Continuing our march around the diamond, the next positional preview is for second basemen. The top performers at this position offer a combination of speed and power that is not common at many other positions.
Selecting an elite second baseman isn't as important for your fantasy team as grabbing a top-notch first baseman. But the better second basemen in the league can help your team pick up stolen bases and batting average points.
In my opinion, it's important to focus on those two categories when selecting your second baseman. You'll be able to get home runs and RBIs from other positions, but if the player that you choose also happens to hit a lot of home runs, then that is just an added bonus.
While I generally follow the above rule, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is simply too good to pass up if he's available. Although Utley won't get a lot of stolen bases, he will hit home runs and add RBIs for your team. After him, there are five or six players who are very good, but not worthy of a first-round pick.
Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla and the Yankees' Robinson Cano also don't steal a lot of bases, so you'll need to find another way to get stolen bases if you draft one of them as your second baseman.
1. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies – Teammates Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have taken home the last two NL MVP awards. Is it Utley's turn? He'll hit at least .300 and will likely give your team between 25-35 home runs and around 100 RBIs. I wouldn't count on it, but he's also capable of 10-15 stolen bases.
2. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds – I'll admit, I forgot that Phillips had such good numbers last season until I looked them up as I was writing this entry. He hit .288 with 30 home runs and 94 RBIs. Throw in the 32 stolen bases and he's someone who will help you in most offensive categories. The numbers might drop slightly in 2008, but I'd expect him to hit around .285 with 25 home runs, 85 RBIs and 30 stolen bases.
3. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees – Since being named the starting second baseman as a 22-year-old rookie in 2005, Cano has proven that he can play in pinstripes. He'll hit at least .300 this season and will give you between 20-25 home runs and could possibly reach 100 RBIs. Cano is more likely to be around 90 RBIs, but it all depends on how much he is needed to step up in New York.
4. Brian Roberts, Orioles – Despite lots of rumors that Roberts may be a Chicago Cub by the start of spring training, he's still a member of the hometown Orioles. He's one of the greatest offensive assets on the Orioles and will likely have close to 50 stolen bases again this year. Although he only has a .281 career batting average, there's always a chance he'll hit .300.
5. Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins – Uggla hit .282 with 27 home runs and 90 RBIs as a rookie in 2006. Last season, his batting average dropped to .245, but he stayed consistent in the power department with 31 home runs and 88 RBIs. If he can maintain the power numbers and increase his batting average to at least .270, then he'll be one of the best second basemen in the major leagues.
6. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers – Last season, Kinsler had a .298 batting average with nine home runs and 22 RBIs after the first month. He cooled off substantially and finished with a .263 average, 20 home runs and 61 RBIs. Keep that in mind if Kinsler gets off to a hot start again this season because you may be able to fill some of the holes on your team by trading him while his value is high.
7. Jeff Kent, Los Angeles Dodgers – The 16-year veteran, who will turn 40 in March, led the Dodgers in home runs (20) and doubles (36) last season. He also batted over .300 and contributed 79 RBIs. Although his best seasons are behind him, Kent is likely to hit around .290 with 15-20 home runs and 70-75 RBIs.
8. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers – Weeks is an interesting case because he's hit double-digits in home runs twice (13 home runs in 2005 and 16 home runs last season), but his batting average was in the .230s both of those years (.239 in 2005 and .235 last season). His batting average was a respectable .279 in 2006, but he only hit eight home runs. Will he be able to combine the power and batting average this season?
9. Kelly Johnson, Atlanta Braves – As the full-time starter in Atlanta last season, Johnson hit .276 with 16 home runs and 68 RBIs. He'll be a solid fantasy contributor this year. I think he'll probably hit around .275 with 15-20 home runs and 65-75 RBIs. Johnson also had 26 doubles and 10 triples last season, so he's shown that he is capable of getting extra-base hits.
10. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox – Pedroia was only hitting .182 as the calendar turned to May last season. He hit .415 in May and finished the season with a .317 batting average and was selected as the AL Rookie of the Year. Pedroia only had eight home runs and 50 RBIs in 139 games last season, but his hard-nosed nature makes me think that he's capable of improving on those numbers this year.
And the best of the rest ...
11. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels
12. Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays
13. Placido Polanco, Detroit Tigers
14. Orlando Hudson, Arizona Diamondbacks
15. Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates
16. Mark Ellis, Oakland Athletics
17. Kazuo Matsui, Houston Astros
18. Tadahito Iguchi, San Diego Padres
19. Luis Castillo, New York Mets
20. Ronnie Belliard, Washington Nationals
21. Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
22. Jose Lopez, Seattle Mariners
23. Ray Durham, San Francisco Giants
24. Brendan Harris, Minnesota Twins
25. Mark Grudzielanek, Kansas City Royals
Player to watch: Brian Roberts, Orioles – Roberts is the second baseman that should be watched the closest as the season approaches. If he is traded before spring training, then you have to look at how his new team will affect his fantasy value. If he is not traded, then you have to wonder if the constant trade rumors will have any effect on his play, particularly at the beginning of the season. He'll likely hit leadoff wherever he plays on Opening Day, whether it is in Baltimore or elsewhere.
- Baltimore Orioles
- Robinson Cano
- Chase Utley
- Kelly Johnson
- Ian Kinsler
- Dustin Pedroia
- Dan Uggla
- Spring Training
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- New York Yankees
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Brandon Phillips
- Rickie Weeks
- MLB Rookie of the Year Award
- MLB Most Valuable Player Award
- Atlanta Braves
- Boston Red Sox
- Cincinnati Reds
- Milwaukee Brewers