2013 Second Base Tier Rankings: May

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:

TIER ONE

Robinson Cano
Dustin Pedroia
Ian Kinsler

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.

TIER TWO

Brandon Phillips
Jose Altuve
Ben Zobrist
Jason Kipnis

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.

Year AVG OBP SLG ISO wOBA HR SB
2012 .281 .321 .429 .148 .325 18 15
2013 .281 .328 .463 .182 .338 5 0

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.

TIER THREE

Chase Utley
Aaron Hill
Rickie Weeks
Martin Prado

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.

TIER FOUR

Matt Carpenter
Daniel Murphy
Omar Infante
Howie Kendrick
Dan Uggla
Josh Rutledge
Danny Espinosa
Neil Walker

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.

TIER FIVE

Yuniesky Betancourt
Marco Scutaro
Mark Ellis
Dustin Ackley
Jedd Gyorko
Ryan Raburn
Kelly Johnson

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.

TIER SIX

Brian Dozier
Donovan Solano
Maicer Izturis
Jeff Keppinger
Emilio Bonifacio
Nick Punto
Cliff Pennington
Eric Sogard
Freddy Galvis
Darwin Barney
Daniel Descalso
Steve Lombardozzi
Ryan Flaherty
Robert Andino
Jurickson Profar
Grant Green

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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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).

37 Responses to “2013 Second Base Tier Rankings: May”

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  1. treemeister says:

    Any concern for Pedroia’s lack of power?

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    • J.P. Breen says:

      Sure, if he doesn’t start getting the baseball off the ground (20.2% fly-ball rate), he’s not going to hit 15-20 home runs. Still, he’s rocking almost a .400 OBP, so it’s not like he’s struggling across the board. I think the power will come.

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  2. Jay-V says:

    Rutledge is outperforming Weeks so far, batting average included.

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    • J.P. Breen says:

      Understood, but I wanted to make these tiers a projection-based system — what is their value going forward. I see Weeks as more valuable than Rutledge for the final five months of the season.

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      • ralph says:

        I am curious why you think Rutledge will take a massive bite out of batting average. Steamer projects a .288 AVG ROS for Rutledge. ZiPS ROS is a .274 AVG.

        Are you projecting a significantly lower AVG for Rutledge than Steamer/ZiPS? If so, any particular reason why? His plate discipline stats are leaps and bounds better this year — so if you’re going to go SSS-diving, that seems more relevant than just looking at his current AVG.

        For Weeks, those Steamer/ZiPS AVG projections are .238 and .244, respectively. It seems like Weeks is the real AVG risk, though his counting stats could understandably make him more valuable than Rutledge.

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      • ralph says:

        And I just saw the question and response below…

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      • Jay-V says:

        I own both Weeks and Rutledge in a couple of my leagues. I hope Weeks ends up more valuable since I drafted him much higher.

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  3. Shane says:

    Granted he’s on the 15 day DL but Neil Walker seems like a pretty good value in Tier Four.

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  4. drewcorb says:

    Why do you think Rutledge will take a massive bite out of AVG? His minor league AVGs were solid and he doesn’t have too high of K%. Those things make me think he can hold his own in the majors, but I don’t know too much else about him.

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    • J.P. Breen says:

      Not a believer in his improved plate discipline, and his line drive rate is way down. His BABIP is certainly low … but one shouldn’t expect a huge BABIP with a ton of grounders (56%).

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      • ralph says:

        This seems like a super-odd response. If you don’t like him, you don’t like him. And you might very well be right in the end. It’s just that the evaluation process seems off.

        Rutledge had 291 MLB PAs last year with a respectable 20% line drive rate. Is there a reason you believe 125 PA this year should do more to inform us of his future batted ball profile than looking at his overall career averages?

        Rutledge has very good speed, so that combined with a 50%+ GB rate and solid LD rate (his total MLB rates so far are 18% line drives and 51% ground balls), plus playing in Coors, is a perfect recipe for a decently-high BABIP.

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      • novaether says:

        Yes, this response is strange. Why wouldn’t you believe a young player’s plate discipline would improve?

        Furthermore, line drive rates are relatively invariant between players, so you can expect the line drive rate to bump up. Also, ground balls are more likely to result in base hits than fly balls – especially if you’ve got speed like Rutledge.

        He sounds a lot more like a .270+ hitter than a .240 hitter.

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  5. taprat says:

    Lots and lots of crap at 2B this year. It’s easier this year to find a decent C or SS on waivers than it is to find a 2B, which I don’t remember ever being the case before.

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  6. KB says:

    Rickie Weeks should probably be in Tier 5 at best at this point. He might get going again come July like last year, and shoot back up to Tier 3 or even Tier 2, but we’re still a ways away from July.

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  7. Squidblob says:

    Was curious where Gyorko was going to be ranked- now that April is behind him it looks like his bat is heating up and he may finally start living up to those .290 AVG, 15-18 HR production expectations.

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    • Timothie says:

      I think Gyorko and Carpenter both need to be bumped up a tier. Gyorko maybe even two if his bad April was just an adjustment period.

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  8. Paul says:

    Bump Matt Carpenter up to the next tier. His position eligibility, lineup position, lineup protection, and game that doesn’t hurt you anywhere warrant a promotion. Also, he’s absolutely filthy in points leagues.

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  9. SaladFingers says:

    Not sure about his eligibility in all leagues, but I’ve had Seager at 2B basically all season. Guy puts up solid numbers, so I’m wondering which tier he’d be in?

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    • Stan Gable says:

      Good question. I’d probably put him in somewhere with the Martin Prado, Howard Kendrick crowd. Fringy late 3rd tier but more of a high end 4th guy. Not a ton of upside but he’s stable to say the least & won’t destroy any of your ratios.

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    • J.P. Breen says:

      If he starts running, he’s a fringe Tier Three guy. I really like some of his improvements early this year. Swinging at fewer pitches out of the strike zone, lower swinging-strike rate, similar power numbers across the board.

      I’m not sure the batting average dips to the .250-.260 range this year, if those peripheral numbers stay the same. Again, he needs to start running, though.

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  10. diamondhoggers says:

    One thing that is really hurting Altuve’s value is the lack of stolen base attempts and steals in general. This was a 35-40 stolen base guy in my mind before the season began. He’s not going to get anywhere near that unless he starts running.

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  11. Matthew says:

    Where would Seager be on this list, you think? He has eligibility in my league, at least. He has been working out pretty well for me while Kipnis has tried to work his way out of his funk.

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  12. Nickle says:

    Any idea about why Zobrist has been underperforming? Is it general TB malaise, a disease from which only James Loney seems immune?

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  13. Kevin says:

    Everth Cabrera has 2B eligibility in most leagues. Where would you put him on this list?

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    • J.P. Breen says:

      Not a huge E. Cabrera fan. I’d put him as a Tier Five guy. His value is pretty much solely derived from his stolen base total, and I don’t need 30+ stolen bases at a .250 batting average with no power. He may score some runs, though, if the Padres keep him atop the lineup.

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  14. Mr. Turnip says:

    So Utley’s tier three because of injury risk but Ian porcelin Kinsler is tier one? Next update you’ll be bumping Sir utley to tier 1.

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    • MrMan says:

      How is a guy who’s averaged 141 games played the last four seasons…including seasons of 144, 155 and 157, “porcelain”?

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  15. Chien says:

    Where would Lowrie ranked once he gains eligibility?

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  16. Ziggy says:

    As an owner of Brandon Phillips in multiple leagues, I’m not concerned about DatDudeBP’s speed, but I am concerned about his ability to get stolen base opportunities.

    Obviously batting behind an OBP machine like Joey Votto has its advantages, but is it possible that BP isn’t getting the green light as often because Votto is in front of him on the base paths?

    Just glancing at Votto’s stats, he has a combined 56 singles and walks, not to mention how many times he’s reached first via error or fielder’s choice. With a .464 OBP, he’s probably already on first or second half the time BP reaches the plate. Obviously I don’t have the numbers on me, but I’m guessing that puts a serious dent in the number of times BP reaches base without a runner (most frequently Votto) in front of him on the base paths.

    Can we get some more research on this?

    Obviously if you like RBIs, this is a good thing. If you were hoping for BP to swipe you 15-20 bags, this could be a problem if Votto keeps reaching base at nearly a 50% clip.

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  17. KG says:

    What is Ackley’s upside for the year? Long term is he back to being a decent prospect?

    If he can get to the top of the lineup, are we still looking at a guy that could get 10-15 homers and 15 steals, with some potential for runs?

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  18. TurkeesEleven says:

    So thankful I play in a league where Kyle Seager qualifies at 2B.

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  19. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Carpenter has shown, and is showing, plenty of power for a 2B since reaching the majors.

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