Generally considered a thin position, second baseman is hard to plan for. Stats for the top tier players tend to fluctuate, while the bottom tiers lack any talent.
However, 2012 will be different. Second base is becoming a much deeper position, and is fueled by second-year players ready to break out.
The following is a list of 20 second baseman to look out for in your fantasy draft.
2011 Stats: .221/.273/.331, 18 R (runs), 3 HR (home runs), 19 RBI (runs batted in), 6 SB (stolen bases)
Age is catching up to Roberts, and he's no longer an impact player. If he could get healthy he's capable of serviceable numbers.
2011 Stats: .246/.299/.356, 61 R, 8 HR, 68 RBI, 21 SB
Aaron Hill lacked power in 2011. A new speed element helps his value, and he hit better post-trade in 2011.
2011 Stats: .320/.362/.448, 49 R, 6 HR, 49 RBI, 5 SB
Murphy has had trouble putting together a full, healthy, season. He's capable of being a solid hitter if he can stay on the field.
2011 Stats: .222/.304/.413, 75 R, 21 HR, 58 RBI, 16 SB
Johnson has good speed and power, but can't seem to hit for average or get on base. Toronto's lineup helps him in RBI and runs.
2011 Stats: .230/.296/.337, 60 R, 10 HR, 44 RBI, 5 SB
I still believing Beckham can turn it around. He's young and has great tools. He could hit for solid power and have some speed once he finally takes that last development step.
2011 Stats: .249/.341/.427, 86 R, 19 HR, 65 RBI, 18 SB
Roberts could be a poor man's Rickie Weeks in 2012. He's a good power-speed threat, but won't be winning any batting titles. Could be a lock for a 20-20 season.
2011 Stats: .273/.334/.408, 76 R, 13 HR, 83 RBI, 9 SB
Walker's 2011 didn't meet expectations, but it was still a good effort. He can hit and walk, now he just has to further develop his power and speed. Reminds me of Ben Zobrist.
2011 Stats: .233/.311/.453, 88 R, 36 HR, 82 RBI, 1 SB
I've never been big on Uggla, and that won't change in 2012. He's got good power, but no speed and no hitting tools. His 2011 would have been abysmal without a super hot stretch in the early summer.
2011 Stats: .259/.344/.425, 54 R, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 14 SB
Utley keeps falling downhill, but I'm not ready to give up on him yet. His average and power continues to diminish, but he can still do a little bit of everything. If he can stay healthy he could be a huge steal on draft day.
2011 Stats: .236/.323/.414, 72 R, 21 HR, 66 RBI, 17 SB
At first glance Espinosa doesn't look like much. However, he's got 30-20 potential. Once his hitting tools develop a bit more, that average will get better. Could be a top second baseman in 2012.
2011 Stats: .300/.353/.457, 94 R, 18 HR, 82 RBI, 14 SB
Phillips continues to surprise fantasy owners, but he's not getting any younger. 2011 was one of his best seasons yet, but the average seemed high for his standards. He'll be good for 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 2012.
Hitting in Cincinnati doesn't hurt in the run and RBI department either.
2011 Stats: .285/.338/.464, 86 R, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 14 SB
2011 was Kendrick's best season to date, and I expect more from him in 2012. He's coming along as a hitter and hitting in the Angels' lineup helps in the runs and RBI department.
His power looked great last season, but he took a step back in the speed category with only 14 steals. At 28, he's capable of a 20-30 breakout season.
2011 Stats: .272/.333/.507, 24 R, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB
Kipnis has great tools, and he looked great in his 36-game cup of coffee. His pace, projected over a 160 game season, would have made him a 30-20 player. Add in a projected 100 runs and 80 RBI, and you've got yourself a fantasy stud.
Kipnis is young, and could be headed for a sophomore slump. But his tools are good and I think he's well worth the risk of a late-round pick.
2011 Stats: .303/.340/.421, 50 R, 2 HR, 36 RBI, 22 SB
Jemile Weeks was a solid contributor in 2011 and emerged as a front runner for Rookie of the Year. He won't hit for power like his older brother Rickie, but his speed is really good and he has better hitting tools.
There's not much around Weeks in Oakland, but that won't diminish his value. He'll most likely hit leadoff, which means he's free to steal bases and score runs as much as he likes.
He'll be a three category player in roto-leagues, and a top second baseman in head-to-head play.
2011 Stats: .273/.348/.417, 39 R, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB
Ackley has a sweet swing, and it's one of the most consistent I've ever seen. It's hard for me to not rank him higher. However, he's still young, and the dreaded sophomore slump is always a risk.
If things work out, Ackley could emerge as a top-five second baseman in 2012. He'll hit for average and get on base. Even with the spacious fields of Safeco, I still think he could hit anywhere between 15-20 home runs. He's also got solid wheels.
I expect a 2012 line a lot like Dustin Pedroia's: 20-20 potential, with a lot of runs and some RBI to boot. Add in the chance of a batting title, and there's a lot to like in Ackley.
2011 Stats: .269/.353/.469, 99 R, 20 HR, 91 RBI, 19 SB
Though he plays all over the field, Zobrist still qualifies at second. Thank goodness for that. He's become a dream second baseman for those looking to solidify the position with a mid-round pick.
Despite an offputting average, Zobrist still gets on base at a solid clip. He's got great power and speed, and is a lock for at least 20 home runs and 20 steals. Despite playing in a lackluster lineup, he's fully capable of scoring a lot of runs and hitting a lot of RBI.
Zobrist's numbers don't ever seem that amazing, and that's why he's constantly undervalued. That spells S-T-E-A-L on draft day.
2011 Stats: .269/.350/.468, 77 R, 20 HR, 49 RBI, 9 SB
2011 saw Weeks put together one of his best seasons yet. For the majority of the season he was the best offensive second baseman, until an ankle sprain knocked him out for two months.
Projected over a 160-game season, Weeks would have been close to hitting 30 home runs, stealing 15 bases and knocking in over 100 runs.
The potential is there, but so is the injury history. Weeks profiles a lot like Ian Kinsler: massive potential, with a nagging injury history that's clearly holding him back.
If he can stay healthy, Weeks could emerge as the best second baseman of the 2012 season.
2011 Stats: .302/.349/.533, 104 R, 28 HR, 118 RBI, 8 SB
2011 saw Robinson Cano once again put together a great fantasy season. Besides stolen bases, he does everything. He makes a fantastic four-category player in roto, and is a beast in head-to-head.
However, he's still only No. 3 on this list. Despite everything he does, Cano still has holes. His average dropped for the second season in a row, and he continues to lack patience at the plate.
Cano is a great player, but adding some more walks to his game would make him an even better one. OBP helps a lot in head-to-head leagues, and that's why Cano ends up in the three spot.
2011 Stats: .255/.355/.477, 121 R, 32 HR, 77 RBI, 30 SB
Despite his lack of average, Kinsler is still a fantastic fantasy player. His 30-30 potential is rare amongst regular players, let alone second baseman. 2011 marked the second time Kinsler has reached the plateau in his career.
2012 should be no different. When healthy, Kinsler has blazing speed and monstrous power. Hitting in Texas' deep lineup also racks up runs while providing plenty of opportunities for RBI.
Kinsler's power forces him to give up some average, but his numbers are definitely good enough to make him the second best at his position.
2011 Stats: .307/.387/.474, 102 R, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 26 SB
In terms of head-to-head, Dustin Pedroia was one of the best second baseman in 2011. He's also a solid contributor in all 5x5 categories, which makes him by far the best at his position.
Pedroia continually matures as a player. His 21 home runs and 26 stolen bases in 2011 were both career highs. At 28, his development has topped off, but a 20-25 player is still very good.
Then you add in his runs, RBI and AVG/OBP (both first amongst second baseman) and you have the perfect fantasy storm.
His stature keeps him undervalued in fantasy baseball, but you'll never regret using an early pick on Pedroia.