The Determinator: Second Base: #5-1 + DJ LeMahieu’s Ranking
The Determinator continues to run smoothly! With catcher and first base rankings done, today we will finish the right side of the infield.
Today I will reveal the #5-#1 Second Basemen in the MLB as well as highlighting DJ LeMahieu’s season. Tomorrow, I will announce the #10-6 Third Basemen in the MLB. For a background about The Determinator, see my article about my methodology, changes for 2021, and schedule, here.
The Determinator: Second Base-Specific Information
To easily work through and cut-down the list of 207 different players who played any amount of time at second base during the past two seasons, I set-up two boundaries to keep it as close to having only starters:
They must’ve had at least 350 PA’s over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
They must’ve had at least 750 innings at second base over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
This limited the number of second basemen down to 27.
However, without further ado, let’s get to the first half of the Top-10:
If a first baseman led a statistic, it will be bolded.
Number 5: Cesar Hernandez, Cleveland Indians
Top-5: Games, wRC, Fld, Innings, Def
Top-10: AVG, OBP, WAR, DRS, UZR
Top-15: SB, wRC+, BsR, Off
Total Score: 44Embed from Getty Images
A newcomer to The Determinator, Cesar Hernandez was just recently re-signed by the Cleveland Indians (new name pending) on a 1-Year/$5 Million deal that includes a club option for 2022. The reigning AL Gold Glove winner at second base, Hernandez has long been a good-to-great defender with an average bat. Hernandez had one of his better offensive seasons last year, placing positively with OFF (+3.5) and DEF (+4.7). He matched his 2019 WAR in 100 fewer games played in 2020 (+1.8 and +1.9), but his underlying numbers would indicate that a Top-5 finish was lucky. A 21.8% K rate in 2020 combined with a .364 BABIP indicate he’s likely to regress again next year. However, as a defensive-first second baseman, there is a good shot he hovers near the 10 spot
Number 4: DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees
Top-5: AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, UZR
Top-10: Games, DRS, Def
Top-15: SB, Fld
Total Score: 56Embed from Getty Images
See: “DJ LeMahieu and His Ranking 4th” (below).
Number 3: Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks
Top-5: AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR, DRS
Top-10: Games, SB, BsR, Fld
Total Score: 57Embed from Getty Images
Interestingly, Ketel Marte last season did not qualify as a second baseman and instead took home the #1 place for Center Fielders, but after spending almost all of his 2020 season at second base, he moved (and dropped) positions. The second base leader in SLG (.548), Marte was an absolute beast in 2019 with a surprise season that came out of nowhere…before showing that it was likely a fluke with a very diminished 2020 across the board. I still have faith that he can return to a form somewhere in between the 150 wRC+ and 94 wRC+ he posted these last two seasons, especially given his young age (27), but I think unless he can find that 2019 magic again, he is likely to be a lower Top-10 second baseman going forward.
Number 2: Kolten Wong, Free Agent
Top-5: Games, OBP, SB, BsR, WAR, Fld, Innings, DRS, UZR, Def
Top-10: AVG, wRC, Off
Total Score: 60Embed from Getty Images
After a complete 2019 season, Wong followed up what was a great year with a moderately diminished campaign. However, that’s just on the offensive side of the ball, where Wong tends to move in-between seasons of slightly above-average and slightly below-average play. On the defensive side of the ball, Wong led all 2B in Fld (+9), DRS (+25), UZR (+9), and Def (+11.7). With back-to-back gold gloves, Wong has made himself a stand-out defender. A solid baserunner as well (a topic I haven’t discussed much because it hasn’t been too important yet), Wong has the most Top-5 finishes across second baseman with 10. It is very surprising to me that Wong has yet to sign with a team this offseason, but I expect that he’ll likely end up back with the St. Louis Cardinals. I do believe most teams could use a player like him.
Number 1: Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves
Top-5: AVG, SLG, wRC, BsR, Off, WAR, Innings, DRS
Top-10: Games, OBP, HR, SB, wRC+, Fld, UZR, Def
Total Score: 64Embed from Getty Images
Again, Ozzie Albies is both #1 on the field and with The Determinator, as he held onto his spot both this year and last. He is the undisputed best second baseman in baseball today, and he should be for the near future (barring injury/unforeseen circumstances). Interestingly, he did not lead second basemen in any of the 16 metrics, nor did he hold the most Top-5 finishes, but he does have the most complete second base profile of the bunch, as he is the only one to place Top-10 (or Top-15) in all 16 metrics. As we saw last year, Albies is incredibly deserving of this spot and it did not surprise me to see him here again.
DJ LeMahieu and his Ranking 4th:
Falling from the #2 spot from last year, it seems preposterous that this could have happened given what LeMahieu did on the field for the Yankees these past two seasons. The MLB 2B leader in AVG (0.336), OBP (.386), wRC (160), wRC+ (146), Off (+49.9), and WAR (+7.8), again the case seems impossible to make for DJ LeMahieu not being the #1 second baseman. However, as we saw yesterday with Whit Merrifield, The Determinator and defensive metrics do not like players who move around positions. Combined with the Yankees adverse attitude towards baserunning and stealing bases, LeMahieu does miss on a lot of chances to grab extra points to showcase his overall game.
Of note, DJ did only miss placing on two different metrics by The Determinator of which were baserunning (-0.1) and innings (794.1). With less time spent between the different infield spots over the past two years and the fact that DJ does play in a lot of games (195), this is not a concern. He has been a reliable player with getting on the field. Additionally, with the innings he spent at 1B (286.0) and 3B (487.0) if added only to 2B, DJ would have placed Top-5, been given an additional 5 points, and would have ended up ranked second (behind Albies) amongst all second basemen.
While I do believe DJ could see some fall in his top rankings soon, The Determinator does showcase his high value, and I am very happy that the Yankees were able to bring back such a great player.
The Determinator is a way I used to determine the best players at each position. Like any metric or formula, I am sure it has flaws. No statistical compilation is perfect. That being said, The Determinator, seems pretty effective at assigning player values. I’m pleased with what I have found using this method and hope this is a conversation starter for many.