Fantasy Baseball Focus: American League second basemen
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Editor’s Note: Fantasy Baseball Focus is a breakdown of each league, position by position. Each team receives a fantasy analysis on the starter, backup and future prospect if there is one. In case you’re wondering, is there a schedule? Why, yes! Thanks for asking. On the right hand side of the page (your other right), look for the Fantasy Baseball Focus headline. Jamie Shoemaker will analyze the National League, while Dan Kirby handles the American League. Good luck in your fantasy leagues!
As has been the case in recent years, second base remains a premium position without a lot of depth in the American League. There are some great players at the top, solid options in the middle and then the talent falls off considerably. If you find yourself at the end of an AL-only draft without a second baseman, odds are you might be in some trouble. There are, however, some hidden gems that could produce with playing time. Here is the rundown of the position for the 2012 season, as well as a handy guide to help you during the draft.
For-sure pick – It means you’ll get consistency, nothing less, nothing more.
Sleeper – Underrated in drafts; can get in later rounds but might produce above-average stats.
Overrated – Might not produce at the hype he’s supposed to produce at.
Long-term value – Might not be the best bet for this year but excellent for keeper leagues.
Top five American league second basemen
1. Robinson Cano, Yankees — 2011 stats: 104 R, 28 HR, 118 RBI, 8 SB, .302/.349/.533
2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox — 2011 stats: 102 R, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 26 SB, .307/.387/.474
3. Ian Kinsler, Rangers — 2011 stats: 121 R, 32 HR, 77 RBI, 30 SB, .255/.355/.477
4. Howie Kendrick, Angels — 2011 stats: 86 R, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 14 SB, .285/.338/.464
5. Ben Zobrist, Rays — 2011 stats: 99 R, 20 HR, 91 RBI, 19 SB, .269/.353/.469
Starter: Roberts will be given the chance to remain the O’s second baseman. However, with his recent history of back problems and concussions, he is a huge risk to anyone who owns him. From 2004-09, he averaged 101 runs, 35.3 stolen bases and a .290 bating average and was one of the top second basemen in the fantasy world. Over his last two seasons, he has played in only 98 games, scoring 46 runs with 18 stolen bases and a .255 batting average. Look for other options.
Backup: Andino is the better play and will most likely end up being the everyday second baseman for the Orioles this season. He hit .263 with five home runs, 36 RBI and 13 stolen bases over 139 games for the team last season. While he may not be a great starting option for your team, he also has eligibility at shortstop and third base, so the flexibility is nice.
Boston Red Sox — Dustin Pedroia, Nick Punto
Starter: Pedroia is one of the best second basemen in the game and a guy who should be taken in the first couple of rounds of any draft. Hit .307 with 102 runs, 21 home runs, 91 RBI, 26 stolen bases and an .861 OPS in 2011. He also added 37 doubles and 195 hits, so if you are in a league that goes crazy for stats, he is your guy. Hitting at the top of a loaded Red Sox offense, he will once again put up more than solid numbers all the way across the board. At 28 years old, just entering his prime. A for-sure pick.
Backup: Unless Pedroia gets injured, Punto should only be on your roster if you are in a very deep league. At 34 years of age, his best days are behind him, and even then, they weren’t that good. The speed is gone, he never had any power and he doesn’t hit for a good average. Not a good recipe for fantasy success.
Starter: People are going to draft Beckham hoping that he will finally figure it out and start playing the way the White Sox thought he would when they made him the eighth-overall selection in the 2008 draft. Don’t be that person. Over 150 games in 2011, he hit .230 with 10 home runs, 44 RBI, five stolen bases and a .633 OPS. For a guy who was supposed to have an advanced approach at the plate coming out of college, his 35 walks to 111 strikeouts show he still has a ways to go. Still just 25 years old, Beckham has time on his side to become the player many expected. I just don’t see it happening in 2012.
Backup: Lillibridge provided nice value in 2011 as he hit .258 with 13 home runs, 29 RBI and 10 stolen bases in just 216 plate appearances. Whether or not he can do it again in limited time remains to be seen. Still, he is a good option in deeper leagues and could be a nice addition in standard leagues if Beckham gets injured or the team loses faith in him.
Prospect: Martinez may get a decent amount of at-bats but he lacks power and doesn’t have enough speed to be considered fantasy worthy. Over 2,099 minor-league plate appearances, he has 16 home runs, 60 stolen bases and a .682 OPS. More of a defensive player.
Starter: Over 36 games in 2011, Kipnis hit .272 with 24 runs, seven home runs, 19 RBI and stole five bases. Over a 162 game average, that comes out to 108 runs, 32 HR/ 86 RBI/ 23 SB. While he may not achieve those numbers in 2012, his success is no fluke. He was a career .300 hitter over 254 minor-league games with an .863 OPS. The 5’-11” left-handed hitter has great plate discipline and should be a high-average hitter with good power and speed numbers down the line. For 2012, I could see a line of .280 with 15 home runs, 65 RBI and 10-15 stolen bases. Very good value for where he will get drafted. I see long-term potential for Kipnis.
Backup: Donald can hit, but with Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop, and Kipnis looking like the team’s second baseman of the future, his playing time will be limited. He hit .318 over 39 games for the Tribe in 2011, and is a .286 hitter with a .373 OBP over 452 minor league games. He has decent power and speed, but the at bats may not be there in 2012. Not much fantasy value here.
Starter: Raburn is a solid option as he can get you around 15 home runs, 50 RBI and a batting average around .280. He won’t help greatly, but he also won’t hurt your team in any way. He won’t steal any bases but you will get solid production late in the draft. He hit .341 with a .967 OPS over 45 games after the All-Star break, so a breakout year could be on the horizon. For that reason, I am going to put a small “sleeper” tag on him because I think he could have a career year, especially with Prince Fielder now in the lineup to inject some motivation.
Backup: 162 game averages of .249 with six home runs, 40 RBI and seven stolen bases are all you need to know about the 32-year-old Santiago’s fantasy value. Stay away unless you are gunning for the first pick in your league’s 2013 draft.
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