Top second basemen: Breaking up the pack is 'toughest one yet'

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One evaluator who has contributed input on all of our Top 10 lists this year started his list of second basemen with a qualifier -- a concession, really: "The toughest one yet."

Yes. There is a consensus pick in the top spot, but from about No. 5 through No. 14, the pack is bunched closely together, with a whole lot of qualified candidates.

1. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

He might be the guy most likely to infringe on Mike Trout's MVP real estate in the seasons ahead because of all that Altuve does: hit for average, hit for power, defense, baserunning. "A perennial MVP candidate," one evaluator said.

He finished third in the voting for the award after affecting a major adjustment last season by being more patient at the plate and forcing opposing pitchers to work in the strike zone more often. His 60 walks in 2016 obliterated his previous career high of 40 and were almost twice as many as he had in 2015. That seemed to give him a chance to do more damage when he waited: Altuve won his second batting title at .338, with 71 extra-base hits and a .531 slugging percentage -- both career bests. Altuve scored 108 runs and drove in 96.