Early 2012 Outlook: Top 10 2B

Please note that these rankings are EXTREMELY early and there is a whole offseason worth of projections and analysis ahead.

1. Robinson Cano – Lock him in for at least .300/25/100/100

2. Dustin Pedroia – 20/20 for the first time in his career and dealt with nagging injuries along the way.

3. Ian Kinsler – Low AVG is the only thing keeping him from being the top fantasy 2B. He’s one HR away from 30/25.

4. Dan Uggla – I’ll chalk up his slow start to adjusting to a new environment — like how they actually have people in the stands at Braves home games. I’m thinking .260/30-35 next season.

5. Howie Kendrick – His power numbers were outstanding in April, but fell off through the middle of the season. Then, he started hitting bombs again in August and September. He’s learning to pull the ball with power for the first time in his career; a trend that could lead to 20-plus HR in 2012, if he doesn’t get there this season.

6. Brandon Phillips – I’m concerned about the drop in SB, but his game has adjusted to hit for more AVG. He’s been a consistent top-10 2B for years now.

7. Michael Young – Young’s not getting any younger, but he can certainly still hit for AVG. However, I’m worried that the power decline is for real.

8. Ben Zobrist – This is the type of bounce-back I expected from Zobeast, maybe just short on the HR end. I think he should settle into this type of production next season as well.

9. Rickie Weeks – Health, again, is the key to his value.

10. Dustin Ackley – I don’t think he’ll ever be Chase Utley (in Utley’s prime), but maybe a light version capable of 15-20 HR and 20-plus SB with good AVG/OBP. It would help his numbers if the M’s would add a bat or two in the offseason.

Where’s Chase Utley!!?? Well, he’s just missing my top-10 cut due to his injury issues. Not only have they cost him time, but he seems to be wearing down physically overall. his fall-off against lefties has me concerned as well. Positive reports over the winter could change my opinion. There are some intriguing names outside of this top-ten (not named Utley), Like Jemile Weeks and Danny Espniosa. Though I buy into Week’s 30-plus SB upside and Espinosa’s 20-plus HR upside, I’m not buying that either will hit for enough AVG or contribute enough R/RBI to crack the top-10. Jason Kipnis will be an interesting late round flier type. I could see .270 with 18 or so homers and 15-plus SB.