Of ESPN's top 30 players prior to the start of the 2011 season, two were second baseman, Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia. Second base just isn't as deep as fantasy owners wish and Chase Utley starting the year on the DL didn't help matters much. Only three of the current top-50 players are pure second baseman. In order they are Dustin Pedroia at No. 10, Robinson Cano at No. 26 and Ben Zobrist at No. 39.
So far at second base there have been big disappointments, crushing injuries and just flat out inconsistency. Utley started his year in his usual spot, the DL, Ian Kinlser has hit a few homers, stole a few bases, but the .237 average he currently sports has sunk his ship. Neil Walker has been solid and rookie Danny Espinosa has been a more-powerful-Ian Kinlser. Dan Uggla would be in Adam Dunn territory if it weren't for a month-long hit streak and Rickie Weeks recently landed himself on the DL for another few weeks.
The state of MLB fantasy second baseman took a turn for the worst this season, however, 2012 should paint a different picture. Three rookies have emerged as the future of the keystone position.
Dustin Ackley started his season on June 17 with a 1-for-4 day. Since then the future Mariners star is hitting .301 with 5 homers, 23 RBIs and has peppered in 5 triples and 2 steals. His average was .315 as recent as August 3 and in five games between July 27 and August 1 he racked up 8 RBIs. His .273 average so far in August is the lowest of any month this season, but that isn't something we should be worried about. The The No.2 overall pick by the Mariners in the 2009 draft was hitting .303 at triple-A Tacoma before his June call-up and is a .280 career hitter in 200 minor league games. He isn't profiled as a 30 home run guy, yet, but in 66 games at triple-A this season he had 9 homers plus the 5 he's hit in the bigs this year and we could see him reach 20 bombs as early as this year between both leagues. The most polished hitter in his draft class, he doesn't excel in one thing. Instead he does everything a major league hitter should do and he does it well. He hits for power, average, he runs and in the minors, he walked more often than he struck out, something that has mostly translated to the big league level (17 BB/22K).
Something that has the city of Cleveland in a buzz is not the prospect of making the postseason, but it is the electrifying bat of the recently called-up Jason Kipnis. The 24-year old started off slowly, but collected his first major league hit, a game winner, in his second game. He hit just .136 in July, understandable for a rookie in the heat of a division race, but in August he is hitting .321 and starting on July 31 he hit a home run in four straight contests and he now has 5 on the year. Unlike Ackley, Kipnis is projected to be a power hitter, good enough for him to hit 25-30 home runs in the big leagues for a long time. Prior to his July 22 call-up, the 2009 second round pick was hitting .279 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs with 12 steals at triple-A Columbus. He is a career .297 hitter in the minors and his best year was 2010 where he hit .307 with 16 homers and 74 RBIs in 133 games between single-A+ and double-A.
The July 1 trade that sent longtime second baseman Oakland Athletics Mark Ellis to Colorado meant that the 2008 first round pick Jemile Weeks was in Oakland to stay. Oakland's new speedy second baseman didn't make an impact on his first day on the job, he waited for day two to smack his first major league hit. He proceeded to go 3-for-3 and fall just a home run shy of the cycle. He doesn't have a home run just yet, but he is hitting .293 even after an abysmal start to August (.231 AVG). He has 12 doubles, 6 triples and 12 steals. He's been caught six times already, but as he learns more about major league pitchers and base stealing he will mature into one of the league's best thieves. In 45 games at triple-A sacramento Weeks was hitting .321 with 3 homers, 22 RBIs, and 10 steals. His minor league career batting average of .286 and his 113 BB's to 141 K's show that this promising talent, dreadlocks and all, will be a fantasy force in the years to come.
The fantasy baseball season is nearly finished so don't get left behind. Stay up to date on what pitchers you may want come playoff time. Or brush up on your knowledge of the state of major league rookies.