Cano is the man at second base now.
Once thought of as a thin position in fantasy baseball, the 2B talent pool has grown considerably in the last few years; so much so that you could get good value for taking a second baseman in the later rounds. Here are my mid-spring training rankings for second basemen.
Please Note: Stats are listed as: Average, HR, RBI, Runs, SB/Attempts and AB. The player’s age at the start of the 2011 season is next to his team's name.
No. 1) Robinson Cano - New York Yankees (28)
2010: .319-29-109-103-3/5 (626)
Cano took a large step forward last year to become the clear-cut best second basemen in baseball. He bats in a powerful Yankees lineup and will play his home games in a great hitter’s park, especially for a left-handed batter. Cano is a 5-tool player but only attempted 5 steals last year. That's about his only drawback. He has earned the selection as the first 2B off the board in your fantasy baseball draft.
No. 2) Dustin Pedroia - Boston Red Sox (27)
2010: .288-12-41-53-9/10 (302)
While Pedroia lost a significant amount of time with a broken foot last season, he recently said he is completely healthy now. The former AL-MVP is most likely going to bat in-between the Red Sox two big off-season acquisitions, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Even if Jacoby Ellsbury leads off with Crawford batting 3rd, Pedroia will have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.
Will Pedroia return to his MVP form?
No. 3) Ian Kinsler - Texas Rangers (28)
2010: .286-9-45-73-15/20 (391)
His injury history may scare off some owners from spending an early draft pick on Kinsler, but he is one of the few players at his position to have a legit shot for a 20/20 season. He already has a 30/30 season in his career and he spent time on the DL during that year as well. The Rangers lineup and ballpark help his offensive output, and if he can stay relatively healthy, a .285-25-80-100-25 season is possible.
No. 4) Dan Uggla - Atlanta Braves (31)
2010: .287-33-105-100-4/5 (589)
I always try and stay away from players who just signed a large contract in the off-season. Financial motivation can equal single season success. But Uggla has just been too consistent in the power department over the years to downgrade him because of his new contract. Uggla has averaged 31 HR and 93 RBI a year in the first five seasons of his career and he should be right around those numbers once again.
No. 5) Chase Utley - Philadelphia Phillies (32)
Have we already seen the best of Chase Utley?
2010: .275-16-65-75-13/15 (425)
Even after missing time with a torn ligament in his right thumb, Utley was still able to put up a good season. He bats 2nd or 3rd in a potent Phillies lineup and has a great hitter’s ballpark at his disposal. While his age and injury history might no longer make him a first round pick, he still has the ability to be a top-tier fantasy second baseman. That is, if he can get and stay healthy. Utley has been bothered by a right knee injury all spring and his status for the early part of the season is unknown.
No. 6) Brandon Phillips – Cincinnati Reds (29)
2010: .275-18-59-100-16/28 (626)
Phillips is one of the few second basemen able to put up a 20/20 season, even posting a 30/30 season in '07. He can bat leadoff or cleanup in a hitter’s ballpark for a powerful Reds lineup. He also has only a team option after the '11 season, so he could be financially motivated as well.
No. 7) Rickie Weeks – Milwaukee Brewers (28)
2010: .269-29-83-112-11/15 (651)
Weeks finally had his breakout season in '10, posting career highs in HR, RBI and Runs. The most significant jump though was in games played. Weeks has always had the talent, and he stayed healthy enough last season to produce on the field. While you can’t project health, Weeks has the ability to improve on those numbers this season.
No. 8) Kelly Johnson – Arizona Diamondbacks (29)
2010: .284-26-71-93-13/20 (585)
The move to Arizona last season was a great one for Johnson. He wasn’t offered a contract from the Braves after a ’09 season in which he hit .224. The Diamondbacks picked him up originally for depth, but were rewarded with a career year from Johnson. He established new career bests in HR, RBI, Runs, Stolen Bases and games played. Tough to reach for any player coming off a career year, but in the right round it’s worthwhile to see if Johnson can maintain his production in ‘11.
No. 9) Aaron Hill – Toronto Blue Jays (29)
2010: .205-26-68-70-2/4 (528)
After having a career year in ’09, Hill regressed last season, batting .205. While that and his injury history may scare off some owners, Hill’s power production at second base can’t be overlooked. Toronto led all of baseball with 257 total HR, 146 of which came in the Rogers Centre. Even the Blue Jays’ divisional opponents play in parks with high HR totals. Hill is only 29 years old and still hit 26 HR in the worst year of his career. He is a great bounce-back candidate for ’11.
No. 10) Martin Prado - Atlanta Braves (27)
2010: .307-15-66-100-5/8 (599)
Prado went from a super-utility player early on in his career to an All-Star in ’10. He set career highs in Hits, HR, RBI, Runs and Stolen Bases while missing time with a fractured right pinky and then a torn oblique muscle. He is expected to be ready for full activities when spring training starts. At 27 years old and arbitration-eligible, it’s reasonable to project Prado’s numbers going up. While he will no longer get the majority of his starts at 2B because of the Braves’ acquisition of Dan Uggla, Prado retains 2B eligibility for ’11 and is even more valuable in leagues where he is available at multiple positions.
Brian Roberts - Baltimore Orioles (33)
2010: .278-4-15-28-12/14 (230)
Howie Kendrick - Los Angles Angels (27)
2010: .279-10-75-67-14/18 (616)
Gordon Beckham - Chicago White Sox (24)
2010: .252-9-49-58-4/10 (444)
Chone Figgins - Seattle Mariners (33)
2010: .259-1-35-62-42/57 (602)
Mike Aviles - Kansas City Royals (30)
2010: .304-8-32-63-14/19 (424)