By Leelee Kryvoruchko. Send Leelee an e-mail here: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Robinson Cano, Yankees Robinson Cano takes the top spot at second base due to Chase Utley's recent injury issues. Cano had an outstanding 2010, both fantasy and reality wise as he drastically improved his plate discipline. I fully expect his 30 HR power to continue with the short porch to right. His RBI totals should drop a tad, but that still places Cano solidly in the top spot with his consistent dominating batting average.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .312/.375/.526, 30 HR, 93 RBI, 90 Runs, 4 SB.
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox Dustin Pedroia is returning from a broken foot that sidelined him the final half of 2010. He's been performing well this spring, so there should not be any injury concern. Pedroia is a solid performer in all fantasy stats, and even showed burgeoning power before the injury last season along with increasing walks.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .295/.374/.480, 21 HR, 80 RBI, 109 Runs, 18 SB.
Ian Kinsler, Rangers Ian Kinsler is returning from an injury-plagued 2010 where he dealt with a groin. That seems fine now. The concern with Kinsler was his significant drop in power last season, only 9 HR in 100 games and a relatively disappointing postseason outside of two innings in Game 2. He has quelled some of this negativity with 5 HR already this spring in 30 at-bats, enough to give the hope Kinsler could be a legendary 30/30 man once again.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .279/.360/.456, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 94 Runs, 23 SB.
Dan Uggla, Braves Dan Uggla may strike out a ton, but he is a lock for 30 HR every season. Not something to ignore for your second baseman. I do expect a regression from Uggla's spectacular 2010 season where he had a .330 BABIP, so his average may hurt you some. But, if you're drafting Uggla, it's for power which may even increase in a friendlier hitter's park away from Miami Stadium, and he is expected to be the cleanup hitter in Atlanta.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .262/.355/.486, 36 HR, 110 RBI, 87 Runs, 3 SB.
Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks Kelly Johnson was a surprising starter at second base for the Braves in 2007, and has been a fine fantasy contributor since then. In 2010, he blossomed as a power hitter in Arizona. Do not be fooled by his high strikeout totals; Johnson hits for good average when he is healthy. Most have Kelly Johnson outside their top 10 second baseman, and I think he's a steal where you can get him.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .274/.358/.454, 24 HR, 66 RBI, 93 Runs, 14 SB.
Rickie Weeks, Brewers Rickie Weeks is an annoyingly streaky player with his violent uppercut swing, though the Brewers seem just fine with him attempting to blast everything out of the park from the leadoff spot every game. Weeks will likely give you good power and speed numbers in the end, but you certainly need to be patient with him through the rough stretches. Which if they don't come, he could hit like .220 and destroy your team. Hrmph.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .263/.359/.450, 24 HR, 70 RBI, 95 Runs, 13 SB.
Chase Utley, Phillies Chase Utley has been the unanimous best second baseman in baseball since 2005, and would be at the top of this list if he didn't have horrendous luck with injuries lately. He currently has an ailing right knee that should sideline him to start the year, along with returning from torn thumb ligaments that happened last year. If you draft Utley, you're gambling on his health which is a major question.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: 100 games, .280/.386/.493, 18 HR, 76 RBI, 83 Runs, 9 SB.
Martin Prado, Braves Martin Prado is moving to left field this season to accommodate Dan Uggla, but he's still probably second base eligible in your league. Prado is a poor man's Robinson Cano; he hits for nice average, but takes few walks and doesn't steal many bags. Prado is returning from a severe hip injury last year, and the position change could be a detriment. He should still hit for good average, though.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .302/.348/.444, 16 HR, 58 RBI, 88 Runs, 6 SB.
Brandon Phillips, Reds Brandon Phillips is a free-swinging hacker who will hurt your average when he's facing righties. He has also been in steady decline since his 30/30 season in 2007. He also has been moved up to the top of the lineup, which hinder RBI and power totals. It's hard for me to get excited about Phillips, as he has not progressed as a hitter during his career. I expect the decline to continue; he needs to be a more disciplined hitter to join the elite ranks.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .265/.318/.420, 16 HR, 61 RBI, 90 Runs, 19 SB.
Aaron Hill, Blue Jays If you follow sabermetrics, you probably have come across Aaron Hill's astonishing .196 BABIP for 136 games played in 2010. Do take heed, Hill has made an obvious conscious effort to be more of a power threat later in his career and he has always been wont to swing at anything. If you're drafting Hill, it is entirely due to the power potential he has, thus a lower average is not a devastating blow to absorb for a late option at second base. .205/.271/.394 again? I'll safely assume he eclipses that next season.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .270/.335/.460, 28 HR, 79 RBI, 79 Runs, 3 SB.
Ben Zobrist, Rays Ben Zobrist is the ultimate utility man in baseball. He plays everywhere. He's most valuable as a second base, so I'll include him here. Zobrist had an amazing 2009 season hitting 27 HR and OBP over .400. He came back to reality last year, and since Zobrist is projected to be at the top of the lineup this season, I would expect his home run and RBI to stay fairly low with more runs and stolen bases.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .266/.370/.422, 13 HR, 64 RBI, 88 Runs, 25 SB.
Chone Figgins, Mariners Chone Figgins has settled into the second spot in the lineup and solely at second base after being a valuable utility man for the Angels. If you want steals at second base, Figgins is the best way to go. However, at age 33 now, Figgins' performance did drop a bit at the plate and I would not expect that to rebound much. His counting stats will also struggle since Seattle's offense is putrid.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .266/.359/.355, 2 HR, 43 RBI, 72 Runs, 38 SB.
Brian Roberts, Orioles Brian Roberts is once again having back problems after it sidelined him for most of last season. For a player whose greatest asset is stealing bases, this is a glowing red flag to stay the heck away. If Roberts is sidelined, the next options are Robert Andino and Cesar Izturis. You do not want either on your fantasy team, ever.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .280/.358/.406, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 60 Runs, 17 SB.
Gordon Beckham, White Sox Gordon Beckham had a promising rookie season, but dropped in all areas last season. Ozzie Guillen demoted him to the ninth in the lineup late in the year, which further hurts his counting stats. Beckham did struggle through wrist troubles last season, but I would not have my hopes high.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .260/.334/.414, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 75 Runs, 10 SB.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins Tsuyoshi Nishioka, a new signing from Japan, projects to be the starting second baseman in Minnesota along with some time at shortstop. Nishioka was the batting average leader in Japan last season, and his skills should project well to the majors. He will not provide much power, but has good speed on the bases along with a solid average and great plate discipline.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .282/.378/.442, 8 HR, 56 RBI, 80 Runs, 20 SB.
Howie Kendrick, Angels Howie Kendrick is a frustrating player who refuses to take pitches. He rarely draws walks, which substantially lowers his value since he is a speedy runner at the top of the lineup. Kendrick will provide you with a good average and some production in power and speed, but he is not a player I would rely on. Especially with how poor the Angels' lineup appears this year.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .280/.322/.418, 10 HR, 66 RBI, 69 Runs, 12 SB.
Danny Espinosa, Nationals Danny Espinosa had an unlucky start in the majors last season with a BABIP of .239. I expect his average to be at respectable levels next season, in the .250 range. There is upside with Espinosa as he has hit with power and speed in the lower minors. Espinosa may not be drafted in most leagues - he's noted for a high strikeout rate - but I think he's a talent worth taking a flier on.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .252/.319/.453, 18 HR, 55 RBI, 64 Runs, 12 SB.
Mike Aviles, Royals Mike Aviles is another second baseman who doesn't know how to take a walk, and his value is largely based on him hitting for average. Aviles has had a hot spring thus far, and is projected to earn the leadoff spot for the Royals this season, but I do not suggest relying on players like this.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .282/.314/.401, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 72 Runs, 17 SB.
Neil Walker, Pirates Neil Walker is a fine defensive second baseman who surprised with his high
average during his rookie campaign in the majors. I highly expect this not to continue. Walker had a .340 BABIP with relatively poor plate discipline. If Walker doesn't hit for average, his value is minimal.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .265/.316/.409, 15 HR, 73 RBI, 62 Runs, 5 SB.
Orlando Hudson, Padres The O-Dog received a nice contract from the Padres, but he has turned 33 and has steadily been in decline for the last few years. Playing at Petco now isn't going to help him improve, either. Hudson hits righties fairly well - he can be a platoon option - but you don't want Hudson as your starter. There isn't much upside.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .260/.342/.368, 5 HR, 52 RBI, 65 Runs, 12 SB.
Bill Hall, Astros Bill Hall is a grizzled veteran who will give you good power from the middle infield with minimal speed and will destroy your batting average. Jeff Keppinger will probably take some playing time later in the year after returning from a broken foot, but Hall should provide for you early in the season in case you forgot to draft a second baseman or something.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .232/.295/.409, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 48 Runs, 8 SB.
Omar Infante, Marlins Omar Infante is yet another free-swinging second baseman who struggles doing what hitters are supposed to do - get on base. Infante's average was very strong during his time with the Braves, but his BABIP was also extraordinarily high, over .340 overall. I do not expect Infante's batting average to remain over .300. I actually think his counting stats stink; Infante gives you virtually no speed or power.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .290/.330/.378, 6 HR, 50 RBI, 68 Runs, 7 SB.
Freddy Sanchez, Giants Freddy Sanchez is one of many second basemen that only hit for average and don't help you elsewhere. Sanchez has the added negative of returning from shoulder surgery which may sideline him to start the year. Stay away.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .280/.325/.382, 10 HR, 51 RBI, 63 Runs, 5 SB.
Mark Ellis, Athletics Mark Ellis has been the long-time second baseman for the Athletics. He has degraded as a player through the years, and at nearly 34 now, he's just about finished. Ellis provides a decent average, but not much more at this point.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .272/.340/.381, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 44 Runs, 8 SB.
Sean Rodriguez, Rays Sean Rodriguez is a utility man similar to Ben Zobrist. He played most of his time at second base last season, so we'll include Rodriguez here. Rodriguez does not provide a good average, but he has good power and speed combination potential. The question is if Rodriguez will receive playing time. Zobrist should be the second baseman now, and Reid Brignac is the Rays' shortstop. If Rodriguez gets a chance to play, be sure to pick him up.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .246/.310/.406, 80 games, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 45 Runs, 9 SB.
Skip Schumaker, Cardinals Skip Schumacher is a light hitting utility player who hits for a decent average. He's not much of a fantasy option, but he could be a desperate stopgap who won't hurt any of your stats.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .275/.335/.360, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 65 Runs, 8 SB.
Eric Young Jr., Rockies Eric Young Jr. projects to share time with Jose Lopez at second base forthe Rockies, but Lopez sucks and Young only has fantasy upside. Young's value is purely based on his speed. If he plays a lot, he could put up a good amount of steals - Young has been a proven stolen base threat at all levels. But, he is coming off a broken leg and needs to get on the field.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .246/.318/.300, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 50 Runs, 21 SB.
Scott Sizemore, Tigers Scott Sizemore is the favorite to get most of the Tigers' second baseman duties since Carlos Guillen has an ailing knee that may sideline him for much of the season. Playing time will be spread around, and Sizemore isn't much offensively, so Detroit looks like a bad spot for this position.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .242/.312/.360, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 48 Runs, 2 SB.
Adam Kennedy, Mariners Adam Kennedy is unhappy in Seattle and was recently arrested due to a DUI. He may not even play this season, but if he's signed by another team, he could be a fantasy option.
2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .260/.328/.360, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 40 Runs, 10 SB.