Over the next couple of weeks at Harper Wallbanger, I'm sorting through the Big Board for 12-team 5x5 leagues to find the must-draft and must-avoid players at each position. Let's keep it rolling with second base!
STATE OF THE POSITION
2B is changing, with old go-to's like Kipnis, Kinsler, Pedroia tumbling out of the upper ranks (or out of relevance completely), but there are some exciting names here. Jose Ramirez's surprising power outburst in '17 pushes him into the upper echelons now, and Ozzie Albies' exciting debut last year has people hyped. As always, 2B is also home to easily-projected, reliable type guys that can allow you to take risks at other spots, but this year there are a fair amount of upside/risk plays, like Albies, Villar, Moncada, and Happ. Which way I go will totally depend on the rest of my roster - if I have safe guys elsewhere, I really like some of these upside plays, but if I have say, Matt Olson at 1B, Paul DeJong at SS, Ian Desmond in the OF... I need some safety at 2B, like Lemahieu or Harrison.
TARGET: Jose Ramirez
640 PA, 25 HR, 95 R, 95 RBI, 19 SB, .315 AVG
When a guy with amazing contact skills also adds power on top of that, look out. That's what happened with JoRam in 2017, and now we're looking at a legit 20/20(ish) guy with .310+ AVG, playing in a potent lineup in Cleveland. xStats says he deserved a .317 AVG last year, though the power should regress a bit from his .265 ISO towards the still-very-good .222 xISO. This is a stable, high-floor pick with upside for more if his power continues to develop or if he hits on a lucky BABIP season. He's going high enough in drafts that this is totally dependent upon what pick you have on the snake, but if he drops in the 2nd round, as I've seen in several drafts already, Jose is a big value here in 2018.
When to target: He'll provide late-1st round value, but can often be had in mid-late Round 2.
Risk profile: Low.
TARGET: Josh Harrison
600 PA, 17 HR, 81 R, 61 RBI, 14 SB, .277 AVG
Though he complained about it, it seems Josh Harrison is stuck in rebuilding Pittsburgh this season. So while the offense around him might be on the weaker side, this is a classic case of an underappreciated all-around contributor. Harrison doesn't kill you in any category but also doesn't really carry you, he's a perfect option to just plug that 2B spot in your lineup in the mid-rounds so you can worry about other things.
When to target: He's in tier 7 for me, which means you can wait quite a long time. A 15th round value, try to nab him in Round 20 in Yahoo/CBS formats, or Round 18 on ESPN.
Risk profile: Low.
AVOID: Robinson Cano
630 PA, 23 HR, 79 R, 89 RBI, 2 SB, .285 AVG
Most drafters are still banking on the 2016 version of Cano. But hold on. Since arriving in Seattle, three of his four seasons ('14, '15, '17) have featured 23 or less dingers. And without dingers, Cano is a decidedly middle-tier second baseman. I'm projecting '18 will look just like '17, and that means I'm out on Robinson. I look forward to hearing about this one in the comments section, because the consensus on Cano seems to be that he still belongs in the near-elite tier at 2B!
Risk profile: Medium.