My rankings at catcher and first base were fairly straight forward, but things get a little weird here at second base. It starts with a difference in positional eligibility requirements. In order to qualify for a position in my rankings a player had to play in 15 games at that position, however, the standard eligibility requirement for Fantasy Pros is much lower. With that in mind, some of the discrepancies listed below aren’t as large as they would appear. The other thing that makes this rankings article unique is that nine of the ten players I highlighted are ranked higher than the expert consensus, and just one, albeit a big name, is ranked significantly lower than the expert consensus.
*Expert Consensus Rankings are as of March 9.
1- Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
2013: 564 AB, 86 R, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 30 SB, .284 AVG, .366 OBP
2- Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
2013: 605 AB, 81 R, 27 HR, 107 RBI, 7 SB, .314 AVG, .383 OBP
3- Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
2013: 641 AB, 91 R, 9 HR, 84 RBI, 17 SB, .301 AVG, .372 OBP
4- Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013: 327 AB, 45 R, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB, .291 AVG, .356 OBP
5- Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers
2013: 545 AB, 85 R, 13 HR, 72 RBI, 15 SB, .277 AVG, .344 OBP
6- Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
2013: 612 AB, 77 R, 12 HR, 71 RBI, 11 SB, .275 AVG, .354 OBP
7- Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
2013: 626 AB, 126 R, 11 HR, 78 RBI, 3 SB, .318 AVG, .392 OBP
8- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
2013: 626 AB, 64 R, 5 HR, 52 RBI, 35 SB, .283 AVG, .316 OBP
9- Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
2013: 658 AB, 92 R, 13 HR, 78 RBI, 23 SB, .286 AVG, .319 OBP
10- Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013: 609 AB, 70 R, 14 HR, 82 RBI, 3 SB, .282 AVG, .333 OBP
11- Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres
2013: 486 AB, 62 R, 23 HR, 63 RBI, 1 SB, .249 AVG, .301 OBP
12- Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
2013: 476 AB, 73 R, 18 HR, 69 RBI, 8 SB, .284 AVG, .348 OBP
13- Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers
2013: 286 AB, 30 R, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 2 SB, .234 AVG, .308 OBP
14- Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
2013: 558 AB, 72 R, 18 HR, 66 RBI, 14 SB, .244 AVG, .312 OBP
15- Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels
2013: 478 AB, 55 R, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 6 SB, .297 AVG, .335 OBP
16- Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
2013: 606 AB, 80 R, 18 HR, 103 RBI, 5 SB, .261 AVG, .310 OBP
17- Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates
2013: 478 AB, 62 R, 16 HR, 53 RBI, 1 SB, .251 AVG, .339 OBP
18- Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics
2013: 603 AB, 80 R, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 1 SB, .290 AVG, .344 OBP
19- Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals
2013: 351 AB, 40 R, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 1 SB, .265 AVG, .329 OBP
20- Omar Infante, Kansas City Royals
2013: 453 AB, 54 R, 10 HR, 51 RBI, 5 SB, .318 AVG, .345 OBP
21- Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies
2013: 285 AB, 45 R, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 12 SB, .235 AVG, .294 OBP
22- Kelly Johnson, New York Yankees
2013: 366 AB, 41 R, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 7 SB, .235 AVG, .305 OBP
23- Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals
2013: 59 AB, 6 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 SB, .153 AVG, .194 OBP
24- Alexander Guerrero, Los Angeles Dodgers
25- Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
2013: 384 AB, 40 R, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 2 SB, .253 AVG, .319 OBP
26- Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox
2013: 371 AB, 46 R, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 5 SB, .267 AVG, .322 OBP
27- Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
2013: 350 AB, 40 R, 10 HR, 24 RBI, 7 SB, .209 AVG, .306 OBP
28- Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves
2013: 448 AB, 60 R, 22 HR, 55 RBI, 2 SB, .179 AVG, .309 OBP
29- Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners
2013: 369 AB, 38 R, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 6 SB, .225 AVG, .303 OBP
30- Emilio Bonifacio, Chicago Cubs
2013: 420 AB, 54 R, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 28 SB, .243 AVG, .295 OBP
31- Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee Brewers
2013: 213 AB, 29 R, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB, .324 AVG, .356 OBP
32- Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
2013: 488 AB, 57 R, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 2 SB, .297 AVG, .357 OBP
33- Tommy La Stella, Atlanta Braves
2013: (AA) 283 AB, 32 R, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 7 SB, .343 AVG, .422 OBP
34- Derek Dietrich, Miami Marlins
2013: 213 AB, 32 R, 9 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB, .214 AVG, .275 OBP
35- Brian Roberts, New York Yankees
2013: 265 AB, 33 R, 8 HR, 39 RBI, 3 SB, .249 AVG, .312 OBP
36- DJ LeMahieu, Colorado Rockies
2013: 404 AB, 39 R, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 18 SB, .280 AVG, .311 OBP
37- Scott Sizemore, New York Yankees
2013: 6 AB, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, .167 AVG, .167 OBP
38- Ryan Flaherty, Baltimore Orioles
2013: 246 AB, 28 R, 10 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB, .224 AVG, .293 OBP
39- Alberto Callaspo, Oakland Athletics
2013: 453 AB, 52 R, 10 HR, 58 RBI, 0 SB, .258 AVG, .333 OBP
40- Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
2013: 158 AB, 11 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, .158 AVG, .193 OBP
41- Leury Garcia, Chicago White Sox
2013: 101 AB, 10 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 7 SB, .198 AVG, .248 OBP
42- Eric Sogard, Oakland Athletics
2013: 368 AB, 45 R, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 10 SB, .266 AVG, .322 OBP
43- Mark Ellis, St. Louis Cardinals
433 AB, 46 R, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 4 SB, .270 AVG, .323 OBP
44- Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles
2013: 14 AB, 5 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB, .286 AVG, .333 OBP
45- Ryan Goins, Toronto Blue Jays
2013: 119 AB, 11 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, .252 AVG, .264 OBP
46- Jemile Weeks, Baltimore Orioles
2013: 9 AB, 3 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, .111 AVG, .111 OBP
47- Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs
2013: 501 AB, 49 R, 7 HR, 41 RBI, 4 SB, .208 AVG, .266 OBP
48- Arismendy Alcantara, Chicago Cubs
2013: 494 AB, 69 R, 15 HR, 69 RBI, 31 SB, .271 AVG, .352 OBP
49- Ryan Roberts, Chicago Cubs
2013: 162 AB, 15 R, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 0 SB, .247 AVG, .295 OBP
50- Jeff Keppinger, Chicago White Sox
2013: 423 AB, 38 R, 4 HR, 40 RBI, 0 SB, .253 AVG, .283 OBP
Ranked significantly higher than the expert consensus
Aaron Hill- My Rank: 4, Expert Consensus: 9
While Hill barely cracks the expert consensus top 10, he makes my top five. Do the other experts have concerns about Hill’s hand or ability to stay healthy in general? That seems doubtful, he didn’t miss anytime with lingering effects from his broken left hand after he was activated from the disabled list in late June, and the last time he missed a big chunk of games prior to the fractured hand was back in 2008 when he dealt with a concussion. What that would seem to mean is that others question the Diamondbacks second baseman’s offensive ability, which seems strange to me.
The guy can hit. Hill has totaled 1172 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks since being acquired from the Blue Jays during the 2011 season, and he’s hit .300/.362/.500 with 39 homers and 20 stolen bases since then. Furthermore, manager Kirk Gibson has regularly slotted Hill somewhere between second through fifth in the order, which creates a nice mix of runs and RBIs. The soon to be 32-year old stole just one base in five chances last year, and that’s not good, but he’d stolen 35 bases in 47 chances from 2011-2012. I’m willing to chalk up last year to a down year on the bases, and something in the neighborhood of 6-to-10 is a good approximation for his stolen base total this year. Hill’s power was down a tiny bit last year, but if he’d reached the 668 plate appearances he totaled in 2012, he paced for 20-to-21 homers. An upper-teens homer total at the end of this season feels like a given, and that would be in the upper echelon of power numbers at the keystone position. You add his power and speed production with a batting average north of .285 and you have a player that looks a lot more similar to his peers in the top half of the top 10 at second base than those in the bottom half.
Daniel Murphy- My Rank: 9, Expert Consensus: 13
Murphy enjoyed a full blown breakout last year. He set career highs in four of the five standard offensive fantasy categories. The biggest surprise was the 23 bags he swiped, a total that is four more than he’d stolen in his first 469 games in the Show. It’s hard to view them as a total fluke, though, since he was caught stealing just three times, and was a very efficient 10-for-12 in stolen base attempts in 2012. The sweet swinging left-handed hitter might give a few steals back, but it looks like base stealing is a skill he’s genuinely crafted and fine tuned.
After hitting 12 homers in 1,035 plate appearances between 2011-2012, he cleared the fences 13 times last year. The jump in home run production is in large part the result of him hitting more balls in the air. FanGraphs credited him with a 36.3 percent flyball rate last year, and flyball rates of 31.1 percent and 24.9 percent in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Murphy’s home run-per-flyball rate of 6.3 percent is very sustainable (his career mark is 6.0 percent), so double digit taters are in the offing again this year. In addition to having sustainable power, his .286 average last year is actually four points lower than his career average of .290, so that appears to be a repeatable stat. The biggest question with Murphy is what will his run production stats look like? This is the most obvious place for regression. His .319 OBP was almost exactly league average, and it’s hard to envision that being enough to fuel another 90-plus runs scored season, even hitting in front of David Wright in the two-hole. All-in-all, Murphy looks like the real deal to me.
Jurickson Profar- My Rank: 13, Expert Consensus: 17
Ranking Profar in the top 15 at second base takes a leap of faith. That leap of faith in fake baseball pales in comparison to the one the Rangers took in reality when dealing Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder, in large part, to clear regular playing time for Profar. Fantasy baseball gamers have recently been treated to instant gratification with their prospect investments, but that’s the exception to the norm. The 21-year old shortstop turned second baseman topped prospect lists last year, and part of that is due to possessing an above average glove at an up the middle position, but scouting reports also noted his above average hitting ability.
Profar hit at every level of the minor league ladder, and he demonstrated plate discipline that belied his age, but he scuffled in a bench/utility role for the Rangers last year. Even though his standard fantasy stats were lackluster, there were signs of promise. Even against advanced arms Profar failed to press, and he chased pitches out of the strike zone far fewer times than the average player, and he made contact at a high rate. The tools are there for Profar to reach the teens in homers and steals this season, and a big jump in batting average is a given. The biggest knock on him is that he’ll open the year hitting down order, and with such a talented and deep lineup, he’s likely to stay down there for the bulk of the year.
Brian Dozier- My Rank: 14, Expert Consensus: 18
As a player that was noted for his polish as a prospect as opposed to his tools, a crappy start to Dozier’s big league career in 2012 could have sounded the death knell for him as a starting second baseman. The Twins were rewarded for their patience with him, though, and Dozier was much better in his second chance against big league pitching last season. How Dozier provided offensive value to the Twins and fantasy teams was different than how many would have projected him to do so if they’d looked at his minor league stats or read his scouting reports.
The Twins second baseman hit for a solid average in the minors, making lots of contact, and working walks. However, he didn’t hit for much over the fence power, and he was projected to struggle to reach double digits in homers in the majors. Struggling to clear the fences wasn’t the case for Dozier at all as he hit 18 homers (17 of which were to the pull side and one was hit to center). Not many of his homers were mammoth shots, but very few were cheapies. Hit Tracker shows 13 of his homers would have left the yard in 22 or more ballparks, and only four of his homers would have left fewer than half the big league ballparks. Another homer total in the teens at the end of this year is very attainable. Less surprising than his power output was his ability to steal bases. Dozier stole 14 bases last year, and he’s reached double digits in each of his full seasons as a pro. He wasn’t an efficient base stealer, getting caught seven times, so he’ll need to clean that up or run the risk of getting the red light from the skipper. The wild card for Dozier’s value is his batting average, which could be in line to add a few points this year. His 19.3 percent strikeout rate in 2013 was the highest mark of his pro career, but he had a contact rate that was smidge more than five percent above the league average according to FanGraphs. A few more balls in play would go a long way to helping him raise his average.
Josh Rutledge- My Rank: 21, Expert Consensus: 28
Rutledge fumbled the starting second base gig last year, and now he finds himself battling DJ LeMahieu for the Opening Day job at the keystone this year. I was bearish on Rutledge last year due to his free swinging ways, but I’m singing a different tune this year because of plate discipline improvements he made last season. A dismal season overshadow very real gains from Rutledge, and a more selective approach will help him a ton long term, and that starts this year. He has nothing left to prove in the upper minors, and his ceiling is greater than LeMahieu’s, and that’s why I give him the edge in their battle.
From a fantasy perspective, Rutledge offers an intriguing blend of power and speed in a great run scoring environment, both from a lineup perspective and from a home ballpark perspective. In almost exactly a full season’s worth of work, 605 plate appearances in 161 games, Rutledge has hit 15 homers and stolen 19 bases in 19 stolen base attempts. A full season of playing time this year could yield similar power and speed contributions, and if he’s able to retain his plate discipline gains, an uptick from his .254 average is a lock.
Rickie Weeks- My Rank: 27, Expert Consensus: 36
Another second baseman embroiled in a battle for a starting job is Weeks. He had a miserable 2013 campaign in which Scooter Gennett supplanted him in the starting lineup. The talk all offseason was that Gennett would enter camp the favorite to win the job with Weeks possibly seeing time against southpaws since Gennett is a left-handed batter that is an inferior hitter to Weeks against lefties. That said, when Weeks is going right, he doesn’t need to be shielded from right-handed pitchers.
The elder statesman at the position has gotten off to a much better start to the spring than Gennett, and while manager Ron Roenicke is saying the numbers don’t tell the whole story, the start Weeks is off to has to be considered encouraging. Weeks was tasked with making an adjustment to his approach that includes lowering his hands, and if the Brewers believe that is helping drive his stellar play in the spring thus far, that could certainly help Weeks’ cause in laying claim to the starter role at the keystone. Last year snapped a streak of three straight seasons for Weeks in which he reached or surpassed 20 homers, and he even swiped double digit bags in two of those three years. Even a modest bounce back would be enough to allow Weeks to qualify in the top 30 at the position by year’s end.
Tommy La Stella- My Rank: 33, Expert Consensus: 48
Dan Uggla was so bad last season that he was left off the Braves postseason roster. Suffice to say he doesn’t have a stranglehold on a starting job. Uggla should break camp as the starter, but his leash will be short. La Stella is more of a gamer type than an impact prospect, but he has an outstanding approach that led to a 37:34 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 323 Double-A plate appearances last year, and he hit .343/.422/.473. The prospect second baseman won’t move the needle much in homers or stolen bases, but he should hit for a high average.
Derek Dietrich- My Rank: 34, Expert Consensus: 52
Rafael Furcal is the favorite to start for the Marlins at second base after missing all last season due to injury, but to be quite frank, he wasn’t very good in his last healthy season. At 36-years old, Furcal playing himself off the Marlins roster seems a lot more likely than him starting at second base all season. Enter Dietrich to usurp the job. With 450-plus plate appearances Dietrich has enough punch in the bat to reach the teens in taters. That power and modest run production stats are essentially his fantasy ceiling, but it’s a realistic expectation as a result of the dearth of options at second for the Marlins and the opportunity for playing time that should be presented to Dietrich.
Scott Sizemore- My Rank: 37, Expert Consensus: 57
Brian Roberts has fallen short of 300 plate appearances every season since 2009, and when he has been healthy he hasn’t been very effective. Manager Joe Girardi has stated that he views Roberts as the Yankees everyday second baseman. Good luck with that. Sizemore has dealt with his own injuries the last two years, totaling just six plate appearances, all coming last season, because of a torn and then re-torn ACL in his left knee. The Wall Street Journal, while discussing Sizemore’s ACL tears, cited three past major league players who were able to play after multiple ACL tears, they were Carlos Guillen, Aaron Boone and Chipper Jones.
A healthy Sizemore would have a chance to open the year as a reserve at both second base, behind Roberts, and third base, behind Kelly Johnson. Roberts and Johnson aren’t exactly studs, so opportunity for substantial playing time is within reach of Sizemore. In his last healthy season, 2011, Sizemore hit 11 homers in 355 plate appearances with the Athletics after they acquired him in an in-season trade from the Tigers. The O.Co Coliseum is a home run suppressing ballpark, and Yankee Stadium is anything but that. StatCorner has a three year rolling average right-handed batter homer ballpark factor of 122for Yankee Stadium, so if Sizemore can eek out 400 or more plate appearances, a dozen homers are there for the taking.
Ranked significantly lower than the expert consensus
Brandon Phillips- My Rank: 16, Expert Consensus: 7
This ranking is probably going to turn some heads, but Phillips production has been sliding, and his value was propped up by a 103 RBI outburst last season. He’s slated to hit second in the Reds lineup instead of cleanup, where he spent most of last year batting directly behind on-base machine Joey Votto and just three spots removed from high OBP leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo. Phillips will be lucky to sniff 75 RBIs this year batting second in the order, and his much maligned low OBP will bite him in the rear and hold his run scored total down, too.
That leads us to Phillips more controllable numbers, his homers, stolen bases, and batting average. The 32-year old second baseman has hit exactly 18 homers each of the last four years, and his flyball and home run-per-flyball rates have been nearly a carbon copy each year according to FanGraphs data. As long as he spends the entire year playing his home games at Great American Ballpark, which isn’t a lock since the Reds reportedly shopped him to the Yankees for Brett Gardner this offseason, 18 homers is a fair projection give or a take a couple. If he were still capable of stealing 14-16 bases in a season, Phillips would have a case for cracking the top 10 at second base, alas I don’t see him reaching double digits this year. Last year he stole just five bases in eight chances. Finally, Phillips may gain a few points in batting average if his BABIP jumps from the .281 mark he sported last year to something closer to his career mark of .291, but a dip below 80 percent in contact rate for him likely caps his batting average south of the .281 he hit in 2012, and puts it much closer to the .261 he hit last year. Let someone else draft Phillips based on name value.