by Marshall Bauer
Second base is as deep as it has been for some time, but it seems like everyone after Cano has their fair share of question marks. Martin Prado is usually ranked in the bottom half of the top ten as he’s viewed as lacking that elite potential, which leads to my wild prediction.
Martin Prado will be a top 3 fantasy second baseman in 2011.
Prado was considered by most to be a career utility player entering 2010 when the Braves gave him a chance to be their everyday second baseman after they didn’t tender Kelly Johnson. Prado rewarded the Braves with an All Star campaign, and rewarded fantasy owners by batting .325 with 10 homers and 4 stolen bases before the all star break. He battled injuries (broken pinkie, hip pointer, and torn oblique) in the second half to limp to the finish hitting only .278 with 5 home runs and 1 stolen base after the break.
In order for Prado to finish as a top 3 second baseman, he will have to outperform all but 2 of the like: Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Bradon Phillips, and Dan Uggla, as well as bounce back candidates: Aaron Hill, Ben Zobrist, Brian Roberts, Chone Figgins, and Gordon Beckham, among others.
So what can we expect from Prado? Martin has been a career .307 hitter, with an above average contact rate. He managed 15 home runs last year in 599 at bats over 140 games in 2010, after he hit 11 in 450 at bats over 128 games in 2009. Prado does not offer much in the way of speed though, never stealing more than 5 bases in his career, minor leagues included. He did score 100 runs along with 66 RBIs in 2010, and should be able to at least duplicate that given the offensive upgrades that the Braves have made in addition to the young stars in that lineup progressing.
So what makes me think Prado could finish among the top 3 second basemen? I’m expecting for Prado to hit a lot like his first half last year before the injuries hit. Meaning home runs in the upper teens maybe even reaching 20, an average around .315, and hitting at the top of the Braves lineup 100 runs should be easy to go along with a handful of stolen bases and around 65-70 runs batted in.
So, do those numbers equate to a top three second baseman? Well, Prado finished fifth on the ESPN player rater in 2010 with a line of .307/100/15/66/5, so I expect for numbers of .315/105/18/70/5 to be enough to get him into the top 3, and with the numbers put up by second basemen in 2010 it would have been.
It won’t be easy, but if it was, how could I call it a “wild prediction”. Prado showed what he can do in the first half of 2010, and if he can come close to replicating those numbers he very well could do it.
Chances of Happening: 10%
What do you think of Prado in 2011? Does he finish as an elite option or will he finish around the spot where he’s being drafted at of 8th among second basemen?