This post is the latest in Ryan’s fantasy baseball position primer series. To view his primers for all other positions, click here.
2B Stock Watch: Rising
Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
There are very few second basemen who can provide in each category like Zobrist can. The former utility man can be a huge help to any fantasy team, especially because he provides owners with multiple positional eligibility.
In two of his three full seasons with the Rays, Zobrist has provided 91 RBIs as well as at least 20 homers. The switch-hitter also has provided a spark on the base paths, averaging 20 steals a season since he became an everyday player.
Zobrist is one of the few second basemen who can provide solid statistics in every hitting category which makes him a Top 5 fantasy 2B.
2B Stock Watch: Falling
Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Utley has been one of the best second basemen of the 2000s, but he is starting to fall apart.
At age 33, Chase posted full season lows in home runs, RBIs, and batting average. Utley came back from hip surgery early last season, which caused him to miss over a month of the beginning of 2011.
The big question remains if Utley’s body can hold up for a full season. From recent memory, there seems to be a clear answer to that question. Beware of drafting Utley early this season.
Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox
Unlike Utley, Beckham’s fall has resulted more from his lack of production not injury. In each of his three seasons on the South Side, the young second baseman’s strikeout rate has gone up, while his average and his walk rate has declined.
Last season, in 150 games, Beckham had less home runs, RBIs, and a lower average than either of his other two seasons, in which he played 103 and 131 games. Beckham should not be considered a starting option at second, regardless of the depth of the league.
Two Big 2B Questions
Who is the #1 second baseman?
Robinson Cano is a top tier player in this league and should be treated as such. He should be gone in the first two rounds.
The only other second baseman who is in contention with Cano is Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia provides more in terms of stolen bases, but Cano is just a bigger fantasy threat.
Who could be the breakout star at second base?
There are a few young second basemen that could become stars in the next few seasons.
For starters, there is Dustin Ackley from Seattle. Ackley had a solid debut for the Mariners last season, but there are a few improvements that will be made to make his season even better this season. His strikeout rate was much higher than it had been in the minors. Also, Ackley will have a little more help in the lineup with the Mariners’ acquisition of Jesus Montero, which should drive up production even more.
Another name to watch is Jason Kipnis, Cleveland’s second year second baseman. Kipnis had a brief stint with the Indians last season and was on fire. He hit 7 homers in just 36 games, along with 5 steals. Look out for Kipnis and Ackley in the later rounds of the draft.
Top 2B Sleepers
Jemile Weeks, Oakland Athletics
Weeks is a speed demon who made a great debut last season coming up from Triple A. The younger Weeks brother had a scary lack of walks last season (4.8% of his plate appearances), but in his minor league career his walk rate was far better.
The Athletics are very high on Weeks and you should be too. While he provides little power production, his stolen bases, average and run total should be excellent. Weeks is poised to have a great season.
Strategy Tips at Second Base
There is a new breadth of depth at second base, thanks to many new faces at the position. However, there is a break in the two different types of second basemen.
One is the power hitters, like Robinson Cano or Dan Uggla, who can provide 30 home runs from a traditionally weak position. On the other hand, there are the speed guys, like Jemile Weeks or Brian Roberts (when he’s healthy). While the stolen bases are important, power guys at second base are a bonus.
Certain second basemen are top fantasy prospects, but overall, second basemen should be found with your middle round picks.