Robinson Cano is the clear #1 second baseman, followed by a tier of Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler. While I put them in that order, I wouldn’t call it crazy if someone swapped them. The next five guys are all in the same tier, for me, but I order them Brandon Phillips at 4, Dan Uggla at 5, Rickie Weeks at 6, Ben Zobrist at 7 and Chase Utley at 8. But I’ll also consider Utley a sleeper if he falls past the fourth or so round because if he’s healthy, then there’s still elite tier talent.
Now, my second basemen in drafts will probably come from the next group. I’m a sucker for HR/SB combination guys, so I’ll take Howie Kendrick at 9 and Ryan Roberts at 10, and I’d be tempted to wait a while and take Danny Espinosa in a points league because his low average won’t kill you and there’s 20/20 potential there, though I’d expect closer to 15/15.
Now, there’s some young guys here who will be overdrafted. People will reach for Jason Kipnis and Dustin Ackley pretty early in drafts. I would put Neil Walker well ahead of either one. If Kelly Johnson hits .250, his 20 home runs and 15 steals will look more appealing than they were at .222 last year.
I’ll tell you, I’m tempted to give Gordon Beckham one more chance to break out, if he’s there late in drafts. And if you’ve got power elsewhere in your lineup, Jemile Weeks looks like a solid bet for around 30 steals with a useful average. In deeper leagues, Jose Altuve is intriguing, though I don’t think I’ll end up owning ANY Astros this season. That just has the looks of a team the players on it won’t even want to play for.
Now, for a complete wild card, Aaron Hill has seasons of 26 and 36 home runs, and is coming off a season of 21 steals. The average will probably be around .250-260. But there aren’t many 30/20 guys in baseball, let alone at second base, so if you can stomach the .220, 7 HR, 10 SB downside…
Craig, Texas: I’m seeing second basemen go really early in my mocks so far, so I keep ending up at the back end of a run. I think having a top second baseman would give me a distinct advantage, but I can’t bring myself to reach that high. How would you draft 2B in a 12 team standard points league?
Craig, Rank your priorities. To get one of the top three or four second basemen, you’re looking at a first or second round pick. It might very well be worth it, but beyond Cano, who will be a top-10 overall pick in most leagues, every elite second baseman has some questions. Personally, I’m probably going to do second basemen the way I do wide receivers in football, draft two or three in the middle rounds who I think could be great, and hope one works out. I wouldn’t be surprised to end up with some combination of one guy from the Espinosa/Roberts/Kendrick group, and one from the Walker/Hill/K.Johnson group.
Randy, Kansas: I usually take my risks on high-upside outfielders, so it works best to have safe infielders (Konerko, Jeter types). Who do you see as safe at second base that I could get for a mid round pick?
Safety comes with real value in an unpredictable setting like fantasy baseball. Personally, I think Howie Kendrick is one guy to look at, though he may go earlier than you’d want, depending on the league. But I’d feel good with him at second base for .285, 12-15 HR and around 15 steals, along with 80+ runs and 60-70 RBI. A bit later in the draft, I’d love to get someone like Neil Walker. Not as much fun to own, but you know you’re getting around .275-280, 12-15 HR and you might get 10 steals. He could also produce 70 runs and 80 RBI on top of that. Not a bad line.
That’s it for second base. Moving to third next so get ready because it gets ugly.