Welcome to the Fantasy Roundtable, where the Rotoworld Baseball staff will have a free-flowing discussion about a topic de jour. The back-and-forth between the five of us occurred via email, but we’ve repurposed it in an article for your enjoyment. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it, anyway.
D.J. Short: This whole exercise has me thinking about the “In the Year 2000” bit from “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” but make no mistake, this is serious business. This time, we’re here to chat about the future of the second base position. First base was an easy call with Cody Bellinger, but I figure we could have some differences of opinion this time around.
As Matthew Pouliot alluded to in the first base discussion, I’m not convinced Keston Hiura will still be a second baseman by the time 2025 rolls around. He’d probably be my choice if he manages to stick there, but Ozzie Albies is the safest play. He just turned 23 years old and showed some nice signs of growth last year. It’s reasonable to think he’ll be right in his prime five years from now, with a solid all-around fantasy profile and a presence near the top of the Braves’ lineup.
It’s tempting to go all in on prospects like Jazz Chisholm of the Marlins and Jeter Downs of the Red Sox (who I just selected in our dynasty mock draft) with the sort of tools they offer. Downs will also have Fenway Park on his side. I just can’t take that leap here, though. Interested to hear what you think.
Christopher Crawford: Interesting. For me, it's Hiura, and it's not particularly close. Is he a lock to stick at second base? No, and if they ever change the shift rules, I would bet against it. But in a day and age where I see Mike Moustakas playing on that side of the bag and know that Hiura has good enough hands and his below-average arm isn't hurt at the keystone, I think there's a really good chance he's staying up the middle.
There are several prospects that I could see challenging like the names D.J. mentioned along with Vidal Brujan, and if second base ends up being Brendan Rodgers' long-term position, he's a candidate as well. Because of his ceiling and floor, however, I can't pick anyone but Hiura.
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Drew Silva: Second base is (was?) a weird position leading into 2020, with tons of variance across the fantasy baseball industry as to who should make up the top 10 at the position and where those players should rank within that top 10.
I actually had Gleyber Torres at No. 1 this spring, but he is set to move over to shortstop on a full-time basis in New York and probably won't be 2B-eligible come 2025. And I agree with the belief that Hiura's future in Milwaukee could be at first base, though I trust Crawford's scouting acumen on his defense. Albies is my choice, assuming Hiura is no longer a second baseman in 2025, but I will throw a nod to Gavin Lux. The 22-year-old posted a ridiculous .347/.421/.607 batting line with 26 home runs, 76 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and 99 runs scored in 113 games last summer between Double-A and Triple-A before debuting with the Dodgers in September. He was drafted as a shortstop and could eventually take over that spot in Los Angeles, but the Dodgers are big on roster flexibility and seem likely to give Lux regular starts at both middle infield spots well into the future.
Crawford: Lux is a great call, and if he does stick at second base, I think he's the answer. It's just hard for me to imagine that he's not moved to shortstop with Corey Seager moving over to third base in the next couple of years. As good as Hiura is, Lux has the potential to be better in every category outside of perhaps stolen bases.
Speaking of steals, Nick Madrigal is another option worth mentioning because of his ability to hit for average and procure stolen bases, but I do worry about the power. Xavier Edwards, Brice Turang and the aforementioned Brujan are candidates to help in that area.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Those are the last 10 players to collect 50 homers and 400 hits through age 22. Albies gets overshadowed by Ronald Acuña Jr. on his own team and Torres in the conversation about young infielders, but he’s a special talent. He’s the “safe” choice here because we don’t know exactly what positions Hiura, Lux and Torres will end up at, but ignoring position, I’d still be tempted to pick him over those three. I guess I’d give Torres an edge, since being a Yankee is a pretty great situation for fantasy value, but I’d take Albies from a WAR standpoint.
Rodgers is also very high on my list, with the caveat that he still could wind up at shortstop if the Rockies lose Trevor Story at some point. Rodgers isn’t quite as talented as the other four middle infielders here, but Coors will help a whole bunch. Some .300/30-homer seasons could be in his future.
Ryan Boyer: I would lean toward Hiura over Albies, assuming that Hiura is still at second base five years from now. Albies does so much of his damage against lefties that I think there's still a little volatility there, at least from a batting average perspective. I have a high level of confidence in Hiura's bat and he will still be under the Brewers' control (and at Miller Park) in 2025.
I think Cavan Biggio is at least worth mentioning as a 25-year-old with 20/20 ability and good on-base skills. He's probably never going to hit for average, though, so he'll likely fall short of the elite at the position.
Silva: Biggio does deserve a mention, especially in OBP leagues. And hopefully OBP leagues are more of the norm five years from now. His on-base talent should help him stick at the top of the Blue Jays' fast-improving lineup, with Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. there for the long haul to juice the collective counting stats.
Short: Are there any shortstops -- possibly prospects or younger shortstops in the majors now -- who could end up playing second base by 2025?
Crawford: I would say Trea Turner is a potential candidate to move over to second base by that point. He'd be 31, and while he's a solid defender at shortstop now, it's not terribly hard for me to imagine moving to the other side of the bag in five years. I could also see Amed Rosario making the move if/when someone like Ronny Mauricio or Andres Gimenez is ready to go, but it's tough to see Rosario being the same kind of bat as the names we've listed above.
Short: This is a perfect lead-in to our shortstop discussion, which will go live next Monday.