Second base has been one of those positions that I have targeted early in my fantasy baseball draft in seasons past. The reason behind the strategy is that, like the catcher position, there aren’t many second basemen who can make a difference in winning or losing a fantasy title. If I can get one of the top 2 or 3 best performers behind the plate or at second base, then I feel I have an advantage.
Of course I’ll have to hold my own in the positions with deeper reserves, such as outfielders or starting pitchers, especially when I’m picking later.
That’s why I’ve targeted players like Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox, Robinson Cano of the Yankees, Ian Kinsler of the Rangers and Chase Utley of the Phillies in recent drafts.
You can cross off Utley from that list this year due to recurring knee injuries that may or may not require surgery. It’s enough to have Manager Charlie Manuel worried. I won’t worry; I’ll just pass.
There are no sure things on the next level, but you can do a lot worse than Richie Weeks of the Brewers, Brandon Phillips of the Reds or Howard Kendrick of the Angels (He’s no longer going by Howie. Can’t say that I blame him).
Although some analysts disagree, I have Weeks, Phillips and Kendrick rated above Ben Zobrist of the Rays, Dustin Ackley of the Mariners and Dan Uggla of the Braves.
A lot of people love Zobrist, but I’m not one of them. I think he’s a nice player, but he doesn’t belong among the first five or even six second basemen taken.
Ackley is still unproven, and I’ve never been a fan of Uggla’s game: too inconsistent, too many strikeouts to balance the power he gives you.
I’m looking for value in this draft, and if I can’t have one of my top 3 players at second base I think I know where to find the next best thing.
The following players are my idea of value outside the top 10 rated second basemen, including their preseason ranking by CBSsports.com and stats from the 2011 season:
Ryan Roberts of the Diamondbacks, No. 13
19 HRs, 65 RBI, .249 BA 18 SB, .768 OPS
Roberts offers an intriguing mixture of speed and power and has made the most of his chances since becoming an everyday player.
Daniel Murphy of the Mets, No. 19
6 HRs, 49 RBI, .320 BA, 5 SB, .865 OPS
Murphy is getting a chance to play every day and appears recovered from the knee sprain that cut short his 2011 season. He’s a natural hitter. If he’s healthy and plays second well enough to stay on the field, Murphy’s going to be a solid addition to anyone’s lineup. I think Murphy’s time has arrived, coinciding with the Mets’ decision to move in the fences at Citi Field.
Jemile Weeks of the A’s, No. 11
2 HRs, 36 RBI .303 BA 22 SB, .761 OPS
Weeks made the most of his promotion to the majors in June and made second base his own. It’s all upside for Weeks. Grab him if you can.
Keep an eye on: Gordon Beckham can’t be finished, can he? The White Sox drafted him in the first round of the 2008 major league draft, eighth overall, and he was contributing to the big club a year later. He’s coming off two down years, though, and some are wondering if his confidence is beyond repair. Maybe new Manager Robin Ventura can turn him around.
What happened to Danny Espinosa of the Nationals? Espinosa looked like a candidate for Rookie of the Year prior to last year’s All-Star break, but he faded fast in the second half. Still, he’s only 24 and has shown some good pop, decent speed and a good glove. Now, if only he can reduce his strikeouts and bring his average up, the Nationals will really have something. And maybe your fantasy team, too.
This is the fifth of eight fantasy baseball reports concerning best market value for each position. Check back for the next edition: third basemen.