February 17, 2011
Second Base Rankings
These are the second base fantasy rankings for 2011. Check out our previous first base installment.
Like last year, the fantasy rankings are broken into tiers. Generally speaking, five-star players should be worthwhile in five categories and have an auction dollar value of $30 or more in your standard, mixed leagues. Four-star players should be worth at least $20 and useful in four categories, three-stars $10 and up, two-stars are more of your single-digit buys that you hope fill a hole or return some bargain value, and one-star players are, most likely, roster filler in the deepest leagues that you hope can be worth the buck you throw down on them.
This year we are listing stats like we have in the past (plate appearances, average, R, RBI, SB and HR projections from PECOTA) but are also including dollar value estimates produced by the Player Forecast Manager. In order to make these columns fit into the tables, I had to shorten them: "2L-$" is for mixed leagues, and "1L-$" is for AL- or NL-only leagues, depending on the player. The dollar values may not match up perfectly with the tiers, but those are just cases of PECOTA and I disagreeing on a player.
For reference, the dollar values were created with the PFM using standard 5x5 roto scoring, 23-player rosters—broken down as C (2) 1B (1) 2B (1) 3B (1) SS (1) CI (1) MI (1) OF (5) Util (1) P (9)—and $180 of the $260 budget allocated for hitters and $1 minimum salaries. A minimum of 20 games needed to be played at a position in the previous season to qualify (though I snuck a few brand new first basemen in). If your league uses different settings, be sure to plug them into the PFM to see what kind of differences in dollar value we are talking about—I set these to be as close to standard roster construction as possible.
Atop Mount Keystone is one Robinson Cano. While his projected dollar value here is below the five-star threshold I discussed in the intro, let's picture him with closer to 700 plate appearances, batting fifth in the Yankees order. Those R and RBI projections seem pretty low now, eh? He might be the only second baseman to crack the $30 mark, and he can thank his surroundings for a lot of that.
Pedroia's batting average fluctuates a little too much to extend the same five-star courtesy to him, though he should pick up 15-20 steals, and may even bat at the top of the dangerous Red Sox lineup. Chase Utley isn't surrounded by the same Phillies' lineup of the past, and won't put up the same elite R and RBI totals because of it—he causes enough damage on his own to merit this space, though. Dan Uggla's batting average probably won't resemble his 2010 career high, but he hits for enough power at a position that lacks it to sneak onto the bottom of the four-star tier.
Here is the meat of the position, right in the middle of things. Brandon Phillips used to be a four-star second baseman, but his once-potent power and steals combo seems to have tailed off just enough to make him a little less intriguing. If you could convince me that Ian Kinsler would stay on the diamond for an entire season, I would put him in four stars for sure, and maybe, maybe even consider some five-star action. As is, he's an excellent two-thirds of the season option. Kelly Johnson has the potential to jump into the four-star realm (he was worth just under $20 in 2010), but I'm more comfortable throwing him into the strong three-star tier. Martin Prado will have outfield and third base eligibility, and given Chipper Jones' injury history, he'll probably keep that third base eligibility into 2012 as well.
Brian Roberts pre-2010 was an elite second baseman. Brian Roberts with a bad back is a three-star second baseman who doesn't come close to 700 plate appearances. I'm hedging on the extra days off to rest here by placing him in three stars, but if his back is good to go—or you want to take that chance—then he's a much better player than this rating indicates thanks to loads of stolen bases and a solid stick for the position. Rickie Weeks is another one in the same vein: if he's playing all year as he did in 2010, he's going to be worth far more than this dollar value (Weeks was worth almost $23 last season). The problem is, Weeks has been healthy for an entire season just once—Craig Brown looked into him recently, so check it out.
Gordon Beckham hit .216/.277/.304 in the first half, and .310/.380/.497 in the second half. If he can match that post All-Star Game production, he'll destroy the $8 projection above. Considering he's coming off a season in which he was worth negative dollars, though, it's best not to go overboard bidding on him given all the other options in this talent level. Ben Zobrist lost his power last year, partially due to a back injury, and partially because he just didn't hit the ball with the same kind of authority. He's still balanced enough to fit well at second base, though he's a stretch in right field without that power stroke. I'll defer to Craig Brown once again in regards to Aaron Hill.
Neil Walker is going to surprise people by hitting well again, but I don't think he'll steal nine bases. He swiped bags in the minors, but in the 129 times he's been on first base in his career, he's run six times total (and was caught three times). He's worth more than the $5 above, but not quite so much that he deserves a three-star slot—the Pirates good-but-not-great lineup has something to do with it, too. Juan Uribe will get you homers, but the Dodgers are going to win games because they prevent runs, not because they score any. That dampens his value, especially if he hits for a low average. Omar Infante is useful for his multiple position eligibility, and if he gets to play all the time in Florida, he'll earn his keep. He just doesn't excel in any one area, which keeps him from leaving this tier even with playing time.
Mike Aviles is in the same vein—his average won't hurt you, he'll hit a few homers, and he'll steal a few bases, but he doesn't blow away any category. The third base eligibility is solid, and if the Royals keep plugging him in at shortstop he becomes a valuable sub to invest in, if nothing else. Howie Kendrick took a step backwards in 2010 and is stuck in an Angels lineup that won't do him many favors. Hey, remember when people thought Kendrick was going to be, like, awesome and stuff? Jed Lowrie's projection is pretty pessimistic—I don't think he's going to slug over .500 like he did in his partial 2010 campaign, but he's eligible at second, third, and short, and will hit above-average at all three positions. The Sox will get him in the lineup, and a smooth fantasy owner can scoop him up at a steal of a price since he lacks a defined daily job at present. Chone Figgins will steal bases, but he's on the Mariners, so R and RBI are just right out the door. He was never one for homers even when he was in a park that didn't openly hate them. Bill Hall is going to be exposed as an everyday player in Houston, but if you need homers and you're on a budget, he's your guy. I assume that's the exact pitch his agent used to get Houston to sign him.
Oh, that's right. I popped a table with 29 second basemen into the end of this article. Ryan Theriot can help you in steals, but not without the accompanying shame that comes with rostering Ryan Theriot. Chris Getz isn't great at baseball, and if the Royals get all aggressive promoting prospects—they have a few, as you may have heard—then he will be one of the first players thrown overboard. Clint Barmes will be eligible at shortstop and second, but he's unfortunately still Clint Barmes regardless of where he plays. He's been dealing with it for years now, so you should just get used to it.
Alexi Casilla marks the spot where you only want to pay attention if you're playing in an AL- or NL-only league. Shortstops that won't kill you are a rare commodity in the Junior Circuit, so Casilla's eligibility there and at second base makes him somewhat valuable. Freddy Sanchez and Orlando Hudson would both be more interesting if they were in parks that helped rather than hindered production. Mark Ellis is a neat option in AL-only leagues since he has a little power and a little speed, but thanks to the Coliseum, batting average is just not happening. If Eric Young were healthy and/or guaranteed a set job at second, he would be more appealing. Jose Lopez is there for a reason, though.
I like Reid Brignac more than PECOTA at this point, though he hasn't done much in the majors to make me move him higher than this position. He's shortstop-eligible, though, so keep that in mind in AL-only. Ty Wigginton was versatile in this morning's piece, and he has maintained that versatility into the afternoon. Scott Sizemore's playing time is based on how often Carlos Guillen needs someone to play for him. That tends to be often, so here is hoping he puts on a better show than he did in 2010. You probably shouldn't draft him unless you can also get Sizemore.
Skip Schumaker must have done something to offend Tony La Russa, because there are suddenly 17 other players exactly like him in the Cardinals' camp. Maicer Izturis had more value before Alberto Callaspo came in and stole all of it, though his eligibility at multiple positions makes him useful in AL-only as a productive bench player. Daniel Murphy has one of the best shots of getting out of this tier, but he has to win the second base job in New York and then stick there. You won't get much of a return on Jeff Baker, but he can play all over the infield, so keep an eye on him late in NL-only drafts during $1 bid time. Dustin Ackley is going to be great eventually, but the odds of that happening in 2011 aren't quite as good.
Luis Castillo is either going to win the second base job and lose it, or get beat out in spring training by Daniel Murphy. Either way, you probably don't want him unless Murphy injures himself in the spring. Jerry Hairston may be better than that projection, but with Ian Desmond and Danny Esposito around he may not get a chance to play as often as he did in 2010 for the much-maligned Padre infield. Jonathan Herrera is most likely blocked at every position he could slot into, but he'll pick up some plate appearances during the year if Eric Young doesn't scoop them up first. Jeff Keppinger always seems to end up with more playing time than expected, and with Houston's infield built out of wet construction paper, he'll probably do that again this year.