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Don't fret about Robinson Cano's move to the Seattle Mariners too much.
Second base is not particularly pretty this year. Even the unquestionable leader will have his worth dissected ad nauseam before draft day. Those unwilling to pay top dollar for an expensive option can nab a valuable player late if they guess right, but it won't be easy.
1. Robinson Cano: This reveals little about Cano’s new outlook with the Seattle Mariners, as the real question is whether he loses favor as a first-round target. Considering his .303/.366/.523 career slash line away from Yankee Stadium along with his rousing consistency, I’m not budging on his status as a first-round mainstay. Before inciting panic about his counting numbers sliding in Seattle, he drove in 107 runs for a terrible New York Yankees offense (ranking 26th in OPS is bad, right?) in 2013.
2. Jason Kipnis: That .284 average looks above Kipnis’ capabilities, but who cares? He can still hit 15 homers and swipe 30 bags, which his owners would gladly take alongside a .270 clip.
3. Dustin Pedroia: With a 50.4 percent ground-ball rate and an 11.9 percent infield-fly rate to boot, Pedroia’s waning power should warrant some legitimate concern. But a quick look around the barren wasteland that is second base will show that a .300, 10/20 hitter operating in a fruitful offense is enough to stay in high regard.
4. Matt Carpenter: A better real-life player than fantasy tool? Indeed. Guys who help little with home runs and steals are seldom the men to pledge your fantasy allegiance to, but Carpenter’s 27.3 line-drive percentage, 10.0 percent walk rate and 55 doubles at least dish up positive signs for Carpenter maintaining his usefulness in the other three categories.
5. Ian Kinsler: It’s hard to give up on a second baseman who accomplished a rare 30/30 season twice, especially since most gamers would gladly settle for a 20/20 campaign. While Kinsler has scorched more line drives and improved his ability to make contact, it has seemingly come at the expense of some pop.
6. Jose Altuve: You’re not getting any power from a 5’5” dude, but Altuve offers a consistent source of 30 steals with a solid batting average. Let’s hope the acquisition of Dexter Fowler and progression of his inexperienced teammates create more chances for Altuve to cross home plate than his paltry 64 runs in 2013.
7. Ben Zobrist: Zobrist is so underrated for his actual contributions on the diamond that it’s hard not to root for his success to translate over to this silly game of ours. That won’t happen by hitting a dozen homers again, but he remains a boring, yet sturdy player across the board, who also carries eligibility at shortstop and the outfield.
8. Aaron Hill: I have no idea which Hill we’ll see this season, but at a position this shallow, the fact that he sizzled in 2012 is enough to keep us wondering. Hill played well when on the field last year, hitting .291/.356/.462 with 11 homers in 87 games. A 20/10 season seems feasible if he circumvents the disabled list.
9. Brandon Phillips: Yeah, he drove in 103 runs, which is a whole lot for a second baseman, but Phillips will lose one of the main catalysts for that number with Shin-Soo Choo leaving for Texas. Despite hitting 18 homers on the dot for four years straight, Phillips' slash line has worsened across the board his past two campaigns. Unlike the All-Star, I care about his on-base percentage.
10. Jedd Gyorko: There are several concerns, most notably his 23.4 percent strikeout rate and 6.3 walk percentage that yielded wild inconsistency during his rookie campaign. Then again, Gyorko notched a 22.5 line-drive rate, which means he made good contact and could at least up his average into the .260 vicinity. Only Cano topped Gyorko’s 23 homers.
Honorable Mentions: If a genie could grant us 145 games from Chase Utley, I’d gladly regard him among the premier second basemen. Daniel Murphy, who previously set a career high with 10 steals in 2012, came out of nowhere to abscond with 23 bags last season. If his thriftiness on the bases persists, omitting him from the top 10 will feel foolish. Jurickson Profar could deliver handsomely during his first full season as a regular, but the youngster’s hype will probably tower over his reasonable draft value.