This week we started our yearly fantasy baseball positional rankings. Our first stop was first base, so now we slide into second. When it comes to drafting a second baseman you're usually looking for one of three things; a power guy, a speed guy, or simply a guy that will help you a little bit everywhere and not kill you. Simply due to the abysmal lack of depth at the position, you may have to settle for, and be happy with, a Joe average type of player. The other option is to over pay for a top guy, of which there are arguably only two or three, and even then you may end up hating yourself in the morning.
In 2010, Top 3 second base picks, Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler, were both drafted too high due to position scarcity, and they both missed significant time during the season, thus injuring their fantasy teams. Those same two players are the only two fantasy second basemen that have shown 5-tool skill at their position.
- Robinson Cano, NYY ~ Most fantasy "experts" will tell you Utley is the hands down #1 pick at 2B, but he's too often hurt, and Cano is too damn consistent. He's a career .309 hitter, who has averaged 103 runs, 27 HR's and 97 RBIs the last 2 seasons. In fact even his average the last 2 years has been at least .319. Over the last 4 seasons he's averaged 160 games played. This is the guy you want to anchor your team at 2B, if you can afford the high draft pick.
- Chase Utley, PHI ~ Utley has long been the 2b Man-stud for fantasy teams, but for the price you'll pay to get him, it's a hard risk to take. He'll likely go in the late first to second round and he'll perform (if he plays a full season) at a 4th to 6th round clip.
- Ian Kinsler, TEX ~ Based on history-- injury history to be exact, I would not rank him here. Yet based on pure skill, third may be too low. Kinsler is a true beast when he plays, and he can outperform both the guys above him on this list. However, the boy's been injury plagued since he hit the majors, averaging only 124 games per season. When he's on the field, he's a monster, but draft him knowing, you may need a secondary option for part of the season.
- Dan Uggla, ATL ~ Uggs has spent his career as a Florida Marlin. This season he moves to the Atlanta Braves. How that impacts his performance remains to be seen. In his 5 years as a fish he's averaged 31 homers a season, 100 runs, and 93 RBIs. He's also a lock to strike out 150 times. His career batting average of .263 isn't overwhelming but for the power and offense you get, it's a decent trade off for a second baseman.
- Dustin Pedroia, BOS ~ If you prefer a more rounded player than Uggs, Pedroia is your guy. He will give your average a boost, averaging about .307 in his first 4 full seasons. He's good for about 20 SBs, over 100 runs and about 80 RBIs. I'll take that all day at 2B if I can get him cheap enough.
- Rickie Weeks, MIL ~ In 2010, the oft injured fantasy disappointment stayed healthy all season and led all second basemen in at bats. The huge question is, do we hold our breath that he can stay healthy two seasons in a row? Roll the dice...
- Brandon Phillips, CIN ~ This kid doesn't get much love, but he's usually consistent, giving you about 90 runs, 20 dingers, 80+ RBI and 20-25 swiped bags.
- Martin Prado, ATL ~ Prado will give you a solid plus .300 batting average, but beyond that he's one of those average Joe's I mentioned. He hit 100 runs last season, but that was a first. He does qualify at third base for multi-position eligibility which is good considering the addition of Uggla.
- Kelly Johnson, ARI - After a terrible 2009 for the Braves, Johnson moved to the desert and resumed his usual performance with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Expect about 90 runs, 10 SBs, 70 RBIs, 15-20 HRs and a .280 average.
- Ben Zobrist, TB ~ After a monster year in 2009, his first full season with the team, fantasy GM's snapped him up early across the board. his outfielder eligibility made him even more desirable. Unfortunately for those that took the gamble, it didn't pay off. Zobrist regressed in 2010, in a big way. Only his SB totals went up. In 2011, look for something in between those two seasons.
- Gordan Beckham, CWS ~ Fantasy GMs bet big on the youngster last year and he didn't live up to the hype. In 2011 he heads into his third season, and he has too much talent to overlook this far down the list.
- Aaron Hill, TOR ~ Another guy who outplayed his historical stats in 2009 only to falter in 2010. Expect something closer to his career numbers in 2011 with a little extra power.
- Brian Roberts, BAL ~ If Roberts can stay healthy this season he can get tou 100 runs and 20+ SBs, with peripherals that won't kill you.
- Howie Kendrick, LAA ~He started to put some things together in 2010, and he's heading into 2011 at that golden age of 27.
- Chone Figgins, SEA ~ This is almost a pure speed pick. Figgs can get you about 40 SBs, but he has no power, will get limited RBIs and he won't wow you in runs.
- Jed Lowrie, BOS ~ The Boston Red Sox young gun plays second, third and short, and showed great promise in limited action in 2010. Here's what our own Eric Annett had to say about the kid he calls a 2011 sleeper: "After missing most of the 2010 season due to mono, the utility infielder came back and lit the world on fire at the plate filling in for Dustin Pedroia. Collecting 197 plate appearances, Lowrie mashed 14 doubles and 9 home runs and drew 25 walks while batting .287/.381/.526. Marco Scutaro has been announced as the starting shortstop by manager Terry Francona, but if Scutaro struggles out of the gate that may not last long. Additionally, Lowrie will be the first guy the Red Sox turn to if any of Pedroia, Scutaro, or Kevin Youkilis go down injured. Despite his super utility role, he is definitely worth owning and there is definite breakout potential. For a comparable value, think Martin Prado in 2009 or Omar Infante in 2010."
- Mike Aviles, KCC ~ Here's another kid, all about promise. Like Utley and Kinsler he missed a good chunk of the season, and when the final numbers were tallied he ranked right between the two of them. Don't expect that type of performance, but he will get you a solid average and decent peripherals.
- Neil Walker, PIT ~ In 110 games for the Pirates last season, this kid showed real promise. He's a guy you can wait to draft who could really surprise this year
- Eric Young, Jr., COL ~ If speed is what you're after, take a gamble on the Colorado Rockies' EY Jr. He's even faster than his father was.
- Omar Infante, FLA ~ Infante had a career year in 2010 and was promptly off to the Marlins. Don't expect a repeat of last year, but he is multi-postional with 3B and OF eligibility.
Bonus: Ryan Raburn, DET ~ He's one of my sleeper picks for 2011, and despite being the team's every day left fielder in 2011, he did manage to squeeze in 18 games at 2B last season, qualifying him at that position in Yahoo and most other leagues.