Before we get into the rankings, let me put in a little disclaimer. These are extremely preliminary rankings for 2012 (prior to my projections being done) and have a lot of room for movement as the offseason progresses. They are done just on the surface, so as you look at them keep that in mind (and all numbers are prior to yesterday’s game):
- Robinson Cano – New York Yankees
- Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox
- Ian Kinsler – Texas Rangers
- Dan Uggla – Atlanta Braves
- Brandon Phillips – Free Agent
- Rickie Weeks – Milwaukee Brewers
- Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies
- Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays
- Howard Kendrick – Los Angeles Angels
- Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians
- It was a tremendous season for Ian Kinsler, who went 30/30 for the second time in his career (32 HR, 30 SB). What put him behind the other top 2B in the league are his struggles to hit for a strong average. He was at .255 in 2011, in part due to a .243 BABIP. Before we dub it unlucky, it’s the second time in the past three seasons that he’s been at that type of level (.241 in ’09). It’s possible that he was swinging for the fences again, with a 47.1% fly ball rate. In other words, every time he hits for tremendous power, his average suffers. It’s just something we may have to deal with.
- There are injury concerns with a number of the top 2B options, including Chase Utley and Rickie Weeks. It’s possible that Utley is never going to return to being the player that he once was, which is a reality fantasy owners are going to have to face. He hit .259 with 11 HR and 44 RBI in 398 AB in 2011 and was even worse in the second half (.245, 7 HR, 26 RBI in 241 AB). His upside keeps him as a Top 10 option, but you are going to want to back him up with a viable alternative.
- Where Brandon Phillips lands in free agency is ultimately going to help determine his value. Will he be viewed as a leadoff hitter or a middle of the order bat? We’ll just have to wait and see, so consider him spot in these rankings in flux.
- I know Dustin Ackley has a ton of potential, but my concern is that he’s not going to bring enough power or speed to the table in 2012. In 333 AB last season he hit 6 HR and stole 6 bases. Is that really enough to excite owners? He falls into that borderline spot towards the bottom, along with other top prospects Jemile Weeks and Jason Kipnis. Any of the three could emerge as a great option, however, and rather quickly. For me, though, Kipnis is the one with the highest upside, which is why he stole the final spot in the rankings.
Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2012 rankings: