There's no argument at the top of the second base ranks (USAT Images)
Second base is basically the roster spot that keeps the position scarcity advocates in business. If it weren't for the dearth of talent at second, scarcity zealots wouldn't have such a compelling strategy to sell.
Just spend a minute or two examining the position ranks and you'll understand why the top players at this spot are such prized commodities, even in smaller mixed leagues. The top-tier second basemen — Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler — have proven themselves to be reliable four-category fantasy assets, reasonable picks in the opening rounds. But when you drop down to the third tier (see below), suddenly the names are much less appealing.
And when you reach the fourth and fifth tiers ... well, um ... let's just hope it never comes to that. Avoid that range if you can. Those tiers are loaded with overpriced mediocrity, with category specialists, and with dudes who are gonna hit .205. If you find yourself sifting through those names, then there's a decent chance your draft took a bad turn, probably in Rounds 5 or 6.
[Baseball 2013 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
If you happen to play in an N.L.-only league, then you're really going to dislike this position. You'll be shocked and dismayed at how quickly the name "Rickie Weeks" rises to the top of your queue. He'll appear not long after this sketchy character is taken...
Aaron Hill (USAT)Whenever Aaron Hill has given us a great season in the past, the sequel has been a notable flop. Any reason to think things will be different this time around? What's your max bid for Hill in a mixed league?
Scott -The nice thing about Hill is that even in down years, he still gives you something. He clubbed 26 homers in 2010 (offsetting the crummy average) and he stole 21 bases in 2011 (appreciated, since the power was south). He's a .272 career hitter, so I'm willing to forget 2010's crash ever happened. I'm a believer. He's the No. 4 second baseman on my board, someone I'd pay high teens for in a mixed auction.
Brad - Even in down years Hill's peripheral stats suggested a better superficial profile. I would expect a slight regression across-the-board based on career norms, but he'll still be a highly coveted second basemen in 12-team mixers. Don't slap the wallet too hard, but a bid in range of $14-$17 is acceptable.
Andy - Hill has offered modest power even in the dud years, so I think you can reasonably expect 20-25 homers. No one should be surprised if the batting average dips 20-40 points, but we're still talking about a useful player. If you toss his name in an auction before the upper-tier guys are gone, then you'll probably find that he's a decent bargain — maybe $12-$14. But I wouldn't want to enter a bidding war for Hill after Cano, Pedroia, Kinsler and Kipnis are off the board.
Dan Uggla is 3-for-23 so far this spring, with 12 strikeouts and three walks. He's also 33 and coming off the worst season of his major league career (.220/.348/.384). Two members of the Yahoo! fantasy staff have ranked Uggla as off-limits in standard leagues, while the other three ... well, you guys are the other three. Please give us your forecast for Uggla in 2013.
Dalton - Over the last three years, Uggla has averaged 29.3 homers, 91.3 runs scored and 88.3 RBI. Obviously the escalating K-rate is worrisome, but batting average fluctuates so much, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's back around his career range this year (.250-ish). Something around 25-85-85 also seems reasonable. I'm not writing him off at age 33.
Brad - Uggla is the Fillet O' Fish at midnight – hideous, disgusting, wretched. His sharp downturn in power and always eye-burning batting average were tough-to-stomach a season ago. I do believe he'll again venture into 20-HR territory, but players like Neil Walker, Kyle Seager and Josh Rutledge are far more desirable. Let someone else deal with the donuts.
Scott - You'll need Brad or Dalton to sell the Uggla Story – I've pushed him down to the depths of the high teens at the position. You're taking on obvious batting average risk with Uggla and he won't run, and the air could start hissing out of the balloon at this stage of his career. I doubt I'll own him anywhere in 2013.
Jurickson Profar (USAT)Let's just say, hypothetically, that Jurickson Profar somehow found a path to 450 at-bats in Texas. Maybe Elvis Andrus hits the 60-day DL with chronic tattoo discomfort, or perhaps Ian Kinsler shifts to first base. For now, we're not worried about how Profar can possibly crack the lineup; we're just considering his 2013 potential if it happens. What would be a reasonable projection for baseball's top prospect in his age-20 season?
Brandon - He's still a baby (20), but he's very advanced in terms of plate skills and polish for his age. With 450 ABs, I could see a .270, 12-HR, 18-SB type of performance. But I'm expecting something in the neighborhood of 300-350 ABs.
Andy - This scenario probably requires multiple injuries, so let's not pretend that it's likely. But if Profar were to receive a significant number of at-bats, I'd forecast something like nine homers, 16 steals and a .265-ish average. Long-term, the kid looks like he'll be a 20/20 player at a premium position, so he's definitely a keeper to target.
Dalton - Profar's minor league numbers don't jump off the page, but posting a .281/.368/.452 line with nearly as many walks as strikeouts as a 19-year-old in Double-A suggests big things to come. The lineup and home park help as well. I'd project something like a .265-ish BA with 15 homers and 15 steals.
Who's your favorite late-rounder at this spot, if you happen to miss out on the upper-tier second basemen? Let's go beyond pick No. 200 in Yahoo! ADP...
Andy - Everth Cabrera's ADP is 219.1 as of this writing, which means he's getting taken just three picks ahead of Darwin Barney. That's crazy. Cabrera stole 44 bags in only 48 attempts last season, leading the N.L. His current Yahoo! price tag makes no sense at all.
Brandon - Outside 200 ADP, it's gotta be Dustin Ackley for me. He dealt with a bone spur in his ankle that M's trainer Rick Griffin said made him look like a 90-year-old man walking into the training room. I think Ackley is headed for a nice rebound in '13.
Brad - I agree Ackley and Cabrera are diamonds in the rough, however, so is Funston man-tasy Howie Kendrick. Many will be turned off by last year's power outage, but he's still in the midst of his power prime (Age 29) and will undoubtedly contribute above average production in steals and BA. Slated to bat sixth behind Mark Trumbo, he could whack 15-18 long-balls while chipping in 13-16 SBs. That's solid value.
San Diego's Jedd Gyorko and St. Louis' Matt Carpenter are putting in time at second base this spring, each battling for starting roles on their respective teams. Neither player is eligible at second in Yahoo! leagues just yet, but they'll only need five starts or 10 appearances to qualify. Which player are you most interested in this season, fantasy-wise? And where would you slot these guys in your position ranks?
Scott - Gyorko is the better dynasty pick and I'm confident I'd want him over Carpenter in a year or two, but Carpenter's already shown his bat is ready for the majors (.294/.365/.463 last year over 296 at-bats). That merits a slight edge.
Andy - I've done all I can around here to feed the Gyorko hype. If that kid can win the second base gig in San Diego, he could easily finish top-five (three?) at the position in home runs in 2012. Gyorko hit 30 bombs across two minor league levels last year, and 25 the previous season. If Gyorko were eligible at second already, he'd fall into the 16-18 range on my board. Carpenter would sit 22-24.
Brandon - I'm definitely more intrigued by Gyorko. Carpenter has held his own at the MLB level, but he's a hollow fantasy player, with little power/speed upside to talk about. At least with Gyorko, there's some hope for a 20-HR impact (he hit 30 HR between Double- and Triple-A last season). But right now I'm not sure Gyorko starts the season IN San Diego, nor am I sure Carpenter has a regular spot in the Cards lineup, so I'm slotting both of them just outside the top 30 at the position.
OK, let's pretend you're drafting a 2015 fantasy league today. Please give us your top-seven second basemen. Go...
Andy - 1) Robinson Cano, 2) Jason Kipnis, 3) Jurickson Profar, 4) Dustin Pedroia, 5) Jose Altuve, 6) Jedd Gyorko, 7) Delino DeShields Jr.*
Dalton - 1) Robinson Cano, 2) Jurickson Profar, 3) Jason Kipnis, 4) Dustin Pedroia, 5) Ian Kinsler, 6) Aaron Hill, 7) Dustin Ackley.
* OK, I don't actually know that Delino will be ready to contribute by 2015, but you'll definitely want to file away the name. Check the stolen base total from last season. If it weren't for Billy Hamilton's ridiculous year, the fantasy community would be buzzing about DeShields.
Willie Randolph or Bloomquist? Davey Lopes or Deivi Cruz? (OK, that one is a slaughter. Sorry. This question is better...) Bobby Grich or Doerr?
Brandon - I'm surprised looking back at Randolph's offensive stats that they were so modest. I had it in my head that they were better than that. But, hey, they are still a a fair bit better than Bloomquist's. And the guy walked 119 times one year to just 45 Ks! I'm definitely taking Randolph. And I'll take Grich, who had a face made for a 70's private detective TV series, over Doerr – did you know that Doerr stole 54 bases in his career, but was caught stealing 64 times? As for my favorite second baseman of all-time, it's gotta be "Sweet" Lou Whitaker. Though, as an M's fan, I'll never forget Brett Boone's 'roid-raging '01 season, one of the greatest 2B offensive displays of all-time (.331/37/141/118).
Scott - Randolph is obviously the pick, though he's one of those "so underrated, he's overrated" types. He never scored 100 runs in a season, and he was an occasional base stealer after age 25. Lopes is still fantasy relevant today – he's one of the base running gurus in the game, currently working with the Dodgers. Grich is the free agent the non-Steinbrenner Yankees really wanted in the winter of 1976, but George pushed for Reggie Jackson instead. The rest is history.
Brad - Randolph, solely because of his remarkable 119:45 walk-to-strikeout split in 1980. And Lopes, simply because his lip sweater might be the bushiest in Major League history. That man's upper-lip never shivered on those cool LA nights.
Andy - Randolph and Lopes, clearly. And then I've gotta stick with my own era and go Grich, an under-appreciated star. He had perhaps his best season in the strike year ('81), so his peak was overlooked.
Dalton - Randolph, Cruz and Grich. Remember the final days of Randolph as the Mets' manager? High drama.
Position averages for the top-20 fantasy second basemen, last three years
2012 — 79.1 R, 16.1 HR, 70.4 RBIs, 13.7 SB, .275 AVG
2011 – 78.6 R, 16.7 HR, 68.9 RBI, 14.4 SB, .274 AVG
2010 – 78.2 R, 16.7 HR, 69.9 RBI, 8.6 SB, .282 AVG
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