The emergence of Aaron Hill , Ben Zobrist , and Jose Lopez transformed second base from a shallow position with few reliable options to one with deceptive depth. Overall, four players hit 30+ HR, six scored 100+ runs, seven drove in 85+ runs and eight stole 20+ bases.
In short, 2009 was a good year for second basemen.
As a result, second base will be an exciting position to watch come draft day.
Check out our second base tier rankings below, as well as our other Pre-Draft Coverage.
Chase Utley (PHI), Ian Kinsler (TEX)
There are really no surprises here. Chase Utley entered 2009 with questions surrounding his surgically repaired hip, but he dispelled any concerns fantasy managers may have had by stealing a career-high 23 bases, hitting 32 home runs, and scoring 112 runs.
If you can deal with the inevitable DL stint, Ian Kinsler is a great option. He may have batted .253, but he was also the only 30/30 player in the league.
Robinson Cano (NYY), Ben Zobrist (TB), Brian Roberts (BAL), Dustin Pedroia (BOS), Aaron Hill (TOR), Brandon Phillips (CIN)
We’ll skip right to the bottom of Tier Two where Brandon Phillips breaks up the AL East monopoly. He doesn’t hit for a great average and doesn’t score a ton of runs, but he’s been a 20/20 player for three straight seasons.
Was it a breakout or just Yankee Stadium? Robinson Cano returned to form, posting his highest average (.320) since 2006 and knocking out a career-high 25 home runs. Honestly, who cares if it’s the stadium?
Anyone who thinks Zobrist can’t maintain his 2009 numbers doesn’t know the guy. He batted .318 in the minors, and his HR/FB rate and ISO were nearly identical to 2008.
Brian Roberts saw his SB totals drop significantly for the third straight season, but 30 is still a lot. Instead, he set an Orioles record with 56 doubles, knocked in a career-best 79 runs and hit his most home runs (16) since 2005.
Dustin Pedroia couldn’t replicate his 2008 MVP season, but much of that was attributed to him not batting third like he did at times the year before. Still, his .296 average from ‘09 seems like a baseline for 2010, and he led the league in runs again.
If you say you saw Hill’s breakout coming, then either you’re a liar or you need to be committed. Regardless, he showed what he can do when fully healthy. Now, can he do it again?
Jose Lopez (SEA), Dan Uggla (FLA), Ian Stewart (COL), Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE), Howie Kendrick (LAA), Placido Polanco (PHI)
Lopez barely cracked the top 30 at first base, and here he makes the top 10. It will be tough for Lopez to hit 25 home runs again, but he should have a lot of RBI opportunities with Ichiro and Chone Figgins hitting in front of him.
The Adam Dunn of second basemen, Dan Uggla is consistently one of the position’s best power options, but it comes at the expense of batting average.
I was ready to tout Ian Stewart as the best value of this year’s draft, but then Melvin Mora signed with Colorado. Stewart has mounds of untapped potential , but is this year really different than any other year?
Throughout his major and minor league careers, Asdrubal Cabrera has had wildly erratic batting averages. That alone places a shroud of doubt over his ability to repeat 2009. Luckily, (unfortunately?) he’s a focal point of the Cleveland offense.
Is anybody at the position more frustrating than Howie Kendrick ? When is he going to become the player we expect him to be?
Placido Polanco will be right at home in Philadelphia. Moves to Citizen’s Bank Park, the Phillies’ lineup and third base are all serious positives for one of the most disciplined hitters in the league.
Scott Sizemore (DET), Maicer Izturis (LAA), Clint Barmes (COL), Martin Prado (ATL), Kelly Johnson (ARI), Casey McGehee (MIL), Rickie Weeks (MIL)
If you have anyone from this tier starting for you on Opening Day, it had better be an AL- or NL-only league. Either way, I am very excited about Scott Sizemore . In 130 games between AA and AAA last season, Sizemore put up a line of 88/.308/17/66/21 with an .889 OPS.
With a slight increase in playing time, Maicer Izturis saw a small increase across the board. He’ll approach .300 and steal some bases, but you won’t get much else.
Clint Barmes reminds be a lot of his Rockies’ teammate, Stewart. All Barmes needed was a chance.
Martin Prado hit 15 home runs in 1,920 at-bats in the minors. Then he hit 11 home runs in just 450 at-bats with Atlanta. Regardless of his power potential, he’s a .300 hitter, and the Braves are excited about him.
Speaking of the Braves, former Atlanta second baseman, Kelly Johnson, had a terrible 2009. Now Stephen Drew ’s double play partner, Johnson hopes to find old successes in a new city and a hitter-friendly ballpark.
Casey McGehee had very good per-game production last season, finishing with an .859 OPS. McGehee is starting at third base for Milwaukee, but Mat Gamel isn’t far behind.
Remember when I asked, “Is anybody at the position more frustrating than Howie Kendrick?” Yes. Rickie Weeks .
Orlando Hudson (MIN), Kaz Matsui (HOU), Akinori Iwamura (PIT), Freddy Sanchez (SF), Luis Castillo (NYM), Luis Valbuena (CLE), Alberto Callaspo (KC), Felipe Lopez (FA), Mark Ellis (OAK)
Orlando Hudson , Akinori Iwamura and Freddy Sanchez go to camp with different teams than last February, but that doesn’t change who they are.
Kaz Matsui can score runs and steal bases, but he’s had declining totals each season since he peaked in 2007.
Luis Castillo has a career slugging percentage of .354. He’s worth an add on a Monday/Thursday off-day or for a chance at a stolen base, but he shouldn’t even be on your bench in mixed leagues.
Keep an eye on Luis Valbuena . He represents a good power/speed combo and batted .303 in AAA since he was promoted mid-2008, but it’s foolish to bank on a rookie succeeding right away.
Alberto Callaspo ’s 79/.300/11/72/2 line in ‘09 mirrored that of Polanco, and Billy Butler can’t drive in all of the Royals’ runs, right?
Still unsigned, Felipe Lopez has limited value. He’s stolen only 14 bases since the start of 2008, so ignore him until he starts running again.
Mark Ellis has played more than 124 games once since 2003, but when fully healthy he’s a solid producer. Unfortunately, he might never be fully healthy again.
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