2011 Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings- Second Base
The Keystone Base Can Be the Key to Your Fantasy Season!
I know most all fantasy baseball leagues have began, but I will continue my rankings so you have my insights to use in fine-tuning your fantasy roster. Second base is a spot where the high-quality game changers may be low, but the number of players who can strengthen your squad is high, and more than a few of these guys will be available either through trade or free agency. So let’s see what we have at second base:
Top Tier Starters– Grab one of these second basemen and you are sitting pretty in at least two categories.
1. Robinson Cano (.324, 31 HR, 106 RBI, 105 Runs, 4 SB)
With Chase Utley’s knees aging ten times faster than the rest of his body, there is no doubt that Cano is the big boy at second base is this year. Truthfully, I would have ranked Cano at the top of this list, anyway. At age 28, Cano is just entering his prime, and it is a prime which holds great promise. All of his categories except steals are still trending up, he is durable, gets a ton of at-bats, is in the middle of a lineup full of offensive punch, and plays half of his games in a park perfect for his bat. Toss in the fact that he spends the majority of his time hitting in the AL East, which is filled with great hitting yards (Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Camden Yards, and the Skydome), and you are looking at one huge year. Trade for him if you can- he will give you number one outfielder numbers at a light-hitting position.
2. Dustin Pedroia (.292, 18 HR, 78 RBI, 120 Runs, 17 SB)
Coming off an injury-wrecked 2010, Pedroia appears healthy and ready to go this season. That’s good news to anyone who grabbed the BoSox second bagger, as he is a solid source of health for your team in five categories. There is room for growth in his numbers, as Pedroia is still young. But if you don’t have him, don’t chase the growth. His stats this year will be close to these predictions, and you will be able to get second basemen who will come close to a couple of these stats at a much lower cost to your team.
3. Brandon Phillips (.277, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 83 Runs, 23 SB)
Finally turning 30 (Man, I wish we could all age as slowly as Brandon Phillips), he’s still got plenty of tread on his tires. The 30 HR season a couple of years back is surely an outlier, but there isn’t a better possibility of a second baseman going 20/20 than Phillips. He is always a sneaky player to try and get for the not “name of the month” who you know will swoon in due time.
4. Dan Uggla (.268, 31 HR, 95 RBI, 88 Runs, 3 SB)
Soemtimes a move to a new home stadium will have a significant impact on a player’s production- and sometimes it won’t. In Uggla’s case, I’m betting on the latter. But that’s OK, sine his usually stat line is more than good enough for me. While his batting average will always fluctuate depending on luck, his annual 30 homers will not- you can bank on those. His RBI and Runs are remarkably consistent, too, and will remain so in his new home digs. Yes, Atlanta has a better hitting park than Florida, but Uggla is also another year older and, frankly, the Braves lineup isn’t that potent after Brian McCann and Jason Heyward. If Uggla gets off to a slow start, don’t be afraid to hit up his owner, who will likely be very disappointed that he doesn’t own the next Joe Morgan. You might be able to snipe him away cheap.
5. Gordon Beckham (.285, 21 HR, 78 RBI, 74 Runs, 16 SB)
Throw out last year’s numbers and project from Beckham’s impressive rookie year. That’s the real Gordon Beckham. He has the look of the next Chase Utley and, even if it doesn’t happen this year, it’s coming. Try to get him now if you can. If you’re in a keeper league, don’t be afraid to trade away this year’s superstar for him if you’re out of the playoff hunt. Next year you will be glad you did, trust me.
6. Ben Zobrist (.262, 17 HR, 73 RBI, 72 Runs, 23 SB)
Qualifying at both 2B and OF, Zobrist can be a very valuable member of your club, so long as you don’t expect too much. He will get you 20+ SB to go with upper teens in HR, which are very nice totals from a second baseman. His batting average won’t be any great shakes, and his counting numbers will go down as the Rays adjust to positional losses this year (Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena). Zobrist’s bat plays well enough to be a #3 outfielder, but at 2B, he’s a top tier starter.
7. Ian Kinsler (.274, 22 HR, 74 RBI, 98 Runs, 25 SB)
Kinsler ranks this low for one reason- health. He’s never played over 145 games in a season, and being the sort of player who has to push himself so hard to excel in the bigs, Kinsler tends to break down. Short form on Kinsler is this- you know he can produce, and you know he will get hurt. His value depends totally on how bad his injury will be and how long it will last. If you have him now, ride the wave early, then see if you can swap him for Gordon Beckham.
8. Rickie Weeks (.274, 21 HR, 72 RBI, 95 Runs, 13 SB)
He’s the NL version of Ian Kinsler, with about half the SB’s. Same advice- if he’s hot early, reap some stats and deal him for Beckham.
Second Tier Starters- Plenty of solid players here, most of whom have similar strengths.
9. Brian Roberts (.287, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 104 Runs, 28 SB)
Another of our “well, if it weren’t for injuries” guys, Roberts carries similar injury risk to Kinsler and Weeks, but at an advanced age. If healthy, Roberts is a great bet for 25-30 SB’s, along with good average and runs scored totals. Feel free to order the Kinsler/Weeks/Roberts trio any way you wish.
10. Martin Prado (.311, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 91 Runs, 7 SB)
OK, Prado, you win- you’re a legit hitter. I’ve spent two years waiting for the other shoe to drop with this guy, but I’m now convinced that Prado is a .300 hitter with mid-teens power, and that’s good enough at second base. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, Mr. Prado. Prado also qualifies at third base, but sorry, martin, you haven’t convinced me your bat can play there quite yet…
11. Kelly Johnson (.272, 17 HR, 63 RBI. 86 Runs, 12 SB)
Last year was a freaky one for Johnson- he was dumped by Atlanta, picked up by Arizona, exploded out of the gate, slumped badly, then came roaring back. When all the smoke had cleared, Johnson had put together a mighty fine season. It’s not a total fluke, but it’s close. While Johnson had always had talent, he never projected out like last year. So go conservative with him in 2011 and you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you will probably be pleasantly surprised, because he still has some upside.
12. Aaron Hill (.265, 23 HR, 72 RBI, 83 Runs, 5 SB)
Going in to last year’s Opening Day, Hill was the darling of fantasy baseball, coming off an absolute monster of a season. This year we are all trying to guess at how much (if any) Hill will get above the Mendoza Line. Great googly moogly, what happened in 2010? How can anyone not named Rob Deer hit .182 and still crash 26 homers? Hill has a track record of being a pretty good hitter but, after last year, all bets are off. My advice is to stake out a safe middle ground, expect more, and hope he doesn’t get possessed by the spirit of Mendoza once again. If you start to get those mid-range numbers, deal him off if you’re risk-adverse for someone more reliable. He’s not worth the headache.
13. Chone Figgins (.266, 1 HR, 42 RBI, 86 Runs, 38 SB)
At second base, you can get by with a one-category guy if you really need him. IF you need some speed, Chone Figgins is your guy. Yes, he will qualify at third base early in the 2011 season, but that’s not where you want to play him (if you do, you better have nabbed Dan Uggla as your second baseman.) Figgy will help in Runs, but all of his value comes in swiping bases, as he is a solid bet for 30.
14. Howie Kendrick (.284, 12 HR, 72 RBI, 70 Runs, 16 SB)
Now entering his prime, you can count me as one of those who is fully convinced that Kendruick even compete for the batting title others said he was destined to win, and I advise you to force that thought from your mind. Is it gone? Good- now we can get down to business. Kendrick is a solid enough second tier starter at second base. He won’t hurt you with his average, will get double figures in Homers and Steals, and at least help out in Runs and RBI. So while he won’t win a fantasy title for you, your lineup could do a lot worse than having Howie Kendrick holding down second base.
15. Neil Walker (.292, 15 HR, 74 RBI, 66 Runs, 4 SB)
A quick history lesson on Neil Walker…
– Came through the Pirates organization as a catching prospect projected to hit around .290 with mid-teen HR power. The peasants rejoiced.
– Moved to third base, still carried the same projections, which made him a later Pirate version of Joe Randa. The peasants turned surly and burned down the manor.
-Moved to second base, still carried the same projections, and the peasants rejoiced again.
So any excitement about Neil Walker comes solely from his position, as he is still the very same guy he was five years ago. Isn’t our little sport wonderful?
16. Mike Aviles (.297, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 71 Runs, 20 SB)
Here’s a player many have forgotten about who is quite likely available in your league. Don’t you forget about Aviles, who has shown a line drive bat that could touch .300. Two added bonuses- 1) he probably qualifies at multiple positions in your league (likely 2B and SS), and 2) he’s got the green light on the bases, which should nab you a free 20 steals. A very smart pickup if you need help in the middle of your infield…
Top Tier Backups- These guys can help in a category or two if you need them…
17. Chase Utley (.278, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 63 Runs, 6 SB)
There is no way I’m investing picks or auction cash on Chase Utley as my starting second baseman this year- those knees are just way too bad. He could be looking at microfracture surgery, which would shelve him for the year. But if I can get him as a backup, with minimal investment, then sure, I’ll take a shot. Worse thing that could happen is he would stay hurt and you could cut him and replace him with another second baseman for your bench.
18. Omar Infante (.290, 6 HR, 52 RBI, 71 Runs, 10 SB)
Always a solid hitter for average, Infante now has a chance to be a starter, which should help his Runs Scored and Stolen Bases totals a little.
19. Sean Rodriguez (.263, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 58 Runs, 16 SB)
A very sneaky play as a backup at 2B. Rodriguez has long been a good prospect, had plenty of minor-league seasoning, and at the very least will give you steals off the bench. He could turn into something even better- worth a look.
20. Ty Wigginton (.264, 21 HR, 63 RBI, 54 Runs, 0 SB)
Like I said in my recap of first basemen, what could be better than having a multi-position backup guy who hits 20 bombs than move to Colorado? Have him qualify at second base! With eligibility at three positions in most leagues and the likelihood of 400+ AB’s, Wigginton is the ultimate fantasy baseball Swiss Army knife.
21. Reid Brignac (.262, 13 HR, 56 RBI, 61 Runs, 9 SB)
Starting at short, Brignac also qualifies at 2B. He’s got some upside, but is a couple of years away from fantasy relevance. But as a backup at both of your middle infield positions, he’s can help now.
22. Tsuyoshi Nishioka (.254, 8 HR, 56 RBI, 61 Runs, 7 SB)
The latest infield import from Japan, Nishioka follows in the immortal footsteps of Kaz Matsui. Remember all the hype around Kaz? There is nothing like that around Nishioka, which says two things: 1) We are all a lot smarter now, and 2) He’s not as good as Matsui, which means he is a backup second baseman in fantasy ball.
23. Jed Lowrie (.259, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 41 Runs, 3 SB)
Since he probably qualifies at both 2B and SS in your league, look at Lowrie as a poor man’s Reid Brignac with less upside (and that’s the firs time anyone has ever been referred to as a “poor man’s Reid Brignac” at anything…)
24. Danny Espinosa (.248, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 534 Runs, 7 SB)
He will be good someday, but right now he is still learning. His defense is pretty bad, so one concern is that it gets to the point that his glove chases him off of the field.
Second Tier Backups– Well, somebody has to fill this spot on your roster…
25. Carlos Guillen (.274, 10 HR, 52 RBI, 47 Runs, 0 SB)
When he plays, he’ll produce. But Guillen’s knees make Chase Utley’s look like Halle Berry’s, so don’t expect him to make it to 400 AB’s. When is in the lineup, he’s a great backup at 2B.
26. Eric Young (.253, 1 HR, 38 RBI, 44 Runs, 21 SB)
With his speed, he can easily slap-hit his way to .250, and 20 SB is easily within reach just as a pinch-runner. But there is absolutely no power to be found here- I’ll give him one homer this season and bet it is of the inside-the-park variety.
27. Ryan Theriot (.263, 2 HR, 40 RBI, 42 Runs, 20 SB)
The most boring 20 SB possibility in major league baseball.
28. Mark Ellis (.258, 8 HR, 52 RBI, 55 Runs, 6 SB)
When he’s healthy, he’s worth stashing on your bench, as he gives you a little bit of everything. Ellis is healthy as often as a politician tells the truth, however…
29. Freddy Sanchez (.294, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 58 Runs, 2 SB)
The emptiest .300 average this side of Enos Cabell (and bonus points if you even know who Enos Cabell is…)
30. Orlando Hudson (.257, 3 HR, 46 RBI, 68 Runs, 11 SB)
O-Dog used to give you great defense and a little bit on offense, most of it good. Now he still gives you the great D (which we don’t care about), and a little bit on offense, most of it bad. Go with someone with greater upside.
31. Skip Schumaker (.272, 3 HR, 38 RBI, 57 Runs, 3 SB)
He had minimal value when he qualified at both 2B and OF, and when my best friend’s daughters asked us to draft him one year because they liked the name “Skip”. Now he’s lost his OF eligibility, my best friend’s daughters are older and have interest in boys not named “Skip”, so he’s now just a warm, easily replaceable, body at 2B.
32. Will Rhymes (2 HR, 32 RBI, 38 Runs, 5 SB) or Scott Sizemore (.238, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 32 Runs, 2 SB)
Go with either guy, whomever is actually starting at 2B for the Detroit Tigers when Carlos Guillen finally goes down with another season-ending injury. Rhymes can scrap and run his way to a decent batting average, while Sizemore had double-figure home run thunder. It really doesn’t matter which one of these guys you choose- if you are forced into playing either one for more than a week, your season is over, anyway.
That takes care of second base! If you are enjoying my recaps, please consider taking a chance on my new ebook, “Who Da Man? The Quintessential History of the NBA Draft 1947-2010”, now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. It contains a slot-by-slot breakdown of each NBA draft, along with the players taken at each slot. “Best” and “Featured” player recaps are included for each slot, and slots 1 through 30 have the best five players ever recapped. Just for kicks, I included a worst-to-best ranking of each NBA draft as well. Thanks for reading and keep checking soon for my shortstop rankings!