Thin, emaciated, gaunt.
No, not Kate Moss—the state of second base from a fantasy perspective in recent years.
However, with the emergence of young talents such as Ben Zobrist, Aaron Hill, and Jose Lopez in the past couple years, there is currently more depth at second base than at any other time in recent memory.
However, after the top options come off the board, the talent at second base falls off a cliff. Therefore, waiting too long to pounce on a second baseman could be disastrous. You don’t what to get stuck with a Clint Barmes or Kelly Johnson type.
In addition to ranking the second basemen for the 2010 season, I will provide my projections for each player.
1) Chase Utley (2010 Projections: .288, 115 R, 32 HR, 101 RBI, and 18 SB)
Utley is the clear-cut No. 1 option at second base and a good middle of the first round pick. 2009 was his fifth consecutive strong season, so there is no reason to expect any kind of drop-off. His career-high 23 stolen bases in 2009 were nice, but he may struggle to match that total.
2) Ian Kinsler (.277, 104 R, 32 HR, 97 RBI, 28 SB)
Kinsler joined the 30/30 club in 2009 despite hitting just .253. However, Kinsler has shown that he is capable of hitting for average—he hit .319 in 2008—so I expect an improvement in his 2010 average. His speed/power combo cannot be matched at second base.
3) Robinson Cano (.308, 101 R, 23 HR, 90 RBI, 4 SB)
Cano was helped by the Yankees’ new ballpark, a left-handed hitter's dream, in 2009. The Yankees lineup always provides a ton of opportunities to score and drive in runs as well. Look for his 2010 season to be quite similar to his 2009 campaign.
4) Dustin Pedroia (.303, 116 R, 15 HR, 74 RBI, 18 SB)
Pedroia doesn’t offer the power that the guys above him on the list do, but he is a good bet to score more runs than any of them. Like Cano, he is aided by a strong lineup. However, he does lack the upside of some of the other elite options.
5) Brian Roberts (.285, 106 R, 12 HR, 74 RBI, 26 SB)
At 32 years old, Roberts is moving into the twilight of his career. However, he is still a reliable option at second base. One thing to note is the drop from 50 stolen bases in 2007 to 40 in 2008 to just 30 in 2009. Fantasy owners should be aware that another big drop is not out of the question.
6) Brandon Phillips (.273, 82 R, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 26 SB)
Phillips is another player that offers a nice combo of speed and power. He will put up a decent enough batting average but doesn’t walk enough to score a huge number of runs. Like all Reds, playing at the Great American Ball Park helps his stats.
7) Aaron Hill (.278, 93 R, 28 HR, 99 RBI, 5 SB)
Hill is unlikely to match his 36 home runs from last season, but the power surge was no joke. Hill simply turned a lot of his doubles from 2007 and 2008 into long balls in 2009. Expect Hill to even off somewhere between last year’s monster season and his breakout 2007 season.
8) Ben Zobrist (.277, 90 R, 26 HR, 90 RBI, 16 SB)
Zobrist’s 2009 was a huge breakout for the 28-year-old. While he was always a good-looking prospect, he never projected as a true power hitter. Were last season’s 27 home runs the work of a late bloomer, or were they a fluke? We will find out in 2010, but don’t expect more from Zobrist this season than he provided in 2009.
9) Jose Lopez (.286, 77 R, 26 HR, 98 RBI, 4 SB)
Lopez has really emerged as a quality option. He is still only 26 and has seen an increase in home runs each of the past three seasons. The only thing keeping Lopez from being a top five option at second base is the absence of stolen bases that the elite options provide.
10) Dan Uggla (.247, 92 R, 32 HR, 93 RBI, 3 SB)
Drafting Uggla is like kissing your sister. You don’t really want to, but you can’t help yourself. Those 90-plus runs, 30-plus home runs, and 90-plus RBI are just too appealing. Before you pull Uggla’s name off the board, remember that his average will certainly hurt your team, and he won’t do anything to help you on the basepaths.
Click here for second base rankings 11-20 and sleepers.
Click below for my previous rankings.