukee Brewers would last. Sure enough, it didn't.

    It's nonetheless fair to say he advanced his offensive game. After missing 2016 with a knee injury, he returned with a more disciplined approach. His BB% ballooned to 15.1, and swinging at better pitches permitted him to make more frequent hard contact.

    His weak arm is one nit to pick regarding his defense, but he gets good reads on plays and makes outs with his soft hands and quick, smooth actions. And while he's best at second base, he's competent enough at other positions to round out a versatile defensive profile.

    The only big knock against Sogard is that he wasn't an everyday player in 2017.

23. Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Key Stats: 135 G, 480 PA, .267/.317/.447, 89 OPS+, 13 HR, 1 SB, 5 DRS

    WAR: 1.6

                   

    2017 Player Report

    As in 2016, Brandon Drury had ups and downs in 2017. But also as in 2016, he came out looking like a passable regular.

    The fact that he sees so many pitches in the strike zone indicates that pitchers aren't afraid of his power and means he can't squeeze many free passes out his patient approach. He finished with just a 5.8 BB%.

    Drury at least kept his power from deflating, however. He had been a more of a pull-power guy before. But in 2017, he sprayed his hits around and found himself enjoying line-to-line power production.

    In the baserunning and defense departments, Drury was more aggressive on the bases and played a solid second base after flopping as an outfielder in 2016. His deep positioning sometimes created trouble when he had to come in on the ball, but he made plenty of plays that he had to make.

22. Logan Forsythe, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Key Stats: 119 G, 439 PA, .224/.351/.327, 82 OPS+, 6 HR, 3 SB, 5 DRS

    WAR: 1.8

                               

    2017 Player Report

    It was easiest to notice Logan Forsythe when he was on defense in 2017.

    He made the leap from everyday second basemen to super-utilityman look easy thanks to a high motor and athletic tools that played wherever the Dodgers had him on a given day. That was second base and third base for the most part, and he played both positions well.

    It might look like Forsythe didn't do anything else of note, but his on-base percentage is worth a tip o' the hat.

    He swung only 32.5 percent of the time, easily the lowest rate in MLB. The wisdom of that can be questioned to a degree, but it's hard to argue with his 15.7 BB%. And while he didn't have much to show for it, his 88.8 mph exit velocity is good enough to wonder whether he deserved better when he did swing.

21. Yangervis Solarte, San Diego Padres

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    Andy Hayt/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Key Stats: 128 G, 512 PA, .255/.314/.416, 94 OPS+, 18 HR, 3 SB, -2 DRS

    WAR: 1.3

                

    2017 Player Report

    Yangervis Solarte logged over 500 plate appearances for a third time in four seasons and was his usual self to some extents.

    As much as he likes to swing the bat, it was another year in which he was in control at the plate. His plate appearances typically ended in either a free pass (7.2 BB%) or a ball in play (11.9 K%). 

    Solarte's missing ingredient, however, was good contact. Like many hitters, he's upping his launch angle as the Statcast era progresses. But as his 85.4 mph exit velocity reflects, he doesn't have the pop to get the most out of an elevated swing. Many of his fly balls and line drives went out with a whimper.

    Solarte's limited athleticism holds him back on the bases and on defense. But with routine plays presenting no problems, his defense in 2017 was much like his offense: unspectacular but reliable.

20. Brandon Phillips, Los Angeles Angels

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Age: 36

    Key Stats: 144 G, 604 PA, .285/.319/.416, 93 OPS+, 13 HR, 11 SB, -7 DRS

    WAR: 0.8

               

    2017 Player Report

    Brandon Phillips is an aging star who can't stop swinging at everything, is now one of MLB's slower second basemen and one of the softest hitters of any position.

    But if he was one of the X-Men, his power would be finding ways to remain relevant.

    Phillips hasn't lost his long-held ability to put the bat on the ball. His 12.1 K% from 2017 is one of the lowest of his career. And despite what his 84.5 mph exit velocity would suggest, he made contact with a purpose. He didn't hit it hard, but his all-fields talent was often an exercise in hitting it where they ain't.

    The veteran's diminishing speed didn't stop him from running the bases aggressively. And while his negative DRS is reflective of his defensive decline, his smooth hands and creative mind allowed him to remain more of an asset than a liability. In all, this is a case of WAR underrating a capable everyday player.

19. Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants

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    Age: 26

    Key Stats: 130 G, 537 PA, .291/.351/.430, 107 OPS+, 10 HR, 4 SB, -11 DRS

    WAR: 1.3

                                

    2017 Player Report

    An August stint on the concussion DL aside, Joe Panik largely managed to avoid the injury bug in 2017. That freed him to do the things he does best. 

    His top talent is making contact, as no qualified hitter beat his Contact% of 89.9 percent. With solid discipline also part of his skill set, he balanced an 8.0 BB% with a 9.4 K%.

    Although Panik's 84.5 mph exit velocity paints a fair picture of his power, not many can spray line drives in all directions like he can. That was a boost not just to his batting average, but also to his slugging percentage by way of 28 doubles and five triples.

    Alas, his defense did decline from its Gold Glove-winning form of 2016. He may have cost himself range with his ultra-shallow positioning. And with nine errors and a lower conversion rate on routine plays, he didn't fit the bill as sure-handed either.

18. Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    Key Stats: 108 G, 411 PA, .285/.376/.412, 109 OPS+, 4 HR, 8 SB, -1 DRS

    WAR: 1.9

                   

    2017 Player Report

    Injuries killed some of Kolten Wong's buzz this season, as he missed time with elbow and triceps injuries and developed an achy back toward the end of the year.

    Other than that, though, 2017 marked a long-awaited step forward for Wong.

    He tried to do too much at the plate in years past. That was the case no longer in 2017, as he swung at fewer bad pitches and stopped trying to pull everything. He became more of a gap hitter, and benefited with 26 doubles without having to sacrifice what had been working before. Namely: his walk and strikeout rates.

    Wong's next step must be achieving more consistency on defense. His range and smooth actions can make him look like an elite fielder at times, but he was once again one of the worst at converting routine plays in 2017. Those count, too.

17. Starlin Castro, New York Yankees

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    Key Stats: 112 G, 473 PA, .300/.338/.454, 106 OPS+, 16 HR, 2 SB, -6 DRS

    WAR: 2.0

                            

    2017 Player Report

    Normally a lock for over 150 games, Starlin Castro was off the field for a large chunk of 2017 due to hamstring injuries, which helped derail his production in the latter part of the year.

    On the bright side, he carried over the power surge he enjoyed upon arriving in New York in 2016. He managed 87.4 mph exit velocity and took an already elevated pull rate even higher. If he'd stayed healthy, he might've had a shot at 25 homers.

    However, Castro was the same player in more frustrating ways as well.

    He continued to swing his bat too often for his own good, leaving walks on the table. And while it's not as big a deal at second base as it was at shortstop, he's just not a good defender. The athleticism is there, but his iffy instincts and clunky actions continue to hold him back.

16. Neil Walker, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    Key Stats: 111 G, 448 PA, .265/.362/.439, 111 OPS+, 14 HR, 0 SB, -5 DRS

    WAR: 1.5

             

    2017 Player Report

    Neil Walker is getting up there in age and, just in roughly the past year, has had back surgery and missed time with a hamstring injury. So, forgive him for not running fast or hitting hard.

    But while you're at it, also give him credit for remaining a credible offensive threat.

    That's partially owed to an improved approach that had been trending toward excess aggression. That's where he got his 12.3 BB% and 17.12 K%. And despite his diminished pop, he kept his power afloat by keeping his launch angle up and putting plenty of balls in the air, often to his pull side.

    On defense, Walker wasn't known for being an athletic spectacle even before his physical issues. But he gets enough out of what he has and can at least be counted on not to boot routine plays. He was a better sum of parts than his 2017 WAR lets on.

15. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Age: 34

    Key Stats: 105 G, 463 PA, .293/.369/.392, 101 OPS+, 7 HR, 4 SB, -2 DRS

    WAR: 1.5

                     

    2017 Player Report

    After a smooth 2016, Dustin Pedroia went back to a bedraggled, banged-up existence in 2017. It affected his performance, as he ran at slow speeds and no longer packed a punch with his exit velocity.

    The fact that he was productive anyway speaks volumes.

    Exit velocity is nice, but Pedroia proved he doesn't need it to be a dangerous hitter. With a selective approach and one of MLB's best contact habits, he drew about more walks (49) as strikeouts (48). His line-drive swing hasn't gone anywhere, and he once again got good results out of applying it to all fields.

    Defensively, DRS doesn't do Pedroia's glove justice. He's as sure a thing as there is on routine plays, and his diminishing athleticism is dragging down neither his instincts nor his effort level. His range is surviving because of it.

14. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers

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    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    Age: 35

    Key Stats: 139 G, 613 PA, .236/.313/.412, 90 OPS+, 22 HR, 14 SB, 6 DRS

    WAR: 2.1

                  

    2017 Player Report

    Ian Kinsler just finished off his worst offensive season.

    It wasn't because of his hitting style. He's been keeping the ball off the ground for a lot longer than most, and he's long maintained a below average K% despite doing so. And in 2017, he chose his swings carefully and worked an above average BB% for the first time since 2013.

    Pitchers just didn't give him much to work with. He saw few fastballs and his lowest strike zone percentage ever. It's no wonder his exit velocity took a step down from its 2016 perch.

    On the plus side, Kinsler remained aggressive on the bases and an ageless wonder on defense. With the latter, he was money in the bank on routine plays and maintained good range despite his age. Quick reactions and a high-running motor can have that effect.

13. Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds

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    Age: 27

    Key Stats: 141 G, 497 PA, .298/.342/.531, 124 OPS+, 27 HR, 3 SB, -8 DRS

    WAR: 2.4

                  

    2017 Player Report

    It seemed like the flukiest of flukes when Scooter Gennett hit four homers in a single game in June. Instead, that was the opening statement of a legit breakout.

    The fact that he averaged only 86 mph exit velocity, but he had ways of getting around that. Namely: a higher launch angle and pull rate that allowed for many balls in the air toward the best power avenue there is. Great American Ball Park helped, but he essentially willed himself to a life of above average offense.

    It's a good thing he had that, as he didn't bring much else to the table.

    Gennett is a slow runner and he proved unable to escape his previous life as a below average defender. His effort level and general sure-handedness are worth something, but not too much as long as they're coupled with fringy tools that limit the scope of what he can do.

12. Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    Key Stats: 128 G, 577 PA, .294/.373/.421, 112 OPS+, 9 HR, 15 SB, -2 DRS

    WAR: 3.1

                  

    2017 Player Report

    Cesar Hernandez was something of a hidden offensive gem in 2016, hitting .294 with a .371 OBP. It took a six-week spell on the DL for him to get back to that level this season.

    He went on hitting .277 with a .336 OBP and came out hitting .308 with a .403 OBP. Without the punch to generate high exit velocity, this was a matter of a sharpened approach and a return to good at-bats.

    Elsewhere, Hernandez remained one of the faster runners among his second base brethren. And he was better at picking his spots, boosting his stolen base percentage from 57 percent in 2016 up to 75 percent.

    His poor defense is somewhat tied to the oblique injury that put him on the DL. He rated positively before that, per MLB Trade Rumors. Given that he lacked quickness and throwing strength even before his injury, it's no wonder his defense was slow to recover.

11. Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Key Stats: 128 G, 542 PA, .272/.339/.432, 101 OPS+, 16 HR, 12 SB, 6 DRS

    WAR: 3.3

           

    2017 Player Report

    A broken hand ended Josh Harrison's season early, but not before he'd enjoyed another year as a productive bundle of energy.

    Although the catch (pun kinda-sorta intended) with his defense is that routine plays can escape him, he once again made up for it by making plays all over thanks to his athleticism and high-running motor. And not just at second base, either.

    Harrison was also one of MLB's faster second basemen, and this year was just the latest in which he wasn't shy about using his speed. Beyond stealing bases, he was frequently taking extra bases on hits.

    At the plate, Harrison kept swinging at everything and produced just an 84.1 mph exit velocity when he made contact. However, his season is a case of how putting enough balls in play with a high enough launch angle can still save par. And on occasion, he would put a serious charge into the ball.

10. Yolmer Sanchez, Chicago White Sox

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Age: 25

    Key Stats: 141 G, 534 PA, .267/.319/.413, 96 OPS+, 12 HR, 8 SB, 8 DRS

    WAR: 3.5

              

    2017 Player Report

    Defense was Yolmer Sanchez's top selling point in 2017, and not just because the Chicago White Sox could play him at shortstop and third base in addition to second base.

    Courtesy of quick actions and movements, he covered a ton of ground. Throw in a quick release that was handy on double plays, and you get a defender who leaves little to be desired.

    It was Sanchez's offensive game that fell short. He has yet to be a productive baserunner despite his good speed, and his hitting profile contained neither patience nor contact nor power. Regarding the latter, his 83.8 mph exit velocity made him one of 2017's softest hitters.

    And yet, his offense was good enough to justify keeping his glove in the lineup. He may not be dangerous or especially pesky, but he keeps himself afloat with a line-drive stroke that goes to all fields.

9. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners

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    Age: 34

    Key Stats: 150 G, 648 PA, .280/.338/.453, 112 OPS+, 23 HR, 1 SB, 0 DRS

    WAR: 3.4

               

    2017 Player Report

    After Robinson Cano breathed fresh life into his superstardom in 2016, this season marked a turn back toward mortality.

    The power surge that produced a career-high 39 homers in '16 disappeared this year, which mostly had to do with his going back to his natural, flatter swing rather than continue to fight in the launch angle revolution.

    There was otherwise plenty to appreciate about Cano's hitting. He remains an aggressive swinger, but with an excellent bat-to-ball skill (see his 13.1 K%) and an ability to generate good exit velocity in any direction. Regardless of his power, he remains one of the best pure hitters in baseball.

    It's a good thing he can still hit, because his bag of tricks is otherwise empty. He was the slowest second baseman of 2017. And while he's still smooth as silk on defense, even his deep positioning couldn't expand his usefulness beyond easy plays.

8. Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins

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    Rob Foldy/Miami Marlins/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    Key Stats: 158 G, 695 PA, .308/.341/.375, 94 OPS+, 2 HR, 60 SB, 3 DRS

    WAR: 3.1

                

    2017 Player Report

    Following a 2016 season marred by a performance-enhancing drug suspension, Dee Gordon was back to his usual tricks in 2017.

    He's one of the softest hitters in MLB, hence why he sees so many pitches in the strike zone. Yet he plays the hand he's dealt well.

    He puts the ball in play, finishing 2017 with just a 13.4 K%. He also keeps the ball out of the air, opting to hit it on the ground and use his unparalleled speed at the position to leg out hits. Said speed also made him a threat on the bases, where he was one of MLB's most productive players.

    His speed is also an asset on defense. There are second basemen with better hands, arms and/or instincts, but the huge range Gordon's legs afford him is worth a lot. Add it all up, and you get a capable all-around second baseman who plays every day.

7. Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics

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    Age: 33

    Key Stats: 153 G, 645 PA, .277/.360/.448, 119 OPS+, 14 HR, 0 SB, -2 DRS

    WAR: 4.0

              

    2017 Player Report

    This season was a good example of the rule of thumb with Jed Lowrie: If he's healthy, he'll hit.

    His offensive game starts with an approach that seems aggressive based on his overall swing rate, but is revealed as the right kind of aggressive based on his out-of-zone and in-zone swing rates. He spits on bad pitches and attacks good ones.

    That's how he balanced an 11.3 BB% with a 15.5 K%, and how he made such solid contact. And with a natural uppercut swing that keeps the ball off the ground, his contact was liable to do damage. See also: his 49 doubles.

    When he wasn't hitting, however, Lowrie didn't offer much. He went station-to-station on the bases. And while he's smooth on defense, his hands, range and arm all fail to impress and limit what he can do when he has a glove on his hand.

6. Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals

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    Age: 32

    Key Stats: 144 G, 593 PA, .322/.384/.543, 136 OPS+, 23 HR, 2 SB, -15 DRS

    WAR: 2.8

               

    2017 Player Report

    If Launch Angle: The Motion Picture was coming soon to a theater near you, Daniel Murphy's face would be on the poster.

    "Get to 9, 10 degrees and an infielder cannot catch it. And then 25, 27 [degrees] is the sweet spot for home runs," he told FanGraphs' Travis Sawchik.

    At 17.3 degrees, Murphy's average launch angle fell roughly in the middle of these sweet spots. And while his exit velocity was down from 2016, it was still a rock-solid 89.6 mph. Thus did his power awakening take only a small step back. In the meantime, he continued to mix contact (13.0 K%) and patience (8.8 BB%).

    Trouble is, Murphy's bat is his only real source of value. He was one of MLB's slowest second basemen, and his poor defense is nothing new. Poor range is his biggest problem on that front. But since he was at least efficient on routine plays this year, there's an argument that his DRS exaggerates how bad he was.

5. DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies

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    Age: 29

    Key Stats: 155 G, 682 PA, .310/.374/.409, 94 OPS+, 8 HR, 6 SB, 8 DRS

    WAR: 2.9

                         

    2017 Player Report

    Although his 2016 approach earned him a batting title (.348 average), DJ LeMahieu neglected to further pursue the power spike he enjoyed. He lowered his launch angle and went old-school.

    With an elite 89.7 Contact%, LeMahieu instead emphasized putting the ball in play above all else. He also pulled the ball more rarely than any hitter. The Arizona Diamondbacks had the right idea in leaving left field open for him, but it's hard to defend a pure line-drive stroke such as LeMahieu's.

    So if anyone's thinking of crediting Coors Field for his success, here's a hint: don't. For that matter, even OPS+ misses the mark on his quality as a hitter.

    LeMahieu's also a gifted defender. His great feel for second base and his accurate throwing arm make him a lock on routine plays, and these same things also allow for plentiful range.

4. Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals

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    Age: 28

    Key Stats: 145 G, 630 PA, .288/.324/.460, 105 OPS+, 19 HR, 34 SB, 5 DRS

    WAR: 3.9

                   

    2017 Player Report

    Let's get right to the heart of this thing: Was Whit Merrifield for real, or nah?

    Well, three notable hot streaks aided his big breakout. And in general, it is suspect that an older non-prospect who was a slap hitter in the minors could become so productive in the majors.

    But, you can't be a slap hitter without a skill for at least having a knack for contact. Merrifield then gained a bunch of weight, tweaked his swing and upped his launch angle. Thus did he add real power to his game, and benefited with 32 doubles and six triples to go with his 19 homers.

    Meanwhile, he was one of the faster second basemen of 2017 and put that speed to appropriate use on the basepaths. He also needed the range he got from his speed to help offset his issues with routine plays on defense.

3. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Key Stats: 152 G, 705 PA, .269/.357/.496, 126 OPS+, 34 HR, 16 SB, -4 DRS

    WAR: 4.5

                    

    2017 Player Report

    After he was arguably MLB's top second baseman in 2016, the step down that Brian Dozier took in 2017 was probably inevitable.

    His offensive M.O. is to keep his bat on his shoulder until he gets something he can pull in the air. But pitchers avoided his pull power by pounding him up and away this year, and it worked. Both his pull and fly-ball percentages declined. 

    Still, Dozier didn't get completely off his game. He stayed within his approach well enough to work an 11.1 BB% and continued to knock well-hit balls to left field to keep his power afloat.

    Meanwhile, he was again one of MLB's faster second basemen and a better defender than his DRS lets on. It seems like he has to dive for everything, but it's hard to fault him for that as long as he's making plays. And 2017 was another year in which there weren't many he couldn't make.

2. Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles

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    Age: 25

    Key Stats: 160 G, 675 PA, .293/.338/.503, 123 OPS+, 32 HR, 1 SB, 2 DRS

    WAR: 5.1

               

    2017 Player Report

    Suddenly, Jonathan Schoop became a star in 2017.

    He always had the underlying talent for it, but he would waste too many swings in his previous life. He would chase anything, which only works if you can hit anything. To that end, he was no Vladimir Guerrero.

    But this year, both Schoop's swing and chase rates were way down. That didn't fix everything that ailed his bat, but it allowed him to make more frequent use of a swing that already had a built-in knack for power via launch angle and exit velocity. All this year did was take it to another level.

    On defense, Schoop is an exception to the rule of weak-armed second basemen. His arm is a gun, and it's a big reason he converted more double plays than anyone at his position. He also covered a good amount of ground for a guy his size (6'1", 225 lbs).

1. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    Key Stats: 153 G, 662 PA, .346/.410/.547, 164 OPS+, 24 HR, 32 SB, 3 DRS

    WAR: 8.3

              

    2017 Player Report

    What? You expected to see somebody other than Jose Altuve in this spot?

    The one knock against him is that he's more so a passable defender than a great one. He puts as much effort into his defense as he does the other aspects of his game, and he'll keep making it onto highlight reels because of that. But with a limited reach and a weak arm, he can only be so good.

    But, man, can the guy can hit. This was established well before this season, of course, and the only thing Altuve did differently was get back to using the opposite field. Otherwise, his hitting was the usual blend of elite contact and surprising power.

    And don't forget Altuve's baserunning. He was better about picking his spots on stolen bases, failing only six times in 38 attempts. He also offered par-for-the-course aggression en route to elite baserunning value.

    Maybe somebody should give this guy an MVP.

                

    UP NEXT: The Top 25 Shortstops of 2017 on Wednesday, October 11.