We continue our positional rankings around Major League Baseball with the five best second basemen.
Second base might not have the most talented pool of players out of the four infield positions. However, as is the case with first base, third base, and shortstop, some of the best hitters in baseball lead the pack. The deep pool of players combines long-tenured power-hitters with young contact-focused batters to form a stacked group of second basemen.
Some of the players on this list didn’t get to shine last year. Some suffered a lack of playing time due to injuries. Also, some were playing other positions throughout the 2019 season. A busy offseason, however, has established new dominant faces at the position.
Here are the five best second basemen in Major League Baseball:
Last year, injuries kept Jose Altuve to the lowest amount of playing time since his rookie campaign back in 2011. This didn’t prevent him from registering career-highs with 31 homeruns and .550 slugging percentage. In addition, he just barely missed out on hitting over .300 for the sixth straight year, batting .298. His only issue was a slip when it comes to OBP, which was tied for his second-worst since 2012 with .353.
Still, Altuve has the reputation of being a prominent hitter for extra-base hits and OPS. He was able to keep the focus there even though his batting average dropped significantly last season. With a career WAR of 36.7, the 22nd-best active, Altuve’s abilities dictate the success of the almighty Astros lineup.
He will be looking to return to his best form – that which provided high OBP and efficiency for the Astros, and make another run at the AL MVP award in 2020.
Atlanta Braves‘ young core is certainly one of the most exciting in the league. The reigning NL East champions have star youngsters like Freddie Frieman and Ronald Acuna who are already in the MVP conversation. A name that tends to stay outside that conversation but has nearly as many contributions is second baseman Ozzie Albies.
Albies is coming off his best year as a Brave, batting .295 and leading the NL with 165 hits throughout the 2019 MLB season. Both marked career-high accomplishments, as did his slugging percentage of .500 and OPS of .852. He also cut down on his strikeouts despite recording more at-bats and won the Silver Slugger award for the first time in his career. This came after his debut All-Star appearance in 2018.
Albies is an important part of the Braves’ everyday lineup and is establishing himself as a dominant power-hitter with each season in MLB.
Mike Moustakas is a reliable and experienced hitter who is coming off the best three-year stretch in his career. During the nine years he’s played in MLB, Moustakas’s been a prolific power-hitter despite struggling to reach base consistently.
The long-tenured member of the Kansas City Royals hit a total of 30 homeruns with the Brewers last season. This marked his third year in a row with more than 25 big flies. Despite reaching the league-average OBP just last year for the first time since 2015, Moustakas has recorded 80-plus RBI in each of his last three seasons. In addition, he also reached the All-Star Game after a two-year absence.
The 31-year-old moved from third base to second after signing a four-year deal with the Reds. He proved wildly productive with Milwaukee’s lineup and is surely capable of replicating that in Cincy.
The Diamondback dominated opposing pitchers so much last season that he has now made our top five rankings at both second base and centerfield. There’s certainly no denying that this is an accurate reflection of where he stands on the MLB hierarchy.
Ever since the Mariners traded him to Arizona, Ketel Marte has provided valuable upside in each of his four seasons in Phoenix. As he’s hitting his prime, the 26-year-old is showing how high his ceiling is. He has made a named for himself by being both powerful and consistent at the plate during an MVP-worthy campaign.
Marte batted .329 with an over-league-average OBP of .389 and an elite slugging percentage of .529. Overall, he finished the 2019 season with an OPS of .981, the seventh-best across MLB, and the fourth-best in the NL. And that’s just likely the start of the journey granted that he stays relatively healthy.
The Royals star made his debut with Kansas City five years ago and proved himself as one of the most consistent hitters in the last decade. The South Carolina product has become the epitome of the term “hitting for average”, batting .296 career-wise. Besides, he has also recorded an average of above .300 in two straight seasons (1,400-plus AB). Also, he’s led the majors in hits in the last two campaigns.
This style of at-the-plate focus has been particularly pointed out as ineffective in the modern-day game. Despite his consistently-high batting average, he’s posted an OBP of .367 in his best year (2018). This is a great figure which is still over the league average of .318 but nowhere near the .400-plus numbers recorded by the leaders in this statistic. On the other hand, he still might reach base at a satisfying rate but Whit Merrifield surely doesn’t have much help around him to either score runs or drive runners in.
However, Merrifield deserves credit from being among the best hitters in the league today. Even if it’s in a dying department. He has served double duty, also spending time at centerfield. The Royals have seen a surge in offensive production with players like Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier emerging as trustworthy hitters that would double down on opportunities created by Merrifield. This speaks highly of Merrifield’s contributions.