In the third edition of the Positional Tiers, I will be discussing second base. This year the position is incredibly top heavy with seven (sometimes eight) second basemen going in the first four to five rounds. It starts going downhill pretty soon after that, however, so it’s a good idea to grab one of the top guys while you can.
Tier 1: Rounds 1-2
Utley is a top five pick and Kinsler is a borderline first rounder. Both are legitimate studs at the position, though Kinsler’s average and injury history holds him back a little. Still, it’s hard to pass on a second baseman who went 30/30 last year and has the ability to do more with a completely healthy season. He hit a ton of fly balls last year at the expense of his line drive rate, but even so his .241 BABIP will likely regress closer to his career number and his average should return back to the .270 range. He’s a bit of a risky pick but the potential rewards are be huge.
Tier 2: Rounds 4-5
If you miss out on Utley or Kinsler, I’m a big fan of targeting one of these guys in the fourth round. I prefer Phillips or Roberts, but really any of these guys are a solid option that gives you a leg up on anyone who misses out on this tier. Most of them have a decent power/speed combination and you can really have your pick of the one who best compliments your team at that point in the draft.
Tier 3: Rounds 6-8
Tier three is the last stand of top second basemen and is really the lowest tier I’d want to draft my starter from. Aaron Hill is being drafted more like he’s in the second tier after an absolutely monster year, but I don’t think he’s quite at the same level as the guys he’s being drafted around. His 14.9% HR/FB in 2009 is quite a leap over his 8% career rate and he doesn’t really hit enough fly balls to sustain the kind of power he showed last year. His numbers were inflated due to his getting 734 plate appearance leading to 684 at bats, both the highest in the majors. It’s unlikely he’ll come up to the plate that many times in 2010 and as his HR/FB regress I would expect him to cap off around 20 homeruns. Still a solid season from a second baseman, but nothing approaching what he did in 2009. Dan Uggla has been about as consistent as you can be hitting 27, 31, 32 and 31 homeruns over the last four years. His walk rate has also been consistently getting better and while his strikeout rate will continue to keep his average down, his power and on base skills should allow him to maintain high run and RBI numbers. Gordon Beckham won’t open the season with second base eligibility but is slotted as the starter there and he should gain eligibility after the fifth game of the season. He should put up solid numbers in all five categories and has plenty of potential to put up a big year.
Tier 4: Rounds 10-11
Ian Stewart’s power potential has him on a lot of sleeper lists this year, and rightly so after he hit 25 homeruns in 425 at bats in 2009. With his power comes with a downside, however, as he has struck out in about one-third of his major league at bats which severely limits how high his batting average can go. At 24 years old, he still has plenty of time to cut back on the strikeout rate but unless he can do that it limits his value to the fourth (possibly third) tier. Jose Lopez and Asdrubal Cabrera are completely opposite players. Lopez provides mainly two category value in power (though I don’t expect him to hit 25 homeruns again) and RBIs. Cabrera, on the other hand, provides value in average, runs and stolen bases. Either is a solid option depending on your team needs.
Tier 5: Rounds 15-18
Tier five starts out with a couple of perennial sleepers in Kendrick and Weeks. Kendrick finally managed to stay healthy in 2009, but started the season off slow and was sent back to triple-A in order to get some pressure off him and allow him to find his swing. Whatever he worked on in the minors seemed to help as Kendrick returned to the majors and went on a tear batting .358/.391/.558 over the second half of the season. If he’s able to continue that success into 2010 and keep the injury bug away he could bring a lot of value to those drafting him in the later rounds. Like Kendrick, Weeks’ potential keeps fantasy managers hoping each year is the year he finally stays healthy and puts it together. Unlike Kendrick, Weeks was back on the DL and missed the remainder of the season after only 37 games in 2009. At 27 years old, he still has the ability to put together a solid season, but I’m leaving that headache for other owners this year unless he falls pretty late in the draft. Felipe Lopez, Martin Prado and Orlando Hudson aren’t flashy but if you’ve waited this long or have an MI spot to fill they are all solid options who won’t really hurt you anywhere.
Tier 6: Rounds 19-22
|Scott Sizemore||273.50||.308||49||8||33||14||292||in AAA|
Polanco is an interesting option given that he could bat second in the potent Phillies line up. He’ll hit for a decent average and could score a lot of runs batting in front of Utley, Howard, and company, but probably won’t provide much else. McGehee had success in his rookie season, but doesn’t really have the track record in the minors to support it. Kelly Johnson will look to bounce back with the Diamondbacks and hitting in a hitter’s paradise should provide some help. Barmes, Callaspo, Castillo, and Sizemore all have ways to help fantasy teams as well and could turn out to be useful bench options.
Michael Marinakis is a 24-year-old fantasy addict. You can find him roaming the Cafe all day where he posts as GiantsFan14 and waits for Buster Posey, the savior of the Giants, to arrive in the majors.
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