Over the offseason we’ll take a look at each position on the diamond and see how the past season affected the positional rankings and where there might be some potential bounceback value picks going into next year’s drafts. (See shortstops and catchers.)
Rankings are the height of subjectivity, of course. Drafts are the expression of the subjective opinions of the different draftees, though, so lets see what we can learn by putting these players in their (subjective, fantasy-oriented) place.
Chase Utley is in a tier of his own. No other second baseman has been able to combine the power and speed and batting average year-in and year-out like the pomade Phillie infielder. Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips are missing the batting average and the health, Dustin Pedroia and Brian Roberts are missing the power. That said, these top five second basemen are all reasonably stable players that boast good speed along with varying degrees of power. They just don’t all have the total package like Utley.
The next tier should be the controversial one. While Aaron Hill‘s season was one for the ages, there are understandably some doubts about his ability to repeat. He more than doubled his previous career-high HR/FB percentage without really showing a corresponding change in his approach. The most likely scenario is that Hill settles in with similar power to fellow tier-member Robinson Cano. Cano would be higher but since he’s shown that his batting average seems so tied to his BABIP, there’s some rightful nervousness about his ability to repeat his own career year. Dan Uggla and Jose Lopez have similar power and similar batting average issues. Pick the right player during a good BABIP year, and you’ll have a great second baseman with a decent batting average and lots of power. Get the guy in a bad year, and you’ve seen what can happen.
The last tier holds the most risk, as it should be. There are many Asdrubal Cabrera fans, and his double eligibility will get him drafted at one of the keystone positions. The problem is that the speed is somewhat borderline (21/29 in 1000+ at bats) and the power is negligible. Clint Barmes may not succeed on a good percentage of his attempts, and he’s a much more flawed real-life player, but he’s reached heights in power and speed that Cabrera may never. Adam Kennedy had a great year and ended up right around where he was five years ago, a second basemen that can hit double-digit home runs, steal about 20 bags, and hit close to .300. It’s not the same upside as the rest of the guys in the tier, but it seems repeatable. Howie Kendrick and Rickie Weeks probably have the most upside of the tier, but they are quickly running out chances in the minds of fantasy managers. Both made strides in their limited time last year and make for good bench plays in mixed league drafts for managers that got a third- or fourth-tier second baseman as their starter.
Overall, the position seems pretty deep, with empty-batting-average guys numbering #15-18 as backup plans. Once Utley goes, managers might be best served waiting for a second baseman to drop, knowing that they can probably take a shot on a young guy with some upside once the top 12 are gone.