The second base position was one that highlighted big disappointment last season as three of the top guys succumbed to injury and/of ineffectiveness. Chase Utley, Ian Kinsler, and Dustin Pedroia were all drafted in the first three rounds of all fantasy baseball drafts and all three missed about half of their seasons with physical problems. On top of that, former 20/20 stalwart Brandon Phillips and 2009’s breakout sensation Ben Zobrist went through some major struggles that ruined their numbers. No doubt there was anger all around when it came to the majority of the second baseman in fantasy baseball last season. There were a few bright spots amidst all the mess however as the New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano had an MVP type season while the Milwaukee Brewers’ Rickie Weeks finally fulfilled all the potential that was always underneath the surface.
Now as far as draft strategy is concerned with 2B, I always look to address my infield from the inside first and than work my way out. In the past I have tried to always grab a SS, 2B, AND a 1B with my first three picks and go from there. This season I wouldn’t use a first OR a second round pick on any 2B as I don’t think Cano or Utley are worth it at that spot. If Cano was a basestealer he certainly would be at that point but the third round is where I would first look to make the move.
So with all that in mind, lets take a look at a very early set of rankings for 2B as we look to the 2011 fantasy baseball season.
1. Robinson Cano
2. Chase Utley
3. Dustin Pedroia
4. Ian Kinsler
5. Rickie Weeks
6. Brandon Phillips
7. Dan Uggla
8. Aaron Hill
9. Martin Prado
10. Kelly Johnson
11. Brian Roberts
12. Ben Zobrist
13. Gordan Beckham
14. Eric Young Jr.
15. Howie Kendrick
-Cano gets the top spot due to his incredible 2010 season and honestly he has a fantastic 2009 campaign as well. Utley as the slam dunk number 1 guy for years without debate but injuries have been a big problem the last two seasons and he is now 32 which means that he is at the latter stages of his prime. Second base is a brutal position to play on the body and a steep dropoff has been seen with some of the best 2B in the past such as Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga etc. I am not saying Utley is going to drop off like those guys but his body is starting to betray him and he wont put up numbers that are better than what he has done in his career due to his age.
-Dustin Pedroia is a guy who has grown on me but I still haven’t owned him in either of my two money leagues since he broke into the league. What really impressed me was the spike in power last season when he played and that tells me he could finally be sitting on a 20/20 season. The injury wont depress his value too much as he still is a huge name in the game but I am starting here when it comes to my 2B for 2011 drafts.
-Ian Kinsler killed me last season as I made him a second round pick in one of my two money leagues. Luckily I also took Rickie Weeks really late in that draft so I was covered but Kinsler was a mess once again with injuries. Its clear now that the guy will spend at least one stint on the DL each year which is something that most times keeps me from drafting a guy. The caveat here however is that Kinsler will drop in drafts off last season and he will actually make a nice value so I might be stupid and jump in again. I love the lineup, I love the ballpark, and I love how he fills up all of the categories. He is like a girlfriend who drives you crazy but she is good in the sack. You just keep coming back for more.
-Dan Uggla is a legit 30 home run guy who actually upped his average to respectable levels in 2010. His value is thus on the rise and he may actually be a tad overvalued now after being undervalued the last few seasons. I don’t like Uggla personally due to the fact that I look for steals from my 2B but I wont criticize anyone who does.
-Brandon Phillips is a guy I have had a man crush on for years and I drafted him in my other money league. After three straight years of 20/20, Phillips fells short of the mark in 2010 as he hit leadoff most of the year. This ruined his RBI’s and probably kept him from hitting more home runs as he tried to get on base more as the leadoff batter. I believe Dusty Baker will put Phillips back into the 3 or 4 hole this season as he should be and this he stands a good chance of getting back to 20/20. The average will never hit the .300 it was in 2008 but he this is a solid option to invest in.
-I will stay far away from Ben Zobrist once again as I correctly pegged him as a major bust before last season. His power dropped off dramatically as expected and he looked more utility man than star 2B. He did well in the SB department and surely someone will look to him during drafts but I wont be one of them and neither should you. You wont see 2009 numbers ever again I believe.
-Rickie Weeks was amazing in 2010 and I wasn’t really surprised by it. He showed during the first half of 2009 the pop that had eluded him earlier on until he got hurt and missed the rest of the season and he legitimized that showing by once again hitting for power all year. Weeks however remains a very dangerous stock for 2009 due to a few factors. One is the injuries as we all know the guy has been one of the most injury-prone players in the game. He was able to beat the odds in 2010 but how likely is he to do that once again in 2011? Think Ian Kinsler here. The second factor is that Weeks is showing less and less interest in stealing bases which is what made him so attractive in the first place with his power/speed combo. The Brewers as a team don’t run much but with new management, maybe that changes. All in all I think we might have seen the planets align for Weeks in 2010 and that 2011 could bring major disappointment. You have been warned.
-As my friend Eric over at ROTOPROFESSOR.com pointed out, Blue Jays 2B had one of the worst luck seasons in the last 10 years. Hill posted a BAPIP that was ridiculously low in 2010 and that was a major reason for the Mendoza Line batting average. The interesting thing to note however is that Hill still was hitting home runs at the same clip he did during his breakout 2009 season and that with his luck surely correcting to a more positive numbers this season, we could see a season similar to a lesser degree to what Hill did two years ago. If I miss out on the top guys, Hill would be someone to target dirt cheap in fantasy baseball drafts.
-Martin Prado was a revelation in 2010 until injuries ruined the end of his season but don’t get carries away here. He will hit for a very good average and score a nice amount of runs but the home runs and steals wont wow you.
-Don’t even bother with Howie Kendrick anymore. He is a Martin Prado on a much lesser scale and he just hasn’t achieved what we thought was possible for him over the last three seasons.
-The days of Brian Roberts being a top tier 2B are finished as injuries ruined his 2010 season. His speed has been on the decline for years and there is no telling if he can stay on the field this year.