As was the case with the two previous installments, this list will be based on depth charts from multiple platforms as of today. The players, and therefore the rankings, are subject to change. But until then, here we go: the starting second basemen, ranked from best to worst, in the AL East.
1. Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox
2016: .318/.376/.449, 15 HR, 74 RBI
Pedroia is the class of the division, not just at second base, but overall. All you have to do is look at his hardware: 2007 American League Rookie of the Year, 2008 American League MVP, 2008 Silver Slugger, 4-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove recipient, 2-time World Series Champion.
Statistically, he has collected 185 or more hits in a season five times, including 200+ hits twice, on his way to batting .301 during his career, including eight seasons batting .290 or higher. Well on his way to a Hall of Fame career, at second base it’s Dustin Pedroia, and then everyone else.
2. Jonathan Schoop – Baltimore Orioles
2016: .267/.298/.454, 25 HR, 82 RBI
This was a tough decision. Devon Travis has hit over .300 ever since he debuted in 2015. Starlin Castro is a 3-time All-Star. But Schoop is the best defender of the three, has more power than Castro, and has proven to be more durable than Travis. In 2016, Schoop had the third-best fielding percentage in the American League at second base, and the best range factor in the division, committing just eight errors while playing in all 162 games. Schoop has possibly the strongest arm at the position in the game, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better second baseman at turning the double play.
Offensively, Schoop’s power continues to mature as he hit 25 home runs in 2016 to go along with 38 doubles and 82 RBI, all career highs by a wide margin.
3. Starlin Castro – New York Yankees
2016: .270/.300/.433, 21 HR, 70 RBI
Castro is a 3-time All-Star who led the National League in hits in 2011 with 207. Castro has hit .292 or better in three of his seven seasons, has stolen 20+ bases twice, and hit 21 HR in his first season in New York in 2016. The reason he falls to third on this list is because of his defensive shortcomings. To his credit, the move from shortstop to second base improved his defense significantly, which leads one to believe that most of his errors were of the throwing variety. Still, 18+ errors in five of his seven seasons overshadows his defensive uptick in 2016. If Castro can continue to clean up his defense while taking advantage of the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium (15 of his 21 HR were hit at home last season), then the Yankees will have no cause for concern.
4. Devon Travis – Toronto Blue Jays
2016: .300/.332/.454, 11 HR, 50 RBI
In 163 career games split between two seasons–basically the equivalent of a full season–Travis has slashed .301/.342/.469 with 19 HR, 85 RBI, and 189 hits. That has All-Star written all over it. The problem for Travis is his inability to stay healthy. The young second basemen missed 47 games to begin 2016 with a shoulder injury, missed four more games in August with a hand injury, and then had to be removed from Game 1 of the ALCS – a series Toronto lost in five games – with a bone bruise and cartilage caught in the joint in his right knee.
The injury required surgery and Travis has yet to make his debut in Spring Training following the November procedure. Not all is lost, as Schoop, featured second on this list, missed more than half of the 2015 season with a knee injury before rebounding to play in all 162 games last season. If Travis can get healthy, and stay healthy, it should bode well for the Blue Jays.
5. Brad Miller – Tampa Bay Rays
2016: .243/.304/.382, 30 HR, 81 RBI
Miller hit 30 HR with 81 RBI in 2016, a breakout season for the now-27-year-old. With numbers like that, you’d think Miller would be featured higher on this list. The reason he isn’t is because nobody knows what the hell is going on in Tampa.
If you look at the Rays depth chart on ESPN.com, Miller is listed as the backup at all four infield positions and DH. On MLB.com, he is listed as the starter or backup at three IF positions and DH. The Rays want his bat in the lineup, and they’ll find a way for that to happen regularly, as he has played every position except for pitcher and catcher in his career.
But I don’t think anybody, including the Rays, knows where he’ll get the majority of his playing time. Evan Longoria is clearly the third baseman. Matt Duffy, who has played almost exclusively at third base in his career, shifts over to shortstop, and Logan Morrison boasts a .996 fielding percentage at first base, making Miller the second baseman by default. We’ll see if this holds true as the season progresses.
1. Brock Holt-Boston Red Sox
2016: .255/.322/.383, 7 HR, 34 RBI
2016: .270/.328/.443, 6 HR, 26 RBI
3. Darwin Barney-Toronto Blue Jays
2016: .269/.322/.373, 4 HR, 19 RBI
4. Ronald Torreyes-New York Yankees
2016: .258/.305/.374, 1 HR, 12 RBI
5. Ryan Flaherty-Baltimore Orioles
2016: .217/.291/.318, 3 HR, 15 RBI
That does it for the second basemen in the AL East. As always, this list is up for debate, and is just one man’s opinion, nothing more. Up next, we take a look at the third basemen within the division.