There are some new faces on the scene at second base, including both those who broke out or changed positions in 2021. This year, second base is as deep as it has been in years. Whether it is huge bats or slick gloves, second base has a little bit of everything. Now, let us count down the top ten players at the position entering the 2022 season.
10. Kolten Wong, MIL
Kolten Wong had another good season in 2021, combining his elite defense with an above-average bat. He slashed .272/.335/.447 with a 109 wRC+, finishing the season with 2.9 fWAR in 116 games. Wong has been an above-average hitter for the past five years, but his true value comes with his glove. He is a two-time gold glover at second and was a finalist once again in 2021. Wong had 2 OAA, 6 DRS, and 4.7 UZR in 937.0 innings at second base last season. He is one of the most consistent players at the position; the Brewers know exactly what to expect from Wong in 2022.
9. Jorge Polanco, MIN
The Twins signed Andrelton Simmons prior to last season, which pushed Polanco into a new role as a second baseman. He thrived, putting up the best season of his eight-year MLB career. Polanco had a .323 OBP and 122 wRC+ in 2021 while mashing 33 home runs and getting slugging at a .503 clip. That, combined with his 3.1 BsR, was good for a 3.9 fWAR in his 152 games. Polanco was still not a great defender, even at second base, but he was serviceable. He finished the year with 3 DRS, -3.4 UZR, and -1 OAA in his 971.1 innings.
8. Ozzie Albies, ATL
Ozzie Albies is a young, energetic, fun player. But at times, he can be very overrated by the average fan. Albies is above-average at the plate and in the field and is one of the best baserunners in the league. At the plate, Albies had a .310 OBP, .488 SLG, and a 107 wRC+ this year to go along with his 8.3 BsR. With the glove, he had 1 OAA, 1 DRS, and 2.5 UZR. He is on one of the best contracts in baseball and is already a two-time all-star and a World Series champion at the age of 25.
7. Jonathan India, CIN
Jonathan India was one of the biggest surprises of the 2021 season, winning the Rookie of the Year Award after entering the year as an unranked 24-year-old prospect. He made the jump straight from AA to the big leagues and did not miss a beat. India hit 34 doubles and 21 homers while getting on base at a .376 clip. India’s main downfall is his defense. He ranked in the 4th percentile with -7 OAA in 2021. There is room for improvement for India, on both offense and defense, as he is also just 25 years old.
6. Jake Cronenworth, SDP
Jake Cronenworth played a lot of shortstop last year once Fernando Tatis Jr. went down and the Padres acquired Adam Frazier. Tatis is injured once again, but Cronenworth will likely stick at second with Ha-Seong Kim manning shortstop. After being acquired from the Rays prior to 2020, Cronenworth surprised many by finishing runner-up in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2020. He backed that up with an all-star appearance in 2021. He finished the year with a .340 OBP, .460 SLG, 116 wRC+, and 4.4 fWAR. His defensive versatility will be huge for San Diego, especially as long as Fernando Tatis Jr. is on the injured list.
5. Ketel Marte, ARI
Ketel Marte only played 90 games in 2021, but he was one of the most productive hitters in the games he played. Marte mostly played center field last season, but the Diamondbacks’ plethora of young outfielders will likely push him back to 2nd base in 2022. He had a 139 wRC+ and 2.9 fWAR in just 374 plate appearances in 2021, but he still has the MVP-candidate potential that he showcased in 2019. His 10.3 fWAR is tied for first among 2nd basemen since 2019 and another great season could place him in the top three.
4. Jose Altuve, HOU
Jose Altuve has been the model of consistency at second base. He is a seven-time all-star, five-time Silver Slugger, 2015 Gold Glove Award winner, three-time batting champion, and the 2017 American League Most Valuable Player. While many of these awards and accomplishments may be tarnished by the Astros cheating scandal, there’s no denying that Altuve is among the best second basemen in the league. In 2021, Altuve had a 130 wRC+ and 5.2 fWAR in his age-31 season. Altuve is still the face of the Astros and a top-5 2nd baseman in baseball.
3. Trevor Story, BOS
Trevor Story has played zero innings at second base in his entire six-year career. Every single one of the 6304.2 innings he played has been at shortstop. However, he signed a six-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, who already have Xander Bogaerts to man the shortstop position, so Story will slide to second base. Story had a relatively bad year at the plate in 2020. In 595 plate appearances, he had a 100 wRC+ and 3.5 fWAR, while hitting for just a 91 wRC+ away from Coors. Story has struggled away from Coors for most of his career, but we will see if he can reverse that narrative in Boston in 2022.
2. Brandon Lowe, TBR
Brandon Lowe does not get the amount of attention he deserves for what he has been able to do thus far in his career. In 330 games, Lowe has slashed .255/.341/.518 with a .361 wOBA, 134 wRC+ and 11.1 fWAR. His 137 wRC+ in 2021 led all everyday 2nd basemen, while his 5.2 fWAR trailed only Marcus Semien. Lowe ranked in the 88th percentile in Barrel% and the 80th percentile in xwOBA in 2021. He struggles defensively (-6 OAA in 2021) but his bat more than makes up for it.
1. Marcus Semien, TOR
Marcus Semien signed a one-year, prove-it deal with the Toronto Blue Jays last offseason. He surely proved it – and got 175 million dollars to show for it. He moved from shortstop to second base last year and was the best second baseman in the league. He finished 3nd in fWAR among position players, trailing only Trea Turner and Bryce Harper He had a 131 wRC+, 4.0 BsR, and 5 OAA while leading all position players in rWAR. He also set the record for most home runs by a second baseman with 45. In 2022, he’ll be paired with Corey Seager in Texas to form the best middle-infield in baseball.
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images