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Altuve, Torres headline fantasy 2B rankings

@_dadler
February 20, 2020

The Yankees-Astros rivalry has reached the fantasy baseball field. Specifically, the second-base position, where the defining debate is: José Altuve or Gleyber Torres? • Complete 2020 fantasy rankings Yes, Torres is slated to take over the Yanks' everyday shortstop job. Fantasy positions, however, are based on where the player appeared

The Yankees-Astros rivalry has reached the fantasy baseball field.

Specifically, the second-base position, where the defining debate is: José Altuve or Gleyber Torres?

Complete 2020 fantasy rankings

Yes, Torres is slated to take over the Yanks' everyday shortstop job. Fantasy positions, however, are based on where the player appeared most last season, and for Torres, that's both second base and shortstop.

That means he and Altuve are neck and neck for the title of No. 1 fantasy second baseman entering the 2020 season -- but there are plenty of great options at the position.

Here's how the tiers of fantasy second basemen break down with projections from Steamer.

Tier 1: José Altuve, Gleyber Torres

Do you draft the perennial star and former MVP in Altuve, or the rising star and potential future MVP in Torres? It's a big question. Both are worth an early-round pick, and are a cut above the rest of fantasy second-base options.

Altuve's track record is too good to ignore. He can stuff any fantasy category -- Altuve's projections see him in the range of a .300 average, 25 home runs, 100 RBIs and runs scored and double-digit stolen bases. He's a great player in a great Astros lineup.

Torres' ceiling is just as high. He's only 23 years old and he already has a 38-homer season under his belt. He has 35-homer power or more -- Torres is projected to lead all eligible second basemen in home runs in 2020 -- in a Yankees lineup that's just as good as Houston's. Torres probably won't steal as many bases as Altuve, but with shortstop eligibility, his versatility gives him extra fantasy value.

Tier 2: Ozzie Albies, Jonathan Villar, Whit Merrifield, Keston Hiura, DJ LeMahieu

The funny thing about Tier 2 is … there's another Yankees second baseman in it. This one’s the player who's actually projected to take the everyday reps there -- LeMahieu, who was a 2019 breakout American League Most Valuable Player candidate. Batting at the top of the Yankees’ order, LeMahieu has a chance to put together another all-around stellar season like he did in 2019, when he contended for a batting title and reached the 25-homer, 100-RBI and 100-run marks. At his best, he's like Altuve without the stolen bases.

Fellow Tier 2 second baseman, Albies, also has Tier 1 potential. The 23-year-old is another a do-it-all talent, and he keeps getting better. If Albies builds on his excellent 2019 and hits his 2020 projections, you're looking at close to a .300 average, 20-25 homers, 15-20 steals and plenty of RBIs and run-scoring chances with the National League East champion Braves.

Merrifield and Villar are both big stolen base threats with double-digit home run power. Merrifield is a little more consistent and a better average hitter, always in the .280-.300 range. Villar was great with the Orioles last year, but who knows if the 28-year-old can replicate his 24-homer, 40-steal campaign in 2020?

As for Hiura, well, he rakes. He's only 23, with 84 big league games under his belt, but if you draft the Brewers' sophomore you're betting on the upside of a kid who could become one of the best hitting second basemen in the league. Hiura batted .303 with 19 home runs and nine stolen bases in his half-season as a rookie, and he's a former top prospect who could easily make the leap to stardom. The projections believe in him -- Hiura is projected to approach 30 home runs and reach double-digit steals with a solid batting average.

Tier 3: Max Muncy, Cavan Biggio

Muncy has proven himself by now, with back-to-back 35-homer seasons the last two years. He should slug in the 30-homer range again in 2020, and in a Dodgers lineup that's one of baseball's deepest, that could mean plenty of fantasy production. He just won't give you a great batting average or stolen bases.

Biggio is an interesting case. He's got baseball in his genes, obviously, and the 24-year-old showed really impressive plate discipline and line-drive ability as a rookie last year, and ended up with double-digit homers and steals. Biggio wasn't as highly touted as fellow Blue Jays legacies Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Bo Bichette, but he looks like a solid Major League hitter, and the projections see him reaching 20 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 2020.

Tier 4: Gavin Lux, Kolten Wong, Ryan McMahon

Lux only played 23 games for the Dodgers last season, with a pedestrian stat sheet, so no one can say for sure what he's going to do this year. But the 22-year-old is a top prospect for a reason. Lux could be a breakout star in 2020 … though he might also need more time to develop.

McMahon also has plenty of upside, and the 25-year-old showed flashes of his talent last season, ending up with 24 home runs. He gets to hit in Colorado, so that's a plus, but McMahon's still a riskier fantasy pick than players in the tiers above. So is Wong, who's already had a lot of ups and downs in his MLB career. The 29-year-old has three seasons with double-digit homers and steals, but just as many seasons with lackluster fantasy production.

Tier 5: Brandon Lowe, Rougned Odor, Nick Madrigal

Madrigal hasn't even played a game in the big leagues yet, but the No. 40 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline is supposed to hit like nobody's business. It's just an all-risk, upside pick if you draft the White Sox 22-year-old.

Lowe and Odor could easily exceed 20 home runs apiece in 2020 -- the projections think they will -- but their skill sets are more limited. If you just need some power from a later-round middle infielder, by all means, go for them.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.