2013 Second Base Tier Rankings: June

With two months under our collective belts in the fantasy baseball season, guys are really starting to move in the rankings. Some slow beginnings have lingered longer than expected, and some scorching starts have surprisingly possessed staying power. As with most rankings lists, there will be some (read: a lot) of disagreement, so without any further ado, here are the tiers:

TIER ONE

Robinson Cano
Dustin Pedroia
Ian Kinsler

No changes at the top. Robinson Cano didn’t enjoy a stellar month, but I don’t think anyone is legitimately worried about his rest-of-season performance. He still posted a .220 ISO and his walk/strikeout rates remained relatively consistent. Consider it a blip on the radar — especially considering his .256 BABIP in May — and expect to enjoy elite production throughout the rest of the year.

Dustin Pedroia has been interesting. He owns a .377 wOBA and an on-base percentage north of .400. He also is on pace to steal more than 20 bases and score approximately 100 runs, yet numerous fantasy owners are wondering the same thing: where’s the power?

He’s compiled a career-low .111 ISO thus far in 2013 and only has three home runs in 258 plate appearances. That’s not what we’ve come to expect from Pedroia. The biggest culprit appears to be his ground-ball rate, which currently stands at a career-high 53.1%. His HR/FB isn’t obscenely low, but he hasn’t given himself many chances to hit home runs this season because he’s hit the baseball on the ground so frequently.

Still, Pedroia has produced so well in other categories that his power decline has proven to be a mere curiosity, rather than a reason for owners to panic.

TIER TWO

Brandon Phillips
Jason Kipnis
Ben Zobrist

In recent seasons, Ben Zobrist has become extremely valuable in fantasy leagues due to his positional flexibility and power/speed combination. In three of his previous four seasons, he hit 20+ home runs and stole 15+ bases, and last season, he was the seventh-ranked second basemen in all of Major League Baseball. So what can we say about the way he’s spun his wheels out of the gate this year?

His .312 wOBA is the lowest mark of his career since his brief, 31-game stint with the organization in 2007. He’s also on pace to barely reach double-digit marks in home runs and/or stolen bases. It’s just a very different player than to which we’ve become accustomed.

And, unfortunately, there’s just not much to point at thus far. He’s not swinging at more pitches out of the zone. His contact rates are similar to (or better than) career norms. His ground ball and fly ball mix is fine. His BABIP doesn’t scream anything in particular. It appears to be a situation in which Zobrist owners must simply ride out the storm because there’s no reason to believe he won’t shake off the cobwebs. And, at the very least, his run and RBI totals have been solid enough while the remainder of his production hasn’t matched expectations.

TIER THREE

Chase Utley
Aaron Hill
Howie Kendrick
Jose Altuve
Kelly Johnson
Martin Prado

Kendrick looks to have bounced back from his disappointing ’12 campaign and may compile a 15+/15+ season for fantasy owners. He’s also batting sixth in the order for the Angels, which means his RBI totals should increase from previous seasons. While owners in OBP leagues may not value Kendrick as highly as standard leagues, his potential in every other category should still make him plenty valuable.

I didn’t put much stock in Kelly Johnson this year for two reasons: (1) he wasn’t guaranteed everyday at-bats, and (2) his batting average has made him borderline unplayable the last two years. His tremendous start to the season, though, has catapulted him up fantasy rankings, and I’m finally buying Johnson because his approach at the plate has been much improved this season.

Year O-Swing% SwStr% Contact%
2010 29.0% 10.4% 76.9%
2011 31.1% 12.9% 71.8%
2012 32.7% 13.3% 71.4%
2013 24.5% 8.9% 78.8%

His plate discipline numbers are even better than his 2010 season, in which he hit 26 home runs and posted a .378 wOBA. I’ll have that on my roster.

TIER FOUR

Marco Scutaro
Jurickson Profar
Jed Lowrie
Matt Carpenter
Jedd Gyorko
Dan Uggla
Daniel Murphy
Omar Infante
Neil Walker
Rickie Weeks

Owners certainly love the high batting averages provided by Scutaro, Carpenter, Lowrie and Murphy, but the lack of power, RBI totals, and stolen bases make all of them limited assets. The positional flexibility of Carpenter and Lowrie is nice. It doesn’t make up for the lack of production in key categories, though.

I still believe Rickie Weeks will pull himself out of his putrid slump — much like he did last year. Too much track record exists to believe he’s completely lost it, but owners have to be wary of the fact that the Brewers are starting to occasionally sit him in favor of Jeff Bianchi. If they remain well-below .500 into July and Weeks hasn’t completely shaken his slow start, they could look to Triple-A and see what Scooter Gennett can provide at the big-league level.

TIER FIVE

Ryan Raburn
Danny Espinosa
Nick Franklin
Mark Ellis
Nick Punto
Alexi Amarista
Brian Dozier
Yuniesky Betancourt
D.J. LeMahieu
Ryan Flaherty

The Twins have handed the reins over to Dozier at second base, and while he’s certainly nothing special at the plate, he could steal 15-20 bases this year with regular playing time. He could even approach double-digit home runs if he gets lucky. The low batting average and severe run-producing limitations of the Twins’ offense should put a damper on him being anything but a marginal option in deep leagues. Still, if you’re desperate for stolen bases and don’t mind punting a couple other categories, he’s an option.

TIER SIX

Josh Rutledge
Dustin Ackley
Daniel Descalso
Freddy Galvis
Eric Sogard
Donovan Solano
Ryan Roberts
Darwin Barney
Emilio Bonifacio
Jamey Carroll
Chris Getz
Steve Lombardozzi
Grant Green
Jeff Keppinger
Scooter Gennett

None of these options are worth allocating a roster spot to. Donovan Solano has a decent batting average, but offers next to nothing in any other category. I mean, even Darwin Barney has doubled his run total this year. This is simply not a tier worth delving into.




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J.P. Breen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. For analysis on the Brewers and fantasy baseball, you can follow him on Twitter (@JP_Breen).

39 Responses to “2013 Second Base Tier Rankings: June”

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  1. d_i says:

    If Danny Espinosa isn’t shut down within the week, I will be very surprised. He is toast.

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  2. Shibboleth says:

    I thought Rutledge was doing just fine and his demotion completely inconsiderate of us fantasy owners! Would you drop Rutledge in a deep 12 team with nothing serviceable available at 2B? I feel like this DJ guy won’t stick…

    Great rankings, thanks!

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    • G_Funk_J says:

      I’m with you I was disappointed when Rutledge was sent down, he wasnt high end but he was certainly productive as a fantasy MI, I had to cut him in my keeper league where I had him at SS.

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  3. KevinM says:

    No love for Derek Dietrich? Not even a mention? He’s playing everyday for the Marlins and seems to have some pop.

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  4. Andrew says:

    How many people that read FanGraphs are actually in roto/RBI/non-OBP leagues, anyway? The fact that Matt Carpenter is in tier 4 is just sad.

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    • drewcorb says:

      My guess is the majority of readers play in standard leagues just because those leagues make up the vast majority available. That’s just my guess obviously; maybe a poll or something would be useful.

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    • Blastings! says:

      I’m not even in a saber-oriented league and we use OBP/SLG instead of BA/RBI.

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    • Giovani says:

      We did a poll a month or two ago. If I recall, the majority were in OBP leagues, something like 2-to-1.

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      • cs3 says:

        Yep, I was just about to post this exact thing.
        The majority of people who responded to that poll played in leagues that counted OBP in some form or another.

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    • Bill says:

      Lots of serious leagues still use standard 5×5. I’d guess at least half for my 16 team BA/RBI league are regular readers of fangraphs.

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  5. Paul says:

    Completely disagree on Matt Carpenter. He’s currently tied for 3rd in all of MLB with 43 runs and he hits atop one of the league’s best lineups. Ho hum, he also has 17 doubles. Not to mention his stellar 27:30 walk to k ratio and .312 average. In my standard CBS points league, he’s the #33 ranked bat and the #4 ranked 2B. And he’s only going to get better… I would rather have him over anyone in tier 3.

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    • Wobatus says:

      In the points league I’m in he’s number 3 ranked 2b and number 13 position player overall (we also have fielding points). He’s also 13th in WAR. I can understand in standard leagues he isn’t projected to be as valuable, but what a fine player he is.

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      • l1ay says:

        He’s actually ranked 6th in your standard 5×5 league. So yeah, him being in the 4th Tier is kind of surprising no matter what type of league you play in.

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    • J.P. Breen says:

      I completely understand the viewpoint on Carpenter. I actually own him in a couple leagues. At the same time, how do I discount that he’s currently adding (and projects to add) little value in HR, SB and RBI? I really fought with where to put him — so I understand the consternation.

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    • Blastings! says:

      I traded Ben Revere for Carpenter at the beginning of the year. I’m a genius.

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    • Buck Turgidson says:

      There is no doubt Carpenter is knocking the cover off the ball. But the field will adjust and we’ll see how he handles it. There’s a pretty good chance he’ll be worse than he has been for the rest of the season.

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  6. johnnycuff says:

    pedroia is dealing with an injured thumb, which would make his lack of power more than a mere curiosity.

    http://bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox_mlb/boston_red_sox/2013/05/dustin_pedroia_toughs_it_out_despite_injured_thumb

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  7. Marwins says:

    I’m wagering Pedroia’s torn UCL is responsible for his power decline…

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  8. Wobatus says:

    Scooter Gennett gets the call. Weeks was starting to lose PT already.

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  9. Todd says:

    I agree with the other comments re: Matt Carpenter. He’s gotta be tier 2.

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  10. murphym45 says:

    First – I know Kyle Seager plays 3B, but he’s 2B eligible in a lot of formats. Feel like he would be near the bottom of tier 3?

    As far as Carpenter, I agree that he should probably be in Tier 3, but the lack of power and speed hurts. He’s still leading off for an excellent lineup and has great on-base skills, but the lack of power and speed do hurt. He’s looking at something like a 10-homer season with a few stolen bases. Even with a lot of runs, if his average drops to the .290 range, it would be tough for me to take him above guys like Kelly Johnson or Jose Altuve (or Utley/Hill if they get healthy).

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  11. Steve says:

    Where does Gordon Beckham slot in? He should be back in the starting role this week… also the “NO TOUCHING!” Tier 6?

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  12. Chest says:

    What does Brandon Phillips need to do this year to get into the top tier?

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    • game6ers says:

      I get where you’re coming from, because he’s been very good… But, what happened to the speed? SB in the teens seems like it’s a long shot now. If he gets to running again, maybe, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.

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  13. Paul says:

    I picked up Gyorko for Morneau last week. Should the former be owned in 10 team H2H leagues? He’s my UTL and backup MI/2B.

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  14. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the tiers. I guess I’m with everyone else on Carpenter, who should score enough runs to be useful–since he’ll be close to the league leaders & will have a good BA, I imagine him Prado-equivalent.
    Kipnis could be vintage Phillips. Is the BA what keeps him from tier 1?

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  15. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Matt Carpenter is Martin Prado with more walks, batting in a better lineup. He should be ahead of him in every tier ranking other than SS.

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  16. Buck Turgidson says:

    Utley should be in top tier until it’s clear his injury will keep him out for an extended period. He’s better than Kinsler when he plays.

    Seager is 2B eligible in Yahoo. He should be in tier 3.

    Walker should be at least at the top of tier 3.

    Profar doesn’t belong where he is. Headed back to AAA

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  17. Paul says:

    Since this was written on June 3, only four days ago, Carpenter has gone 11-19 with 6 runs and a homer. Move him up!

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