"The Shredder" uses an objective methodology to rank players at each position based on track record as well as future projection. It weighs the offensive and defensive statistics for a player in both one- and two-year increments and places more emphasis on defense at positions that are on the right of the defensive spectrum, i.e., catcher, shortstop, second base and center field. It also takes into account a player's durability as well as the offensive environment of his home park. (In other words, it gives more credit to home runs hit in San Diego as opposed to Colorado.)
MLB Network's Top 10 Second Basemen Right Now
1. Jose Altuve
2. Robinson Cano
3. Joe Panik
4. Ian Kinsler
5. Josh Harrison
6. Ben Zobrist
7. Neil Walker
8. Dustin Pedroia
9. Dee Gordon
10. Logan Forsythe
While The Shredder churned out several familiar veterans from last year's list, there still was some turnover among the second-base ranks. Four fresh names cracked the top 10, while one repeat selection, Altuve, ascended five spots to unseat the incumbent Cano at No. 1.
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Altuve followed up his 2015 American League batting title with another stellar year at the plate, hitting .313/.353/.459 with 40 doubles, 15 homers, 38 stolen bases and 66 RBIs. The 25-year-old three-time All-Star not only excelled offensively, but also earned his first Gold Glove Award for his contributions in the infield.
"I think the whole package is there for him, and honestly, I think he'll get even better," Reynolds said. "You know why? He's now got a shortstop in [Carlos] Correa that he doesn't have to worry about the responsibility of the other side of the field. Now he can go play, and he doesn't become that prime target, believe it or not, in that lineup."
Cano, meanwhile, saw his production dip after an uncharacteristically slow start last season, finishing with a batting average below .300 for the first time since 2008. But even in a down year, Cano still hit .287/.334/.446 with 21 homers, 34 doubles and 79 RBIs in 156 games.
"Last year, it's a terrible start, he was hurt, there were a lot of things going on," Kenny said. "Second half, that's Robbie Cano, and if we get regular Robbie Cano that we saw over an eight-year period, I think that guy actually is No. 1."
One point of contention with The Shredder's rankings centered on Pedroia, who came in at No. 8. Pedroia played just 93 games due to injuries last year, his age-31 season, but still hit .291 when healthy. His effectiveness in the field faded, however, as his defensive runs saved fell from 17 in 2014 to minus-three in 2015.
"I think this is terrible. I think it's bias to his age," said Reynolds, who rated Pedroia as his fourth-best second baseman. "He's one of my favorite players in the game. This is where The Shredder, I think, misses the intangibles, so to speak."
"I'm with you on that, but at a certain point, the metrics do make sense," Kenny said. "The aging hits you hard at second base; it's a very athletic position. ... I think The Shredder has him just about right."
Another source of surprise for the analysts was San Francisco's Panik, who made his debut at No. 3. Panik played just 173 big league games, and both Reynolds and Kenny want to see more from the 25-year-old before declaring him top-10 worthy.
"I think it's all there -- the skill set, the way he caries himself -- and he'll continue to be a solid big league player, no doubt about it," Reynolds said. "But not [No.] 3 right now. That's how I see it."
Of the returning veterans, only Altuve and Kinsler improved on their 2014 rankings, as young talent shuffled up the ranks. Panik enjoyed the greatest rise from unranked to No. 3, while Harrison (No. 5), Gordon (9) and Forsythe (10) also caught The Shredder's attention for the first time, bumping veterans Howie Kendrick, Chase Utley, Brian Dozier and Scooter Gennett off the list.
"We're seeing a change of the guard in baseball, as we've seen in the other positions," Reynolds said.
Though both analysts weren't quite ready to embrace Harrison, Forsythe and Panik as perennial top-10 candidates, they did agree with Gordon making the cut, each ranking him a few spots higher than the computer's projections. In his first season with the Marlins, Gordon led the National League in hits (205), stolen bases (58) and batting average (.333).
"I think he's going to continue to get better," Reynolds said. "He's gotten himself to a point now where he's going to hit .300, he's going to steal 50 bases, he's going to create havoc, he's going to [have] range on defense."