Saturday, 7 January 2012

Keystone Keepers: Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Second Basemen in 2012

Second base is an interesting position for fantasy baseball owners to be sure. There are very few elite players at the position (Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia), so it is often a position that is left until the later rounds to be filled on most fantasy squads. As a result, finding a fantasy sleeper pick at second base can go a long way to success in the middle infield on a fantasy roster. Here are some potential fantasy sleepers at second base for 2012:

Jason Kipnis (CLE)
A converted center fielder, Kipnis made some noise at second base for the Indians last season before being shelved with a strained hamstring. Although he can’t be expected to keep up the power pace he was on prior to the injury, 15 HR are likely. In addition, expect around 75 RBI hitting in the middle of a pretty decent Cleveland line up. Not too bad for a middle infielder.

Jemile Weeks (OAK)
The younger brother of Milwaukee’s Rickie, Weeks showed some surprising speed atop the Athletics batting order in limited action in 2011. The surprising part was due to the fact that Weeks only stole a total of 41 bases in 4 minor league seasons. The downside is he doesn’t walk nearly enough (4.8 BB%) and the Oakland offense won’t be driving him home enough to score a lot of runs. The upside? 30+ SB and a .300 average, which is a great deal in the later rounds of your draft.

Jose Altuve (HOU)
Altuve made the jump to the majors right from Double-A in 2011 and played pretty well considering the pressure of hitting out of the number 2 hole in the Astros batting order. He makes good contact and could reach 25 SB in 2012. At a mere 21 years old, we may yet see a slight uptick in his power numbers as well.

Neil Walker (PIT)
There were many who felt Walker was primed for a big breakout in 2011. Although he played in 49 more games, he couldn’t top the 12 HR he put up in 2010. However, he did deliver 83 RBI last season. Even more impressive was the fact that he drove in runs regardless of where he hit in the line up, and the Pirates bounced him around often. If he settles into the middle of the order on a consistent basis in 2012, 100+ RBI are within reach. Also, a bump to 20 HR in his third season is not out of the question.

After starting out hot with the Royals, Giavotella slumped and ended up having surgery to repair a torn hip labrum in the off season. However, he is expected to be ready for the start of spring training and has some potential for 2012. He will be out to prove he deserves to play (at least until prospect Christian Colon is ready) so he may just surprise in 2012.

Kelly Johnson (TOR)
In 2010, Johnson put up a stat line of .284/.370/.496 while with the Diamondbacks. With some time to get used to the American League, he should get back close to those numbers. If the Jays continue to hit him near the cleanup spot in their batting order as they did in September, Johnson should be a nice sleeper pick.

If you are like many fantasy owners and wait until the later rounds, especially in deep leagues, these fantasy second basemen sleepers might be just what the doctor ordered to solidify the keystone slot on your team.
* Jemile Weeks photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Jemile Weeks") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
* Neil Walker photo by dbking on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
* Kelly Johnson photo by Keith Allison (Flickr: Kelly Johnson) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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