2010 Positional Ranks: Second Base

Second base was a very scarce fantasy position last season, but with the emergence of some young players as well as a few who gained surprise eligibility, there is considerably more depth.   Who made the biggest leap forward last season and who is ready to do so in 2010?  The second base positional rankings…

Tier one

 

1. Chase Utley

Utley stands alone with solid production year-after-year.  However, there might be someone close on his tail…

Tier Two

 

2. Ian Kinsler
3. Brandon Phillips
4. Robinson Cano
5. Ben Zobrist

Ian Kinsler went 30/30 in 2009, but had to hit a ton of fly balls to do so.  His fly ball rate jumped from 43.3% to 54%.  Consequently, his line drive percentage dropped from 24.2% to 15.9% lowering his BABIP to .245 and AVG to .253.  Just as his high 24% line drive rate corrected itself (regressed) last season, his it should correct itself once again in the other direction.  If he can put it all together, Kinsler could easly produce a .285/25/25 season with room for more.  Speaking of 20/20 guys, Brandon Phillips has been just that over the past two seasons.  Another .270-.275 20/20 season should be on the way.  It is clear that Robinson Cano likes the new Yankee Stadium.  There is little reason to think he can’t hit between .300 and .320 once again with 20-25 homers.  Ben Zobrist may be the surprise of the second tier, but all of his minor league power numbers back up his breakout 2009.  While asking for 30-plus home runs may be a tall order, 20-25 should be attainable.  Add on top of that 15 or so steals with a regression in AVG to the .280’s.

Tier three

 

6. Brian Roberts
7. Aaron Hill
8. Dustin Pedroia

Am I worried that Brian Roberts has seen a decline of ten stolen bases for the last three seasons and is 32 years old?  Yes, but I don’t expect another ten steal drop in 2010.  Where he ended last season seems like a good leveling off point for the next couple of seasons with a slight regression in power.  Aaron Hill has a career year and doesn’t make it to the second tier?  His HR/FB rate was almost double his previous career high and his previous career high AB/HR rate was almost cut in half in 2010.  Last season smells of “career year” and I’m not willing to pay a premium for it.  A solid .285, 20-25 home run season, seems reasonable.  Dustin Pedroia has a good chance to “bounce back” after a “disappointing” 2009.  I use those terms lightly because I personally was not expecting a repeat of his 2008 MVP numbers, so 2009 was about exactly what I expected.  The good news is that his price tag seems much lower.  That is something to take advantage of in 2010. 

Tier four

 

9. Jose Lopez
10. Ian Stewart
11. Dan Uggla
12. Asdrubal Cabrera

I discussed Jose Lopez in the first base rankings.  Ian Stewart is getting a lot of “sleeper” love, though given his high ADP I don’t think sleeper is the right word.  The power potential is certainly there and there is no more Garrett Atkins to hold down his playing time.  Unless he can adjust to left-handed pitching and make much better contact Stewart’s AVG will always be held down, but with some help in his BABIP I wouldn’t be surprised to see a .265, 35 home run season.  Keeping with the low AVG theme, Dan Uggla chimes in under Stewart because I see their careers starting to head in opposite directions.  Asdrubal Cabrera seems to be coming into his own and has displayed good contact/line drive skills in back-to-back 300-plus at bat seasons.  That should result once again in a .290-.300 AVG with a little pop and the ability to add 20 stolen bases to your fantasy team later in the draft. 

Tier five

 

13. Howie Kendrick
14. Rickie Weeks
15. Kelly Johnson
16. Casey McGehee
17. Placido Polanco
18. Martin Prado
19. Felipe Lopez

There is so much potential in Howie Kendrick, but there has been so much disappointment thus far in his career.  Kendrick consistently swings at bad pitches and doesn’t even carry a contact rate of over 80% (though that did improve a bit last year).  There were signs of a turnaround late last season, but can we really count on him to simply breakout?  If he falls far enough on draft day, his upside is worth a pick, but how about seeing him get over 400 Major League at bats in a season before we pay full price.  Another high potential, big disappointment guy is Rickie Weeks.  Weeks looked well on his way to setting a bunch of offensive career highs last season before injury cut things well short.  He’s worth a late round flier once again.  Call me crazy, but I still believe in Kelly Johnson.  Even if he platoons with Ryan Roberts in Arizona, he should still get the lion’s share of at bats.  In that ballpark in what is looking like an improved lineup, Johnson could shine as a late round MI/deep league 2B option.  No, I’m not expecting Casey McGehee to surpass his 2009 numbers by much, but he still displayed a decent enough plate approach to make him hold deep league value at second.  Placido Polanco may score more runs with the Phillies, but I just don’t put a ton of stock in a 34 year old who could show big signs of decline at any moment.  With Kelly Johnson gone to Arizona, Martin Prado steps in as the everyday second baseman in Atlanta.  Prado has shown good plate discipline/contact/line drive skills at every step along the way.  He could very well hit .300 with around ten homers, but he won’t steal much or produce enough in the runs and RBI categories.  It looks like Felipe Lopez’s big stolen base numbers are well behind him now. 

Tier six

 

20. Clint Barmes
21. Alexi Casilla
22. Orlando Hudson
23. Alberto Callaspo
24. Maicer Izturis
25. Mike Fontenot

Clint Barmes is an intriguing late round option given his 23 home runs in 550 at bats last season.  There is, however, big risk in a regression.  Barmes has always been a big time fly ball hitter who swings at a lot of bad pitches.  he also saw a regression in contact rate last year.  Alexi Casilla will only hold value if he can show some of that 20 steal promise he did in the minors.  Orlando Hudson has yet to find a place to play.  Where he ends up will play somewhat on his value, but there really isn’t much upside to his game anyway.  Alberto Callaspo doesn’t strikeout much and makes great contact.  The problem is that he doesn’t excel at anything else really.  With not much power and little stolen base potential he would have to rely on runs scored for value.  Well, he plays in Kansas City, so much for runs scored.  Maicer Izturis had some decent value mixing time at second and short for the Angels in 2009.  Still, there is little to no guarantee how much playing time he will receive.  Will Brandon Wood start at third (I hope so)?  Will Howie Kendrick be able to finally stick at second for a full season?  Mike Fontenot strikes out too much for a player of his skill set.  He saw a big time drop in line drives in 2009, something that must return for him to have any value. 

Tier seven

 

26. Jeff Baker
27. Luis Castillo
28. Luis Valbuena
29. Freddy Sanchez
30. Kaz Matsui
31. Akinori Iwamura

Jeff Baker represents about the only upside of this group if he can edge Fontenot for playing time.  Both him and Luis Valbuena have some pop, but strikeout a bit too much and need to make better contact to hold a high enough AVG over 500 at bats. 

The Master List

 

1. Chase Utley
2. Ian Kinsler
3. Brandon Phillips
4. Robinson Cano
5. Ben Zobrist
6. Brian Roberts
7. Aaron Hill
8. Dustin Pedroia
9. Jose Lopez
10. Ian Stewart
11. Dan Uggla
12. Asdrubal Cabrera
13. Howie Kendrick
14. Rickie Weeks
15. Kelly Johnson
16. Casey McGehee
17. Placido Polanco
18. Martin Prado
19. Felipe Lopez
20. Clint Barmes
21. Alexi Casilla
22. Orlando Hudson
23. Alberto Callaspo
24. Maicer Izturis
25. Mike Fontenot
26. Jeff Baker
27. Luis Castillo
28. Luis Valbuena
29. Freddy Sanchez
30. Kaz Matsui
31. Akinori Iwamura

P.S. For some reason the comments section is not showing up in the first base rankings.  If you had any questions or comments there, feel free to leave them here.