MLB: The game’s most valuable second basemen

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: Kolten Wong #16 of the St. Louis Cardinals steals second base, beating the tag of Howie Kendrick #47 of the Washington Nationals, during the first inning of Game 2 of the NLCS at Busch Stadium on Saturday, October 12, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: Kolten Wong #16 of the St. Louis Cardinals steals second base, beating the tag of Howie Kendrick #47 of the Washington Nationals, during the first inning of Game 2 of the NLCS at Busch Stadium on Saturday, October 12, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

MLB’s most valuable 2B of 2019

5. Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals, $8.349 million value; $6.50 million salary

Through his first three seasons, there was legitimate doubt whether Wong would ever develop as the full-time second baseman the Cardinals projected him to be. He did so in 2017 and now stands at the precipice of generating front-rank value.

Fortunately for Wong, his performance uptick coordinated almost perfectly with the onset of a five-year contract the Cards – in a fit of faith that turned out to be justified – offered him in 2016. They’ll pay him $10.2 million in 2020 and he will probably be worth it.

Wong batted .285 last season for the NL Central champs, with supplementary numbers that added up to a 106 OPS+. That approached his 2017 career-best. His 4.7 WAR was a career-best – by more than a full point – giving his bat alone a value of more than $5 million. For a second baseman, that’s top 5 territories.

His .987 fielding average, based on nine errors in 671 chances, was unremarkable by the standards of the position. It ranked just 13th best among the 35, but the performance spread was so small that it still valued out at $978,000. That’s only $7,000 less than the position’s top dog.

Wong showed excellent range at second. His 4.98 chances accepted per nine innings ranked behind only Merrifield, and translated to $1.475 million in performance dollars. He played 1,195 innings, also top 10, worth a final $887,000.