Second base is not a fantasy position solely for stolen bases, runs, and batting average. Those days died long ago.
Do not be shocked at all of the second basemen with above-average fantasy values this year. The revolution at the position has been going full force ever since Jeff Kent and Roberto Alomar proved that second basemen can hit home runs and drive in runs just like corner infielders. There are arguably a dozen second basemen with the potential to put up All-Star numbers this season.
Here are the top 30 second basemen in fantasy baseball heading into the 2010 campaign.
1. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
Kinsler was the only 30-HR, 30-SB player in the majors in 2009, plus he scored 101 runs and drove in an additional 86. Just think how much better those numbers could have been if he hit higher than .253. Well, remember that he batted .319 in 2008, so we might find out this season.
2. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Five straight All-Star fantasy seasons make him the No. 1 second baseman and a first-round pick on most fantasy boards. It is tough to argue. You cannot go wrong with either Utley or Kinsler.
3. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Cano finally got out of his own way last year and should be primed for a 30-HR, 95-RBI, 100-run, .325 average fantasy blowout thanks to his abundant ability, the ballpark he plays in, and the Hall of Fame batting order surrounding him.
4. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Power, speed, runs, average, OPS. The former MVP has it all and does it all for fantasy owners, and the best may be yet to come considering he is only 26.
5. Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays
See what Hill can do when he is not concussed? Toronto’s middle man flexed his muscles to the tune of 36 homers and 108 RBI during his breakout 2009 season.
6. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
Critics will nitpick about his falling OPS and that he does not score enough runs. I prefer to focus on his three straight seasons of at least 20 homers and 20 steals.
7. Brian Roberts, Baltimore Orioles
Roberts does not have a weak category and should be among the best in runs and doubles, although his declining stolen base totals the past couple years are cause for concern.
8. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
Players with 27 homers, 91 runs batted in, and 17 steals that qualify at multiple positions are harder to find than people who like Barry Bonds.
9. Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins
Every offseason Florida threatens to trade him, and every year Uggla stays put and racks up more homers, RBI and runs than most second basemen.
10. Jose Lopez, Seattle Mariners
Lopez’s power numbers have steadily increased during his career, so if the trend continues there is a chance he could be looking at 30 homers and 100 RBI. Having Ichiro and Chone Figgins hitting in front of him will help, too.
11. Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox
The former first-rounder’s fantasy value shoots up like a space shuttle now that he switches from third base to second base.
12. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels
If Kendrick can ever keep himself on the field or he could be a 15-HR, 15-SB guy with the potential to win a batting title. He still has yet to be healthy enough to get 400 at-bats in any of his first four seasons.
13. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
Weeks has suffered more major wrist injuries than a secretary with chronic carpal-tunnel syndrome. If he could just stay off the disabled list he could be a 20-HR, 20-SB stud.
14. Clint Barmes, Colorado Rockies
How long can Barmes hold off fleet-footed Eric Young Jr. and remain a starter?
15. Martin Prado, Atlanta Braves
Zero speed and average power, though he is a .300 hitter with upside batting near the top of an above-average-looking lineup.
16. Orlando Hudson, Minnesota Twins
It has to worry fantasy owners that “O-Dog” lost his job to Ronnie Belliard at the end of last season while with the Dodgers.
17. Freddy Sanchez, San Francisco Giants
Always helps with batting average and hits loads of doubles, but his lack of power and speed makes him just a fantasy niche player.
18. Kaz Matsui, Houston Astros
Still the second-best Matsui in fantasy baseball behind Hideki Matsui.
19. Alberto Callaspo, Kansas City Royals
Besides Zack Greinke and Billy Butler, Callaspo was arguably K.C.’s third-best fantasy performer last season, which says more about the team than it does about him.
20. Scott Sizemore, Detroit Tigers
Detroit’s rookie phenom gets a chance to shine now that Placido Polanco is out of his way.
21. Kelly Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks
Johnson fell flatter than a lightweight drinker after two rum and cokes last season. A change in scenery could help him return as the 15-HR, 60-RBI, 85-run guy he has shown he can be.
22. Felipe Lopez, St. Louis Cardinals
Lopez can hit homers and steal some bases if he plays, but currently he is the backup second baseman and shortstop on St. Louis’ depth chart.
23. Luis Castillo, New York Mets
Castillo pleasantly surprised people with his .302 average and 20 stolen bases last season. Extra-added bonus: you never have to worry about him being suspended for taking steroids because with 28 homers in 14 seasons it’s obvious he doesn’t take them.
24. Mark Ellis, Oakland Athletics
If 10 homers, 10 steals, and average numbers in the other categories are good enough for you, then Ellis is your man—and you don’t ask enough from your fantasy second baseman.
25. Adam Kennedy, Washington Nationals
After looking like his career was on life support, Kennedy bounced back in 2009 with one of the most under-appreciated seasons in fantasy baseball with 11 homers, 20 steals, and a .289 batting average. But the odds of a repeat performance are probably astronomical.
26. Jeff Baker, Chicago Cubs
Baker hit .305 in 69 games with Chicago last year, but he will likely lose too many at-bats to gritty Mike Fontenot to have much fantasy relevance.
27. Ronnie Belliard, Los Angeles Dodgers
“Mini-Manny” needs to outplay perennial disappointment Blake DeWitt and keep his weight from ballooning to Kirstie Alley levels to be Joe Torre’s starting second baseman.
28. Akinori Iwamura, Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh traded Freddy Sanchez at the deadline last season only to eventually replace him with Iwamura, who is a poor man’s Freddy Sanchez.
29. Luis Valbuena, Cleveland Indians
His 10 homers and 52 runs in 103 games in 2009 opened some eyes, yet it did not open the door to a full-time job at second since Cleveland likes prospect Jason Donald.
30. David Eckstein, San Diego Padres
This gutty overachiever does not steal bases, score runs, or hit for a high average anymore, hence why he brings up the bottom.
Next column—Rating the shortstops.