Second base has your typical major studs at the very tip-top, followed by a bunch of guys with questions marks. This year I’m waiting on second base, because there is tremendous value late.
Note: As long as I don’t have to over-pay, I am also one to take a prospect with high upside over a veteran with a guarantee of average numbers, (ie. Jose Altuve over Omar Infante).
Note Two: I will only ‘rank’ my top 12 players, considering these players would be the only guys I would start immediately in a standard 12-team mixed league. Please use this guide in helping you to determine which second basemen to target, and who to stay away from–and not over-pay for–on draft day.
Guys I Love. (AndGreat Value Picks!)
Based on their ADP (average draft position), these players could be draft day bargains. Get ready to jump.
1 Robinson Cano (NYY) This is the no brainer number one at the position. Some consider him one of the best hitters in all of baseball. Guaranteed .300 average with 100 runs and 100 RBI, to go along with nearly 30 homers. S.T.U.D.
2 Dustin Pedroia (Bos) Consistent, healthy and will play well across the board – homers, steals and average. The 'Laser Show!'
12 Jemile Weeks (Oak) It amazes how few people are talking about this guy. He hit .303 and stole 22 bases in his big league debut last year, and he’s only 25. Oakland loves him, and quickly shipped long-time veteran Mark Ellis out of town soon after Weeks’ debut. If he stays healthy, something his brother Rickie can’t ever do, then expect everyone to know this kid’s name by mid-season. Coule be tremendous sleeper.
Jason Kipnis (Cle) He mashed in the minors, belting an .840 OPS or better every season. He hit .272 with 7 homers in only 136 at-bats last year as a rookie. He’s legit. At an ADP of 196, I would be smiling big with this pick.
Jose Altuve (Hou) Another kid that is a soon-to-be All-Star. He’s only 21 and has absolutely raked at every level of baseball he has performed in. High-A ball (.408), Double-A (.361) and his big league debut average was .276. In a full-season he could easily hit close to .300 with 30 stolen bases. Again, only 21 years old. The fact he is performing so well at such a young age speaks volumes.
Daniel Murphy (NYM) He got lucky with his average on balls in play last year, but he’s still a career .292 hitter and plays first and third base as well. Love him as a utility infielder.
Mike Aviles (Bos) Could make a terrific last round pick. A career .288 hitter, surrounded by a monster lineup, and he’s eligible at third base and shortstop as well.
Value Is Appropriate
These guys are being drafted close to their value. Feel free to grab at the right time, but do not reach.
3 Ian Kinsler (Tex) He’s streaky and gets injured a lot, but when he’s 100%, he’s golden. He went 30/30 last year, but in the last four years, he’s missed an average of 44 games. Fragile player. Buyer beware.
4 Brandon Phillips (Cin) As a Cardinal fan, don’t get me started on Brandon Phillips the real baseball player. But for fantasy he’s still as solid as any. He doesn’t steal as much as he used to, now that he’s 30, but still as reliable as they come. He’s ranged between .275-.300, 17-30 homers and 75-90 RBI every year since 2006.
5 Dan Uggla (ATL) The dude will probably be the all-time home run leader at the position if he keeps his pace. But he’s the definition of streaky player. He hit .173 throught July 4, before starting a 33-game hitting streak that included 15 bombs. Ride him when he’s hot, and bench him when he’s not.
6 Michael Cuddyer (Col) You mean he’s coming off a career year and now plays in hitter-friendly Colorado? Oh, wait, and he’s eligible at second base, first base and outfield? Great buy here if you get him close to round 8 or 9.
7 Michael Young (Tex) He’s a career .304 hitter that still has some pop and can play multiple positions. I don’t want him as my starting first baseman, but at second base? Heck yes.
8 Ben Zobrist (TB) .283/18/88 projected for this year, to go along with 21 steals. He hit 46 doubles last year, which proves his bat his legit. Will be a bit streaky.
9 Howie Kendrick (LAA) Best second basemen after the ‘studs’ are taken. He was an all-star last year while hitting for a solid average and upping his homer total. Plays multiple positions as well.
11 Rickie Weeks (Mil) Huge injury risk. Will most likely play 120-125 games with a line of .270/24/70; just have a solid back-up ready when he goes down.
Dustin Ackley (Sea) His .766 OPS ranked ninth among second baseman last year. Not bad for a rookie. Only hit .245 at Safeco Field, but his numbers are sure to rise—scary if they continue to do so on the road.
Danny Espinosa (Was) If he can cut down on his strikeouts, he’ll be one of the premiere guys at the position. For now, he just hits for too low of an average. Still has some upside.
Neil Walker (Pit) Career .280 hitter and still has slight upside at the age of only 26.
Sean Rodriguez (TB) Still only 26. He averaged 28 homers a season in the minors. Has 20/20 potential and plays multiple positions.
Gordon Beckham (CHW) Has one more shot to prove he’s not a bust. I’m thinking he might just have a decent season. Possibly good last round pick.
These guys have solid numbers, but be careful. They’re going much higher in drafts than they should, considering their value.
10 Chase Utley (Phi) His numbers have declined in each of the past three years, and he hasn’t been healthy. His average has dipped from .282 to .259 in that time. In short, he’s on the wrong side of 33. Sure there is some upside here if he actually is healthy for once, but I’m not gambling a sixth round pick on it. His ADP ranges from 67-80.
Kelly Johnson (Tor) Strikes out a ton and only hit .222 last season. Homers or not, I don’t like guys that kills your batting average stat. No thanks.
Ryan Roberts (Ari)See Kelly Johnson
Aaron Hill (Ari) He could be healthy. He could hit 36 homers again. I could win American Idol.
Brian Roberts (Bal) Hasn’t had more than 230 at-bats since 2009. I’m not wasting a pick.
Darwin Barney (CHC) He is what he is. He’ll get you a good average but that’s about it. Red hot before the All-Star break last year, struggled after.
Omar Infante (Mia) Went from All-Star to dud in 2010. But he can still get on base. He hit .314 after the All-Star break last year.
Late Round Gold Mining. AKA Deep Sleepers!
Johnny Giavotella (KC) His minor league numbers prospect he could be ‘Dustin Pedrioa light.’
Allen Craig (STL) He’ll start the season on the DL, but could be back in May. The Cardinals declare that he would hit third or fourth in most lineups in the league, and I believe it based on his post-season heroics. He hit .327 in September with 5 homers to boot.
Ruben Tejada (NYM) He’s no Jose Reyes, but the front office thinks he’ll fill in just fine. He had a .360 OBP in 2011.
The rest of the league
I wouldn’t bother looking at any of these players unless they’re your back-up in an incredibly deep league. These guys are second-string, at best.
Jamey Carroll – Min
Maicer Izturis – LAA
Eduardo Nunez – NYY (Pick up right away if Cano or Jeter get hurt.)
Ryan Raburn – Det (Watch closely. If he doesn’t share time then pick up ASAP.)
Jeff Keppinger – TB
Trevor Plouffe – Min
Tyler Greene – STL
Freddy Sanchez – SF
Mark Ellis – LAD
Orlando Hudson – SD
Robert Andino – Bal
Alexi Casilla – Min
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Josh Helmuth is the lead baseball writer for CraveOnline.com and has won ‘The League Of Champions’ fantasy baseball league four out of six years.