2012 Second Base Preview
Mar 3, 2012 by Dan Wheelock
Second base is a position full of question marks. Will Ian Kinsler, Rickie Weeks, and Chase Utley stay healthy enough to get 550 to 600 at-bats? Which Dan Uggla will we see in 2012, the 2011 first-half version or the second-half version? Will Danny Espinosa, Jason Kipnis, Dustin Ackley and Jemile Weeks improve in their second season or will they experience the Sophomore Slump? I think it’s a good idea to pick your second baseman early.
Here are the Fantasy Sports Kings composite second base rankings as well as a sleeper and a bust pick for 2012.
1. Robinson Cano, NYY – Robbie Cano! Don’tcha know! Cano has hit at least 25 home runs in each of the last three seasons, quite a feat for a second baseman. He is also a perennial .300 hitter. Target Cano late in the first round on draft day.
2. Dustin Pedroia, BOS – Pedroia enjoyed his first 20/20 season in 2011. Assuming he can stay healthy, 2012 should be able to repeat that accomplishment. “Pedey” should have an average close to .300 with great counting stats hitting second in the Red Sox lineup.
3. Ian Kinsler, TEX – 2011 marked the first time in Kinsler’s career that he had over 600 at-bats. He’s been known as an injury risk and that doesn’t change going into 2012. The risk doesn’t come a potentially great reward, however. Kinsler is capable of putting up his third 30/30 season while scoring well over 100 runs.
4. Dan Uggla, ATL – Uggla was hitting .173 through Independence Day before catching fire in July and August. He ended the season with a .233 average and a career high 36 home runs. Uggla has hit over 30 home runs in his past five seasons and there’s no reason to think he won’t hit that mark again in 2012.
5. Rickie Weeks, MIL – Weeks is a high-risk, high-reward type player. Weeks is my bust pick for 2012. Read more below.
6. Brandon Phillips, CIN – Phillips is a steady option at second base. He’s going to hit around 20 home runs, steal 15-to-20 bases, deliver a sold average and give you good run and RBI production. He hit .300 last year but you should expect an average around .275 in 2012.
7. Ben Zobrist, TB – Zobrist had a fantastic 2011 (.269/99/20/91/19) and should be able to have similar production in 2012. I would take him before Weeks or Phillips, but these are composite rankings.
8. Chase Utley, PHI – Utley has been slowed by injuries the last to seasons and is no longer an elite option at second. He is 33 years old and is and his best days are clearly behing him. The Phillies will be limiting him this spring in hopes that he will be fresh for the regular season. Still, Utley has 15/15, and maybe even 20/20, potential. It just comes with a bit of risk.
9. Howie Kendrick, LAA – Kendrick almost doubled his previous career high in home runs (10) last year in his age-27 season when he went yard 18 times. He also swiped 14 bags and hit .285. Kendrick is a nice low-end option at second for 2012. The Angels’ offense is much improved with the addition of Albert Pujols and with Kendrys Morales coming back from injury. This can only help Kendrick.
10. Danny Espinosa, WAS – Espinosa had a very successful, albeit streaky, rookie season in 2011. He was able to clobber 21 home runs and steal 17 bases. He only hit .236, however. Espinosa still has room to get better and Washington’s lineup is getting better. He is a great option for your middle infield spot.
11. Jason Kipnis, CLE – Kipnis is my sleeper pick for second base. Read about him below.
12. Dustin Ackley, SEA – Ackley is a popular second-year player that is being taken in the middle rounds of mixed-league drafts. Between Triple-A and the majors last year, the 24-year-old hit 15 home runs and stole 13 bases. He is a great hitter (more walks than strikeouts for his career in the minors) and should flirt with a .300 average in 2012.
13. Kelly Johnson, TOR – Johnson is an un-sexy pick but has delivered 20+ home runs each of the last two seasons. He has also been around 15 stolen bases over that time period as well. His average is a wildcard, however. Johnson could hit anywhere from .225 to .285.
14. Neil Walker, PIT – Walker had a fine rookie campaign in 2010 when he hit .296 with 12 home runs in 426 at-bats. In 2011, however, his batting average regressed to .273 and he still hit 12 home runs in 170 more at-bats. Walker was a career .273 hitter in the minors so his 2010 average looks like the outlier. Still, he has 15/10 potential that will be nice in deeper leagues.
15. Jemile Weeks, OAK – Weeks did great in his first taste of the big leagues a season ago. The 25-year-old hit .303 with 22 stolen bases in 406 at-bats. He stole 32 bases between Triple-A and Oakland. I would expect a regression in his batting average due to his high .350 BAbip in 2011. Consider Weeks a low-end two-category asset on draft day.
Sleeper: Jason Kipnis, CLE – Kipnis broke into the league with a bang last year. After getting called up in July, he hit 6 home runs and had a 1.014 OPS through his first 16 games. A couple days later he strained his hamstring and missed three weeks. He wasn’t the same after coming back. Kipnis finished the season with seven home runs, five stolen bases and a .272 average at the big league level. Between Triple-A and the majors, he had 19 home runs and 17 stolen bases, great numbers for a second baseman. Kipnis has great upside and should be a lock for 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases with an average around .290. He is the 14th second baseman off the board (Mock Draft Central) but wouldn’t be a bad starting option if you miss out on Cano, Pedroia or Kinsler.
Bust: Rickie Weeks, MIL – After playing for 160 games in 2010, Weeks was limited to only 118 games in 2011. This has been the story for Weeks over the course of his whole career. He has played in less than 130 games in all but one of his major league seasons. If healthy, Weeks is capable of delivering a 30/15 season but do you really want to take the risk on him in a relatively shallow position? If he doesn’t pan out you won’t have many (if any) fallback options.
Photo from Flickr user Shannon Lamond
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