2011 Keeper Rankings: Second Base

The second base keeper rankings are solid at the top, but filled with question marks in the middle. Below is FB365′s final second base keeper rankings for 2011.

Note: These are not positional rankings for 2011 and do not consider players with no major league experience (there are plenty of sources of prospect rankings for that). These players should help fantasy teams in 2011 as well as the foreseeable future. The number next to the player’s name represents his age on opening day 2011.

No-Doubt Keepers

Robinson Cano – 28

Dustin Pedroia – 27
Chase Utley – 32
Ian Kinsler – 28
Dan Uggla – 31

Right in the middle of his prime, Robinson Cano should continue to put up top-end fantasy numbers, especially hitting in the middle of a stacked Yankee lineup.

If anyone is determined to come back from injury at an even higher level, it’s probably Dustin Pedroia. At 27 years of age, Pedroia has a chance to approach 20/20 for the next few years and score a ton of runs in that Red Sox lineup.

If we’re talking about keeping a player for one year, I’d rank Chase Ultey at number one. However, since we’re looking at long-term values here, his stock is dropped a bit due to his age and recent injury history — remember, he played the second half of 2009 with a hip injury. Speaking of injury, Ian Kinsler has averaged only 123.6 games played over the last five years. However, his potential is so high that fantasy GM’s still need to view him as a must-keep. Even if he only plays 120-130 games, he could still end up putting up a 20/20 season. If he can approach 145-plus games, he could knock on the door of a 30/30 season.

Anytime you can get 30-plus home runs from a second baseman, you keep him. Dan Uggla has done that every season since 2007. I do have some concerns about him regressing in AVG as well as some long-term concerns with his age and ability to stay at second base defensively, but even a move to third base would play well for his fantasy value.

The Maybes
Brandon Phillips – 29
Rickie Weeks – 28
Gordon Beckham – 24
Aaron Hill – 29
Ben Zobrist – 29
Kelly Johnson – 29
Martin Prado – 27

Brandon Phillips has been fairly consistent for the past few years, but last season he failed to hit 20 home runs or steal 20 bases for the first time since 2006. A wrist Injury played a role in 2010, so a healthy Phillips could approach 20/20 again. However, he’s not going to help you much in the AVG department.
As much as fantasy owners enjoyed Rickie Week‘s breakout (finally!) season, there is plenty of risk involved in his keeper profile. Most notably is his .328 BABIP despite a low 15.6 percent line drive rate. Even with help in BABIP, Weeks still only hit .269. The power and RBI/R production was the  a main source of his value in 2010. There is the inherent risk of relying on the same RBI/R production from year-to-year as those numbers are dependent upon the lineup around him. Then, of course, is the health risk. 2010 was the first year Weeks played in over 130 major league games.

Gordon Beckham‘s 2010 numbers were a tale of two halves. He hit .216/.277/.304 with three home runs pre-all-star break and .310/.380/.497 with six home runs post-all-star break. He’s only 24 years old, so there is no need to look at him as a fantasy bust at this point. Beckham still has the potential to hit .275-.285 with 15-20 home runs annually.

Aaron Hill may have been trying too hard to replicate his 36 homers from 2009. By doings so he started hitting a ton of fly balls, most of which turned into outs. His line drive rate was ridiculously low all year long. While that obviously killed his 2010 fantasy value, such a low line drive rate is likely a career outlier and not the norm going forward. Noting that the 20-plus home run power is still there, 2011 should be a fine bounce-back season

Ben Zobrist was still a very patient hitter in 2010, but his power numbers fell of the charts. There is a good chance that his AVG bounces back a bit in 2011, given a low .273 BABIP in 2010, and any bounce-back in power would leave fantasy owners with 15-plus homers and around 20 stolen bases. Not unlike Zobrist back in 2009, Kelly Johnson had a big power breakout year in 2010, but could be in for a regression in 2011. Johnson hit nine of his 26 home runs during a red-hot April. While playing home games in Arizona should help with the power output once again in 2011, there is risk that 2010 could have been his career year.

Martin Prado is about as solid a young hitter as you’ll find. He mixes great contact skills with plenty of line drives and occasional power. He should be able to hit around .300 with 10-15 home runs annually, but his upside is limited and his value will revolve around runs scored, which could fluctuate from year-to-year.

Deeper Keeper Considerations
Chone Figgins – 33
Brian Roberts – 33
Howie Kendrick – 28
Sean Rodriguez – 26
Neil Walker – 25
Danny Espinosa – 24
Juan Uribe – 32

Both Chone Figgins and Brian Roberts should steal their fair share of bases if healthy, but both don’t provide much projection in terms of long-term value.

Even if Howie Kendrick hits .300-plus, he hasn’t shown much in terms of power output or stolen bases.

Sean Rodriguez lacks the plate discipline and contact skills to make him a reliable source of AVG. However, he’s still young enough to develop into a lesser version of Dan Uggla, capable of 20 or so home runs over 550 at-bats.

Neil Walker, a former top prospect, finally realized some of the potential that made him the eleventh overall pick in 2004. However, don’t be fooled by his .296 AVG, which was aided by a .340 BABIP.

Danny Espinosa has some good power upside, but I have some concerns on how his low-contact big-swing will translate to the bigs over a full season. He also hurt his hand playing winter ball and had his hamate bone removed. This type of hand injury is known to sap power for a full year or more.

There is little doubt that Juan Uribe has 20 home run potential, but his AVG projection is quite volatile due to his low contact/free swinging ways. Going forward, his value will rely heavily on runs and RBI, two opportunity driven stats a player of his stature can not count on from year-to-year.