The first games of Spring Training have begun in both Arizona and Florida, meaning that the real thing is on the horizon. Just as clubs are looking to evaluate their team’s options, you’re looking to evaluate your fantasy baseball team options.
No need to worry, as always we’ve provided a small cheat sheet to aid you to your team’s success.
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Today, we take a look at the second basemen with the most fantasy upside. We’ll take a look at my top five options at second base as well as a potential bust and sleeper. Anthony Rendon is second baseman eligible, but was featured in my third base preview, so I’ll spare him in this preview.
Average draft positions are current as of the publication of this article and are brought to you by FantasyPros.com.
Now, let’s get started.
Top Five Rankings
1. Robinson Cano, Sea- .314 batting average, 14 home runs, 82 RBI, 77 runs in 2014
Feb 26, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners infielder Robinson Cano poses for a portrait during photo day at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Seattle’s prized acquisition for the 2014 season didn’t disappoint and nearly led the Mariners to their first postseason appearance since 2001. With a new clean up hitter, there’s plenty of reason to believe that Cano & Co. can outdo last year’s effort.
Among second basemen, Cano was second in batting average, slugging percentage and RBI in 2014. He was first among second basemen in on-base percentage. There’s no reason to believe that a regression is in order as Cano has hit over .300 for his sixth consecutive season.
This past year, Cano made his sixth All-Star appearance as well as experienced a career high in stolen bases with 10.
Over the offseason, Cano received some big time protection in the form of Nelson Cruz. Along with the rapidly-improving Kyle Seager, there’ll be more opportunities for Cano to get favorable pitches to crush.
Additionally, his run total could potentially return to the heights of when he was wearing pinstripes. Draft Cano with confidence.
ADP: 16.0 Overall
2. Jose Altuve, Hou- .341 batting average, 7 home runs, 59 RBI, 85 runs in 2014
Sep 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) rounds third base and scores a run during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The pride of the Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, put the league on notice last year. Altuve, a personal favorite, took home the batting title in 2014 and offers more than what meets the eye. Don’t look past the 5’6, 165 pound Venezuelan because you might be missing something big.
In 2014, Altuve led the majors in hits (225) and had 25 more than the next player. He was third in the majors in doubles (47) and appeared in his second All Star Game. Even with an overwhelming 707 plate appearances, Altuve only struck out 53 times making for an excellently low 7.5 percent strikeout rate.
Need something else? He was tied for second in the majors with 56 stolen bases.
Houston may not be ready to contend in the AL West but their improvements will be felt throughout the league this year. Hitting right in front of sluggers Evan Gattis, Chris Carter and George Springer may have Altuve trotting his way around the bases for plenty of runs.
The 24-year old is entering the prime of his career and you’d be wise to join him in celebrating it.
ADP: 13.5 Overall
3. Ian Kinsler, Det- .275 batting average, 17 home runs, 92 RBI, 100 runs in 2014
Feb 28, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) poses during Photo day at Joker Merchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit’s arsenal of a batting lineup starts with lead-off hitter Ian Kinsler. As a starting pitcher, if you’re thinking about grooving your first pitch of the game for strike one, Kinsler is more than capable of giving his team a quick 1-0 lead. Already a well-rounded player with plenty of protection and great health, Kinsler is in line for another great season.
The .275 batting average may not jump out but that may be due to his durability through last season as he led the majors with 726 plate appearances. Kinsler led all second basemen with 92 RBI, a career high for him. His power is well documented, but his game is more varied than that.
Kinsler has had two 30-30 seasons in his career. (Home runs and stolen bases) This past year he participated in his fourth All Star Game.
Detroit is set to be a contender once again this season and with good reason. Between Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes, there’s plenty of optimism for potential owners to root for another 100+ run season. Setting the tone for the powerful Tigers lineup will keep Kinsler in the upper echelon of second basemen.
ADP: 57.5 Overall
4. Dustin Pedroia, Bos- .278 batting average, 7 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs in 2014
Aug 26, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) hits an RBI single in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox experienced a downer of a year in 2014 and the former Sun Devil wasn’t immune either. However, new acquistions may have recharged Boston as well as Pedroia for the upcoming season.
The four-time All-Star may have experienced a down year for his standards, but the career .299 hitter isn’t ready to have his numbers regress. In past seasons he has shown that he’s got excellent power for a second baseman (and that he can hit the high and inside). His stolen base numbers have been higher in the past as well.
With the amount of protection he’s about to receive, Pedroia’s worth a look.
Besides hitting right in front of David Ortiz, Pedroia will see more opportunity for success with the additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. If the Red Sox look to get back into contention, Pedroia will need to play a major role in that effort.
ADP: 98.0 Overall
5. Dee Gordon, Mia- .289 batting average, 2 home runs, 34 RBI, 92 runs in 2014
October 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon (9) hits a sacrifice RBI in the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game two of the 2014 NLDS playoff baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
With my fifth second baseman, I decided to go with one of Miami’s newest acquisitions, Dee Gordon. Gordon’s ability to win a category all on his own is reason enough to take a long look at him. His surprisingly high batting average means that he’s maturing as player. All good signs.
Gordon led the majors last season with 64 stolen bases and 12 triples, but was also among the top five second basemen in hits with 176. His elite level speed certainly helped him collect his 92 runs, good for third among second basemen.
This past year, he was selected to his first All-Star Game while still a member of the Dodgers.
The 26-year old is heading into the prime of his career and could create a mutually beneficial relationship with star slugger Giancarlo Stanton. If you have to choose between paying your attention to Gordon on the base-paths or Stanton at the plate, there are compromises bound to be made and the opposition will pay.
ADP: 59.7 Overall
Brandon Phillips, Cin- .266 batting average, 8 home runs, 51 RBI, 44 runs in 2014
Sep 27, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) rounds third base on his way to score during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Hear me out. The 2014 Cincinnati Reds were a depleted team ravaged with injuries and inconsistencies. Phillips was no exception. However, with a revamped cast in Cincinnati there is hope that part of the old Phillips may return in 2015.
Phillips is a three-time All-Star and he’s had a 30-30 season in his past. He’s also hit .300 in a season and as recently as 2013 had 100 RBI.
It may sound that his days as a fantasy relevant player have come and gone, but when you’re heading into the 25th or later round and are looking to take a flyer on someone Phillips could be the answer.
I’m not saying he’s someone to target early, but a potential depth addition. Let’s not forget that the Reds have the rising studs of Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco along with former NL MVP Joey Votto to give Phillips some chances to drive in runs.
ADP: 266.0 Overall
Jason Kipnis, Cle- .240 batting average, 6 home runs, 41 RBI, 61 runs
Aug 17, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (22) singles in a run in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Where do I start? With my own fantasy league, of course. I was dealt the unfortunate blow of having to auto draft my team and having acquired Kipnis through that mean.
He tends to slow down as the season wears on and is a high volume walk machine, which could be useless in leagues that count batting average and not on-base percentage. His draft position is far too high and can think of at least five other second basemen who could do the job better.
His position in the batting order is lowering due to his poor performance last season. Most fantasy outlets have around the 6th-8th best second basemen available. If you think that Kipnis is your only option left, here’s a few names to consider and look for first: Brian Dozier, Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker, Howie Kendrick, Chase Utley.
Until his play on the field improves, Kipnis should be treated as a potential bust and shouldn’t be among the first 10 second basemen drafted.
ADP: 78.3 Overall