- FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy -

Bottom of the Barrel: $1 Second Baseman

As the 2011 Player Rankings outlined, there are a lot of risks at second base this season. Much of these risks are injury related, as Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler all missed significant time last season. Rickie Weeks finally broke out, but it would be foolish to forget about his past injury concerns. Should you find yourself waiting on a second baseman, here are some $1 options that may provide some value.

You might be surprised how much value Ryan Theriot provides for $1. Theriot will qualify at second base and shortstop once the fantasy season is underway, and that versatility should come in handy. While he will give you absolutely nothing in the power department, Theriot should provide a decent amount of steals for a cheap price. Since Theriot is a slap-hitter who relies on speed, much of his batting average will depend on his BABIP. If the hits start falling, Theriot could post a .300 average. It’s more than likely, however, he won’t hurt you in the category. If Theriot is able to claw his way to the top of the order in St. Louis, he might provide immense value in the runs category. Remember, batting in front of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday is always a good thing. All in all, Theriot isn’t perfect and shouldn’t be counted on as a starter in mixed leagues. However, his potential to outperform his draft position can be tempting.

Theriot’s replacement on the North Side probably won’t provide the same value at $1. Unlike Theriot, Blake DeWitt doesn’t really stand out in any fantasy category. He’s not going to provide owners with a strong average, and his help with steals will be virtually nonexistent. Despite those faults, DeWitt has two things going for him: he’s young and he has some power. Only 25, DeWitt hasn’t reached his prime yet, and still has room to grow. Given a full season of playing time, DeWitt could also hit double-digit home runs. Even if you’re optimistic about DeWitt’s chances to improve this season, he’s not the type of player you want in a standard mixed league. DeWitt should only be drafted in NL-only leagues or very (very) deep mixed leagues.

If only Mark Ellis could stay healthy for an entire season. He wouldn’t be a top option at second base, but a solid contributor in most categories. Unfortunately for Ellis (and owners), that hasn’t been the case. Ellis managed to play in 124 games last season, which was his highest total in the last three seasons. When healthy, Ellis has the potential to hit for moderate power and steal a couple of bases. However, Ellis is getting older; and failed to hit for double-digit home runs for the first time since 2003, so he does come with some risks. Despite his steady production, injuries make Ellis too risky to be drafted in most mixed leagues. Ellis should be viewed as an injury replacement in mixed leagues due to his ability to contribute in all categories. Depending on him for anything more, however, would be foolish.