AL East 2015: Ranking the Second Basemen


Apr 9, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop (6) rounds first base after hitting a three run home run off of New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

When you look at the AL East at second base, it is the thinnest position of all, and the Boston Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia is lapping the field, although one young player could make great strides toward catching him this year.

Comparing 2015 to 2014, only one team is projected to return the same starting second basemen. Of course, that team is Boston. Once again, the rankings largely are Pedroia and everyone else.  The New York Yankees, like last year, are plugging in an aging veteran in Stephen Drew (Brian Roberts last year). The Toronto Blue Jays are going with a parade of utilitymen who are uninspiring, and the Tampa Bay Rays are going with an unproven Nick Franklin after losing stalwart Ben Zobrist.

Last year, in my rankings I said here that Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles top positional prospect, needed another year of seasoning.  Well, we saw how that turned out.  Schoop played 137 games for the O’s, winning the starting job out of sspring training.  He certainly went through a learning curve, but he will be prepared for 2015.

Before we go on, if you want to see my rankings for catcher and first base in 2015, click here for catcher and here for first base.

1. Boston Red Sox – Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, Mookie Betts

What really is there to say about Pedroia? Sure, his age may have started to catch up with him last year, as he only played in 135 games. But, Pedroia still had 33 doubles, won a Gold Glove, and finished with a slash line of .278/.337/.376. Pedroia is a carer .299 hitter, and although he may never reach that number again, number 15 is the heart and soul of the Red Sox team.

The only down side is that there is no true backup to Pedroia. And as he gets older, that could prove to be a problem. Holt, as mentioned yesterday, played well last year for Boston, and the Red Sox are counting on Betts, who they believe is a future star, to contribute in 2015. But neither of them is a true second baseman. Betts was converted from a second baseman to play the outfield.

2. Baltimore Orioles – Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty, Jimmy Paredes

Year two for Jonathan Schoop is expected to be an improvement over season one.  Schoop hit .209/.244/.354 last year, walking only 13 times and striking out 122.  To say he was aggressive would be an understatement.  But, Schoop is also the same player who has quickly taken a liking to facing Masahiro Tanaka, someone no one else in baseball probably said last year. Schoop played very good defense at second base and has a very strong arm to help the Orioles turn a lot of double plays.  He also offers more power at the position than anyone else in the division, hitting 16 home runs in 2014. At age 23, Schoop will be more mature, is stronger, and will likely make a big impact on the Orioles this season.

Some think Flaherty will once again serve as the utility player for the Birds, but I think if Jimmy Paredes shows up to spring training much improved defensively, that he could win that role. Both are utility infielders, albeit with a little more pop than most utility infielders.  Flaherty is smooth with the glove, while Paredes offers more with his bat.

3. New York Yankees – Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan, Jose Pirela

For me, ranking these three Yankees in third almost seems too high.  However, they offer more confidence than the next two teams. Drew last year was paid $10 million to hit .162. Of course, that was after holding out and missing part of the beginning of the season.  However, Drew is now a Yankee.  Familiar with the AL East from his time in Boston, Drew has proven to be a little worse with the glove at second base than at shortstop. Nothing about his hitting statistics will wow you, as he is a career .256/.325/.422 hitter.  Most of his best years came in Arizona, but the team hopes with a full spring training, Drew will look like the Drew of 2013 and not 2014.

Ryan, obviously is known for his good defense, but offers little else.  Pirela is a guy the Yankees signed out of Venezuela in 2008 who they like.  He did well last year in just seven games after being promoted, and if Drew is as dismal at the plate as he was last year, could see himself getting regular playing time.

4. Toronto Blue Jays – Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins, Steve Tolleson

Izturis had one of the worst years of anyone in baseball in 2013.  Goins was expected to be the starter in 2014, but Izturis won the job out of spring training, only to have to have season-ending surgery after just 11 games due to hurting his knee.  Izturis was playing rather well through those 11 games as well.  A column from Jays Journal, found here. explains why they think that 2013 was a total fluke.  While some of the arguments are valid, I don’t think Izturis is a starting second basemen.  I could see him as a utility infielder like Ryan Flaherty, but not as a starter.

However, Goins failed to win the starting job last year, until it was handed to him via injury.  Tolleson actually played in over 100 games last year for the Jays, including starting 55 at second base.  At this point, he may be a better option to back up Izturis if he reverts to 2013 form than is Goins, who struggled to play last year despite Izturis’ injury. Goins hit only .188, which certainly won’t cut it from a guy with no power.

5. Tampa Bay Rays – Nick Franklin, Logan Forsythe, Tim Beckham

Not much to write home about here for Rays’ fans. However, there is a ray of light.  Franklin had a dismal year last year for Tampa and Seattle.  Think worse than Stephen Drew. Hitting .160 for a guy with no power won’t work. And that was in less than 30 games.  It really is hard to imagine Franklin being anything more than a utility player as well. That is also the type of player Forsythe is.

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Then there is Beckham.  A former first-round pick, Beckham is now 25, and his window with the Rays may be shrinking.  He missed most of 2014 due to rehabbing a knee injury, and probably would be over-matched in the majors in 2015.  Even so, he may present a better option than Franklin.  Don’t worry Rays fans, we go to third base next, where you have a guy you may have heard of.

Don’t like my rankings? Think your team should be higher? Let me know why!