Ranking players on what they have done so far isn’t too much help for fantasy owners, is it? While it’s great to know what someone has done, what we care about more is where we think they are heading. While these rankings do take a players performance to date into account, where we think they are going is weighted much more into the equation.
Second base has quickly become one of the more shallow positions in the league. There have been numerous examples of players who have struggled this season (Dustin Ackley, Josh Rutledge), and injuries have also caused some havoc (Aaron Hill). With that in mind, let’s take a look at our current Top 15 second basemen (number in parenthesis is their final preseason ranking):
1) Robinson Cano – New York Yankees (1)
He got off to a slow start, but has picked up the pace and continues to produce like one of the best hitters in the sport. The fact that he’s a second baseman just makes things that much better.
2) Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox (2)
He’s not hitting for the power he did in 2011 (3 HR) and there is a good chance that the average regresses significantly (.379 BABIP courtesy of a 19.8% line drive rate, as well as a career high 12.4% strikeout rate). That said, he should finish around .300-.305 (currently at .333) with 12+ HR and 20+ SB (currently 8 SB). That makes for a very good player, but his 2013 trade value may have peaked.
3) Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians (5)
He has quickly proven those who doubted his power (8 HR, to go along with 10 doubles and 2 triples) and speed (10 SB) wrong. He is looking like an annual 20/20 option with the ability to both score and drive in runs. The question is if he can get the average up (.249). You would think a 21.1% line drive rate would yield better than a .291 BABIP and he has started to reduce his strikeout rate (22.7% in May). He has as much upside as anyone moving forward.
4) Brandon Phillips – Cincinnati Reds (7)
He has settled nicely into the cleanup role, hitting .279 with 8 HR, 43 RBI and 31 R. Granted, he’s not stealing bases any more, but he has the potential to come reasonably close to maintaining his pace on the other four categories. That means .280 with 10-12 HR and 50+ RBI and R, at least, from this point forward. There’s a lot to like there.
5) Ian Kinsler – Texas Rangers (3)
Currently on the DL for a minor ailment, we had actually been getting a Kinsler who was showing the ability to both hit for average (.302) and power (7 HR). He hasn’t been swinging for the fences, but he has been popping the ball up a lot (15.5% infield fly ball rate) and not running much (3 for 5 in SB attempts). Keep in mind his average will likely drop.
6) Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays (4)
So far Zobrist hasn’t hit for average (.247), power (3 HR) or speed (3 SB). He has at least provided RBI (30) and runs (26) though, right? The fact is he should improve upon his line drive rate (16.0% vs. 19.3% for his career) and HR/FB (5.6% after being over 12.4% in four of the previous five seasons). There’s enough there not to write him off.
7) Jose Altuve – Houston Astros (8)
He at least is a consistent source of speed (7 SB after 33 last season) and he is a legitimate .300+ hitter. Unfortunately he has little power and, in a weak lineup, can’t be counted on for big numbers in RBI or R.
8) Rickie Weeks – Milwaukee Brewers (9)
He’s hitting .179, but he should improve upon that before long (.248 BABIP despite a 20.4% line drive rate). The power also hasn’t been there, but do we expect him to maintain a career high ground ball rate (51.9%) or career low fly ball rate (27.8%)? Yes he strikes out too much, but there is every reason to believe that he is going to improve moving forward.
9) Daniel Murphy – New York Mets (NR)
The big thing with Murphy, who has been moved around the lineup due to the struggles of others, is that he is continuing to hit the ball hard (22.5% line drive rate), while also showing a little bit more power (7.1% HR/FB, 35.0% fly ball rate). Thus far that has yielded a .299 hitter with 4 HR, something that is realistic to continue. Considering he has also been able to score runs (31 R) hitting in front of David Wright, there is actually a lot to like moving forward.
10) Martin Prado – Arizona Diamondbacks (NR)
He plays all over the diamond, which keeps him in the lineup. He also has suffered from poor luck (.272 BABIP despite a 23.9% line drive rate) and makes good contact (10.4% strikeout rate). Would it surprise anyone if he hit .300 the rest of the way?
11) Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Angels (12)
Is Kendrick finally living up to his potential? You would think so, hitting .305 with 7 HR and 4 SB thus far. The problem is we just can’t buy into the power, considering his minuscule fly ball rate (21.6%) and career best HR/FB (20.0%). The average could be for real, but without the power or speed he’s just a decent option at what has become a shallow position.
12) Matt Carpenter – St. Lou’s Cardinals (NR)
Sure he doesn’t hit for power or speed, but he can post an impressive average and, as the leadoff hitter in St. Louis, is going to score a lot of runs.
13) Omar Infante – Detroit Tigers (NR)
Similar to Carpenter, but without as much runs potential.
14) Kelly Johnson – Tampa Bay Rays (NR)
It has been a great start for Johnson (.296, 10 HR) but nearly every indicator tells us a regression is coming. He isn’t hitting the ball hard (15.1% lime drive rate), yet has been extremely lucky (.333 BABIP). His HR/FB is a career high (20.4% vs. 12.2% career mark) and he looks to be swinging for the fences (46.2% fly ball rate). He could produce some power, but don’t be surprised if yesterday’s performance turns out to be the high point of his season.
15) Dan Uggla – Atlanta Braves (13)
The power is back, but the average isn’t as the strikeout rate has reached unbelievable levels (33.5%). As long as he is hitting for power the value will be there, but it’s minimal.
Left off the rankings:
Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies (10) - We unfortunately don’t know how long his current injury will keep him out. If we had an idea, he likely would’ve been a Top 10 option, as long as he isn’t going to miss more than a month.
Aaron Hill – Arizona Diamondbacks (6) - He’s still out due to a broken hand, but he should be back by the end of June. A definitive time table would’ve placed him in the Top 10 without question.
Danny Espinosa – Washington Nationals (15) - As the struggles continue the likelihood of seeing Anthony Rendon grow. Espinosa may be hurt, but it really doesn’t matter. He may not hold his job all season long.
Make sure to check out our previous Rest of Season rankings: