Robinson Cano will try to breathe life into the Mariner offense. (USATSI)
By Josh Johnson, Jake Watroba and Tim McLeod
The 2014 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit rolls on today with another cheat sheet. So while the Braves continue to lock up their young stars, signing closer Craig Kimbrel to a four-year, $42-million deal, let’s turn our attention to the keystone corner as we present our Top 55 Second Basemen.
Given the massive contract Robinson Cano received from Seattle, it’s obvious that superstar second basemen do not emerge very often. This list is not meant to surprise or derail your thoughts. It is simply for Fantasy edification purposes. As we see it, Ian Kinsler could be the biggest letdown because he has always been held in such high regard. We absolutely love Jedd Gyroko’s potential and don’t ever sleep on guys like Brian Dozier and Jose Altuve. Also remember not to fall in love with Jurickson Profar until he does something on a consistent basis at the major league level. Kolten Wong is our dark horse mainly because St. Louis seems to grow the best crops. — JJ
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (1): It’s actually been kind of funny and ironic listening to Yankees fans bitch about Cano leaving New York to take more money and play somewhere else. How does your own medicine taste, Yankee fans? Derek Jeter, for one, is going to miss Cano (see video below). The Mariners pried Cano from the Bronx Bombers by offering him $240 million over 10 years. Now that he’s a Mariner and hitting in a park that is more pitcher-friendly than Yankee Stadium, what can we expect from Cano? With 40 games played at Safeco Field, Cano is averaging home run every 40.75 plate appearances, which isn’t great. However, it’s a small sample size and a good portion of those plate appearances were against Felix Hernandez. Cano’s Fantasy value took a hit when he signed with the Mariners, but he’s still far-and-away the best second baseman in baseball. He may not hit 30 bombs this year, but with a bigger outfield in Seattle, a possible uptick in doubles should keep Fantasy owners happy with his production. — JW
2. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (7): Kipnis was one of the main reasons why the Indians went from AL Central basement dwellers to finishing a game behind the Tigers for the division title. The 26-year-old quietly had a good year, showing the ability to hit for average and power, drive in some runs, get on base at a good clip, and steal 30 bags. Some owners might find Kipnis to be a better bang for their buck than Cano as you won’t need to use a first round pick on him. As Kipnis enters his fourth big league season, he could be sitting on a breakout year. His ability to steal bases and his power potential make him one of the elite keystone corner dudes in the game. If Kipnis is able to hit over 20 long balls this year, and it’s very possible, come next year, we could see him at the top of this list. — JW
3. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (3): We like to think of Pedroia as “the little engine that can.” His teammates call him “Laser Show” or “Muddy Chicken,” or, in the case of David Ortiz, “The Little Pony.” We’re sure there are reasons behind those names, but whatever you call him, you probably still respect him. Pedroia is fine all-around player but we feel he is a more important real player than a Fantasy player. His career 162-game averages of 16 homers, 79 RBI, 19 stolen bases and .302/.370/.454 are great. However, what he means to that clubhouse outweighs his stats. As a .300 hitter with an outside chance at a 20-20 season in 2014, he is an excellent second base option. How high should he go in your draft? Well that depends on how many Red Sox fans your league has and how others value second basemen. For our money, mid third round sounds about bang on. — JJ
4. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds (4): In 2007, Phillips joined the elite 30-30 club, thereby establishing himself as a top end Fantasy player. Since then, he has failed to surpass 21 homers in a season. Last year, for instance, Phillips hit only 18 homers, but his 103 RBI caused many prospective owners to reshuffle their desires this winter. With all-world Joey Votto batting behind him, the aging Phillips should still see some balls to hit. Phillips seems to never take a day off and though he may require more as he gets older, we feel he is still among the bottom rung of second tier second basemen. — JJ
5. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals (103 at OF; 42 at 3B; 52 at 1B): Our NFL Editor gawked at the idea of using Carpenter as an everyday player last season. We guess there is a reason he is the NFL Editor. There is also a distinct chance that Carpenter heard his rumblings. He proved his worth with a .318/.392/.481 line while smacking 11 homers and driving in 78 runs. As far as Carpenter playing everyday, only three NL batters received more at-bats than the 626 he had. He did strike out 98 times but that was counter balanced by 72 walks. Carpenter’s multi-positional eligibility also gives him a slightly higher value. We would draft Carpenter somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds. He is also listed in our Third Base Rankings, coming shortly. — JJ
6. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers (2): Thanks to a blockbuster winter trade, Kinsler will now be protecting the greatest hitter in the game. His strength has always been power and with his speed potential, some had been crying about him being the next Joe Morgan. Kinsler is getting on in years, but remains a 20-20 threat. The one thing that impresses us about him is that he strikes out just 11.9 per cent of the time, which is a stark contrast from the MLB average of 18.3 per cent over his career. That kind of contact is a rare feat for a power hitter. Kinsler has been displayed on the top shelf of second basemen since his initial 20-20 season in 2007. However, he’s now in his 30s and is very injury prone. Still, we expect passion and drive from this hard surging veteran. Expect Kinsler to come off the board early in the sixth round. — JJ
7. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks (6): The aging Hill has been a very focused hitter during his tenure in Arizona. When healthy, he is a legitimate power threat. The problem with Hill is he has yet to string two or three quality seasons together. With health and age now a factor, he is a definite “High Risk, High Reward” kind of player. It’s quite conceivable that Hill may be passed this season by some of the younger players at this position. — JJ
8. Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres (35): In keeper and dynasty leagues you can bet the young and powerful Gyorko is a hot commodity. Shades of Ryne Sandberg and a young Chase Utley enter our mind as we watch Gyorko swing. His 23 homers as rookie excited many prospective owners, although that .249 batting average and those 123 strikeouts leaves room for improvement. Gyorko’s raw power and youth will make him a mid to early round draftee (think mid-seventh round or so). — JJ
9. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (8): Thanks to 75 stolen bases in 356 games Altuve has the most job security of any Astro. The addition of slowly maturing Dexter Fowler could certainly help Altuve become a well-rounded run producer. Altuve hits for average like a three-hole hitter, so if they slate Fowler in front of him, his doubles to the gap could come with someone on base. Altuve might chip 10 homers as well and while you might see a dip in his stolen bases, he should still good for 20 or so. Altuve is a second tier second baseman who will come off the board sooner than he should because of his base swiping past. — JJ
10. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks (36 at OF; 11 at 3B): In years past, Prado has been a manager’s Swiss Army knife. He can play every position but catcher it seems and he does so while remaining a solid hitter. Prado is now 30, but with bashers like Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo in the lineup we expect him to continue to peak. Because Prado is eligible at 2B/3B/OF you want to remember his name around round nine or 10. Obviously, he’s best slated at second since his power numbers don’t stack up to most corner infielders or outfielder, but it’s always nice to have his flexibility. Prado is also listed in our Third Base and Outfield Rankings. — JJ
11. Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers (33 at SS): Profar was called up to the bigs in late May last season and for about a month, made his presence felt in the Rangers lineup. In his first 31 games, he managed to hit a few dingers and drive in some runs, holding his own with the bat and proving to be a serviceable Fantasy option at second base. Profar’s next 54 games were a different story. While he became more patient at the plate, he struggled to hit, his power numbers were down, and he was striking out at a higher rate. Still, coming into last season as baseball’s top prospect, Profar possess all the potential to be one of the game’s top players at this position. Entering this season at age 21 with a year’s worth of facing big league pitching under his belt, he should develop more as a hitter. While minor league numbers don’t guarantee a prospect will pan out, they often provide the framework of a what a player can be. Judging by his career minor league numbers, don’t be surprised if Profar is decent hitter who shows extra base power and draws a fair share of walks this season. — JW
12. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays (5): Zobrist was money for owners after the All-Streak break last season. From mid-July on, he was solid at the plate, hitting at an above average rate and getting on base at a good clip. While his RBI numbers down the stretch weren’t where owners would’ve liked them, Zobrist was able to score a good amount of runs. Sure, his power numbers were down, but what makes him worth a draft pick is his position flexibility. Just like Joe Maddon’s batting orders and defensive shifts, Zobrist allows Fantasy owners to get creative because he qualifies at three positions. Zobrist may have taken a step back from a year before, but he is still in the prime of his career, so remains capable of putting up monster numbers like he did in 2009. For your money, he’s worth the pick. Zobrist is also listed in our Shortstop and Outfield Rankings, coming shortly. — JW
13. Daniel Murphy, New York Mets (17): Murphy has developed into a fierce stick, a tough out if you will. He is a piece to the Mets puzzle that currently has very few sure things beyond David Wright. Murphy He hits RHP and LHP basically the same and he can play multiple positions so he’ll likely always be in the lineup. He’s a potential low-end option in mixed leagues, but NL-only owners will definitely need to keep Murphy in mind as he’s one of the best second base options in the Senior Circuit. — JJ
14. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels (10): Kendrick may never win a batting title, but the .292 career hitter is an above average bat. He does not have much home run power he did have 142 hits in just 122 games in 2013. Kendrick could stand to walk more and with a healthy Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton hitting behind him, he should be able to do so. We like Kendrick to reach double digit steals if he remains healthy. You can do worse than second baseman who hovers around .300 in the mid rounds. — JJ
15. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates (11): Hometown hero Walker is just 28 and while some skeptics may continue to peel away from him as a legitimate bat, we see things differently. He has missed at least 30 games in each of the last two seasons yet his power numbers are slowing gaining. If walker can play in 150 games we see him getting into the 20 homer and 80 RBI range, with a chance at a .300 BA. A later round selection with mid-range appeal is Walker’s destiny. — JJ
16. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins (38 at SS): Besides Dozier’s .244 batting average, he looked like a young Utley in 2013. Based on Dozier’s 120 strikeouts and his .219 BA against RHP last season, it’s clear he has some holes in his swing. He did crank 13 of his 18 homers against righties and that proves he is making adjustments as he becoming a professional hitter. Fourteen steals and .312 OBP are also encouraging signs of growth. In the mid to late rounds you may decide you need a cheap source of power and a little infield depth. Dozier will be smiling like Fantasy starter of the future. — JJ
17. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (13): For a second baseman, Utley is ancient (35). He did have a decidedly better showing last season with 18 homers, 69 RBI and .284/.348/.475 slash line, but we surmised he has reached the top of the mountain. Don’t but too much stock in Utley. He is a mid-round option with many limits. — JJ
18. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals (NR): Rendon might be a year or two away from fully maturing as an MLB hitter, but we expect improved numbers. His range at second has basically flushed away Danny Espinosa’s chances at playing every day. Though injuries prevented Rendon from receiving a sufficient amount of at-bats in the minors the Nationals seem confident he is up to stay. He will have some dry spells, but expect some awe-inspiring spurts of magnificence. A potential late-round steal, Rendon could make dynasty owners extremely happy. — JJ
19. Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers (NR): Lost in the tailspin that has been Rickie Weeks’s career, a man named Scooter emerged. Gennett is not a prototypical top prospect. Rather, he’s a scrappy young lad with a future as a bottom-of-the-order hitter capable of hitting for a nice average. Gennett hit .324 in limited action last year. While we don’t expect him to keep up that pace for a whole season, we do expect him to double his homer total of six. So if he can hit, say .280 with low double-digit homers, that has some value in NL-only leagues. — JJ
20. Omar Infante, Kansas City Royals (26): It seems like Infante should be about 50 years old but he is actually just 32. He is a steady slap hitter with a .279 career average and is good for 10-to-12 homers and around 50 RBI. Infante will be asked to provide some veteran leadership in a young clubhouse that sorely needs it. We like him to have one last hurrah as the elder statesman amongst the baby faced Royals. — JJ
Others to Consider
21. Kelly Johnson, New York Yankees (16): Johnson is also listed in our Outfield Rankings.
22. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants (19)
23. Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves (12)
24. Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals (40)
25. Jed Lowrie, Oakland A’s (25 at SS): Lowrie is also listed in our Shortstop Rankings.
26. Alex Guerrero, Los Angeles Dodgers (NR)
27. Ryan Flaherty, Baltimore Orioles (NR)
28. DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies (41)
29. Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox (18)
30. Alberto Callaspo, Oakland A’s (22 at 3B): Callaspo is also listed in our Third Base Ranking.
31. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers (9)
32. Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners (53 at SS): Franklin will shift positions with Cano now in Seattle.
33. Emilio Bonifacio, Chicago Cubs (59 at OF): Bonifacio is also listed in our Outfield Rankings.
34. Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies (14 at SS)
35. Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners (14): Ackley is also listed in our Outfield Rankings. With Cano now in Seattle, this is likely the last year Ackley will qualify at second base.
36. Brian Roberts, New York Yankees (30)
37. Jordy Mercer, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR): Mercer is also listed in our Shortstop Rankings.
38. Ryan Goins, Toronto Blue Jays (NR)
39. Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs (24)
40. Eric Sogard, Oakland A’s (NR)
41. Mark Ellis, St. Louis Cardinals (23)
42. Daniel Descalso, St. Louis (28): Descalso is also listed in our Shortstop and Third Base Rankings.
43. Jeff Keppinger, Chicago White Sox (20): Keppinger also qualifies at First Base and is listed in our Third Base Rankings.
44. Ryan Roberts, Chicago Cubs (21)
45. Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays (25)
46. Kevin Frandsen, Philadelphia Phillies (45 at 3B): Frandsen also qualifies at First Base.
47. Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles (51)
48. Ed Lucas, Miami Marlins (NR): Lucas also qualifies at First Base and is also listed in our Third Base Rankings.
49. Alexi Amarista, San Diego Padres (52): Amarista also qualifies in Outfield.
50. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals (15)
51. Jemile Weeks, Baltimore Orioles (31)
52. Stephen Lombardozzi, Detroit Tigers (33): Lombardozzi also qualifies in Outfield.
53. Marcus Semien, Chicago White Sox (NR): Semien also qualifies at Shortstop and is listed in our Third Base Rankings.
54. Donovan Solano, Miami Marlins (38)
55. Maicer Izturis, Toronto Blue Jays (22): Izturis is also listed in our Shortstop and Third Base Rankings.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below if you agree or disagree with our rankings.
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