Second base does not have the marquee names that shortstop has this year, but it is a relatively deep position filled with more fantasy sleepers than any other spot in the infield.
Anthony Rendon (.287/21/111/83 in 2014, plus 3B eligible) and Jose Altuve (.341/56 SBs in 2014) are the obvious top two, followed by Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Brian Dozier. This top five is filled with multi-category studs with enormous ceilings.
Just outside of my first tier are (in order) Dee Gordon, Daniel Murphy, Dustin Pedroia, Neil Walker, Howie Kendrick and Jason Kipnis. Gordon is a sexy player because he can single-handedly win the SB category, but be wary of last year’s .346 BABIP. His 2015 average seems likely to fall 15-20 points from 2014’s .289. On the plus side, Gordon has a ton of young talent batting near him on his new Marlins team and could surpass 100 runs.
Kipnis and Pedroia both had down seasons in 2014, but they have proven that they can be among the position’s top 3, as the former demonstrated in 2013 and the latter in 2011. ESPN ranks Kipnis as its 5th best 2B, but that sounds way too high after he put up a line of .240/6/61/41/22 in 2014. I predict that there will be 10 better 2B than him, so presumably he will not be on my roster.
Pedroia’s HR numbers have declined each of the past four seasons and it is anybody’s guess whether his average will finish closer to last year’s .278 or 2011’s .307. If I am drafting a veteran 2B in the position’s top 10, I prefer someone who has shown more consistency or recent improvement, like Walker.
Walker, the Pirates 2B, had a career year in 2014 (.271/23/74/76) and has actually increased his HR output in each of the past four seasons. Walker finished with the 2nd most HRs for 2B after the All-Star break (10) and his 2014 BABIP was actually 19 points below his career number, so a .280/25/80/80 line may be possible.
Kendrick may be 31, but he has been one of the position’s most reliable players over the past five seasons and may be the safest pick of any 2B at his average draft position. He had a great second half of 2014 (2nd among 2B in hits after the AS break), plus, his move to the NL could help his average creep up over the .300 threshold.
Jedd Gyorko hit 30 HRs in the minors in 2012, but he has disappointed at the MLB level. As a 26 year-old with a career .231 average, this could be his last opportunity to prove he deserves to be a full-time starter. I am definitely buying low on Gyorko in an incredibly potent Padres offense.
The Cubs’ wunderkind, Javier Baez, is a strikeout machine, but if you are looking to sacrifice average for power and you’re not sold on Gyorko, then Baez is your guy. He hit 37 HRs in the minors in 2013 and 23 HRs in 104 minor league games in 2014. His legendary strikeout rate and power make him possibly the position’s most risky pick.
If you are looking for a deep sleeper, I am a huge Marcus Semien fan (3B eligible and ESPN’s #28 2B). He will be drafted way later than Baez, has 20-25 HR potential, and his worst case scenario average is around .230, compared to Baez’s .160ish. Semien appears to be a lock for 500 ABs in Oakland, and his minor league numbers suggest he is being grossly undervalued.
Potential Sleepers: Scooter Gennett, Joe Panik, Emilio Bonifacio, Jose Peraza, Aaron Hill, Ryan Brett
Potential Busts: Chase Utley, Jonathan Schoop, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ben Zobrist, Brett Lawrie