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2012 Position Rankings: Second Base

Second base is one of fantasy's stronger positions, with several elite producers, plenty of depth, and a number of young breakout candidates. It also helps that a number of these players are eligible at other positions, and flexibility is always appreciated. Remember, these rankings are gearing towards 12-team mixed leagues and traditional 5x5 scoring.

  1. Robinson Cano, NYY - At 29 years old, Cano is right in the prime of his career with a great supporting cast and ballpark. There is no such thing as a guarantee in fantasy baseball, but he's close to a lock for .300/25/100/100. Don't expect more than a handful of steals, however.
  2. Dustin Pedroia, BOS - Pedroia showed no ill-effects from his 2010 foot injury, posting career highs with 21 HR, 91 RBI, and 26 steals last year. He might not hit for that kind of over-the-fence power again, but he'll flirt with a .300 average, score a ton of runs, and steal 20 bases.
  3. Ian Kinsler, TEX - Kinsler led all qualified second baseman in steals (30) and was second in homers (32) last season, but only once in his six years has he topped a .286 batting average. Last year was also the first time he avoided the disabled list, and he won't do much for your RBI total hitting atop an admittedly great lineup.
  4. Dan Uggla, ATL - You can count on Uggla to do everything but hit for average and steal bases. He's on a five-year run of at least 146 games played, 31 HR, 82 RBI, and 84 runs, with an average of 157 games played, 33 HR, 91 RBI, and 96 runs. No reason to expect any different in 2012.
  5. Ben Zobrist, TBR - Zobrist's last three years have been all over the spectrum, going from great (2009) to decent (2010) to above-average (2011). He doesn't hit for the kind of average you'd expect from a speedy guy with a high ground ball rate and a turf home infield, but he contributes to the other four categories consistently. Outfield eligibility makes him a bit more valuable as well.
  6. Brandon Phillips, CIN - Once a perennial 20-20 guy, Phillips' power output has been in steady decline since 2008 (18 HR in 2011) while his stolen bases total dropped for the second straight year (14). He's still a safe bet for 15-15 with a solid average next season, and he should help plenty in the runs scored and driven in departments.
  7. Howie Kendrick, LAA - Kendrick parlayed the best season of his career into a fat new contract extension, meaning everyone is expecting him to do it again. The .330+ batting averages everyone forcasted during his days as a prospect have never materialized, but he's consistently around .290 and is trending upwards in the power and stolen base departments.
  8. Rickie Weeks, MIL - The Brewers will count on Weeks offensively after losing Prince Fielder (and potentially Ryan Braun for 50 games), but unfortunately he's spent time on the disabled list in all but one of his six seasons. If healthy, he'll give you 20 HR and threaten double-digit steals with plenty of run production.
  9. Chase Utley, PHI - Injuries have hindered a player that was once one of fantasy's best, limiting Utley to just 218 games over the last two seasons. He's more of a 15-15 player than a 30-15 player these days, and his increasing susceptability to left-handers may drag his average down. Be careful, second basemen tend to fall off a cliff quickly.
  10. Michael Young, TEX - I wouldn't expect another .338 batting average and his days of 20+ homers are probably over, but Young will both score and drive in a ton of runs in that lineup and ballpark. As always, his biggest fantasy asset remains his ability to hit for average. After playing just 14 games at second last year, there's a non-zero chance he'll lose eligibility this year.
  11. Dustin Ackley, SEA - Safeco Field is a pitcher's park but it is slightly less suffocating for left-handed bats. Ackley was suberb in his debut last season, and should improve his output with a full season of at-bats in 2012. A .280-.290 average with double-digit homers and steals is a safe bet.
  12. Neil Walker, PIT - Walker's first full year in the big leagues was a success, and at 26 years old it's reasonable to expect him to improve his .273/12/83/76/9 performance. I don't think he can do 20 HR over a full season just yet, but more than likely you'll get help in all categories.
  13. Danny Espinosa, WAS - Don't expect Espinosa's low-.200's batting average to improve as long as he employs that uppercut swing, but that same swing gives him legit 20+ HR power. He's also a threat to steal 20 bases if he picks his spots a little better. Some BABIP luck could result in a huge season.
  14. Kelly Johnson, TOR - I think Johnson is a little underrated at the moment, mostly because his 2011 season is a disappointment compared to 2010. He still hit 21 HR with 16 steals, and his batting average should get out of the gutter with some help from the turf in Toronto. There was no significant change in his batted ball profile from 2010-2011, so it's fair to expect a BABIP-fueled rebound.
  15. Jemile Weeks, OAK - Rickie's kid brother is going to have to create all his fantasy value himself, because his teammates and ballpark won't help at all. He could slash his way to a .290 average with 40 stolen base upside, but you'll get nothing in the other three categories.
  16. Ryan Roberts, ARI - Roberts might not retain second base eligibility if the D'Backs intend to use him as their everyday third baseman, and his track record is mighty short. The downside is an unrosterable player, but the upside is a 20-20 guy maybe 80+ runs driven in.
  17. Jason Kipnis, CLE - If you take Kipnis' performance from his late season call-up and extrapolate it over a 162-game season, it works out to 30+ HR and 20+ stolen bases. I promise you he won't do that in 2012. The lefty swinger could push 20 homers and ten steals if he stays healthy, making him a prime breakout candidate.
  18. Marco Scutaro, COL - Scutaro does a little bit of everything, but nothing exceptionally well. The move from Fenway Park to Coors Field probably hurt him given the drop-off in his supporting staff, but Scutaro is a safe late-round pick who will help you just enough in all five categories. I like him as a waiver wire injury replacement more than anything.
  19. Aaron Hill, ARI - Hill hasn't been the same player since swatting 36 HR in 2009, mostly because he's gotten power hungry and added a huge uppercut to his swing. His batting average won't improve until he stops hitting so many balls in the air, and last year's eight homers and 21 steals were the reverse of what was expected. He's a hard guy to pin down.
  20. Daniel Murphy, NYM - The Mets figure to use Murphy as their primary second baseman next season, but even if that experiment doesn't work out, he'll see enough time there to retain eligibility. He can hit for a solid average but doesn't figure to contribute many homers or stolen bases.
  21. Jose Altuve, HOU - The 5-foot-7 listing might be generous, but they don't count height in fantasy. Like the younger Weeks, Altuve has to produce all of his fantasy value himself with batting average and stolen bases because he won't hit for power and his teammates won't help him out very much.
  22. Ryan Raburn, DET - With Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch entrenched in the outfield corners, Raburn will see his most of his time at second this year. He's hit at least 14 HR in each of the last three seasons, though his batting average has declined for two straight years now. We've been waiting for the breakout for a few years now, will it come in 2012?
  23. Gordon Beckham, CHW - It's been a tough few years for the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft. Beckham has the pop to hit double-digit homers and the potential to break out at any moment, but we're going on 1,500 plate appearances of sub-replacement level fantasy production. Upside can be tempting, but try to resist.
  24. Jamey Carroll, MIN - Carroll hasn't hit a home run in two years, and that's unlikely to change with the move to Target Field. He has consistently hit in the high-.200's with double-digit steals however, and his walks have value in OBP leagues. Not a guy you want to start everyday, but a fine substitute. 
  25. Ryan Theriot, SF - After four straight years of 20+ steals, Theriot dropped to just four last season. Part of that was the Cardinals' offensively philosophy, but he also got caught six times. Theriot has fantasy value as a .270 hitter with 20+ steals, so we'll have to see a) if the Giants give him the green light in 2012, and b) how much they actually play him.

Honorable Mentions: Sean Rodriguez & Jeff Keppinger, TBR; Robert Andino & Brian Roberts, BAL; Orlando Hudson, SD; Omar Infante, FLA; Mark Ellis, LAD

Other Positions: Catcher, First Base

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