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Breakout Player: Martin Prado

We all know about Robinson Cano‘s MVP-caliber season so far in 2010, which has him ranked as the fifth most valuable player in standard 5X5 Yahoo leagues, but don’t forget about the keystone warrior in Atlanta.

Martin Prado, 26, is leading the Majors in hits (104 in 74 games) and was just one of four players with more than 100 base knocks. He is also sixth in the Majors in batting average at .332. Overall, he has a triple-slash line of .332/.373/.473 in 319 at-bats. According to Yahoo’s standard 5X5 ranking, he’s the fourth most valuable second baseman in the Majors right now.

The good news for Prado owners is that all his numbers point to this being a career trend – and not simply a career year or an extended hot streak. He hit more than .300 in both ’08 and ’09, and he’s posted wOBAs of .367 in ’08 and .355 in ’09. Prado’s ’10 wOBA is currently sitting at .367. The big difference this season is that he’s playing more regularly, which means better counting stats, which is great for fantasy managers.

We definitely do want to be cognizant of the fact that Prado has a .365 BABIP, which is on the high side – but not terribly unsustainable in the Austin Jackson realm. Prado’s BABIP was .357 and .331 during the previous two seasons.

Another issue with Prado is the fact that much of his value is tied up in his batting average and, to some degree, runs scored (although he doesn’t walk much – 6.3 BB%). His career high in steals is three (set in ’08) and his ’10 home run output is going to fall in the 12-15 range. He’s also not going to find himself in a run-producing spot in the lineup any time soon.

Second base in an area where you’re not going to generate a ton of value, unless you’re lucky enough to have Cano, Chase Utley or the recently injured Dustin Pedroia. If you currently own the Braves second baseman, don’t let anyone convince you to trade him with the thought that his first half success was a fluke.

If you’re someone who is looking to upgrade at second base and you’re eying Prado, the good news is that his excellent 2010 season has not generate a ton of attention just yet so you may be able to pry him away from a naive fantasy manager without having to sell your soul.