The story of the second base position in 2019 came in the likes of the rising star. Bright, young talent burst onto the scene, making their marks as some of the most electrifying players in the game. Although a veteran second basemen holds the top spot on our list, the remaining four slots are filled with newcomers who are cracking our top 5 for the first time. We first kick things off in Atlanta, where a switch hitter with pop, shined in the ATL during an unforgettable summer.
5. Ozzie Albies – Atlanta Braves
Standing in at just 5 feet 8 inches, Ozzie Albies is not a guy that instantly jumps off your TV screen. Do not let his looks deceive you however, as Albies is one of the most energetic and athletic second basemen in baseball. When Albies first made his debut as a major leaguer in 2017, the general speculation surrounding him was mixed. Braves fans were not sure what to expect from the Curacao native and were not sure if he would even be a future starter. Although Albies spent just two months with the Braves during the 2017 season, he immediately showed a bright upside. In just 57 games played, Albies had hit for an average of .286, hit 5 homers and drove in 28 runs. Although it was not the most amazing debut baseball fans have ever seen, it was a start and gave the fans in Atlanta something to look forward to for the season ahead. As the 2018 season rolled in, Albies began to transform from an average player to one of an elite status. His approach in the batter’s box was more patient than a year ago. His looseness and swagger that he presented on the diamond was seemingly night and day and his power numbers had skyrocketed, making him an all-star come July. When the 2018 season came to a close, Albies had proved all the doubters wrong, as he hit for a .261 BA, smacked 24 home runs and drove 73 runs batted in. Is Ozzie Albies the perfect player? Far from it. He finds himself in slumps too often then not and his glove needs some substantial improvement. With this being said, we do have to keep in mind that this kid is only 22 years old. He is going to learn from his mistakes and will grow with every season he plays. I expect Albies to have a solid 2019 campaign and feel that we will be hearing this man’s name for decades to come.
4. Jed Lowrie – New York Mets
When Jed Lowrie’s contract expired with the Oakland Athletics in 2018, he became a free agent that seemingly everyone wanted. The 11-year veteran has collected over 1000 career hits and has the ability to help a team in numerous ways. After a strenuous negotiation process, Lowrie agreed to a 2-year deal with the Mets, sending the all-star to the Big Apple. This signing is going to do wonders for the Mets, as infield durability has been a weakness for the ballclub over the last couple of seasons. Lowrie is looking to build off his 2018 success in which he hit for a .267 BA, hit 49 doubles, slugged 23 homers and drove in 99 runs. As a result of this great year, Lowrie was selected to the mid-summer classic and finished 20th in the AL MVP voting. The thing that I like most about Lowrie, is his raw toughness. He is the type of player that is not afraid to get his jersey dirty and is willing to put his body on the line for the teams sake. This is a trait that is sometimes lacking in major leaguers and propels Lowrie’s status and lands him at number 4 on our list. Unfortunately for the Mets, Lowrie has been recently diagnosed with a capsule sprain in his left knee which could potentially sideline him through opening day. Never the less, he will be back and playing baseball sometime in April and will make an instant impact for this Mets team who are so desperate for any glimmer of hope.
3. Scooter Gennett – Cincinnati Reds
Along with having the coolest name in the game, Scooter Gennett is an absolute baller. The 28-year-old from Ohio is set to embark on his 7th year in the majors. Over the past couple of years, Gennett has established himself as one of the better infielders in the major leagues and puts up single game performances that are sometimes hard to believe. On June 7, 2017, Gennett became the 17th player in major league history to hit 4 home runs in a single game. Gennett is coming off of the best season of his career in 2018, in which he hit for a .310 BA, had a .357 OBP, hit 30 doubles, collected 181 total hits, cranked 23 homers and drove in 92 runs. He was also selected to his first ever all-star game. If I was to be asked to describe Scooter in one word, it would simply be hustle. Gennett is the type of player that is always playing like he drank 6 cups of coffee. His high energy style of play is contagious and Gennett has turned into a fan favorite in his hometown of Cincinnati. If we had a list for the best names in baseball, Scooter Gennett would easily take the top spot. But we don’t, so Gennett will have to settle with the 3rd spot on this list. I predict the Cincinnati native to have a huge 2019 and cannot wait to watch his future success.
2. Whit Merrifield – Kansas City Royals
If you are an average baseball fan, you may not know who Whit Merrifield is. He has only been in the majors for 3 years, plays for a bad baseball team and does not get a bunch of national attention. With that being said, I feel that it is my civic duty to inform you guys about him, as he is an absolute star in the making. For all intensive purposes, Whit Merrifield may have had the most underrated 2018 season in baseball. He finished the year with a .304 BA, led the majors in hits with 192, led the majors in steals with 45, hit 43 doubles and had a .367 OBP. Those numbers are not just good, they are flat-out disgusting. How this guy is not getting more attention on a national platform is mind-blowing to me. Whit did not make the all-star game in July, did not take home the silver slugger award nor did he finish top 15 in MVP voting come season’s end. This shows that there is a problem with marketing young stars in Major League Baseball. If you are young and play for a team that doesn’t compete, you are not going to get talked about. That is not right. It is not Merrifield’s fault the Royals lost 104 games in 2018 and he shouldn’t get punished for it. If anything, Merrifield was a huge factor in the 58 games they did win. I expect Merrifield to continue to shine in 2019 and am officially giving him the award of GBD MVP. You may not be noticed for your greatness on a national platform Whit, but here at GBD, we love you and know just how special you truly are.
1. Jose Altuve – Houston Astros
Let’s be honest, was there any REAL doubt on who was gonna be number one on our list. Jose Altuve is a national treasure and must be protected at all cost. The 6x all-star, gold glove winning, former MVP, World Series champion, 3x batting title champion, 5x silver slugger winner, is most certainly well on his way to the hall of fame. To understand just how special of a player Altuve is, let’s look at his stats over the last 5 seasons. Since 2014, Altuve has hit for an average of .330, has collected a total of 1014 hits, driven in a total of 363 runs, has a average OBP of .384 and has hit for 197 total doubles. These stats are almost memorizing and make you question how this guy has just one MVP award to his name. Altuve is looking to build off a successful 2018 campaign in which he hit for a .316 BA, had a .386 OBP, struck out only 79 times and scored 84 total runs. The question that now looms is just how long will Altuve be able to continue this magical ride? Altuve has hit for a .300 BA or better in 5 straight seasons and has not shown one sign of slowing down any time soon. At only 28 years old, Altuve has the ability to get better and the thought of that is scary as hell. For a man who is only 5 feet, 6 inches tall, he plays the game like he is a fearless giant and it has truly been an honor to watch him dominate this game year in and year out. I will one day be able to tell my kids that I saw Jose Altuve play the game of baseball.