It is time to look at the top second basemen for next season. There are some changes to the format that you will immediately notice.
First, we are cutting the list down to 15. We will do that for all the positions except for starting pitchers and relievers. Most leagues do not go 20 deep, and there is more separation in the top 15. Eventually, I will go back and update the catcher and first base spots.
Secondly, I am including only real offensive value, runs created and batting average on balls in play. ROV is the combination of batting average and secondary average. Runs created tallies the number of runs a hitter creates through his power, speed and ability to get on base. It also includes elements for things like sacrifices.
Finally, BABIP is included to give an idea of where a hitter may go.
The league average trends between .300 and .310. Some hitters naturally have higher BABIPs through their speed or ability to hit more line drives. However, hitters will tend to trend towards the average, so this gives you a sneak preview of whether a hitter will produce more or less next year.
15. Jemile Weeks, Oakland Athletics
Weeks is a good stolen base option in fantasy baseball, but otherwise does not offer a lot in terms of offense. He came up late, so he will create more runs next season. However, his high BABIP is one to watch. He should be a high BABIP guy, but he might trend more towards .320 or .330. That means he will likely get on base less.
14. Kelly Johnson, Free Agent
Alex Anthopolous would like to bring Johnson back to the Blue Jays, but that situation is up in the air. Johnson hurts you in batting average, but all indications are that his average should improve next season. Johnson can be very good, but his lack of consistency pushes him down in the rankings.
13. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates
Walker has been very productive in Pittsburgh the last two seasons. He tends to stay healthy and hits in one of their prime RBI spots in the order. Unfortunately, he is not as proficient as most of the other second sackers. He's good for the counting numbers in your league, but will hurt some in batting average and OBP.
12. Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
Ackley represents a schism between real baseball and fantasy baseball. In real baseball, he is easily a top-10 second baseman. In fantasy baseball, not so much.
The Mariner offense is horrible, so there will be fewer RBI and run scoring opportunities. However, if you want someone that will generally help you stay afloat in every category, he is a good choice.
11. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
I will probably put Utley higher on my personal draft board because last year's numbers don't reflect his true ability. Yet, if we are going to go with track record, we also have to include his track record of injuries the past few seasons. If your opponents sleep on him, he could be an excellent value pick, but don't overpay.
10. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels
The experts once claimed that Kendrick would win a batting title someday. Those claims seem silly now, but he is productive and finally broke out last season. If he remains healthy, he should continue to be productive.
9. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
A low batting average is the only thing standing in between Espinosa and the top five. The Nationals are quietly building a very good team over there, so he should get plenty of opportunities to contribute runs and RBIs. He is also a very good power threat at this position.
8. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
Weeks would have been a top-five second baseman this past season if he hadn't missed a month. With Prince Fielder possibly being out the door, everyone in the Brewers lineup might take a step back. This situation bares watching.
7. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians, Sleeper
There will be a good debate going between Kipnis, Ackley and Espinosa as to who is the best second baseman for the next decade. In terms of fantasy, there really is no debate because fantasy doesn't include defense (yet). Based completely on spec, Kipnis is easily a top-five second baseman.
6. Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves
His batting average will scare some away, but he had horrible luck last season. When you take Uggla, you will have to write off batting average for this position, but he produces power numbers that you normally would expect from a first baseman or corner outfielder.
5. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds, Buyer Beware
It isn't that Phillips is a bad hitter at all. Simply put, he is a solid offensive second baseman that produces good counting numbers (HRs, runs, RBI). However, there is better value at this pick.
4. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Cano has turned himself into one of the better all-around second basemen in baseball. The difference between him and those above him is that he does not fly off the charts in home runs or stolen bases. He will give you average, runs and RBI. Those above him offer those and one of the other two.
3. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
The main advantage that Zobrist has over Cano is versatility. You can count on him to play some right field every season, so he is an option at multiple positions. Otherwise, he offers a speed element that Cano does not.
2. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Everyone under six feet tall loves Pedroia. The former MVP doesn't look like much, but all he does is produce. He created more runs than any second baseman last year, and with their offense, he will produce real runs as well. He even steals close to 20 bags every season as well. What's not to like?
Just imagine what Kinsler could do with another 60 points on his batting average. It is staggering to think about and the reason why he appears as No. 1 here. He offers everything else in spades. He's not going to lead the league in steals, but he will get you as many as 20. Plus, he hits 30-plus bombs a year.