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B/R MLB 500: Top 35 Second Basemen

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterSeptember 6, 2013

B/R MLB 500: Top 35 Second Basemen

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    The B/R MLB 500 started with first basemen. Like with any baseball odyssey, the next stop is at second base. 

    For first basemen, the scoring was heavily skewed toward hitting and power because hitting and power is what first base is all about. But second base is a little harder to figure out. It's neither a premium offensive position nor a premium defensive position.

    So we took our 100-point allotment and went with a balanced attack: 25 points for hitting, 25 points for power, 20 points for baserunning, 20 points for defense and, like with everyone else, 10 points for health. Other than that, it all works the same.

    Hitting entails more than just what happens after the ball leaves the bat. Results do count for something, but so does the process. Each player's approach will be taken into account.

    Power is less complicated, but results will be taken into account just as much as scouting reports. A player may have tremendous natural power, but his score will be lowered if he has a hard time making it show up in games.

    For baserunning, it's all about whether a guy can steal bases and how well and whether or not he can get around the bases better (or worse) than the average player.

    Defense is also simple. How well can a guy do the things second basemen are supposed to do, and can he do anything extra?

    For hitting, power, baserunning and defense, keep the following in mind: A score that's, say, 10 out of 20 is not a failing score. That's an "average" score. Anything better is above average. Anything below is below average.

    As for health, that's basically 10 free points unless there's a reason(s) to dock points. The scoring is subjective, but the general rule of thumb is that a player is only getting less than five points if he has a potentially career-altering injury.

    Lastly, here's a reminder that the whole idea is to round up guys we'd want on a team in 2014. That means top prospects who could potentially make an impact are in play, and they may be ranked higher than you think. And if there are any ties, the edge goes to the player we'd rather have.

    That's all there is to it, so let's take a second to talk about some second basemen.

     

    Note: All prospect write-ups/scores were created by B/R's MLB Prospects Lead Writer, Mike Rosenbaum.

Sources

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    The statistics that informed the following analyses came from all over, so we'd certainly be remiss if we didn't dish out some shout-outs.

    Baseball-Reference.com was the go-to site for basic statistics. FanGraphs provided more complex data, most notably the data concerning plate discipline. Brooks Baseball also helped with that, and the site's tracking of spray charts for hitters is another thing that came in handy. 

    And if you're wondering where all the injury information comes from, the credit is owed to the injury databases kept by Baseball Prospectus.

35. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Hitting

    10/25

    Rickie Weeks picked himself up after a slow start to the 2013 season, but he’s still far removed from the hitter he used to be. He’s not crushing fastballs like he used to, and his inability to make contact on pitches out of the zone feeds a bad strikeout problem. So, those bad numbers next to his name? Those are for real.

    Power

    17/25

    Weeks has always had good power for a second baseman, and it’s one thing that didn’t completely abandon him in 2013 even if it did decline below his usual standards. He still has the ability to hit the ball out of the yard, and not just to his pull side. The catch is that he does owe Miller Park a debt of gratitude for helping his power numbers (as do most Brewers hitters).

    Baserunning

    11/20

    Weeks isn’t the same kind of base-stealing threat that he used to be, but he still runs well and isn't dealing with the same TOOTBLAN problem that he had in 2011 and 2012.

    Defense

    5/20

    If Weeks isn’t the worst defensive second baseman in the business, he’s certainly a leading candidate. As athletic as he is, he doesn’t make many plays that other second basemen can’t make. On top of that, his tendency to boot the ball isn't getting any better.

    Health

    5/10

    A tough year for Weeks got worse in early August when he went in for season-ending surgery on his left hamstring. Season-ending injuries are no laughing matter for this project's health department, and Weeks' is made all the more concerning by the fact that he's turning 31 in the near future.

    Overall

    48/100

    An All-Star as recently as 2011, Weeks’ career has taken a drastic turn for the worse over the last two seasons. About the only thing he still does well is hit for power.

34. Freddy Galvis, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Hitting

    8/25

    Albeit in a small sample size, Freddy Galvis has shown off improved patience at the MLB level in 2013 that has helped him increase his walk rate. The trouble is that his plate discipline still needs a lot of work, especially against off-speed stuff. He also hits the ball in the air a bit too often for a guy with his power.

    Power

    10/25

    Galvis has hit a handful of homers at the major league level this year, but two of them were fluky drives right down the lines. Realistically, what he has is warning-track power, and he hasn't shown that he has the kind of line-drive habit that will come in handy plugging the gaps.

    Baserunning

    10/20

    Galvis has been a productive base stealer in the minors in the past, but not so much in the majors. He’s a competent baserunner otherwise, yet he hasn’t shown much at the major league level that suggests he can be Chase Utley-like at taking extra bases without recklessly running into outs.

    Defense

    15/20

    The Phillies got to see a lot of Galvis at second base in 2012, and he showed off some pretty impressive stuff. He’s a plus defender with very good instincts and quick reactions that help him cover ground, and he's sure-handed to boot. If he makes it as a major league player, it will be thanks to his glove.

    Health

    9/10

    Galvis' health has been fine in 2013, but it doesn't look so good that he missed a significant chunk of the 2012 season (104 games) with a bad back injury.

    Overall

    52/100

    Galvis is still largely an unknown and he’s blocked by Utley at second in Philadelphia, but there's no question that he has the glove to cut it as a major leaguer.

33. Logan Forsythe, San Diego Padres

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    Hitting

    11/25

    Logan Forsythe's approach hasn't gotten any less patient in 2013, nor has his plate discipline gotten any worse. However, he's been making less contact on pitches outside of the strike zone, especially on breaking balls. This habit hasn't helped his strikeout rate. But while that's not the most encouraging development, Forsythe's low BABIP obscures how he's continued to be a line-drive machine. He deserves better numbers than the ones he has.

    Power

    11/25

    Forsythe has hit the ball over the fence more regularly this year, but power isn't really his game. His power outburst this year is the product of a high HR/FB rate that’s attached to a low fly-ball rate. That’s not something that’s likely to last, so Forsythe should still be considered a player with mere doubles power.

    Baserunning

    11/20

    Forsythe can steal bases, but this hasn’t been a pretty season for him on the basepaths. He’s been caught napping and gotten picked off a few times, and he generally hasn’t shown the same kind of aggressiveness running the bases that he did in 2012.

    Defense

    10/20

    Forsythe saw a lot of action at second base in 2012, and it wasn't pretty. However, he's cleaned up his act in 2013 and it can be taken for granted that his defensive improvement is no mirage. He’s a good athlete who just so happened to be viewed as a solid defender when he was a prospect. He's made good on that promise with improved focus in 2013.

    Health

    9/10

    Forsythe missed the first couple of months of the season with plantar fasciitis. In addition to that, he has some history with right-knee pain. In any given season, it seems, his wheels are bound to start hurting.

    Overall

    52/100

    Jedd Gyorko is the man at second base for the Padres, but Forsythe held his own as a regular down the stretch in 2012 and is certainly better than most of the second basemen lying around on the bottom of the barrel.

32. Arismendy Alcantara, Chicago Cubs

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    Hitting

    8/25

    Arismendy Alcanatara is undersized at 5’10”, 160 pounds, but he has a compact build loaded with strength and natural athleticism. More specifically, Alcantara is an aggressive hitter who attacks the ball and makes consistent hard contact from both sides of the plate. While he does have some swing-and-miss to his game, Alcantara has demonstrated the ability to draw more walks this season against advanced pitching.

    Power

    11/25

    The 21-year-old boasts above-average raw power that’s just beginning to emerge this season. He has more leveraged swing from left side that suggests double-digit home run totals, while he’s less consistent from right side but demonstrates a solid approach.

    Baserunning

    12/20

    Alcantara is an easy plus runner whose speed plays on both sides of the ball. Additionally, he’s a smart base stealer with an 80 percent (86-for-107) career success rate over five seasons.

    Defense

    12/20

    Alcantara is a quick, aggressive shortstop with plus range, though he also has the tools—including plus arm strength—and athleticism for either middle infield position. The one knock on him is that he has a tendency to wait back on balls and show off his arm strength, though his high number of errors is relatively normal for a young shortstop at an advanced level.

    Health

    10/10

    Alcantara has always showcased tons of potential, but his inability to stay on the field has delayed his overall development. In 2012, he appeared in only 85 games as a result of a broken foot suffered in July. However, he's stayed healthy enough in 2013 to appear in over 100 games for the first time as a pro.

    Overall

    53/100

    Alcantara has always shown explosive tools on both sides of the ball, but his inability to stay healthy delayed the development of his secondary skills. But after the strides he’s made this season in his first taste of the Double-A level—not to mention the impressive power-speed numbers—he could find himself a part of the Cubs infield by mid-2014.

31. Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins

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    Hitting

    8/25

    Derek Dietrich got sent down in July, and it was indeed because of his hitting. His plate discipline is in need of polishing, particularly against breaking balls. On the bright side, he actually has decent contact habits with a tendency toward line drives and a solid ability to use the whole field. If he gets his plate discipline squared away, he'll be able to close the gap between "horrid" and "average."

    Power

    18/25

    Hitting for power is one thing that Dietrich did pretty well at during his time in the majors. He has home run power to his pull side and some solid doubles power the other way to left. Naturally, his power showed through better away from Marlins Park, which is death on power hitters not named Giancarlo Stanton.

    Baserunning

    12/20

    This is an area where Dietrich proved to be surprisingly capable, as he found himself going first to third and second to home a fair amount in a relatively small sample size. To boot, he didn’t run into too many outs.

    Defense

    6/20

    Dietrich is a natural shortstop who’s still learning the ropes at second, and what he showed as a major leaguer wasn’t pretty. His arm is plenty strong for the position, but he was slow to react at times and didn’t show off much range as a result of that. His defense needs plenty of work.

    Health

    10/10

    There's nothing to report on Dietrich's health. Unless the records are missing something, he's suffered exactly zero injuries as a professional.

    Overall

    54/100

    As much work as Dietrich needs, he definitely has the goods to be a power-hitting second baseman. That's a rare breed indeed.

30. Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Hitting

    13/25

    Gennett's OPS dropped every time he moved up a level in the minors, so his early success as a major leaguer has to be taken with a grain of salt. It's also worth noting that he's had trouble with breaking balls, and that he hasn't shown off either a patient approach or good plate discipline. These things being said, he's been very good at making contact and has been a solid source of line drives. He's overachieved but does have the look of a decent hitter.

    Power

    12/25

    Gennett's power has been impressive over a small sample size at the MLB level, and he doesn't even have Miller Park to thank for that. He's hit for more power on the road. He really only has pull power, however, and he shouldn't be expected to be a consistent source of home runs. What he has is more like doubles power.

    Baserunning

    11/20

    Gennett hasn't been active stealing bases at the MLB level, but we know from his minor league track record that it's something he has the ability to do. As it is, he's done solid work on the basepaths in his brief MLB stint, regularly taking extra bases without running into outs. 

    Defense

    10/20

    There were question marks about Gennett's glove as he was coming up through the minors, but it was going to be hard for him to come up and look worse than Rickie Weeks in the field. Sure enough, he hasn't. He still doesn't have the best feel for the position, but he's shown off solid range and has been sure-handed enough. He's only average for now, but that's more than can be said about Weeks.

    Health

    10/10

    Gennett's injury history is a clean slate for now, giving him yet another advantage over Weeks.

    Overall

    56/100

    Exactly how Gennett fits into Milwaukee's plans with Weeks still under contract through 2014 is a dilemma, but he's made it clear in his short time in the majors his bat has some potential and that he can play some passable D.

29. Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs

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    Hitting

    6/25

    The book on Darwin Barney’s bat isn’t much of a read. He’s an aggressive hitter who isn’t much for drawing walks. And while he’s a good contact hitter, he’s traded in some line drives for fly balls in 2013 and his BABIP has suffered the consequences. It's pretty clear by now that he doesn't have the goods to be a high-BABIP guy, so his at-bats make for good bathroom breaks.

    Power

    9/25

    If there’s a bright side to Barney’s new-found fly-ball approach, it’s that he has hit balls over the fence at a slightly better rate than before. His power is still well below average, however, and even his respectable doubles total has a hole in it. Quite a few of those were grounders that managed to sneak past the third baseman and go down the line.

    Baserunning

    12/20

    Barney isn’t a burner on the basepaths, which isn’t ideal for a low-power, low-OBP second baseman. But he does get around the bases well enough and doesn’t get thrown out very often. Running the bases is a solid part of his overall game.

    Defense

    20/20

    Barney’s glove is what’s keeping him in the major leagues. I’ll wager that he doesn’t have the range of Brandon Phillips or Dustin Pedroia, but he does react well to the ball off the bat and he’s indeed about as sure-handed as they come.

    Health

    10/10

    Barney had to spend some time on the DL earlier in 2013 with a lacerated knee, but that’s a fluky injury and he’s been fine aside from that.

    Overall

    57/100

    Barney can’t hit, but anybody looking for a sure thing on defense is required to at least glance in his direction.

28. Ryan Flaherty, Baltimore Orioles

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    Hitting

    8/25

    Hitting is not Ryan Flaherty’s calling card. He’s an aggressive hitter who will expand the zone and will swing and miss. Those tendencies feed a strikeout habit that isn’t necessarily Dan Uggla-like but could certainly be better. When Flaherty does hit the ball, odds are it’s going to be on the ground. Ground balls aren’t bad, but one’s BABIP can only go so high with those.

    Power

    15/25

    Flaherty does have some home run power to help make up for his hitting woes, and he gets some credit for being fairly consistent with it over the last two season. The problem is that his lack of a consistent line-drive habit makes doubles hard to come by.

    Baserunning

    11/20

    Flaherty is not a base stealer, but he holds his own when it comes to rounding the bases. He is capable of taking the extra base and doesn’t run into many outs.

    Defense

    14/20

    Flaherty is a utility man, but it’s only becoming clearer that second base is his best defensive position and that he’s plenty capable of holding down a job there. He doesn’t have a ton of range, but he’s very sure-handed and seems to have worked hard to improve at turning double plays. Hats off.

    Health

    10/10

    Flaherty hurt his hand on a hit-by-pitch earlier in the season, but it didn’t cost him any playing time. And apart from that, there's nothing in his injury history that stands out as a red flag.

    Overall

    58/100

    The Orioles have had to make do at second base in 2013, but there’s no doubt that Flaherty has been their best option. His bat is inconsistent, but home run power and a good glove go a long way toward saving par.

27. Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners

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    Hitting

    10/25

    Nick Franklin has a patient approach and solid plate discipline for a guy as green as he is, and his respectable walk rate looks good on him. However, he has a bad strikeout problem that has held back his production this season, and it's gotten worse rather than better. It's particularly distressing how badly he's been eaten up by breaking stuff, as that's a weakness that MLB pitchers can and will exploit until Franklin makes them stop.

    Power

    17/25

    The home run power Franklin has shown in the majors this year is probably a bit misleading, but he does have the line-drive power to be a consistent source of doubles throughout his major league career. If he can tack a dozen or 15 home runs on top of all those per year, he’ll be a quality power producer.

    Baserunning

    11/20

    Franklin was generally well regarded as a baserunner when he was in the minors, and he’s shown why in the majors. He’s never going to be a prolific base stealer, but he does have the athleticism to swipe a few here and there, and he gets around the bases pretty well.

    Defense

    10/20

    Franklin is a converted shortstop, so he’s still learning the various nuances to second base. But while there have been some growing pains for him at second, it’s a good bet that his shortstop’s range and arm will allow him to be at least an average defender going forward.

    Health

    10/10

    Franklin fouled a ball off his knee in July and dealt with some ensuing soreness in the days after the fact. He also missed a couple games in August with a lacerated left knee. But these injuries are minor, and his injury history is hardly scary outside of them.

    Overall

    58/100

    Things got off to a very positive start for Franklin, but his struggles since the start of August have been brutal enough to make one wonder whether he's done developing yet.

26. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

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    Hitting

    16/25

    Jose Altuve is an extremely impatient hitter who will expand the strike zone—though that’s forgivable seeing as how his strike zone is the size of a postage stamp. He’s fortunately a high-contact guy who knows not to hit the ball in the air, so he’s pretty good at helping his OBP via BABIP.

    Power

    8/25

    Not even the savviest of the baseball gods could find a way to pack above-average power into a 5’5” frame. Altuve occasionally gets one to go over the fence, and it’s all fun and games when he does, but there’s no mistaking the fact that his power is really only warning-track power. Not bad for a guy of his size, one supposes, but below average nonetheless.

    Baserunning

    17/20

    As well he should, Altuve does make up for his general lack of power by being an active base stealer. He gets caught more often than one would prefer, but not enough for somebody to tell him to stop. He can also take extra bases on balls in play pretty well.

    Defense

    8/20

    Altuve’s defensive instincts are solid and he certainly makes an effort out on the field, but he can only cover so much ground and he’s not the most sure-handed defender out there. You'd think that his glove would be as good or better than his bat, but it's not.

    Health

    9/10

    Altuve has managed to avoid the DL as a major leaguer, but he already has a notable history of nagging leg injuries that have a tendency to keep him from playing.

    Overall

    58/100

    Altuve earned an All-Star nod in 2012 on the strength of a near-.300 batting average. That was a tease, as he’s really not much more than a slightly above-average regular.

25. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals

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    Hitting

    9/25

    Danny Espinosa was a fringy hitter to begin with, as he struck out a ton in 2011 and 2012 and barely came up with enough hard-hit balls to save his OBP via BABIP. This season hasn’t helped his reputation, though it admittedly wasn’t easy to get a read on Espinosa earlier in the year due to his struggles with a broken wrist. His 2013 production certainly deserves worse than the score I’m giving him here, but his track record before his injury bought him a couple of extra points.

    Power

    15/25

    Espinosa couldn’t keep up his usual power habits earlier in 2013, but that’s usually the case with hitters who are battling wrist injuries. When he was healthy in 2011 and 2012, he was a quality power producer who could both hit the ball over the fence and pile up doubles. We likely haven't seen the last of that guy.

    Baserunning

    12/20

    Espinosa piled up 37 stolen bases between 2011 and 2012 and was caught stealing a reasonable 12 times. That qualifies him as a decent base stealer for the position, though he did have a problem with making outs on the bases last year.

    Defense

    14/20

    Espinosa is a strong defensive second baseman with good range, and he deserves credit for following up an error-plagued 2011 season with a much more sure-handed 2012 campaign. And despite all the struggles he was going through early in 2013, his defense remained strong.

    Health

    9/10

    Espinosa should be healthy by now, but you just never know with wrist injuries. Suffice it to say we're playing it safe with this score.

    Overall

    59/100

    This is going to go into the books as a lost season for Espinosa, and he may not have a future in Washington now that the Nationals have gotten a taste of Anthony Rendon (more on him shortly). But Espinosa was a quality major leaguer in 2011 and 2012 and could be again.

24. DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies

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    Hitting

    14/25

    DJ LeMahieu is generally an impatient hitter who prefers to go up to the plate looking to hack away. His plate discipline needs a lot of work, and he has a notable weakness against right-handed sliders. The good news is that he takes a BABIP-friendly approach with his hitting, spraying line drives and ground balls with a Derek Jeter-esque tendency to wear out right field.

    Power

    8/25

    Power is not LeMahieu’s game. He gets his share of doubles and triples at Coors Field, but so will any player who can pop his share of line drives into the outfield. At any other park, LeMahieu’s power production would be sorely lacking.

    Baserunning

    12/20

    LeMahieu makes up for his sub-par power by swiping bags, but he’s not overly efficient in doing so and doesn’t take as many extra bags as he should when running the bases.

    Defense

    15/20

    No-power second basemen better be able to play good defense, and LeMahieu is fortunately quite able to do so. He’s a quality defender with good range and solid hands, and it’s encouraging that he’s improved on a solid defensive performance in 2012 with his work around the second base bag this year. The best may be still to come.

    Health

    10/10

    There's absolutely nothing to report when it comes to LeMahieu's injury history. He hasn't even suffered so much as a scratch.

    Overall

    59/100

    LeMahieu’s ceiling only goes so high, but he could be a quality regular for more teams than just the Rockies based on his defense and solid hitting ability.

23. Emilio Bonifacio, Kansas City Royals

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    Hitting

    12/25

    Emilio Bonifacio’s playing time was inconsistent when he was in Toronto, so it’s no wonder that his approach went all to hell. He wasn’t seeing his usual amount of pitches per plate appearance, and he was expanding the zone far more often than he usually does. To top it all off, he was hitting too many balls in the air. But since arriving in Kansas City, everything has been pretty much the opposite and Bonifacio's numbers have responded accordingly. This is the hitter he really is. Not great, but solid.

    Power

    7/25

    Bonifacio has hit for a little more power than usual in 2013, but hitting for power isn’t his game. His usual M.O. involves making it to first base and then using his speed to make doubles and triples the hard way. The only thing that can change that is a consistent line-drive habit, which is something that's managed to elude Bonifacio.

    Baserunning

    18/20

    Bonifacio’s speed makes him a legit base-stealing threat, and in the last two years he’s been quite good at avoiding outs when running the bases. And ever since joining the Royals, he's looked much more like his usual self.

    Defense

    13/20

    Bonifacio doesn't have a true home in the field, but second base is easily his best defensive position. His speed translates into solid range at second, and that makes it easier to forgive any boots he might (OK fine, will) commit.

    Health

    10/10

    Bonifacio’s 2012 season was derailed by injuries, but the injuries were all firsts for him and none of them have resurfaced this season. Indeed, he's been able to keep the injury bug largely at bay.

    Overall

    60/100

    This hasn’t been an easy season for Bonifacio, but the player he's been with the Royals is a much truer representative of his real self than the player he was with the Blue Jays.

22. Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals

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     *Wong has made it to the major leagues, but we're still considering him a prospect for the time being. The following is Rosenbaum's scouting report.

    Hitting

    13/25

    Kolten Wong is an ideal top-of-the-order presence with a left-handed bat capable of hitting for average and getting on base. He understands the strike zone and drives the ball from line to line with a direct bat path, but he may need to simplify his load/timing mechanism. Overall, his hit tool projects to be above average, as his high baseball IQ allows him to make effortless in-game adjustments.

    Power

    10/25

    Wong isn’t known for his power, but his ability to get the barrel on the ball should result in roughly 10-15 home runs per season at the highest level. When he does get into a ball, it's usually to the pull side.

    Baserunning

    13/20

    Wong doesn’t possess typical up-the-middle speed, but he is a smart baserunner with a high baseball IQ who knows how to pick his spots on the basepaths. After posting a 66 percent success rate at Double-A Springfield in 2012, Wong has cleaned it up this season to post a 95 percent success rate (19-for-20) at Triple-A Memphis.

    Defense

    14/20

    Wong’s defense at second base is big league-ready. Personally, I’ve never been impressed by his range at the position, but he compensates with true instincts and a good first step. His hands and actions are smooth and consistent, and he could probably play any infield position in a pinch. However, his lack of arm strength will presumably limit him to a career at second base.

    Health

    10/10

    Wong has been a model of consistency since joining the Cardinals system in 2011 and is currently on pace to play in over 120 games for the second consecutive season.

    Overall

    60/100

    Simply put, Kolten Wong is a ballplayer. He doesn’t have flashy tools, but he is capable of doing it all on the field. With the success of Matt Carpenter at the keystone this season, it’s difficult to predict when he’ll have a clear path to playing full time. But Wong has arrived, and he projects as a slightly above-average second baseman on a first-division team.

21. Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox

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    Hitting

    18/25

    Gordon Beckham’s approach at the plate hasn’t gotten significantly better over the years, but he has cut down on his strikeouts in 2013 and has taken to spraying line drives all over the field. He still hits too many useless fly balls, but his re-emergence as a guy who can hit for a decent average hasn’t happened entirely by accident.

    Power

    11/25

    Beckham’s power still leaves much to be desired. It’s pretty clear that he can’t cut it as a home run hitter, yet he’s still insisting on hitting the ball in the air about 40 percent of the time. He’s not even hitting many over the fence at U.S. Cellular Field, which is generally easy to do. 

    Baserunning

    11/20

    Beckham will steal the occasional base, and he also gets around the basepaths pretty well without running into too much trouble. He’s not a great baserunner, but he's certainly passable.

    Defense

    11/20

    Beckham should never be forgiven for that one pop-up that he brutalized earlier in the summer, but he’s actually a decent defensive second baseman. He’s not one to make spectacular plays, but he’s not much of an error magnet and is one of the best at turning the double play.

    Health

    9/10

    Beckham had to sit out a couple of months with a right-wrist injury that he suffered earlier in the season, and he eventually developed some pain in his left wrist. He also had some leg pain cost him some games. This hasn't been the best year for his health.

    Overall

    60/100

    Beckham’s ceiling is pretty low due to his lack of power, but at least he’s found a way to be useful as a hitter for a change. There are worse regulars at second base than him.

20. Eric Sogard, Oakland A's

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    Hitting

    15/25

    Eric Sogard is more of a throwback than your typical A’s hitter, as he goes up to the plate looking to put the ball in play rather than to draw a walk. But his walk rate has improved in 2013, and he’s putting the ball in play more frequently than he did in 2012 by virtue of a smaller strikeout rate. He can be beaten by a good four-seamer, but he’s a solid source of line drives who can use the whole field.

    Power

    10/25

    Though he’s lucked into a couple home runs in 2013, power isn't Sogard's game. He does have decent doubles power, however, and it’s worth noting that O.Co Coliseum hasn’t done him any favors. As a power hitter, he's really not far below average.

    Baserunning

    10/20

    Sogard has the athleticism to steal bases, but he’s been nabbed a few too many times this year. And while he’s generally good at running the bases, he’s also run into a couple of unnecessary outs at second and third.

    Defense

    15/20

    Sogard is none too shabby at short, so it makes sense that he would be plenty capable at second base. He’s very sure-handed and has the first-step quickness and athleticism to make plays that call for considerable range.

    Health

    10/10

    Sogard battled a bad back in 2012, but 2013 hasn’t brought him any additional injury woes.

    Overall

    60/100

    It’s admittedly hard to get excited about a player with Sogard’s skill set, but he’s precisely the kind of surprisingly passable regular that Billy Beane has a knack for digging up.

19. Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves

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    Hitting

    10/25

    Dan Uggla sees a lot of pitches and actually has better plate discipline than you probably think, so his tendency to draw walks is no mirage. But he has a serious problem with strikeouts, and he’s predictable to boot. Anything with some spin is likely to give him trouble. The only thing saving him from a worse score is the same thing that saves his OBP: walks.

    Power

    24/25

    Uggla does a lot of flailing around in the batter’s box, but he’ll probably be the first to tell you that he couldn’t care less about his batting average. He’s looking to hit the ball over the fence, and he can do that regularly enough because he elevates a ton of balls and hits them with enough authority to maintain a high HR/FB ratio. However, his power indeed has seen better days.

    Baserunning

    8/20

    Uggla’s baserunning is not the kind of disaster one might expect, but he’s not much for base thievery and he’s always had a tendency to run into outs on the basepaths.

    Defense

    8/20

    Exactly how Uggla has lasted as long as he has at second base is a mystery. He doesn’t have much range and his remarkable biceps don’t help him when it comes to fielding the ball cleanly. He should be playing first base or DHing for somebody.

    Health

    10/10

    Uggla's trip to the DL following laser eye surgery in August was the first of his career. And since he didn't exactly land on the DL with an "injury," so to speak, he certainly deserves a pass here.

    Overall

    60/100

    Uggla’s ability to hit for power is considerable. But if you want a more well-rounded second baseman, there are many other places to look.

18. Mark Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Hitting

    16/25

    Mark Ellis draws surprisingly few walks for a guy who likes to work the count. The trade-off is that he also strikes out less often than most guys who see a lot of pitches. He owes that to his solid plate discipline and his ability to handle off-speed pitches. He knows his limits as a hitter, forgoing fly balls for liners and grounders all over the field.

    Power

    9/25

    Ellis does have some home run power to left field, but only close to the foul pole. And despite the fact he plays his home games at a park that offers expansive gaps, he isn’t much for shooting line drives into the gaps for doubles. He can hit balls on a line, but his only real power avenues are down the lines.

    Baserunning

    13/20

    Ellis doesn’t move as well as he used to, which is no surprise given his age and his history of leg trouble. But he’s still a very smart baserunner who is capable of sneaking a stolen base here and there. And in 2013, he’s been excellent at avoiding outs on the bases while also being more aggressive than your typical baserunner.

    Defense

    17/20

    Defense has been Ellis’ calling card for a long time, and he still plays the position really well. He may have lost a step, but he still reacts well and has enough good instincts left in him to go make plays out of his zone. And he’s generally one of the more sure-handed second basemen you’re going to find anywhere.

    Health

    7/10

    Ellis has built up quite a history of leg injuries over the years, and he was bit by the bug again earlier this year when he had to hit the DL with a bad quad. With his 36th birthday in the rear-view mirror, he probably hasn't seen the last of his injury issues.

    Overall

    62/100

    You have to take what you can get from Ellis in the power department, but he can hit a little bit, run the bases and play some quality defense. 

17. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants

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    Hitting

    25/25

    There’s nobody in MLB—at second base or anywhere else—who makes contact as frequently as Marco Scutaro does. He hits about 95 percent of the pitches he swings at, and that's largely because he rarely ever goes outside the strike zone. He hasn’t been the line-drive machine that he was in the second half of 2012, but he’s found holes often enough in 2013 to salvage a strong BABIP.

    Power

    8/25

    Scutaro’s game is not geared toward power. That's especially true this year with only a couple of homers and a handful of doubles and triples to his name. The bulk of those have come at AT&T Park, which is a good fit for him with its wide gaps. He probably could drive the ball more often if he wanted to, but he has a good thing going on with his insanely contact-heavy approach.

    Baserunning

    12/20

    Scutaro hasn’t been flexing his stolen-base muscles in 2013, but he does get around the bases pretty well and runs with the savvy of a guy who’s been in pro ball for a long time.

    Defense

    9/20

    Scutaro is a below-average defender at second base. He doesn’t have much range due to fading athleticism and the lack of a quick first step, and that puts his noteworthy collection of errors into a disconcerting perspective.

    Health

    8/10

    Scutaro is currently playing through mallet finger, and he's also had some back problems here and there in 2013. And no, he's not about to get any younger. But since he's shown an ability to play through anything, we're giving him a slight pass here.

    Overall

    62/100

    This score admittedly comes off as being low for a guy who’s been such a godsend for the Giants, and that's indeed owed to the fact that he can only get so many points for his hitting ability. All the same, there's no denying that Scutaro doesn't offer much besides his ability to put the bat on the ball.

16. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals

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    Hitting

    17/25

    Anthony Rendon is patient for a younger hitter, and he’s also shown off impressive plate discipline in the major leagues with an impressive line-drive rate. These habits make his unspectacular numbers easy to stomach, as it's clear that he can do better. Rendon was destroying Double-A pitching before he got the call to the majors, and he could be tearing up major league pitching as soon as next season.

    Power

    17/25

    Rendon’s major league power production has hardly been eye-popping, but there’s no denying that the potential for power is there. He at least appears set in terms of doubles power with his ability to spray line drives all over the field, and it’s easy to be optimistic about his home run potential in light of the opposite-field pop he’s shown. He's only been average as a big leaguer, but the best is still to come.

    Baserunning

    10/20

    Rendon has a history of ankle problems that haven’t helped his development as a baserunner. It’s doubtful that he’ll ever be much of a stolen-base threat. The good news is that he’s shown an ability to at least hold his own on the basepaths, generally playing it safe and not running into outs.

    Defense

    10/20

    Rendon is a third baseman by trade, so it’s hardly a shocker that he’s had some growing pains at second base in the majors this year. His problem with errors cannot be overlooked. However, he has shown off some pretty good range, meaning the potential is there for him to be at least an average defender at second base.

    Health

    9/10

    Rendon has been able to stay in one piece this year, but there’s no ignoring his injury history. He hurt his right ankle pretty badly when he was in college, and he hurt his left ankle as a minor leaguer last year. He might end up being MLB's answer to Stephen Curry.

    Overall

    63/100

    Rendon hasn’t put it all together yet, but there's no question that he has the goods to do so. Consider him a breakout candidate for 2014.

15. Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres

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    Hitting

    14/25

    Jedd Gyorko hasn’t shown much patience in his rookie season, and his plate discipline could use some work. He’s also been disappointing against fastballs. However, he has shown good contact tendencies, with plenty of BABIP-friendly line drives. And as mediocre as his numbers look, they looked a lot better before he hit the DL and had to miss a significant chunk of time. He hasn't been right since coming back, but that doesn't mean his bat has lost all of its potential.

    Power

    18/25

    Gyorko hit 30 home runs and slugged over .500 as a minor leaguer in 2012, so we know he has power. Some of it has shown up in his rookie season, as he’s maintained a passable HR/FB ratio and has his share of doubles into the gaps. He could get by with the power he’s shown, but odds are that there’s more to come.

    Baserunning

    11/20

    Gyorko’s not a base stealer, but he’s shown off some solid ability as a baserunner when it comes to doing the little things. He’s the kind of guy who can go first to third and score from second on doubles.

    Defense

    10/20

    Gyorko is a converted third baseman, so he’s still in the process of learning the ropes at second base. As it is, he’s shown that he can at least be a passable defender at second, as he’s been sure-handed and has shown off some decent range.

    Health

    10/10

    Gyorko missed a lengthy amount of time with a bad groin earlier in the summer. But since he doesn't have a history of leg problems and hasn't had any issues since, we're letting it slide.

    Overall

    63/100

    It hasn’t been easy for Gyorko following his return from injury, but there are reasons why he was a Rookie of the Year candidate in the early goings. His bat is going to make him a quality regular at second base.

14. Daniel Murphy, New York Mets

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    Hitting

    14/25

    They don’t make ‘em much more impatient than Daniel Murphy, who seems to be allergic to taking walks. He’s fortunately a strong contact hitter who doesn’t punch out much. He generally prefers grounders and line drives, but he’s hurt his BABIP this year by hitting too many balls in the air. One wants to forgive him for that based on his track record, but it’s hardly encouraging that his offensive numbers dropped in 2012 and have dropped again this year.

    Power

    13/25

    It hasn’t helped his BABIP, but Murphy’s increased tendency toward fly balls has indeed paid off in the form of a couple extra home runs. He’s also still a solid source of doubles, and it’s worth noting that his power is playing better away from Citi Field, which still favors pitchers even with the fences moved in. His power isn't great, but it's decent.

    Baserunning

    18/20

    No team runs the bases quite like the Mets, and Murphy is a notable part of the club’s overall success. He’s stealing a few more bags than usual this year and has been outstanding at taking extra bases. He’s gone first to third and scored from second on singles with surprising regularity.

    Defense

    8/20

    Murphy’s a solid athlete, but his defense is still limited by his tendency to mishandle the ball. It would be easier to forgive that if he was the kind of second baseman who made a ton of rangy plays, but that's an art form he's still learning.

    Health

    10/10

    Murphy had some issues with his knees several years ago, but those issues haven't cropped up again in either of the last two seasons. He's been able to stay healthy.

    Overall

    63/100

    There are better places to look for power and defense at second base. But Murphy brings a solid bat and terrific baserunning skills to the table, and these things are plenty good enough.

13. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

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    Hitting

    12/25

    Brian Dozier has quietly been one of the most improved players in baseball this year. He’s sharpened up his approach at the plate, showing more patience and not expanding the zone as often. As a result, he’s added some walks to help his OBP. He still has strides to make in terms of actually hitting the ball, however. He’s also a bit too reliant on his pull side, and he still hits a few too many fruitless fly balls.

    Power

    17/25

    Playing off of that last point, the bright side is that Dozier is indeed hitting a few more fruitful fly balls than he did in 2012. His power production is up thanks to an improved HR/FB rate, and his pull power has proven useful in planting some seeds down the left field line. It’s not the most trustworthy power explosion, but Dozier’s will do for a sign of progress.

    Baserunning

    13/20

    Dozier’s base-stealing efficiency has taken a turn for the worse in 2013, as he’s been caught more often and has also been caught napping a few times. But he still gets around the bases better than most and brings value to the Twins in his ability to take extra bases without making many outs.

    Defense

    15/20

    Dozier is really a shortstop by trade, but second base has been his home in 2013, and the switch has generally been for the better. His range plays better at second than it did at short, and he’s also cleaned up his act when it comes to boots. Quietly, he’s one of the better defenders the position has to offer.

    Health

    10/10

    There’s nothing in Dozier's injury history that even so much as bears mentioning. His health is fine.

    Overall

    67/100

    Dozier is hardly a household name, but he’s established himself as a productive major leaguer in 2013 and might not be done getting better.

12. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers

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    Hitting

    17/25

    Ian Kinsler isn’t the walk merchant that he was a couple years ago, and his OBP is feeling the effects of that. However, he still avoids strikeouts with the best of ‘em, and he’s become a more consistent source of line drives. It’s a good thing he has, because he hits a lot of fly balls that don’t bear fruit.

    Power

    14/25

    It looks like Kinsler’s days as a 30-home run hitter are over. He’s really only ever had plus power to his pull side, and he’s not tapping into it as often as he used to. And though he's hitting line drives more consistently, his best power alley for doubles has been down the left field line. He hasn't taken advantage of the gaps often enough to save par with his power. In short, it's not looking so good.

    Baserunning

    13/20

    In addition to being a lesser power threat than he used to be, Kinsler is also less of a stolen-base threat. He can still swipe bags, but he's had a rough go of it getting caught in 2013. The good news is that he still has the athleticism to get around the bases better than your average runner.

    Defense

    15/20

    Kinsler has always had a problem with errors, and he still does. But that will happen when you cover as much ground on defense as he does. He may not be as quick on his feet as he used to be, but he can still get after the ball better than most.

    Health

    8/10

    Kinsler’s injury history helps put his decline in some perspective. He hit the DL earlier in 2013 with a stress fracture in his rib cage, battled a bad back in 2012 and has also done battle with assorted other injuries throughout his career. Now on the wrong side of 30, the injury bug probably won't be leaving him alone.

    Overall

    67/100

    Kinsler is still good. But with his power on the decline with his baserunning skills along for the ride, his status has seen better days.

11. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Hitting

    19/25

    This hasn’t been a good batting average season for Neil Walker, but it’s been a decent OBP year. He has an improved walk rate to thank for that, and that's the result of improved plate discipline. And while Pirates fans would surely prefer to see his average a bit higher, the bright side is that he’s still the line-drive machine that he was in 2012. He really hasn't fallen off that much.

    Power

    17/25

    Walker hasn’t been hitting the ball out of the yard as well as he was in 2012, which is all the more frustrating in light of the fact that he’s been hitting the ball in the air more often. But he does have above-average power, and it’s no surprise that it’s showing up more consistently on the road than it is at PNC Park, a known pitcher’s haven.

    Baserunning

    11/20

    Walker has tried his hand at stealing bases in the past, but he got caught almost as often as he was successful. It’s no surprise that he’s cut back on his stolen-base attempts this year, choosing instead to focus his efforts on simply being good at rounding the bases.

    Defense

    12/20

    Walker has a track record of being nothing special defensively, but he’s gotten a little better every year, and 2013 is looking like the year he finally graduates from “below average” to “above average.” He’s still making his share of errors, but he’s also making a lot more plays outside his zone. That makes it a lot easier to forgive those errors.

    Health

    8/10

    Walker had never been on the DL before 2013. He’s found himself in that neck of the woods twice this season—once after being spiked early in the year and then again in July with a rib-cage issue. Add in his history of back issues, and you don't get a portrait of a healthy player. Good thing he still has youth on his side.

    Overall

    67/100

    Walker’s not the kind of guy who’s ever going to be a perennial All-Star, but his on-base and power abilities should not be underestimated or underappreciated.

10. Omar Infante, Detroit Tigers

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    Hitting

    20/25

    Omar Infante doesn’t go up to the plate looking to take a walk. His goal is to go up and put the ball in play, and he's quite good at that. His contact rate is trending downward, but he's seen his line-drive percentage increase. His BABIP has reaped the benefits of that, and so has Infante's batting average. He's back to being a .300 hitter, and it's no fluke.

    Power

    14/25

    Infante really only hits the ball with authority to his pull side. His home runs go to left field, and he’s always a threat to rip a line drive for a double. While he’s not a very prolific power hitter, he comes up with enough extra-base hits to rate as an above-average power producer as far as second basemen go.

    Baserunning

    11/20

    Infante was very active stealing bases in 2012 but hasn’t carried that activity over into 2013. The good news is that he still rounds the bases well, taking extra bags when he can and not running into many unnecessary outs.

    Defense

    15/20

    Infante is quietly one of the game’s better defensive second basemen. He has good range that allows him to run down some tough plays. And while his range got him in trouble with a boatload of errors in 2012, he’s generally among the game’s more sure-handed defenders at second.

    Health

    8/10

    Infante has a couple serious injuries to his left hand in his injury history. More recently, he spent over a month on the DL with a bad ankle and battled a bad back in August. With his 32nd birthday due up over the winter, his health is no sure thing.

    Overall

    68/100

    Infante is neither a household name nor, if we're being honest, a real star. But he's definitely overlooked in the realm of second basemen, as he's boasted an above-average bat and glove for several years now.

9. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds

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    Hitting

    13/25

    Brandon Phillips is still good at avoiding strikeouts, but he’s never been one to take a walk. This year, his BABIP is suffering from a general lack of hard contact. It doesn’t appear to be an anomaly, as he regressed as a hitter in 2012 and has taken another step back this year. That he’s struggling against hard stuff relative to his career norms suggests that he’s lost a bit of bat speed.

    Power

    15/25

    Phillips’ power production started trending downward a few years back and still hasn’t recovered. He’s still good for his share of homers and doubles but his opposite-field power is vanishing, and that leaves him one less avenue with which to take advantage of Great American Ballpark’s extreme hitter-friendliness.

    Baserunning

    10/20

    Phillips’ stolen-base production has all but halted this year. That’s partially owed to him batting lower in Cincinnati’s order, but it’s also a symptom of the fact that he’s lost a step. He also hasn’t been quite as useful rounding the bases, rendering a once-formidable baserunner into a merely average baserunner.

    Defense

    20/20

    His offensive game may be on the decline, but Phillips can still flash the leather. He may not move as quickly as he did earlier in his career, but his instincts and first-step quickness are still sharp. And, of course, he can still be counted on to make all the usual “How the heck did he do that?” plays that he’s known for.

    Health

    10/10

    Phillips has been on the DL only once in his career, and the leg problems that plagued him in 2012 haven’t reappeared in 2013. His skills aren't in the best shape, but his health sure is for a guy his age.

    Overall

    68/100

    Goodness knows Phillips has his defenders, but this really hasn't been a good year for his bat. He's trending out of the discussion of the best second basemen in the business because of that. But since his bat isn't entirely dead yet and his defense is still terrific, well, he can stay in it for now.

8. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels

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    Hitting

    21/25

    Yours truly has always tended to view Howie Kendrick as the best great hitter who isn’t actually a great hitter, as he’s always looked the part more than he’s acted the part. But he’s acted the part more than usual in 2013, cutting down on his strikeouts and spraying line drives all over the field. He has a .320 season in him somewhere, and one wonders if it might come in 2014.

    Power

    15/25

    Kendrick doesn’t pull the ball very often, choosing instead to hit balls to center and right-center. That’s a fine approach for his average, but he doesn't have the kind of booming raw power to make this approach work for his power production. But since he's racked up the bulk of his power production at the Big A, a notorious pitcher's park, in 2013, we'll give him some props.

    Baserunning

    10/20

    Kendrick is capable of swiping bags, but he hasn’t been doing so as often in 2013 and has developed a pretty bad TOOTBLAN problem on top of that. He’s usually a quality baserunner, but this season has seen him plummet to average territory.

    Defense

    13/20

    Kendrick has developed a problem with errors over the last two seasons, but that has something to do with the fact that he covers more ground than your average second baseman. Were it not for the boots, he’d be an even more above-average defender than he already is.

    Health

    9/10

    Kendrick’s 2013 season was going fine until he got into an outfield collision and hyperextended his knee. It’s hardly a life-threatening injury, but it was his fourth trip to the DL with a leg injury since 2008.

    Overall

    68/100

    There’s no escaping the sense that Kendrick should be better than he is, but he’s pretty darn good. At the very least, you have to give it up for his bat.

7. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Hitting

    21/25

    Ben Zobrist tends to be a better hitter from the right side of the plate, but his career splits are about as even as you’d like to see with a switch-hitter. Aside from that, he also has a solid approach at the plate that mainly involves him seeing his share of pitches and keeping his hacks confined to the strike zone. He’s definitely one to take a walk, and his tendency to swing mainly at balls in the zone allows him to support a solid BABIP with hard contact.

    Power

    15/25

    Zobrist’s power has taken a bit of a turn for the worse in 2013. He’s been hitting the ball in the air more often but not over the fence more often. To boot, a slightly reduced line-drive rate hasn’t helped his traditionally very strong doubles power. But since he can still hit doubles to all parts of the field, he still qualifies as a second baseman with some decent power.

    Baserunning

    16/20

    Seemingly every aspect of Zobrist’s game is underrated, but nothing is underrated quite like his baserunning. He steals bags and is one of the absolute best in the game at taking extra bases without running into outs.

    Defense

    13/20

    Zobrist is more of a utility man than an actual second baseman, but it’s his primary position and a position that he plays well. He’s not among the more spectacular defenders the position has to offer, but he’s sure-handed and his range qualifies as above average.

    Health

    10/10

    Zobrist last spent time on the DL in 2008 and doesn’t have any red flags in his track record worth bringing up. His health is in darn good shape.

    Overall

    75/100

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Every team should have a Ben Zobrist. He's not particularly great at any one thing, but he can hit, hit for some power, run the bases and field his position quite well.

6. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Hitting

    23/25

    Aaron Hill isn’t the most patient hitter under the Arizona sun, but his plate discipline has been better in 2013 than it was in 2011 or 2012. He doesn't walk or strike out much and isn’t one for wasting balls in play. He’s a solid source of hard contact, particularly to his pull side. It's no accident that he's flirting with a second straight .300/.360 season.

    Power

    23/25

    Hill’s power is limited to his pull side, but he certainly has a lot of it in that direction. The bulk of his home runs go out to left field, and he’s always a threat to plant seeds down the left field line for doubles. His track record as a top-tier power-hitting second baseman is well-deserved.

    Baserunning

    12/20

    Hill hasn’t been active stealing bags in 2013, but he has the athleticism to do so. He also tends to get around the bases well, taking his share of extra bags without running into too many outs.

    Defense

    9/20

    Hill was an elite defender earlier in his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, but not so much now. He still has good hands and good instincts, but he doesn't have the same range that he used to. He's not as quick at the crack of the bat and has lost some speed besides.

    Health

    8/10

    Hill does have a bit of a crowded injury history—most notably including a bad concussion in 2008 and DL-worthy hamstring injuries in 2010 and 2011. This season saw him miss a couple months with a broken hand, and he's obviously not getting younger.

    Overall

    75/100

    Hill isn’t a gem defensively, but his bat is legit. He can hit for average and power and is one of the few second basemen in the business right now who can say as much.

5. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Hitting

    18/25

    Chase Utley’s approach hasn’t been quite as measured in 2013. He hasn’t taken as many walks, which would certainly appear to have something to do with more swings on pitches outside of the strike zone. On those, he’s not making as much contact as one would like. All the same, he still rarely misses balls in the strike zone and is still a fine source of hard contact.

    Power

    24/25

    Utley’s power isn’t what it was in his heyday and likely never will be. But he has turned the clock back on his power quite a bit in 2013, elevating the ball more often than he did in his injury-marred 2012 season and sending more balls over the fence. He hasn’t been overly productive hitting for power to left field, but the pull power is still there and is very much formidable.

    Baserunning

    13/20

    As you would expect for an aging player with bad knees, Utley’s best days as a base stealer are in the past. However, he can still swipe the occasional base and is still one of the most skilled baserunners in the game. He’s one of the rare ones who can be aggressive without racking up a ton of outs on the basepaths.

    Defense

    16/20

    Utley never got the credit he deserved for his defense when he was in his prime, which is a shame because he’s not that good anymore. However, he’s still a lot better than his pile of errors this season would have one believe. He doesn’t move as well as he used to, but he still has a remarkably quick first step that helps him make plays an older second baseman should have no business making.

    Health

    6/10

    Utley has a couple of bad knees, hit the DL with a rib cage injury earlier in the summer, and is generally as banged-up as can be. He’s obviously talented, but betting on him to make it through a season unscathed is not recommended.

    Overall

    77/100

    He’s not what he once was, but Utley can still hit, hit for power, and field his position. If only he wasn't a walking injury risk...

4. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians

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    Hitting

    21/25

    Jason Kipnis has taken the next step as a hitter in 2013. He’s adopted a more patient approach at the plate that has indeed led to more strikeouts, but more walks as well to make it all worth it. He’s also figured out right-handed changeups and is generally making more hard contact to aid his BABIP and, in turn, his OBP. In short, he's made good on the progress he showed in 2012.

    Power

    20/25

    Kipnis has showed off home run power to both fields in 2013. And the increased frequency with which he’s driving the ball has paid off in the form of increased doubles power to boot. His power production is impressive enough at first glance, but the catch is that it was a lot better in the first half. And since his power production also fell off in the second half of 2012, there's a clear red flag here.

    Baserunning

    16/20

    Kipnis is one of the top base-stealing second basemen in the league, and he deserves a tip of the cap for not getting picked off on a regular basis like he did in 2012. However, he can still get a wee bit overaggressive on the basepaths at times. And despite the decrease in pickoffs, he’s still not the most efficient base stealer.

    Defense

    11/20

    Kipnis was originally an outfielder, and there are still some rough edges where his defense at second base is concerned. He's not the most instinctive second baseman, and he doesn't have as much range as you'd expect for a guy with his athleticism. Also, his throwing accuracy can be spotty. But even despite these complaints, Kipnis is not a bad defensive player by any stretch. He earns his keep.

    Health

    10/10

    Kipnis did battle with some minor elbow issues earlier in 2013, but those appear to be in the past. And aside from that, his health has been largely fine over the last two seasons.

    Overall

    78/100

    Kipnis doesn’t have a reputation as a superstar, but he's undoubtedly up there among the best second basemen in the game. His bat is a live one, and his athleticism is put to good use on the basepaths.

3. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Hitting

    25/25

    Matt Carpenter has been the best hitting second baseman in MLB in 2013, and it’s no joke. He’s a pesky hitter who sees a fair amount of pitches, doesn’t expand the zone, strikes out rarely and takes his share of walks. When he does swing the bat, he’s a line-drive machine who is indeed capable of maintaining a high BABIP.

    Power

    19/25

    Carpenter has little power to left field, but he certainly has power to his pull side. That’s where he hits the ball over the fence, and that’s where the bulk of his doubles power is located. He hits a lot of those, for the record.

    Baserunning

    14/20

    Carpenter isn’t going to wow you with his baserunning. He doesn’t steal bases, nor does he really need to with the amount of doubles he hits. He has, however, proven to be a savvy baserunner who has taken quite a few extra bases in 2013.

    Defense

    11/20

    Carpenter is hardly a natural at second base, in large part because it’s not his natural position. He was converted to a second baseman over the offseason because, shoot, somebody had to play there for the Cardinals. But while he's neither particularly sure-handed or very rangy, Carpenter's defense has actually been halfway decent this season.

    Health

    10/10

    There’s nothing in Carpenter’s injury history that’s worth mentioning, so he gets his 10 free points without a second thought.

    Overall

    79/100

    There's no doubting Carpenter's bat, and you don't want to overlook his ability to run the bases. If he finds a way to become a plus defender at second base, he's going to be a monster.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

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    Hitting

    24/25

    Dustin Pedroia isn’t making contact with everything that comes his way like he used to, but he’s still a very tough out. He doesn’t swing and miss often, and he doesn’t strike out a lot. He’s also back to taking his walks after a down year in that category. He's still spraying line drives and ground balls in every direction. As a hitter, he’s still one of the best.

    Power

    13/25

    For a while there, we all knew Pedroia as a little guy with surprisingly big power. Not so much anymore, as his power is now more befitting of his stature. He’s not even hitting the ball in the air that much, let alone over the fence. That makes doubles his primary power outlet, and his knack for hitting those isn't quite what it used to be (102 doubles between 2008 and 2009).

    Baserunning

    14/20

    The good news in light of the lost power is that Pedroia is still getting himself into scoring position via stolen bases. However, he does have a track record of being a TOOTBLAN magnet, and he’s not really getting any better in that regard. He's set a new career high for outs on the basepaths this year. The only reason his score isn't lower here is because a good chunk of those came at home.

    Defense

    20/20

    Pedroia’s power is trending downward, but one part of his game that's certainly not following suit is his defense. He seems to be good for at least one great defensive play every game, as he’s sure-handed with great range and has no reservations whatsoever about giving up his body to make a play. Watching him play the position is one of the great joys baseball has to offer.

    Health

    8/10

    Pedroia is playing through a torn ligament in his thumb this season. That’s par for the course for him, as he always seems to be playing through some kind of injury. You have to tip your cap to him for that, but you also have to wonder just how much longer he'll be able to keep it up.

    Overall

    79/100

    Pedroia’s declining power is serving to make him less of a superstar, but he’s still a terrific hitter who can run the bases and play a mean second base.

1. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

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    Hitting

    25/25

    Typically not one to take many walks, the 2013 season has seen Robinson Cano draw more free passes than ever before. All of the walks have helped to rescue his OBP from an unspectacular BABIP, but that shouldn’t be taken as a sign that he is losing anything. Cano's actual hitting habits really haven’t changed, as he’s still a guy who turns just about any pitch into a laser. 

    Power

    25/25

    There is no more consistent power producer at second base than Cano. He can drive just about anything, with all parts of the field in play. And while his power has taken a slight downturn this year, one thing that must be noted is that his power at Yankee Stadium is way down. Given what we know about how well his swing is suited to the Yankees’ home park, that’s something that can be chalked up as a fluke.

    Baserunning

    12/20

    Cano has been more active on the bases in 2013, offsetting his slight decline in power by swiping some extra bags. He’s also been much more cautious when rounding the bases after running into a dozen outs on the basepaths in 2013—though it’s obviously worth noting that the Yankees offense hasn’t given him many excuses to run wild in 2013.

    Defense

    16/20

    There are indeed occasions when Cano doesn’t seem to give a damn on defense, but nobody makes second base defense look as easy as he does. There are second basemen who cover more ground than him, but Cano looks like he’s going for a walk when he makes rangy plays. One also struggles to think of another second baseman who gets rid of the ball as quickly as he does.

    Health

    10/10

    Cano has had some minor injury scares in 2013, but he still hasn't had to hit the DL since 2006. He's kept his body in good shape over the years.

    Overall

    88/100

    Cano hasn’t been the dominant force in 2013 that he was in 2010, 2011 and 2012, but he still holds the “Best Second Baseman in MLB” crown.

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