In 2011, nine 2B’s had double digit HR’s and SB’s. Walker missed with 9 SB’s and Cano with 8. That group of nine also excludes Ackley and Kipnis, both of whom likely only missed out because they started the season in the minor leagues. Now you need to get some SB’s from your 2B or else make up for it elsewhere, because almost all of your opponents will be getting that contribution. Below are my rankings for second basemen in 2012:
- Dustin Pedroia
Last season was his first 20/20 campaign, but if he stays healthy there is no reason he can’t duplicate those stats. Including his .300 AVG, 90 R’s, and 90 RBI’s. Even if some of those numbers regress slightly, he still gives you the most complete 2B in the league. Plus, he’ll get 40-50 more plate appearances than Cano will.
- Robinson Cano
This is not a knock on Cano. He consistently hits for a high AVG and is at the top of the pack in HR’s and RBI’s. Also, since 2007 he has consistently played in at least 159 games. The reason the consensus top 2B is second on my list is be he doesn’t match the SB totals of the other top tier second basemen.
- Ian Kinsler
Kinsler stayed healthy and played 155 games in 2011. The full season of playing time yielded his second 30/30 season in three years. There are risks related to health and AVG, however, his BABIP was lower than normal, so his AVG should be higher in 2012.
- Brandon Phillips
He’s not going to lead second basemen in any statistical category, but he will be towards the top of the list for all of them. You know you’ll get at least .275 AVG and in the neighborhood of 20/20. That reliability has a ton of value.
- Dan Uggla
I’m not an Uggla fan and it was hard for me to have him this high on my list, but everyone below him is inconsistent, unproven, or an injury risk. 30 HR’s is a lock, and he puts up Runs and RBI’s, but he doesn’t steal bases. Batting average is the biggest concern though. Despite two seasons above .280, four of six seasons he has hit .260 or below.
- Chase Utley
It’s highly unlikely he’ll ever get back to the level that made him the unquestioned top second baseman, but he played last year when a lot of people thought it would be a lost season for him. So, if there is any player with an injury risk to take a chance on, he’s the guy.
- Ben Zobrist
2011’s .269 AVG seems about right, and it splits the difference between his great .297 AVG of 2009 and terrible .238 AVG of 2010. He fills every counting category well and is a good target once the upper tier options are off the board.
- Howie Kendrick
He very quietly put together a solid year in 2011. 15/15 with a good AVG is certainly attainable, but he’s young enough that he could still make strides beyond that.
- Rickie Weeks
He brings a ton of talent to the table, but there has only been one season in which he played over 130 games. I’ll take a shot on him before the up and comers with little track record, but be sure to have a bench player you’re not afraid of using.
- Neil Walker
He has already dealt with what could have been a sophomore slump successfully, and I anticipate continued improvement.
- Jason Kipnis
He came out of the gate strong last season, and while you can’t extrapolate those numbers over a full season, he should produce in all categories. His BABIP was inline with his minor league seasons, so the AVG shouldn’t decrease. I also expect double digits in both HR’s and SB’s.
- Dustin Ackley
Ackley is very similar to Kipnis except his BABIP was slightly higher than it had been in the minors, so there could be some regression in AVG. He also has a more difficult home ballpark to deal with.
- Jemile Weeks
At this point, you need to consider team need. Weeks will contribute positively to your AVG and SB’s, but it comes at the expense of power, which some other remaining options have.
- Kelly Johnson
He fits well with the Blue Jays’ “all or nothing” approach to offense. He seemed to alternate good and bad months, which makes him frustrating to own. He’s put it all together before, though, so he’s worth a shot late in the draft.
- Danny Espinosa
I’m not a fan of players with low AVG’s, but he has 20/20 potential. If he can get around .250 for an AVG it makes him worthy of a roster space.
- Ryan Roberts
Players normally don’t have break out season at age 30, and I’m betting teams knew what they were doing not giving him a starting job previously. He hit .238 against right handed pitching, which sounds like a platoon candidate to me, so I’m not convinced he has a starting job all season.
- Aaron Hill
Any positive memory you have of him is based on 2 good seasons in 2007 & 2009. He could reach double digit SB’s and HR’s, but since the AVG won’t be high, I’d rather take a shot on one of the prospects.
- Jose Altuve
He should hit for a solid AVG and steal some bases. If you’re desperate for a 2B he’s worth a flier.
- Daniel Murphy
He’s not going to hurt you while filling a roster spot, and multi-position eligibility may make him worth stashing as a versatile reserve option.
- Gordon Beckham
He was such a highly touted prospect (I was even on the bandwagon) but after two bad seasons, I’m removing him from my draft list. Let him serve as an example of why Ackley & Kipnis aren’t ranked higher.
- Omar Infante
He is similar to Murphy but with less position eligibility.