Second Basemen: Updated Rankings

Here are the top 30 2B in order and broken up into tiers

Tier 1 – Expected to be one of the top 2B in the league and meeting expectations.

Robinson Cano

We had Cano as the top rated 2B this season and he is #2 overall right now behind Zobrist. He is hitting for power (8 home runs), average (0.308) and has even swiped a couple of bases. He only had 3 SB last season. My concern always with Cano is his miniscule walk rate which currently stands at 2.7%.

Tier 2 – Expected to be good 2B and meeting expectations

Brandon Phillips
Ben Zobrist
Rickie Weeks
Ian Kinsler

These 4 were predicted to be top 10 2B and currently they are producing like top talent. Zobrist is the biggest surprise out of the group. I expect some regression as the season goes on, but the key will be if he regresses to the 2009 or 2010 version of himself. I don’t see anyone in this group joining Cano at the top unless they really start out producing him.

Tier 3 – Expected to be OK, but performing good -or- expected to be good, but performing OK

Placido Polanco
Michael Young
Mike Aviles
Howie Kendrick
Brian Roberts
Neil Walker
Dustin Pedroia
Jed Lowrie

Most of this group is performing as good or better than the tier above them. They just don’t have the pedigree of being able to produce at this level consistently in past seasons. The one exception is Pedroia. He just isn’t producing close to what he can. This group, in my opinion, is full of several sell high candidates like Polanco, Aviles and Kendrick.

I decided to divide the fourth tier into 2 groups, players going down (4A) or up (4B). There are definite question marks for anyone in this tier.

Tier 4A – Players not close to meeting season expectations

Chase Utley
Ryan Raburn
Dan Uggla
Martin Prado
Kelly Johnson
Gordon Beckham
Aaron Hill
Michael Cuddyer
Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Whether it is bad luck, injuries or plain suckitude, the players in this group are not performing close to their expectations. This group is definitely the buy low group. The ones I would look to pick up are the ones with low BABIPs like Cuddyer (0.244), Beckham (0.235) and Uggla (0.213). The two that actually scare me, because they are striking out ~1/3 of the time, are Johnson (31.7%) and Raburn (37.4%). Both normally have K% near 25% or less.

I was a huge Utley fan coming into the season and I think he could be a huge asset going forward. The key will be finding a productive substitute for him while you wait for him to come off the DL.

Tier 4B – Players exceeding expectations, but not good enough to break the top tiers.

Orlando Cabrera
Orlando Hudson
Darwin Barney
Angel Sanchez
Chris Getz
Danny Espinosa
Ryan Theriot
Jonathan Herrera

Generally speaking, this group is full of younger guys that are getting there chance here in 2011. The two I really like out of this group are Espinosa and Herrera. Their stats don’t seemed boosted by a high BABIP.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


22 Responses to “Second Basemen: Updated Rankings”

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  1. byron says:

    Jeff Baker is very useful at 2B in daily transactions leagues.

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  2. tommybones says:

    I actually think Aviles is the real deal. Showed some power in the minors, has speed, can hit .300. He has 11 homers in his last 150 major league AB’s. Skipper in K.C. loves to steal bags. Can easily see a .300, 15-20HR, 25 steal season. Don’t think you can sell high enough to bring back a haul worth more than those numbers.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      I watch him nearly every night and he is just free swinger, that if he goes on a BABIP drought, like he did at the beginning of the season, his seem to follow.

      The big key will be what happens when Hosmer and/or Moustakas are called up in about a month. Kila will be demoted. Yost loves his lost son Chris Getz, so Aviles may be the odd man out. Aviles needs to be hitting good when those two are called up.

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      • tommybones says:

        I’m betting Getz and Kila get sent down. Getz just can’t hit enough to justify staying in the lineup. We’ll see.

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      • Jeff Zimmerman says:

        Getz will have to stay on the team as the MI backup. Betting Maier is the one sent down/released.

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  3. meta says:

    espinosa or sizemore going forward??

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      Two are very similar, but I would go with Espinosa because he has shown more power and speed in the minors.

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    • Matt says:

      I like Espinosa for HR, SB, and RBI; Sizemore for R & OBP. For batting average… Probably Sizemore, but not by much.

      The only reason I see to take Sizemore would be in an OBP league, and if you really need runs, as Sizemore seems like the only legitimate top-of-the-order guy in that lineup.

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  4. Dscott says:

    I own Herrera and spot start him when needed. He is a boring player to own but gets the job done. How can you argue playing a middle infielder that hits in front of Cargo and Tulo?? I expect his runs/Rbis to be in the 60-80 range this year making him real valuable with a respectable average/hR/ and SB total.

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    • tommybones says:

      We need to start a free Eric Young Jr. campaign. Would love to see him get a full time shot somewhere.

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  5. descender says:

    Callaspo qualifies at 2B he should be on this list somewhere in the 4B area I would imagine.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      I picked 30 to look at, he was actually 31. Here are the next 5:

      Alberto Callaspo, Juan Uribe, Daniel Murphy, Jeff Baker, Freddy Sanchez

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  6. Jason says:

    I wound up with Weeks, Zobrist and Aviles on draft day (going with a maximum flexibility with minimum bench spots strategy for batting). Dropped Aviles during his early struggles and unpredictable playing time (I believe to activate Latos from the DL). I’m comfortable with who I’ve got, but it’s always frustrating to see a player you gave up for nothing come back to play well.

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  7. Blue says:

    “I don’t see anyone in this group joining Cano at the top unless they really start out producing him.”

    This doesn’t make any sense. If, say, Phillips is producing at Cano’s level then he ought to be in the same tier as him.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      The rankings are a composite of what they have done and what we expect them to do. If Phillips is producing at Cano’s level, we would expect him to regress to his actual talent level

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      • nosferatu says:

        Considering this, the way you’ve dropped Pedroia seems too sudden and harsh. I mean, I’m frustrated with the guy on my team, but I still have faith that he’s going to end up being more productive than guys like Roberts and Kendrick and Aviles, etc., before the season’s finished, and I’m sure the projections do, too.

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      • Jeff Zimmerman says:

        I thought about that also. The one problem I have with him is that much of his value is from the players around him in getting R and RBIs, which is just starting to come around. I probably could easily persuaded that he could be at the top of the group.

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  8. kid says:

    Phillips at the top of the 2nd tier? Guy is a career .269/.318/.432 hitter. SELL HIGH, if I ever saw one.

    How can Phillips be above Weeks?? Makes zero sense.

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    • wobatus says:

      Since this is rotographs and counting stats are important in that context generally, you should note that since the 2007 season Phillips is 4th among second basemen in homers, 4th in steals, 4th in rbi and tied for 4th in runs. Also his slash line since 2007, thus eliminating his very poor and well behind him early year struggles, is: .278/.329/.454. Not bad for a second baseman.

      Since this is also fangraphs, he is 3rd in WAR among second basemen since 2007. Not too shabby.

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      • kid says:

        If that’s the game you want to play, Weeks cumulative line from 2009, 2010 and the first month of 2011 is .281/.361/.508.

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  9. Matt says:

    Some jackass in my league just traded Zobrist pretty much straight up for Polanco. In an OBP league. FML.

    Also- I really don’t see much of a difference in value going forward between the the guys ranked tier 3 and 4A & B. About how much weight do you put on projected performance vs. actual 2011 performance?

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    • batpig says:

      apparently it’s like 80% actual vs. 20% reasonable expectation of projected. These re-rankings are prett quixotic, very un-fangraphs to overreact to a month worth of data.

      Ben Zobrist leapfrogging Ian Kinsler? Pedroia dropping down to TWELVE on the 2B ranking after one mediocre month, down to the bottom of tier three? Placido Polanco ahead of Michael Young? I would like to hear a rational argument constructed to support the idea of Polanco as the #6 fantasy 2B.

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