Sunday, 6 January 2013

Second to None: Fantasy Baseball Second Basemen for 2013



When it comes to depth (or lack thereof) at a position in fantasy baseball, second base ranks right up there in terms of scarcity. It used to be that catchers were the bane of fantasy owners (and they still are a thorn in the side of the Fantasy Doctor). However, second base is a position that has seen a lot of volatility recently and has caused a great deal of pain for fantasy owners. Players that were once considered elite have slipped and there hasn’t really been any players step into the void. It might be slim pickings but here’s a look at some of the top players at second base for the 2013 fantasy baseball season:

Robinson Cano (NYY)
This is one example where one player stands head and shoulders above his peers at the position. Don’t let that historically poor post-season scare you. Cano delivers the fantasy goods. He’s a legitimate top 5 overall fantasy pick. If you can get him (or keep him) you should hold onto him and instantly give yourself a leg up on your competition.

Ian Kinsler (TEX)
Last year was the first time in four seasons that Kinsler put up a full season and didn’t go 30/30. His batting average was right where you’d expect it to be (.256) but the big power/speed numbers are what makes Kinsler appealing to fantasy owners. There has been talk of moving him to either first base or the outfield to make room for Jurickson Profar in the middle of the Rangers’ infield. Although losing second base eligibility would ultimately hurt Kinsler’s fantasy value, if he’s healthy, expect a return to the 30/30 level in 2013. That’s enough to make him second on our list.

Jason Kipnis (CLE)
In the first half of 2012, Kipnis was one of the top second baseman in fantasy. He battled a rough stretch through July and August but it was hardly a surprise as Kipnis was in his first full MLB season. With the Indians adding some bats in the off-season, Kipnis should deliver some fantasy value hitting near the top of the Tribe’s line up. There’s upside here.

Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
The Red Sox were brutal last year but Pedroia still contributed in all five categories and if he hadn’t missed 20 games, his counting stats would have been even better. An elite option for several years, his stock has slipped a little with some owners recently. Let their loss be your gain.

Brandon Phillips (CIN)
If you are the type of owner that prefers risk-averse picks, then Phillips is your man. He’s about as steady as they come and although not overly dominant in any one category, he’ll help you across the board. He tends to get bounced around the Reds’ lineup a bit, which will tinker with his RBI totals a bit. Regardless, he’s a safe pick. Bet on more of the usual production.

Ben Zobrist (TB)
Long a fantasy favorite due to his multiple position eligibility (qualifies at 2B, SS, OF), Zobrist also delivers a nice power/speed mix. Although his runs and RBI were down slightly from 2012, he still put up decent numbers across the board. Inconsistency has been an issue from season-to-season but overall, “Zorilla” should come through with some helpful numbers in 2013.

Neil Walker (PIT)
A back injury derailed his 2012 campaign but his off-season rehab has gone well and Walker should be expected to contribute nicely in 2013. Entering his prime (and the historically ‘breakout’ baseball age of 27), Walker is poised to take another step this year. Having Andrew McCutchen hitting behind him in the batting order certainly helps his pitch selection. He should be available later in the draft and has definite sleeper value.

Jose Altuve (HOU)
Sure, he hits leadoff for a team that has struggled to score runs but he put up solid fantasy numbers last year. A contact hitter, Altuve can give you a good average, score some runs and pile up a good number of steals. He’s got a bit of pop in his bat as well. Only 22 years old, he’s got tons of upside.

Howie Kendrick (LAA)
Okay, the talk about Kendrick as a future batting champion may have been a stretch but don’t overlook his talent. He’ll be batting in a potent lineup that got even better in the off –season. The 18 homeruns he hit in 2011 may be an outlier but expect a return to double digits in 2013. Solid, although unspectacular, Kendrick is in his prime and offers a decent return for a mid-to-late round fantasy second baseman.

Aaron Hill (ARI)
A risky pick that paid off big time in 2012, Hill will most likely be gone long before he should in 2013 drafts. He’s battled injuries and inconsistency in the past. Although playing in Chase Field helps, Hill did struggle in the past at the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. Expect the power to remain but don’t be surprised to see a lower batting average next season.

If you miss out on any of these players, there are a few excellent sleeper picks at the position. Rickie Weeks (MIL) was considered by many to be at the top of the position fantasy-wise as recently as two seasons ago.  Dan Uggla (ATL) endured a horrible stretch in the second half last season but after the break in 2011, he was one of the best fantasy players in baseball. No doubt the potential to launch 30 home runs would be welcome from a middle infield spot on your roster.

While the pickings may be slim, you’ll be in the same boat as the majority of your competition in hoping to get production out of the second base slot in your lineup. Don’t panic on draft day or at the auction.

 ..
* Robinson Cano photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Robinson Cano") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Dustin Pedroia photo by Dustin_Pedroia_2012.jpg: Keith Allison, http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/7786745334/ derivative work: Ukexpat [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Jose Altuve photo by Hourick (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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