Fantasy Baseball Focus: National 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!
In the past, the second base position in fantasy baseball was very similar to catchers: a couple stellar ones and the rest are “eh.” But like fellow staff writer Mike wrote, they have become an offensive force, probably surpassing shortstops. It’s rare to see a premier second baseman being traded because they are a special breed. Will 15 to 20 home runs a year be the norm for second base in the future? Maybe, but most teams are happy if its second baseman hits above .300 while providing solid glovework. It’s the traditional second baseman. The constant with second basemen today is their size — almost all are around the same height … and maybe a few of them just have above-average, massive forearms.
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 second basemen
- Dan Uggla – Braves – .233/.311/.453
- Brandon Phillips – Reds – .300/.353/.457
- Neil Walker – Pirates – .273/.334/.408
- Chase Utley – Phillies – .259/.344/.425
- Danny Espinosa – Nationals – .236/.323/.414
Atlanta Braves – Dan Uggla
Starter: One look at Uggla’s stats from 2011 would suggest he was a selfish player who just went for all or nothing, every time up. He hit a career high in home runs (36) and produced a career low .233 average. But those who followed his season would know it was nothing like that. His first half was atrocious. He was making the Braves look bad on the new contract they just handed him. The Braves stuck with him and it showed in a brilliant second half. He had a career-long and MLB-long hitting streak that stretched 33 games. It’s a feat that is incredibly hard, and for a hitter like Uggla, it’s even harder. His first half featured anomaly stats: .185/.257/.365. He almost re-named the Mendoza line to the Uggla line. He hit 15 HR and only 34 RBIs, which meant many of his home runs were solo shots. In the second half, he hit .296/.379/.569 with 21 dingers and 48 RBIs. It’s safe to say he put entirely too much pressure on himself, signing that new contract and with a new team. It’s safe to say he’ll be back to normal and have another good year. Long-term value
Miami Marlins — Omar Infante
Starter: Infante took a similar course as Uggla: bad first half, good second half. Infante hit .251/.293/.309 in the first half and only knocked one home run. Like the Braves, the Marlins stuck with him, and he hit six homers while batting .314/.348/.493 in the second half. Like Uggla, I believe his first half was a fluke. He will rebound fine, but don’t expect any power. He’ll hit less than 10 home runs, less than 50 RBIs on the year, but will get on base. He doesn’t strikeout much either, which is always a plus.
Starter: Turner figures to have the edge going into camp … only because he maned the position all last year. Turner isn’t much of a fantasy option and most likely will find his way onto teams that either (a) need bench help or (b) forgot to draft a second baseman. He hit .260 with no power last year. He’s only good for doubles and low strikeouts.
Prospect: Havens is a fantasy … heartbreaker. His injury woes are too much stress. His highest potential would be an Uggla stat line, just minus 15-20 home runs and the same amount in RBIs. Some say he can consistently hit over .300, but given that he has struggled to stay healthy and in a groove, I find that impossible. I strongly believe he will have a chance to win the starting spot with a hot spring (it wont take much to win it over Turner) and the Mets will just go with him now and when the injury happens, insert Turner. If he has a good spring, why not give him a try? Does that mean you should try him on your team? Not unless you have Turner as a backup. Sleeper
Philidelphia Phillies — Chase Utley
Starter: I, for one, will not be drafting Utley come draft day. I would like to say his draft value has dropped, but fantasy owners everywhere will draft him based on his name. It always happens. Take a look at his last four years and tell me if you want to draft him — his numbers and games played have declined each year. Will he reverse it this year? Doubtful. He’s my overrated pick and overrated with confidence.
Washington Nationals – Danny Espinosa
Starter: Espinosa is only an option in leagues where strikeouts don’t hurt you. If it’s a category league, you can get by, but just know that you will lose that category most weeks. If it’s a point league, stay away. He will strikeout over 150 times which is a nightmare if you go by points. If you could care less about strikeouts, he’s a great option. In his first full year, he hit 20 plus home runs, 60 plus RBIs. The only downfall is that the seemed to wear out and slump in the second half, which caused a dip in his average. Perfect scenario: great first half and then you trade him to a team that didn’t read this. You win.
Chicago Cubs – Darwin Barney
Starter: This is such a mess that I turned to our Cubs writer and fantasy expert, Dan Kirby, for a clear update: “Barney will get the bulk of the load, with Stewart playing third. Baker and DeWitt are bench guys. Barney isn’t a fantasy player, though, as you know, especially hitting at the end of a terrible lineup this season. I say he gets about 135 games there with 3 HR, 35 RBI, 8 SB and a .275 average, much like last year.”
Cincinnati Reds –Brandon Phillips
Starter: Phillips will again hold down second base for the Reds. He’s a for-sure pick. He will hit around 20 home runs a year, 75 RBIs, and can get you anywhere from 15-25 steals. He’s a fantastic option and has been steady through the years. The topper: He doesn’t strikeout often. Draft with confidence. For-sure pick
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