On Saturday, MLB Network had two more editions in their series of the their top ten players countdown from each position. Last week, in the third baseman countdown featured Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado as the second best 3rd baseman in baseball (much to the chagrin of Rockies fans) and Rockies shortstop Trevor Story was featured as the ninth best shortstop in the game on the shortstop list. This weekend, the two new editions were second base and right field. The Rockies were not represented on the right field list but they were featured on the second baseman list.
DJ LeMahieu was named the fifth-best second baseman in all of baseball on MLB Network’s series “Top Ten Right Now.” Ahead of LeMahieu was Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy at number four, Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier at number three, Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano at number two, and the 2017 American League Most Valuable Player award winner, the Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve taking the top spot.
Before the 2017 season, LeMahieu was ranked as the seventh best second baseman in all of baseball. The ranking of fifth for LeMahieu was a bit of a surprise to co-hosts Brian Kenny and former All-Star Harold Reynolds as they cited his fairly steep drop in offense between 2016 and 2017. Between 2016 and 2017, his batting average dropped 38 points from .348 to .310, his on-base percentage dropped 42 points from .416 to .374, and his slugging percentage dropped a steep 86 points from .495 to .409 in 2017. With that, his OPS+ dropped from 128 to 94 between the two seasons.
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I think that part of the reason why he rose two spots in the rankings was his defense. In 2017, he led all second basemen in baseball with 8 Defensive Runs Saved and he won his first Gold Glove award since 2014. However, many players dropped off more than what LeMahieu did.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia dropped from fourth to sixth due, in part, to his injury plagued 2017 season. Ian Kinsler dropped from fifth to eighth because his batting average dropped 52 points between 2016 and 2017. Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was sixth on the list last year and completely fell off the top ten list due to his injury-plagued season and his steep decline offensively. Logan Forsythe and Ben Zobrist, who were ninth and tenth entering 2017, both also dropped off the list completely due to steep offensive declines and injuries.
Check out MLB Networks’ coverage of the “Top Ten Right Now” next Saturday as they will reveal the top ten left fielders and catchers in Major League Baseball at 7 and 8 PM MT.