Fantasy: Second Base Rankingsby Ben Jacobs
March 20, 2005
If your draft was this weekend, sorry I didn't get all these done in time to help you. If your draft is next weekend, I should have everything done by then. Now, on to the second base rankings. (Note: Rankings based on 5x5 Rotisserie scoring).
1. Alfonso Soriano, Rangers: I'm not high on Soriano at all right now. First of all, he only hit .244 away from the Ballpark at Arlington, although he did hit more homers on the road (16-12). Second, he's 29 years old now, so he's not at an age where he's still getting better. Third, he still has no concept of the strike zone, as he had 33 walks and 121 strikeouts last year.
He's definitely the best fantasy second baseman, but I don't think he's going to be as far ahead of the field as everybody else does. I'm expecting him to hit .275-.280 with 25-30 homers, 20-25 steals, 80-85 runs and 90-95 RBIs. He does have the potential to back to 35-35, but I wouldn't bank on it.
2. Jeff Kent, Dodgers: Kent's getting old (37) and playing in Los Angeles won't help him, but he's still got power, and Dodger Stadium actually doesn't hurt right-handers in the home run department (in batting average, yes).
As long as his age doesn't catch up to him suddenly and he stays healthy, Kent should be good for a .280-.285 average, 20-25 homers, half a dozen or so steals, 75-80 runs and 90-100 RBIs.
3. Marcus Giles, Braves: Last year was a disappointment for Giles after his 2003 season, but he had some injury problems and he did still hit .311 and steal 17 bases. When he's healthy, he can hit for average and power and steal bases. It actually wouldn't surprise me if he's better than Soriano this year, but you have to hedge your bets because his power dropped so dramatically last year.
Anyway, my expectations for him are a .300-.310 average, 14-16 homers, 15-20 steals, 90-100 runs and 65-70 RBIs.
4. Mark Loretta, Padres: Loretta was 30 years old in 2001. Since that season, he's gotten better every year. I'd have to imagine that trend will end this year, just because it's hard to imagine him topping last year's .335 average with 16 homers, five steals, 108 runs and 76 RBIs.
That said, I still think he'll be pretty good. He should be able to hit .305-.315 with 12-15 homers, a handful of steals, 90-100 runs and 65-70 RBIs.
5. Jose Vidro, Nationals: Vidro only played 110 games last year, and his streak of seasons hitting at least .300 ended at five, but he still hit .294 and hit 14 homers.
If he can stay healthy this year, there's no reason to think he can't be about as good as he was before last year. I'd expect him to hit .300-.310 with 15-20 homers, 75-80 runs and 75-80 RBIs.
6. Bret Boone, Mariners: Boone wasn't nearly as good last year as he had been the year before or in 2001, but he was still good enough to be one of the top 10 fantasy second basemen. So, even if he doesn't improve, he'll be about this good.
I don't think he'll be as good as in 2001 or 2003, but I do think he'll hit better than last year. I'm expecting a .260-.265 average, 24-27 homers, 10-12 steals, 75-80 runs and 85-90 RBIs.
7. Chase Utley, Phillies: It looks like Utley is finally going to get to play full-time, and although his plate discipline and ability to hit for average are suspect, he has plenty of power. In fact, if I weren't concerned that he only hit .266 last year, or that only drew 15 walks in 267 at-bats, I'd have him in the top five on this list.
Still, I expect him to be able to hit .270-.275 with 23-27 homers, 8-10 steals, 75-80 runs and 90-95 RBIs. The only reason he's not ahead of Boone on this list is that he's a higher risk since he's never actually put up numbers like those.
8. Jose Reyes, Mets: He has to stay healthy one of these years, doesn't he? After tantalizing everybody with a .307 average and 13 steals in 69 games in 2003, Reyes was only able to play 53 games last year, and he only hit .255.
He has the potential to steal 50-odd bases and the risk that he might only play 50-odd games. Since he's a second baseman, that potential is hard to ignore. I'll say he hits .270-.275 with 5 or 6 homers, 40-45 steals, 90-100 runs and 45-50 RBIs.
9. Luis Castillo, Marlins: He still doesn't have any power and he's no longer a threat to lead the league in steals, but that doesn't mean he's not a useful fantasy option any more. He can still hit for average and he hits at the top of a lineup that suddenly has quite a bit of firepower behind him.
He can definitely hit .300-.310 with a few homers, 20-25 steals, 100-110 runs and 40-45 RBIs. From a second baseman, that's not bad.
10. Juan Uribe, White Sox: Uribe joined Juan Pierre last year in the category of "Players Who Somehow Became Better Hitters After Leaving Coors Field." Uribe played more than 100 games for the second time in his career (134) and hit .283 with 23 homers, nine steals, 82 runs and 74 RBIs.
Even better is that he also qualifies at shortstop and third base in most leagues. I don't know if he'll hit quite that well this year, but I'd be surprised if he doesn't at least hit .270-.275 with 18-20 homers, 8-10 steals, 75-80 runs and 70-75 RBIs. My biggest concern is his lack of plate discipline, especially after the All-Star break (seven walks in 200 at-bats).
11. Chone Figgins, Angels: Figgins is a player who could definitely be useful if he gets steady playing time, but who isn't certain to get it. He played 148 games last year all over the place, but all of the starting spots appeared to be filled in Anaheim this year. One advantage he has is that he can play a lot of positions, so the Angels will probably find a way to get him 500 at-bats.
However, there is definitely still a risk that he might only get 400 or so at-bats, as well as a risk that he's not really a .300 hitter. He could hit .290-.300 with a handful of homers, 30-35 steals, 90-100 runs and 60-65 RBIs, but he could also be significantly less productive.
12. Ray Durham, Giants: The problem with Durham is that he has trouble staying in the lineup (230 games the last two seasons combined) and he's getting old (33). However, he can still hit, and he still has some speed on the basepaths.
The biggest question you have to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you want Durham is how confident you are that he'll play 140 or so games. If he does, he should hit .280-.285 with 15-20 homers, 10-15 steals, 100-110 runs and 60-65 RBIs. If he only plays 110-120 games again, he'll probably struggle to reach 15 homers, 10 steals, 90 runs or 55 RBIs.
13. Kaz Matsui, Mets: People were disappointed with Matsui's debut in the majors, but he was adjusting to a new league and he had some injury problems and he still hit .272 with seven homers, 14 steals, 65 runs and 44 RBIs in 114 games.
I think Matsui will improve in his second season in like Hideki Matsui did, although probably not quite as dramatically. I'd say he'll hit .280-.285 with 10-15 homers, 15-20 steals, 80-90 runs and 60-65 RBIs.
14. Brian Roberts, Orioles: I don't think Roberts is a very good hitter at all, but the Orioles apparently do. Since he'll be their full-time leadoff hitter and he has some speed, he deserves some consideration as a fantasy option.
He's not going to hit for a high average and he doesn't have power, so don't expect that to improve. He'll probably hit .270-.275 with a handful of homers, 25-30 steals, 100-110 runs and 45-50 RBIs.
15. Placido Polanco, Phillies: Polanco would be much higher on this list if I was sure he was going to get steady playing time. But the Phillies didn't expect him to accept arbitration and they're apparently committed to using Utley at second base and David Bell at third base. So, unless he gets traded or somebody gets hurt, he'll only be getting a few starts a week as a super utility guy.
It's a shame, because if he gets 500 at-bats, he's definitely capable of hitting .300 with 15-20 homers, 10-15 steals, 80-90 runs and 60-70 RBIs. Hopefully, he'll get playing time somehow.
16. Michael Cuddyer, Twins: Cuddyer's finally going to get a chance to play every day this season, and while he'll be playing third base, he'll qualify at second base. He's clearly not going to become the hitter people thought he would become at one point, but he can still help out as a second baseman.
Last year, Cuddyer hit .263 with 12 homers in 339 at-bats, and he's still only 26 years old, so he should be able to keep getting at least a little better. I'd expect him to hit .270-.275 with 18-22 homers, half a dozen steals, 70-75 runs and 65-70 RBIs.
17. Mark Bellhorn, Red Sox: Bellhorn was a top-10 fantasy second baseman last year, but I don't think he'll hit quite as well this year. He also may not hit second this year, which would hurt his run and RBI totals.
I'd expect Bellhorn to hit .250-.260 with 15-20 homers and half a dozen steals. If he hits at the bottom of the order, he'll probably finish with 80-85 runs and 70-75 RBIs. If he works his way back up to second, those numbers should increase dramatically.
18. Todd Walker, Cubs: Walker's a solid hitter for a second baseman, but he's nothing terribly special and he's at the point in his career (33 years old in May) where he's more likely to get worse than he is to get better.
He may play more this year than last year, but I'd only expect him to hit .275-.280 with 14-16 homers, a few steals, 75-80 runs and 60-65 RBIs.
19. Adam Kennedy, Angels: Last year, I thought Kennedy would progress into a solid fantasy starter, but he regressed instead. This year, I'm not expecting him to do much more than hit .270-.275 with 10-12 homers, 15-20 steals, 70-75 runs and 45-50 RBIs. He's useful because of the steals, but you don't want to have to use him all the time.
20. Tony Womack, Yankees: The only reason he even makes the list is because he plays for the Yankees and they don't seem to have another real option at second base. He's 35 years old and last year was easily the best of his career. There's no way he matches it. I'd expect him to hit .265-.270 with a few homers, 15-20 steals, 60-65 runs and 30-35 RBIs at best.
Ben Jacobs can be reached via e-mail.