We’re roughly one month into the season, which means it’s time to update the tiered rankings for each position. Though I wanted to be conservative and not alter too many rankings based on data from only one month, some changes seemed warranted.
Here are the tiers:
Prior to the season, I waffled between placing Kinsler in Tier One or Tier Two, but his tremendous start has catapulted him into the elite tier of fantasy second basemen once again. His batting average may drop a touch as his BABIP stabilizes near his career average of .282. That should be nothing to complain about, though, as he’s displaying power much like he did in 2011 when he hit 32 home runs. Though, word of caution: the last two times he enjoyed 30+ home run seasons, his FB% was above 47.0%. Right now, Kinsler only has a 38.4% FB% — which means he may need to sustain a very high HR/FB to hit 30 homers again.
He may not be one of the more scintillating picks at second base, but Brandon Phillips produces. The 31-year-old veteran was the sixth-ranked fantasy second baseman last year and is compiling eerily similar numbers to start the 2013 campaign.
The lack of stolen bases is a bit concerning. Everything else, though, appears to be business as usual.
As many of you probably remember, I’m a big believer in Jason Kipnis. His slow start to the season has caused some to panic, but my faith hasn’t been swayed. He’s swinging at fewer pitches out of the strike zone than ever before. He’s not hitting as many ground balls. Also, in his last six games, he’s hitting .308/.357/.692 with two triples and two home runs. It’s obviously a minuscule sample size, but that’s the kind of production fantasy owners hoped to see prior to the season. Perhaps the tide is beginning to turn.
As mentioned this offseason, Utley provides above-average production at second base when in the lineup. By most measures, he deserves to be grouped in Tier Two — as his six home runs rank third amongst second basemen and his .343 wOBA ranks fifth. Not only that, but he’s also stealing bases. The injury concerns keep him down in Tier Three, though. Much the same with Aaron Hill, who was off to a scorching start before injuring his hand and is now expected to be out of the lineup until at least late May.
This tier is littered with guys who provide significant value in a couple categories, but similarly require owners to punt others. Matt Carpenter, Daniel Murphy, and Omar Infante are off to solid starts. They provide a high average and should score plenty of runs. Owners, however, likely sacrifice power and stolen bases.
Josh Rutledge and Danny Espinosa are attractive because they offer a rare power/speed combination at second base for their price. At the same time, however, they won’t accumulate many RBI opportunities and will take a massive bite out of a team’s overall batting average.
As an owner, worse options exist if you’re not lucky enough to land one of the top-tier second basemen. It’s important to recognize where their limitations lie, however, as owners should ideally look to balance their overall roster by grabbing a second baseman whose limitations coincide with the strength of the remaining roster.
Betancourt is an intriguing option right now because he’s currently providing home runs, RBIs and runs, but owners must be prepared to deal with his probable decline in production and the fact that he’ll be relegated to the bench once Corey Hart returns in late May, early June. For those looking for immediate production, though, you could do worse — which is something that no one expected to utter only a month ago.
As Jim Callis recently mentioned, Oakland is currently struggling to get production from second base, and Green is lighting up Triple-A. He could offer double-digit home runs and double-digit stolen bases, if bequeathed the everyday role. Just a season ago, Green hit 15 homers and stole 13 bases for Triple-A Sacramento, while hitting a solid .296/.338/.458.
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