Second base has been considered a position that is shallow in the past, but that’s simply not true anymore. (Really, the only position where there is actual scarcity is catcher, and that’s mostly due to injury and wear and tear.)
1. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners – New location, should be similar results. People talk about how Cano will miss the Yankee lineup, and I simply laugh. The Yankee lineup was terrible in 2013, to put it lightly, yet Cano produced to a level far outpacing any other second baseman. He’s far and away the best second baseman in fantasy, even in a more hitting-deprived environment in Seattle. He’ll likely go in the first round, and as a back-end pick (#8 pick or later), he’s a good value, but picking him in the top 5 is just too rich for my blood.
2. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians – Kipnis could be a guy who with another step forward could supplant Cano as the top 2B. Right now, there’s not another guy I’d expect to be top on the list other than Cano other than Kipnis, actually. He stepped forward from a .714 OPS guy who had 14 home runs and 31 steals to a .818 OPS guy with 17 homers and 30 steals, and he’ll just be 27 this season. He’s got a ton of natural power to his swing, so 20+ home runs is certainly feasible, and he runs well when he’s on base, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him continue stealing 30. With some more R/RBI production, Kipnis would be challenging Cano, and he could take that step this season if he can continue his move from a .257 hitter to a .284 hitter to a hitter near .300.
3. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox – Pedroia has been consistent…until 2013. He saw a significant drop in his power production in 2013 that moved Pedroia from the sure #2 2B to a guy in the midst of 3-4 guys behind Robinson Cano. He only hit 9 home runs in a full season of playing time last year and had his fourth straight season of declining slugging percentage, so there’s more than just one season to this. Pedroia’s a small guy and has taken a lot of wear and tear to his body. This year is his age 30 season, and we could see some of his power and speed drop off. He’s a very smart base runner, successful on over 80% of his career steal attempts, but he’s also seen 3 straight seasons of declining steals numbers. Low teens homers and upper teens steals with his solid contact rate would still be valuable, but don’t be surprised if this is not the same player going forward.
4. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers – Kinsler was pushed out of position by super prospect Jurickson Profar in Texas and became expendable. The Tigers are glad he was available. They were able to get rid of Prince Fielder‘s massive contract and still get a valuable player. He’s not the same guy who went for 30/30 in 2011, but he’s still only 32 this season, and he has solid power and speed. He controls the strike zone fairly well and could be a guy in the Detroit lineup to put in over 100 runs and still drive in a solid amount of runs. I’d be comfortable expecting 15-20 homers and 20ish steals as well.
5. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals – Carpenter was a “sleeper” guy last season going into the year and ended up 2nd to Cano in ESPN’s player rater at the position. He’s moving to 3rd base this season, but he will have 2B eligibility and rates higher here, so he’s ranked here. Carpenter’s contact rate was surprising, and that drove his batting average and on base percentage that led to an absurd amount of runs. The problem is that outside of that runs number and batting average, the rest of the numbers were nothing spectacular. His main selling point this year is his versatility with 2B/3B eligibility. I’d not say he’ll completely fall apart, but roughly .300 with 100 runs looks possible, and the downfall from .318 and 126 from last season will bring his value down quite a bit.
6. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros – Because of his terrible team, many have underrated the value of Altuve in fantasy. He won’t have a ton of runs or RBI because of his team, but he’ll give you a ton of steals and solid batting average. He’s fun to cheer for as the “Mighty Mouse” of baseball and his small stature, but he does swing a powerful bat, launching more home runs than you’d expect, possibly even flirting with double-digit home runs. If he can do that, even without the runs/RBI, he’ll be a very valuable fantasy asset.
7. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks – Hill is a guy who has been all over the map with his performance. It seems one season, he’s a power hitter and gives you 30 home runs, the next season you only get 5 homers, but you get 20 steals. One thing he’s always done is find his way onto the disabled list. Hill’s skills would have him as a top 3-4 2B if he could just stay on the field. He posted number rates that would have been elite (.290+, 85 runs, 20 homers, 75 RBI), but he only was able to play 87 games, so those numbers never materialized. Hill is a guy you pick and then draft another guy behind him just in case of injury, but when he’s healthy, he does produce very solid numbers.
8. Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres – His glove work at 2B was underrated, perhaps because his numbers were so loud. Gyorko is basically a “grip it and rip it” player. He hits a lot of balls a long way, knocking out 23 home runs in only 125 games despite playing half of his games in San Diego’s spacious ballpark. Gyorko isn’t going to hit .300 because of his approach, but he’ll give you power numbers that could be only behind Cano in the position. Look to Gyorko if you have some solid batting average guys like Votto and Mauer and could afford his low average with high-end power to cover their lower power numbers.
9. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays – I may be low on Zobrist, and some of that could simply be because of boredom. Zobrist is the perfect consistency pick at 2B as he hits .260-.280 with 15-20 homers, 10-15 steals and solid R/RBI numbers. He’ll give you a number of different position eligibilities due to playing for the Rays, who just seem to enjoy doing such things, but he’s not got a lot of upside beyond the numbers mentioned. You can just plug him into your lineup and know at the end of the season the numbers will be consistently there.
10. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies – The fact that he’s #10 should tell you that the position is certainly not shallow. If Utley plays 150 games, he’s an elite 2B. The problem is that he hasn’t done that since 2009, and at age 35 in 2014, his days of solid healthy production are certainly beyond him. If you can secure Utley and another guy behind him to ensure the position is filled, you could have a very solid player, as Utley certainly puts up solid numbers, sporting a .284 average, 18 homers, 8 steals, and 140+ R/RBI in 131 games in 2013, the most games he’d played since 2009. Draft with caution, but play him whenever he’s healthy.
11. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds – Phillips was a great example of consistency not necessarily equaling out to fantasy benefit. Phillips seemingly has hit 18 home runs per season since Zubas were in style, but his numbers in 2013 all dropped heavily, even though his RBI numbers didn’t show it. At 33, he’s likely not getting any better, but he’s still a good bet to give you 15-20 home runs and a handful of steals with RBI. He has been consistent in that he’s played 140+ games every season since 2006.
12. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels – Kendrick does nothing spectacular, but he doesn’t hurt any statistic for you. He’ll give you 10-15 homers and steals with a good batting average with 65ish runs/RBI. Enjoy Kendrick’s consistency and seek out upside elsewhere if that’s your desire, but if you pick him expecting suddenly to get 20 homers or 20 steals, you’ll be disappointed.
13. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks – He’s going to be the primary 3B in 2014, but he has 2B eligibility and Aaron Hill is the primary 2B on the team, so he has a good chance to maintain that eligibility. Prado is a solid contact hitter who will give you double-digit homers with 150ish combined R/RBI and solid batting average. He even put up solid numbers despite a major slumpt to start 2013. You can do much worse than to end up with Prado as your starting fantasy 2B in 2014.
14. Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers and 15. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals – Both Profar and Rendon are high-end prospects that will give fantasy owners some tremendous seasons in the future. They both have a starting job entering 2014, and interestingly they should have similar value on the season. Profar will give you more steals with likely less batting average than Rendon, but both will give good R/RBI and double-digit homers (though likely low double digits this season). The thing is, these big names will be drafted as if they’re elite guys in 2014. While I think both will be elite guys going forward, they’re both rookies this year, so don’t jump in headfirst expecting elite that first season.
Top-ranked Brave – Dan Uggla comes in on my rankings at #22. He’s coming off one of the worst seasons ever for a major league baseball player with the amount of at-bats that Uggla received in 2013. His eye issues were blamed for these struggles, and the proof will be in the pudding. I am projecting a good return from Uggla to a low-average guy with very good power. My write-up on Gyorko would apply to Uggla most likely as well. His batting average will be low enough to hurt you unless you have an elite batting average guy or two.
Position strategy – If you don’t get Cano or Kipnis, I would wait on 2B. You could get a guy who will give you similar value to #3 picking up the #20 2B. The position is deep in good, but not great, sort of guys that won’t hurt you and won’t help you too much either.