With less than a week before Opening Day in San Diego between the Padres and Dodgers, we release our second basemen rankings and projections. In the coming days, there will be rankings and projections for third, shortstop, outfield, starting and relief pitching. Check back here throughout the week for those. Here are the rankings for second base. [Note: Jurickson Profar has been struck out due to a 2-3 month stint on the DL].
Ever since Chase Utley fell out of the top five second basemen two years ago, this list hasn’t dramatically changed very much. But just because this list is more stagnant than an African pond infested with malaria carrying mosquitos, doesn’t mean we aren’t going to go in for a dip.
The top five in this position are staple guys. They’ve been at or near the top for years now. You can pretty much look at what they did the year before and expect similar, if not identical production. Robinson Cano is a perfect example of this. Over the past three years Cano has reached 100 R, 28 HR, and nearly 100 RBI (last season he dipped in this department). Dustin Pedroia, who does come with his fair share of risk due to injury, is easily the number two second basemen when healthy because of his speed and power. But the most consistent source of HR and SB is Brandon Phillips, who has produced exactly 18 HR in each of the past three seasons to go with SB totals of 16, 14, and 15.
Last year I incorrectly had Dustin Ackley above Jason Kipnis in my rankings. While Ackley was a more consistent player (consistently poor, in fact), Kipnis produced the better end of season numbers, by far. Neither of these two players are slam dunks, but both have immense upside if they ever produce what they’ve been expected to do.
At the start of spring training last season, Hanley Ramirez and former double-play partner Dan Uggla made a wager to see who would have the worst numbers come the All-Star break. It was determined that the loser would buy the winner a “surf and turf” dinner at Black Angus. Neither did at all well in the first half, but with the muscular Uggla hitting well below his weight on July 10, victory was his. He could almost taste the filet mignon and grilled prawns (additionally he would have a works baked potato, steamed broccoli, a Caesar salad with extra croutons, and maybe a nice Pinot Noir; Uggla envisions his meals to the finest detail). Ramirez saw the writing on the wall, and through a club-appointed interpreter, offered him double-or-nothing to extend the bet to the end of the season. Uggla looked at his own 43/15/34/.185 line and accepted the new terms, figuring his season was irretrievably in the toilet. By the end of September, however, Uggla was the hottest hitter in the NL, while Hanley hadn’t played in two months. Uggla felt so bad for Hanley that he upped the ante and treated him to dim sum at P.F. Chang’s.
Once again, the two baggers are top heavy. But the new trend in this position is the amount of deployable, affordable lower tier players. Let’s take a gander, shall we?
The cream of this year’s crop: Robbie Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Dan Uggla. In standard ten-team leagues, these four are rare species outside of the first three rounds. They are well documented and well followed and well liked by all who document and follow them. They are head and shoulders above the rest, but the usability of the rest is what is worth talking about. So to make this quick, Robbie: stud; Dustin: stud #2; Ian: troll boy; Dan: the man. Moving on…
What you’ll notice about the projections for the rest is the numbers look pretty similar to each other. Brandon Phillips looks like Chase Utley. Utley looks like Dustin Ackley. Ackley looks like Neil Walker. If you’re willing to take a player who isn’t a household name, you’re probably going to be better off with the lower tiered guys. If you’re really looking for a lunch ticket, you’ll wait super late and draft Jason Kipnis, who, surprisingly, looks like Ackley.