Second base is a position bred from defensive deficiency. If you look at every starting second baseman in the majors, odds are they came up through the minors as a shortstop. Since second basemen require less defensive ability than its counterpart (shortstop), more offense is expected.
The top 16 Second Basemen
- Robinson Cano, NYY
- Dustin Pedroia, BOS
- Aaron Hill, ARI
- Ian Kinsler, TEX
- Brandon Phillips, CIN
- Ben Zobrist, TB
- Jason Kipnis, CLE
- Jose Altuve, HOU
- Rickie Weeks, MIL
- Neil Walker, PIT
- Howard Kendrick, LAA
- Josh Rutledge, COL
- Danny Espinosa, WSH
- Kelly Johnson, TB
- Dustin Ackley, SEA
- Daniel Murphy, NYM
- Cano has been the model of consistency the past four seasons posting an average stat line of 639 plate appearances, 104 R, 29 HRs, .314 AVG and 4 SBs.
- Last season, Pedroia was hampered by multiple injuries to his right thumb, which caused him to go on the DL. Before going on the DL he hit .266/.323/.400, but after he came off the DL he hit .318/.371/.508. If he can stay healthy he should have another great year.
- Hill maintained his 2011 second half surge with the Diamondbacks by posting a slash line of .302/.360/.522 in 2012. There appears to be no outliers in his 2012 totals to suggest a dramatic regression is coming except for his .317 BABIP, the highest it’s been since 2007. His batting average is sure to decline, but how much? When drafting Hill be prepared for a .250 batting average and be happy if he hits .285.
- The biggest concern about Kinsler is his home-road splits. During the past three seasons he has a .300 batting average at home compared to only .227 on the road. His road woes provide less hope he can bring his average back to the .280 range he showed in 2010. There’s going to be a drop-off in his run potential with Lance Berkman replacing Josh Hamilton.
- At the age of 31 the 20+ stolen bases and home runs are no longer there, but Phillips is a safe bet for 15/15 with solid numbers everywhere else. He’s currently being taken as the sixth second baseman (76th overall) at Mock Draft Central, which is about the right spot for him.
- Zobrist’s greatest value is his versatility, qualifying at shortstop, second base and outfield. Last season, not only did his stolen bases drop dramatically, but his stolen base success rate was only 61%; his days of 20 stolen bases are gone.
- Kipnis’ fantasy value last year relied heavily on his 31 stolen bases. If he only stole 20 bases, he would have been the tenth-rated second baseman instead of the third best. Most of his fantasy value came in the first half of the season; 79% of his home runs and 65% of his stolen bases came in the first half.
- When Altuve made his debut in 2011 pitchers took advantage of his lack of plate discipline, resulting in a 2.1% walk rate. However, in 2012 his walk rate increased to 6.3% along with his AVG, OBP and SLG. Despite his size he has the ability to barrel up baseballs and hit a lot of doubles. He’s going to lead off for the Astros again and should score 85+ runs with a .280+ batting average and 30+ stolen bases.
- 2012 was a tale of two seasons for Weeks. During the first half he put up a slash line of .199/.314/.343. After the all-star break he returned to being Rickie Weeks, with a slash line of .261/.343/.457. His injury history (only averaging 120 games the past seven seasons) makes him high risk, but if you can get him at the right price, you could have a monster on your hands.
- Walker enters the 2013 season at the magical age of 27, the start of his prime. Playing in PNC Park, the second worst ballpark for hitting home runs, suppresses his power potential. However, he is a great second-tier second baseman who’s extremely consistent and will bat .270 with 15 home runs, 5 stolen bases, 80 runs and RBI.
- Similar to Walker, Kendrick’s greatest asset is his consistency, which means the 18 home runs he posted in 2011 look to be a fluke. Instead, he should be good for 10 home runs with a .285 batting average 14 stolen bases with 70 runs and RBI.
- Rutledge leaped from Double-A to the major leagues last year, hitting .274/.306/.469 with 8 home runs and 7 SBs. There are two reasons why I like him: A) he plays in Coors, which added 20 points to his batting average. B) his swing, which is short and simple, will allow him to make consistent contact at home and on the road. He’ll provide small contributions with the power but he’ll provide a nice average with 15+ stolen bases.
- Espinosa loves to swing the bat and has a poor approach at the plate. Therefore, it’s no surprise he strikes out a lot; last year was he had the highest strikeout percentage in his career (28.7%). He tore his left rotator cuff at the beginning of September and has decided to play with the injury instead of getting surgery. I’m staying away from him in every league because I have no idea how much the torn rotator cuff will affect his performance.
- Johnson’s poor strike zone awareness (27.4% strikeout percentage) will be a road block to hitting .280+ again. Despite the low batting average, Johnson is perennial 15/15 candidate who looks to rebound with the Tampa Rays. Joe Maddon has said he plans on using Johnson in the outfield and infield, which will provide great positional flexibility.
- After a promising rookie year, Ackley suffered a sophomore slump, batting .226. He has an outstanding approach, which increases his value in OBP leagues. He has the ability to drive the ball to all fields; he has doubles power rather than 20+ home run power. His ranking is based on his tool set rather than his statistical output in the majors.
- In 2010 a MCL injury to Murphy’s right knee cost him the entire season. In 2011 a MCL injury to his left knee cut his 2011 season to a halt. In 2012 Murphy showed he was fully healthy, playing in 156 games. His greatest fantasy asset is his potential to hit for a high average (.300+). He’s ranked 16th because it’s possible he could hit second in the Mets lineup, in front of David Wright and Ike Davis. If he hits second he could score 90+ runs.
Overall Draft Strategy
After Robbie Cano, the next six players have a wide range of outcomes that will make fantasy owners think again before using a high draft pick on them. However, despite the risk at the top of the list, the position is very deep with players who could end the year as the fifth best second baseman. My strategy heading into drafts is I want my opponents to use high picks on the Pedorias and Kinslers and I’ll wait to snag a Walker, Altuve or Kendrick.