If you missed either of our previous rankings, don’t forget to go check out both Catcher (including an introduction and explanation of the rankings) and First Base. Today we look at the tumultuous, top heavy middle infield spot on the right side of the diamond. Let’s take a look at the powder keg that is second base!
Natural Tier 1
Barring injury, there’s little to no reason to think that the top three 2Bs for 2012 will be anybody other than these three. That said, Ian Kinsler has not exactly been the model of health over the course of his career. He showed last season what type of production he was capable of sustaining when he avoided the injury bug, but unfortunately that’s been more of the exception to the rule than the rule itself. It is for this reason that he cements himself no higher than No. 3 on these rankings. If you want to have absolutely no worries at the second base position in 2012, though, you need to snag one of Cano or Pedroia, and you’ll pay the king’s ransom for them. Still, the price may ultimately be worth it once you see what’s lurking down below.
Natural Tier 2
Nothing has brought me more joy to this point in compiling these rankings than seeing my main man Ben Zobrist sitting atop this tier, ahead of Dan Uggla. Forget that he has added value with OF eligibility, dude fills it up: 20/20, 90/90, and no reason to expect anything less this season. Uggla lost his stroke for most of the 2011 season, but found it and found it in the best way possible as the season came to a close. Which Uggla shows up in 2012 remains a mystery. When you’re getting ready to pull the trigger on Uggla in your draft, keep in mind that he didn’t pull his average over the Mendoza Line until July 27 last year. For me, there’s an inexcusable missing name from this tier, but more on that later.
Natural Tier 3
This tier just needs to be named “Brandon Phillips Gets Absolutely No Respect.” Seriously. If you pass on one of the “sure thing” 2Bs and want to feel confident in getting a high level of production and all-around solid 5×5 stats, there’s no one better than Brandon Phillips. The fact that he’s ranked behind Chase Utley, whose own GM is questioning whether or not he’ll ever be fully healthy enough to return to form again, makes little sense to me. The rest I understand. Cuddyer in the thin air of Colorado, Weeks not being a jerk and being the poor man’s Ian Kinsler of the DL, Kendrick getting a slight boost from the addition of Pujols to his lineup. I get it. But Phillips is better than this. Even if you get the .275 Brandon as opposed to last season’s .300 version, you’re looking at approaching 20/20 on both ends, 100 runs, and, at worst, 60 or so RBIs.
Natural Tier 4
I feel like this fourth and final tier of 2Bs is like pulling names out of a hat. Lots of upside, little expectation. Young guys, guys in new places, so on and so forth. Any of these guys could rise to the top of this tier and stand out from the pack, or completely and totally burn you. Who will do what, I have no idea. I do tend to like those who have done it before more than those I’m hoping can do it, so Walker is placed appropriately from my standpoint. Kelly Johnson had a fire lit under his butt after arriving in Toronto, but whether that translates to a full season in 2012 is anybody’s guess. Some are picketing for breakout seasons from the “other” Weeks, Kipnis, or Ackley, but chances are come September they’ve all put up forgettable seasons.
Second base may not be as thin as it has been in years past, but don’t be fooled. It’s still exceedingly top heavy as far as real solid production and comfort is concerned. If you miss out on the top, your best bet is probably to look at two possible options and hope one pans out. That’s pretty much a cop out, but I don’t ever recall stating that I wouldn’t cop out so, yeah. Deal with it.
Thank you to all those who contributed their personal rankings for this compilation (credit to come at the end of this series), and don’t miss the next installment of Cafeholic Rankings when we take a look at the other side of the middle infield, shortstop!
Brendan Horton is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Brendan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of bigh0rt.
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