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RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Second Base

This week is the last of our hitter rankings, with only the ever-exciting middle infield positions left to post. Today, we give you Second Basemen, a delightful position filled with speedsters, injury-risks, low batting averages, and a surprising amount of players with flexible eligibility. Saturday will deliver us Shortstop; sandwiched between them, we'll see Closers ranked by Luckey Helms on Thursday. So it should be a pretty exciting week all around.

In case you missed it, check out the OutfieldCatcher, First Base, and Third Base for the fuller picture.

These rankings are gleaned from the brains of the entire RotoAuthority staff, they're tiered, and the round by round guides are vague suggestions that will vary from format to format...but you know all that because you read the first four articles in this series.

Tier 1: New Team, Same Tier (Round 1)

1. Robinson Cano

Cano is likely to lose some counting stats by shifting to the Mariners' lineup and park. That's not ideal, I guess, but the distance between him and everyone else is so huge that I wouldn't worry about it much. It also helps that Seattle's Safeco Field isn't quite the black hole it used to be, presumptively thanks to the moved-in fences.

Tier 2: Old Guy, New Guy (Round 3)

2. Jason Kipnis

3. Dustin Pedroia

Mark Polishuk covered this draft round battle back in January, and we all came to pretty much the same conclusion: Kipnis by a hair. Both are noticeably better than your other options.

Tier 3: Said "Other Options" (Rounds 5-8)

4. Aaron Hill

5. Matt Carpenter

6. Ian Kinsler

7. Ben Zobrist

The dropoff here is pretty big. I've said rounds five through eight, but maybe Hill should be in his own tier, because he's the only one I'd consider taking in the early part of that range. His health has been questionable, but he has raked consistently with Arizona. Carpenter is a question mark too: his BABIP will go way down, but how far? And how much value will be left? The Cards' lineup ought to keep those runs scored pretty high, at least. Kinsler and Zobrist seem unlikely to reach 20 homers or 20 steals again, but they still do a little of everything.

Tier 4: Value From Imperfection (Round 9-13)

8. Jose Altuve

9. Chase Utley

11. Jedd Gyorko

12. Brandon Phillips

13. Martin Prado

14. Daniel Murphy

Altuve's strong in steals and doesn't hurt in average...but he isn't that helpful anywhere else, thanks to the rest of the Astros. Utley hasn't been healthy since...well, since he was a first or second round pick, I believe. Nab a solid backup if you want him. Gyorko has nice power, but serious BA and OBP issues. Phillips is declining and expensive--but those are problems for real life, not fantasy. He still does just enough of everything to be useful, and if he continues to hit behind Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, he should rake in the RBI again. Prado is unexcitingly decent, which is a pretty useful sort of player. Murphy was a pleasant surprise last year, but it's difficult to see him repeating completely. The steals, especially, came out of nowhere--but then, he was only caught three times. Now I'm just arguing with myself.

Tier 5: Underrated (Rounds 14-17)

15. Jed Lowrie

16. Jurickson Profar

17. Brian Dozier

18. Howie Kendrick

Lowrie isn't getting much love (outside of a very sensible Rotographs article) but he was a pretty great hitter last year. Injury risk is the only reason he's this low, which is understandable enough--but he can hit. Consider getting him and Utley together and hoping they don't get injured at the same time.... Profar fizzled in the Majors last year, but what could we expect? Up and down, on and off the bench, moving around enough to be eligible (in some leagues) at second, third, and short. He was a great prospect for a reason, and it's well worth taking a chance now. Dozier has just enough power and speed to be interesting, though he is buried in the Twins lineup. Kendrick is a pretty dependable batting average guy in a decent lineup.

It's worth noting that all eighteen of these players makes a pretty decent second baseman or middle infielder--all can start on good fantasy teams. The next tier will change that.

Tier 6: The Point at which You Wished You'd Gotten Your MI Already (After 17)

19. Omar Infante

20. Neil Walker

21. Alexander Guerrero

22. Anthony Rendon

23. Kelly Johnson

24. Kolten Wong

25. Emilio Bonifacio

26. Dan Uggla

27. Rickie Weeks

28. Nick Franklin

Infante and Walker are safe, unexciting picks. The former will help a little in average, the latter in homers. They make useful handcuffs for the riskier options above them. Guerrero doesn't seem to be looking super sharp in the Dodgers' camp, but keep watching him. If he does end up starting, bump him up a tier or two. Rendon ought to show more than he did last year with more stability. If Johnson gets most of the playing time for New York, he could be a good, late power source. He's a bit more valuable in daily leagues. Wong may or may not be ready, but any live hitter in the Cardinals' lineup ought to be okay in the counting stats. Bonifacio is supposedly coming off the Cubs' bench, but if they use him often enough, he might help in steals. Uggla is pretty bad, but can hit the ball a long way. Weeks may be done, but if the rest of March goes well for him and he wins back the starter's job (big if), he could be draftable. Franklin is on the outside looking in for Seattle, but if he gets traded or steals Brad Miller's shortstop job he gets interesting quickly.

Second base is very short on elite talent, but after the top guys are gone, there are a surprising amount of decent options. This is where to target your MI player, as usual. In shallow leagues, I wouldn't worry much at all about position scarcity here, as you have plenty of opportunities to take fliers on interesting players with question marks and handcuff them with safer moves. This is one year that I actually expect to be happy with my second baseman.


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