Ranking the Top 25 Second Basemen of the 2022 MLB Season
It's time to put a bow on the 2022 MLB season with Bleacher Report's final positional rankings.
Throughout the year, we released monthly updates to our position-by-position power rankings, selecting the top 10 players at each spot. Now it's time to finalize those rankings while expanding the list to the 25 best at each position.
Just like the regular-season rankings, past production and future expectations played no part in deciding the order. This is simply a rundown of the best and brightest of 2022.
To qualify for inclusion, a player had to have at least 200 plate appearances. Each player was only included at the position where he played the most games. That notably excluded Vaughn Grissom (156 PA), DJ LeMahieu (more innings at 3B), Luis Urías (more innings at 3B), Isaac Paredes (more innings at 3B) and Brendan Donovan (more innings in OF) in these rankings.
Let's dive into the top 25 second basemen of the 2022 season.
25. Tony Kemp, Oakland Athletics
While he failed to replicate the 3.4-WAR season he had in 2021, Kemp was still one of the more productive players on an underwhelming Oakland roster. He ranked second on the team in hits (117) and runs scored (61) and was third in total bases (166), tallying 1.1 WAR in a career-high 147 games.
24. Adam Frazier, Seattle Mariners
Frazier was an All-Star Game starter in 2021, but his production dramatically dipped during the second half last season, and he failed to bounce back as hoped in Seattle. The 30-year-old hit .238/.301/.311 for a middling 80 OPS+ in 156 games, but he was a durable staple at second base who provided quality defense.
23. Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals/Toronto Blue Jays
Merrifield put together a career-worst .250/.298/.375 slash line in 139 games, and the Royals finally pulled the trigger on trading him, sending him to the Blue Jays at the deadline. Despite his down season, he still logged 40 extra-base hits, 16 steals and 70 runs scored, and will return to a stacked Toronto lineup in 2023.
22. Wilmer Flores, San Francisco Giants
Flores split his time between second base (441.0 innings), first base (300.2 innings) and third base (234.2 innings), and he set career highs in doubles (28), home runs (19), RBI (71) and runs scored (72). Poor defense and limited on-base ability dragged down his overall value, but he was one of the better run producers in the San Francisco lineup.
21. Luis Guillorme, New York Mets
A glove-first utility infielder in past seasons, Guillorme hit .273/.351/.340 for a 101 OPS+ over a career-high 335 plate appearances in 102 games. The 28-year-old provided solid defense at second base (2 DRS, 7.1 UZR/150) with strong on-base (10.1 BB%) and contact (13.7 K%) numbers at the plate.
20. Josh Harrison, Chicago White Sox
After a dreadful start to the year offensively, Harrison batted .286/.339/.408 with 20 extra-base hits in 314 plate appearances from June 1 through the end of the regular season. The 35-year-old proved to be a useful addition on a one-year, $5.5 million contract, and he is a free agent once again this offseason.
19. Santiago Espinal, Toronto Blue Jays
Espinal hit .271/.320/.391 with 21 doubles, six home runs and 37 RBI during the first half of the season to earn a surprise All-Star selection. His production dipped after the break and he missed some time down the stretch, but he was still a 2-WAR player for the second year in a row.
18. Jon Berti, Miami Marlins
A solid utility player throughout his career, Berti stepped into the starting second base job in Miami after Jazz Chisholm Jr. went down with an injury. The 32-year-old led the majors with 41 steals in 46 attempts. Coupled with his strong defense at multiple positions, that made him a 2.5-WAR player in 102 games.
17. Jean Segura, Philadelphia Phillies
Segura was his usual steady self in 2022, hitting .277/.336/.387 for a 104 OPS+ with 10 home runs, 13 steals and 1.8 WAR in 98 games. The 32-year-old is a .285 career hitter, and while it was a no-brainer for the Phillies to decline his $17 million club option, he can still be a solid everyday option at second base.
16. Luis Rengifo, Los Angeles Angels
Rengifo took some time to develop into an MLB contributor, but he quietly put together a nice breakout season in 2022. The 25-year-old logged a 103 OPS+ with 22 doubles, 17 home runs and 52 RBI in a 2.4-WAR season. While he still has room to improve on his .294 on-base percentage, he'll be given every chance to win the everyday job in 2023.
15. Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks
Marte didn't quite match the 143 OPS+ he posted during an injury-plagued 2021 campaign, but he was still productive at the plate, hitting .240/.321/.407 for a 106 OPS+ with 56 extra-base hits in 558 plate appearances. His 42 doubles ranked third in the National League, and he played exclusively second base after seeing semi-regular action in center field in recent years.
14. Thairo Estrada, San Francisco Giants
Acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for cash considerations prior to the 2021 season, Estrada was an everyday player for the first time this year, and he responded by hitting .260/.322/.400 with 22 doubles, 14 home runs, 62 RBI, 71 runs scored and 21 steals in 27 attempts. The 26-year-old is controllable through 2026 and looks like a long-term piece for the Giants.
13. Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
Polanco missed some time at midseason with back tightness and wound up playing in only 104 games, but he was productive when healthy, posting a 117 OPS+ with 16 doubles, 16 home runs, 56 RBI and 2.8 WAR in 445 plate appearances. The 29-year-old will be in the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2023, though he has a pair of option years to follow.
12. Trevor Story, Boston Red Sox
Signed to a six-year, $140 million deal in free agency, Story struggled early at the plate before a three-homer game on May 19 snapped him out of that early funk. He went on to hit .255/.309/.494 with 14 doubles, 14 home runs and 50 RBI in his final 62 games en route to a 2.5-WAR season. If Xander Bogaerts decides to leave Boston in free agency, Story could shift back to his natural shortstop position in 2023.
11. Jazz Chisholm Jr., Miami Marlins
Chisholm was headed for a top-five spot on this list until a stress fracture in his lower back brought his season to an abrupt halt at the end of June. In 60 games prior to the injury, he logged a 139 OPS+ with 14 home runs, 12 steals and 2.4 WAR, which extrapolates to a 6.5-WAR season over a full 162-game slate.
10. Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers
One of the most hyped prospects in baseball heading into the 2020 season, Gavin Lux took some time to live up to expectations, but he finally enjoyed a long-awaited breakout campaign in 2022.
The 24-year-old hit .276/.346/.399 for a 105 OPS+ with 33 extra-base hits, including an NL-high seven triples, and he was a 2.5-WAR player in 129 games.
Drafted and developed as a shortstop, he has tallied 16 DRS in 1,346.2 career innings at second base. That will likely be his long-term home defensively unless the Dodgers are shut out of the shortstop market this winter.
9. Kolten Wong, Milwaukee Brewers
A two-time Gold Glove winner best known for his defense, Kolten Wong quietly put together the best offensive season of his career in 2022.
The 32-year-old posted a career-high 118 OPS+ with 24 doubles, 15 home runs, 47 RBI and 65 runs scored. He added 17 steals in 23 attempts while serving as Milwaukee's primary leadoff hitter for the first half of the season and then moving down in the No. 5 spot in the lineup.
That offensive production coupled with his usual stellar defense made him a 3.1-WAR player in 2022. His 12.8 WAR since the start of the 2019 season trails only Marcus Semien (22.0), Tommy Edman (15.3), Jeff McNeil (13.7) and José Altuve (13.1) among all second basemen.
8. Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies
A top prospect throughout his time in the Colorado Rockies farm system after going No. 3 overall in the 2015 draft, Brendan Rodgers built off a strong 2021 campaign with a true breakout season.
The 26-year-old hit .266/.325/.408 with 30 doubles, 13 home runs and 63 RBI, but it was elite defense (22 DRS, 5.7 UZR/150) that really drove his value. He turned in a 4.3-WAR season and took home Gold Glove honors.
Rodgers is still capable of more offensively based on his minor league track record, but he might already be the best long-term building block on Colorado's roster.
7. Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees
Once viewed among the most promising young players in baseball after a 38-homer outburst in his age-22 season in 2019, Gleyber Torres was something of an afterthought following disappointing seasons in 2020 and 2021.
The 25-year-old bounced back this season with a 114 OPS+ while tallying 28 doubles, 24 home runs, 76 RBI and 73 runs scored in a 4.1-WAR season.
It isn't hard to draw a line between his offensive struggles over the last few years and his defensive issues at shortstop. Shifting him back to second base on a full-time basis seems to have jump-started his offensive production.
6. Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres
Jake Cronenworth was an All-Star and a 4-WAR player for the second year in a row in 2022, and his contributions became all the more important with Fernando Tatis Jr. watching from the sidelines.
The 28-year-old posted a 111 OPS+ with 30 doubles, 17 home runs, 88 RBI and 88 runs scored this season. He also raised his walk rate from 8.6 to 10.2 percent to help offset a dip in his batting average.
Cronenworth is also capable of playing first base and shortstop, but his best defensive position is second base, where he logged positive defensive metrics across the board for the third year in a row. Still three years removed from free agency, he could be an early extension candidate in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
5. Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers gave Marcus Semien a seven-year, $175 million deal last offseason following his third-place finish in AL MVP voting and 7.3-WAR performance in his lone season with the Toronto Blue Jays.
After a glacial start at the plate, he posted an .810 OPS with 22 doubles, 25 home runs and 66 RBI in 114 games over the final four months of the season, and he finished ninth in the American League with 282 total bases. His 5.9 WAR was also tops on the Texas roster, outpacing fellow offseason signing Corey Seager (4.0) by a decent margin.
Defensively, Semien continued to shine at second base after playing primarily shortstop prior to the 2021 season. He was a Gold Glove finalist once again after taking home the hardware in 2021.
4. Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals
Playing in the shadow of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, middle infielder Tommy Edman also quietly ranked among the top 10 position players in baseball with 6.4 WAR in 153 games.
The 27-year-old split his time evenly between second base and shortstop this season. He shifted to the other side of the second base bag after Paul DeJong was demoted to the minors before eventually shifting back. He tallied a combined 19 DRS at the two middle infield spots, and his defensive versatility was a major boon to his value.
However, Edman also hit a solid .265/.324/.400 with 31 doubles, 13 home runs, 57 RBI, 95 runs scored and 32 steals in 35 attempts. Raising his walk rate from 5.5 to 7.3 percent helped his on-base percentage climb nearly 20 points, which served him well as the team's primary leadoff hitter.
3. Jeff McNeil, New York Mets
A .319 hitter with a 139 OPS+ over his first three seasons in the big leagues, Jeff McNeil struggled through the worst year of his career in 2021, but he came out the other side with more of that high-level production this year.
The 30-year-old hit .326/.382/.454 to win the NL batting title, and he had 49 extra-base hits and 73 runs scored while slotting all over the New York Mets lineup throughout the course of the season. His 5.7 WAR was a career high, and it edged out Francisco Lindor (5.4) for the highest total on the Mets' roster.
As usual, McNeil saw semi-regular action at the corner outfield spots as well as manning second base. That versatility allowed the Mets to get Luis Guillorme into the lineup more frequently when he was swinging a hot bat.
2. José Altuve, Houston Astros
An All-Star for the eighth time and a Silver Slugger winner for a sixth time in 2022, Houston Astros star José Altuve is showing no signs of slowing down on the other side of 30.
The 32-year-old hit .300/.387/.533 for a 160 OPS+ while tallying 39 doubles, 28 home runs, 57 RBI, 103 runs scored and 18 steals in 19 attempts. It was the first time since 2018 that he reached double digits in steals, and his 5.1 WAR made it the fifth 5-WAR season of his career.
If these rankings were based solely on offense, Altuve would have been an easy choice for the No. 1 ranking. But his overall value is undercut by his well-below-average glove (-15 DRS, -3.7 UZR/150), which opened the door for someone else to claim the top spot.
1. Andrés Giménez, Cleveland Guardians
No established MLB player took a bigger step forward in 2022 than Andrés Giménez, who entered the season with a tenuous grasp at best on the starting second base job for the Cleveland Guardians.
The 24-year-old hit .218 with a 74 OPS+ in 210 plate appearances during the 2021 season, but he looked like a completely different hitter this year. He batted .297/.371/.466 for a 141 OPS+ while racking up 26 doubles, 17 home runs, 69 RBI, 66 runs scored and 20 steals in 23 attempts.
On top of those terrific numbers, Giménez also won Gold Glove honors. His stellar defensive metrics (16 DRS, 5.9 UZR/150) helped propel him to a 7.4-WAR season that made him one of the most valuable players in all of baseball.