Second base…..that’s when you know a girl really likes you. When you are able to touch……..wait, oh crap that’s a different blog. Sorry, let me start over. Second base in fantasy baseball has been ruled by a few guys for a number of years. These same guys sit atop the rankings again in 2013, but there are a few young guys who have started to join them among those who are worthy of having in your fantasy starting lineup. Outside of the top guys at the position you are looking at a bunch of guys who struggle to get on base consistently, but they either bring you some nice speed, nice power, or a decent combination of both. Second base could be the position with the worst average of them all, so if you don’t get one of the top options, you might need to help yourself in batting average somewhere else. It’s a bit of a crap shoot at second base, but there are enough guys that everyone should at least get someone decent.
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1. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
.313 average, 33 homers, 94 RBI, 3 SB, 105 runs
There’s not much bad to say about this guy. His RBI total was down some last season, but take a look at those numbers and tell me what’s not to like? OK, so he doesn’t steal a lot of bases. But take a look at the rest of the stats! All of that and he plays a pretty tough position to fill. Cano is now the best hitter on the Yankees and will be in a position in the lineup where he will need to drive in runs. They also should be a team with better on base percentage, and that should give him more ducks on the pond to drive in. I think Cano should be selected somewhere between the third and sixth pick overall.
2. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
.290 average, 15 homers, 65 RBI, 20 SBs, 81 runs (141 games)
Not only was it a disastrous year for the Red Sox in the win-loss record, but the face of the franchise also played most of the season injured. Pedroia had a finger injury all year long and did have surgery after the season. The season was a monumental disappointment across the board for Boston, but I don’t think that will carry over into 2013. He has been one of the best second basemen in fantasy for three or four seasons, and with his pinkie fixed, Pedroia should be right back among the elite at the position again.
3. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
.256 average, 19 homers, 72 RBI, 21 SBs, 105 runs
Kinsler was the top power option at the position before Robinson Cano turned into a prolific home run hitter, and then last year Kinsler had a disturbing fall off in homers. Still, to get a 20/20 effort our of your second baseman isn’t bad, but you expect more than this if you draft Kinsler. His average is going to be consistently in the .250s, but I think it is safe to assume you will get more power out of Kinsler. He also will steal you 20-25 bases on average as well which adds to his value. It was very close between he and Pedroia for the number two spot, and possibly because of his drop in homers you can get Kinsler a round later than usual, which is a good thing.
4. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
.302 average, 26 homers, 85 RBI, 14 SBs, 93 runs
I have not been a fan of Hill throughout his career, although as he gets into his 30s I am starting to come around to the idea of him. I don’t expect him to continue to hit .300, in fact I think .285 is probably his ceiling. But to get this kind of power out of second base is a very good thing, and as he gets older all of a sudden he has started to run as he has 35 steals in the past two years. I think Hill is a lock for 25 taters again in 2013 and likely 10-12 steals as well. He pretty much touches every category and right now is one of the best at his position.
5. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
.257 average, 14 homers, 76 RBI, 31 SBs, 86 runs
His first full season in the Majors was quite a success for Kipnis, and I think there is still room for improvement here. He was a lifetime .300 hitter in the minors (all of three years he played down there), and he also showed the potential to hit for more power. The second half of his season was far worse than his first, which makes you wonder if he just ran out of gas after a long season. I believe Kipnis can get to 20 home runs or at least very close to it. The 30 stolen bases is likely his max, and hitting high in the lineup gives him a chance to score 100 runs. He is definitely a good option to have as your starting second baseman in the upcoming season.
6. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
.281 average, 18 homers, 77 RBI, 15 SBs, 86 runs
Phillips has been a solid fantasy contributor the last seven years, but over the last four or five his numbers have started to dwindle. Of course they are still quite solid and fantasy owners can still count on Phillips to provide them with adequate stats for a second baseman. He has hit 18 home runs for three straight seasons, so I think it is reasonable to expect similar results. He still plays in a great hitter’s park and he should easily be a 15/15 or 20/20 player and easily worth being your starter.
7. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
.290 average, 7 HRs, 37 RBI, 33 SBs, 80 runs
This is going to be the one place where the Astros actually have a guy who ranks fairly high at his position. Altuve had a hell of a minor league career, and when he got some serious run in his sophomore season, he made the most of it. He ran out of gas down the stretch, but his first full season was pretty impressive. He won’t be 23 until May, so there’s still a ton of time for him to improve and he should develop more power in the future (he hit five homers in just 35 games at AA), and if he can keep the speed and batting average strong, you have yourself a hell of a player. It’s a bit speculative, but he’s already shown you a lot.
8. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
.247 average, 17 homers, 56 RBI, 20 SBs, 82 runs
For two seasons Espinosa has been pretty reliable for fantasy players. Pretty crappy average, decent RBI, and 20/20 speed and power. So, looking into 2013, why shouldn’t we expect that again? Well, the news is that Espinosa has a torn rotator cuff, which could real sap him of his power stroke. He is supposed to be cleared to play before Spring Training starts, but this is the type of injury that scares me. This is the kind of thing that can linger and it’s hard to know when it is healed. I still like Espinosa but there’s a red flag that goes along with him.
9. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates
.280 average, 14 homers, 69 RBI, 7 SBs, 62 runs (129 games)
Walker is definitely not the most exciting player in baseball by any stretch. He isn’t going to have a three homer game, he isn’t going to win a batting title, he isn’t going to drive in eight runs in a game. But Walker is going to do one thing. Perform consistently. Over the past three seasons he has hit between .273-.296, hit between 12-14 home runs, and driven in between 66-83 runs. I think there’s an outside chance that he could hit a few more home runs, but I think the batting average and RBIs are going to stay in the same range. You can do much worse than Walker. He’s one of the players that you can pretty much write down his stats, and you can’t say that about too many people.
10. Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves
.220 average, 19 homers, 78 RBI, 4 SBs, 86 runs
Uggla has long been one of the best power options at this position, but he had a rough 2012 that saw him not even get to 20 jacks. I mean you can live with a guy hitting 19 homers at second base, but he better hit .300 and not .220. He did finish the season strong however with seven of his 19 homers coming in the last two months of the year. He did also hit .280 in September giving us some hope that he comes into 2013 on a little bit of a roll. The Braves added two Uptons and a healthier McCann to their lineup this season which should put less pressure on Uggla and also put him farther down the lineup. He’s never really hit for a good batting average, but he had hit 30 homers in five straight seasons. He’s getting a little up there in years, so maybe he’s going to top out at 25 homers going forward.
11. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
.230 average, 21 homers, 63 RBI, 16 SBs, 85 runs
It was a dismal beginning for Weeks in 2012 as he was well under .200 and had just six home runs for the first three months of the season. He “surged” in the second half to get his average to .230 and smacked a bunch more home runs to give him a respectable like season. On a positive for Weeks, the yearly injury that he had throughout most of the first five or six years of his career seems to have left him. He has only missed a significant part of one of the last three seasons. That being said, the stats you see above are about what you can expect from this guy. He has had some seasons recently where his batting average isn’t embarrassing, but all in all this is what he is. With some of the injury concerns behind him there’s more to like of Weeks than in years past, but you can still do better than him.
12. Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
.226 average, 12 homers, 50 RBI, 13 SBs, 84 runs
There are some things to like here about Dustin Ackley. He is still pretty young as he will turn 25 at the end of February, so there is still time for him to improve. This was his first full season in the majors, and most prospects take a little while to adjust to the difference between the majors and the minors. That being said, you have to be disappointed with the fact that the dude hit .226. Ackley showed better plate discipline and a little more power than this on the farm so there is some reason to have hope in the future. You are running a little risk if you have him as your number one guy, but if your league plays with a middle infield position, he is a great guy to put there.
13. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
.256 average, 11 homers, 45 RBI, 11 SBs, 48 runs (83 games)
He’s 34, he hasn’t played anything that resembles a full season since 2008, and even when he has been in there, his performance has been declining. Of course the news is positive coming out of Philadelphia as of now that Utley might play a Spring Training game for the first time in three years. I hate to say it because I had a VERY serious man crush on Utley back in the day, but I don’t see any way that you can trust him right now to have any sort of significant role on your team. A guy who was once a first round pick is now a late round pick.
14. Jemile Weeks, Oakland Athletics
.221 average, 2 homers, 20 RBI, 16 SBs, 54 runs (118 games)
Weeks is one of the more exciting young players in Major League Baseball. I know that might seem like a pretty ridiculous phrase for a guy who hit just .221 and stole just 16 bases in 2012. But believe me, the kid has some real skills. He had a very strong rookie season, hitting over.300 with 22 steals in just 97 games. He isn’t going to drive in a ton of runs (although he will get you more than 20), but he is going to give you a ton of help in stolen bases, lots of runs scored, and a pretty good batting average. Given last year’s performance he is going to be available late in draft, and he could be someone that performs well beyond where you select him.
15. Emilio Bonifacio, Toronto Blue Jays
.258 average, 1 homer, 11 RBI, 30 SBs, 30 runs (64 games)
Bonifacio has always done one thing well, and that’s steal bases. At an incredible clip. The only thing that stops Bonifacio from leading the league in steals every year is his ability to get on base……..and injuries. He is a specialist in that he really only helps you with stolen bases and not much else, but he is so good at that one thing that he is worth having. He will likely hit at or near the bottom of the Blue Jays lineup which will limit him somewhat, but if he can stay healthy he is an absolute lock to steal at least 50 bases and possibly as many as 70. I wouldn’t want to run the risk of having him as my starter, but if you failed to secure steals at any other position, he could help save the category for you single handedly.
16. Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox
.234 average, 16 homers, 60 RBI, 5 SBs, 62 runs
I got so excited in 2009 when Beckham came to the Majors and hit 14 homers in his first 103 games for the Sox. Unfortunately, ever since then he has taken one step back after another. The next two seasons he played more game and showed less power, and then last season the power returned some but he still had a hell of a time getting on base. I have to admit that I am starting to lose faith that Beckham is going to turn into the hitter that we thought he would five years ago, but it isn’t all left me yet. I’m past the point where I will actually draft him, but I always keep an eye on how he is doing, and am pick him up if I see a sign of him starting to hit.
17. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
.287 average, 8 homers, 67 RBI, 14 SBs, 57 runs
When Kendrick came into the league he was supposed to be a batting champion each and every year. He was not exactly given a serious chance to be successful when he was young as he was pulled in and out of the lineup for his first couple seasons. He also dealt with some injury problems, and never really hit for the batting average he was supposed to. He was also sold to us as a 20/20 candidate and he’s never reached 20 home runs or steals. His best season was 2011 when he hit 18 home runs, but he took a huge step back last season with just eight. Kendrick’s batting average isn’t high enough for you to put up with the lack of power and speed, and until he proves that he can consistently hit 18-20 homers or steal 20-25 bases.
18. Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
.291 average, 6 homers, 65 RBI, 10 SBs, 62 runs
Murphy is a nice player. Nice, but completely unspectacular. He hits for very little power, doesn’t run much, and his average is good, but not good enough considering how little else he does. If you hit a run of injuries with your starter he can get you through for a few weeks, maybe even a month, but if you are counting on Murphy for anything else besides a middle infield spot, you are setting yourself up for the middle to bottom of the standings.
19. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
.306 average, 7 homers, 74 RBI, 9 SBs, 87 runs
It was a magical playoff run for the Giants and Scutaro as he had a hit in every game but four on the way to the championship. It was like he flipped a switch when he was traded to the Giants, but unfortunately the dream season is over and it is back to the regular season. Scutaro is not a power hitter. He has zero chance at a batting title, and he doesn’t steal many bases. I know that many are going to remember the last time they saw this guy, but I’m telling you now that he is no better than a middle infield spot or a free agent to watch in case of injury.
20. Kelly Johnson, Tampa Bay Rays
.225 average, 16 homers, 55 RBI, 14 SBs, 61 runs
Johnson had back to back 20+ homer seasons before falling back to the 16 he hit last season. The problem with Johnson is his batting average is all over the map. It has cycled between the .220s and the .280s over the past four seasons, although the last two have been in the .220s. He has started to steal a few more bases over the past few seasons but overall I am not a huge Johnson supporter….wait, wait, that came out wrong. There’s a chance that he will revert back to his 20 homer ways, but Johnson will be 31 years old before the season starts and I think his best seasons are behind him. If he isn’t selected in your draft, keep an eye to see what kind of start Johnson gets off to.
21. Omar Infante, Detroit Tigers
.274 average, 12 homers, 53 RBI, 17 SBs, 69 runs
Last we saw Infante he broke his wrist after being hit by a pitch in the World Series. The good news is that he is supposed to be ready for Spring Training. The bad news is, Infante’s numbers from last year are far and away the best that they have been for a long time. A long time! The 17 steals for last year are the same as his combined totals from the last five seasons. I do not suggest that you draft Infante, and I don’t think he will be someone you will need during the season either.
22. Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies
.274 average, 8 homers, 37 RBI, 7 SBs, 37 runs (73 games)
This is a guy that I am going to be watching to start the season. Rutledge got off to a hot start when he came to the majors, but tailed off pretty significantly towards the end of the year. He has the capability to be a 20/20 kind of hitter, but I think that might be a year or two off. He will turn 24 just after the season starts, and he could still improve. Again, he isn’t someone that I am going to draft because I don’t think I have to, but if he gets off to a good start, he could definitely be worth an early addition to your roster.
23. Johnny Giovotella, Kansas City Royals
.238 average, 1 homer, 15 RBI, 3 SBs, 21 runs (53 games)
He will be battling Chris Getz in Spring Training, but I believe that he is going to win the job. Getz has been in the majors for a while, and he is nothing to get excited about. So, hopefully we will see Giovotella this season. He hasn’t shown the ability to hit major league pitching yet, but he was a pretty successful hitter down on the farm. He doesn’t have a ton of power (he will probably max out at about 15 homers), but he does have some pretty good wheels and could steal 20-25 bases. He isn’t worth picking on draft day unless you have a seriously deep league or you didn’t get a top flight option at second base. Giovotella isn’t ever going to be in the fantasy hall of fame, but he has some skills to be a reasonable asset to your team.
24. Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs
.254 average, 7 homers, 44 RBI, 6 SBs, 73 runs
I think if you looked up the definition of ordinary you might find Darwin Barney. His average is ordinary, his power is less than ordinary. His stolen bases are also less than ordinary. He does score a decent number of runs, but he doesn’t drive in many. However, it looks like he will be the starting second baseman for the Cubs again this season, but there is really no need to think about him unless you are in a 16-20 team league and you are facing some injuries.
25. Brian Roberts, Baltimore Orioles
.182 average, 0 homers, 5 RBI, 1 SB 2 runs (17 games)
Roberts was once an excellent fantasy option at second base and for a six year stretch he stole at least 25 bases. Unfortunately, that was from 2004-2009. Since then, Roberts hasn’t been able to play even 60 games in a season over the past three years, and at age 34 and many leg injuries later, it’s hard to believe that Roberts is going to be able to recapture any of his former glory are base stealing ability. He’s going to start Spring Training with a clean bill of health so there is an outside shot that Roberts is able to stay healthy and be an absolute steal of your draft, but there is no chance that I am take that shot, I’ll let someone else run that risk.