Staff rankings: Second base

We continued our staff consensus rankings by position yesterday with our first base rankings. Today: second base. The staffers who ranked are Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett, Brad Johnson and yours truly. We used to create our composite rankings, and if you follow the link provided in our rankings, you can see how ours compared with a slew of other experts’.

Assume a 12-team, mixed league with standard 5×5 settings. Click on the links with our names to get to our Twitter accounts, where we’ll happily answer your baseball and fantasy questions year-round.

2012 Second Basemen Rankings
Player Name Nick
Expert Consensus
Robinson Cano 1 1 2 1 1 compare
Dustin Pedroia 3 2 1 2 2 compare
Ian Kinsler 2 3 3 3 3 compare
Ben Zobrist 4 6 4 6 4 compare
Dan Uggla 6 4 5 7 5 compare
Brandon Phillips 5 7 6 4 6 compare
Michael Young 8 5 10 8 7 compare
Rickie Weeks 7 8 7 9 8 compare
Chase Utley 13 9 12 5 9 compare
Jason Kipnis 9 11 8 12 10 compare
Howard Kendrick 10 10 13 10 11 compare
Michael Cuddyer 11 16 9 11 12 compare
Dustin Ackley 12 12 11 14 13 compare
Danny Espinosa 16 13 16 13 14 compare
Neil Walker 14 15 14 16 15 compare
Jemile Weeks 15 14 18 15 16 compare
Kelly Johnson 18 17 15 17 17 compare
Aaron Hill 17 19 17 19 18 compare
Ryan Roberts 20 18 22 18 19 compare
Gordon Beckham 19 22 19 20 compare
Daniel Murphy 23 20 25 21 21 compare
Jose Altuve 22 21 23 25 22 compare
Brian Roberts 21 25 20 23 compare
Allen Craig 34 21 22 24 compare
Ryan Raburn 25 23 23 25 compare

Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros, the leading aggregator of expert fantasy advice.

Tomorrow… Shortstop

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  1. Andy said...

    Speaking as a Kinsler owner, I think you have to rank Cano and Pedroia ahead of him purely on consistency. But if Kinsler plays 155 games and raises his BA back to a career avg level, they are likely equivalent in value.

  2. Nick Fleder said...

    Andy, good point. I ran the numbers, and Kinsler with a .275 BA, his career average and incidentally, the league average last year in linear weights, he would be at 1.17 of value, while Cano was at 1.14 and Pedroia at 1.09 last year (Kinsler was at 0.96)…that said, I’m not sure Pedroia will got 20/20 again (why did his HR/FB go up, and why is that sustainable), and he has health risks too. That said, I may reconsider the ranking of Kinsler ahead of him now that I look more closely at his injury history. Interesting debate point.

  3. MH said...

    Second base is possibly the trickiest position this year IMO.  Its neither particularly thin or deep, I have trepidations about each member of the top tier, there’s quite a bit of variance past that point, and the actual replacement value of the position looks likely to be pretty low.  So far my approach has been to either try and get Kinsler early (who per the discussion above, I think is pretty close to the two guys ahead of him, though he’s a case where a move out of the leadoff spot would help take the chains off his RBI potential which is what holds him back from passing Pedroia, IMO), or if I miss then go after some combination of two of Espinosa, Kipnis, and Kelly Johnson.  The only problem is, if that doesn’t work, I’m probably pretty screwed, so its a position I feel I’m going to have to be ready to adjust on quickly on draft day. 

    There may be no more divisive player this year than Kendrick.  I tend to agree with Nick that his performance last year was quite a bit better than we should expect moving forward.  Only Asdrubal Cabrera and Miguel Cabrera had more “Just Enough” home runs, and no one had a greater percentage of their home runs tagged as “Just Enough”.  I see his best case scenario as reverting back to his .290-12-12 ceiling, and worst case scenario he adjusts his approach to try and maintain the power gains he made last year and his K% stays up while his BABIP dips and his AVG takes a significant hit with little to no gain in any other categories.  I’d probably have him ahead of Kipnis, but not by enough that I’d consider drafting him at the market rate when Kipnis is going considerably cheaper. 

    On the flipside, I see Kelly Johnson as underrated.  Yes, I am worried about the K% spike he saw last year, particularly since its supported by a spike in whiff rate, but at the same time you have a 25-15 capable MI in a favorable ballpark with a respectable chance to provide neutral to positive value in the other categories.  Why is that appreciably worse than Danny Espinosa? Espinosa may have some extra power potential going into his age 26 season, but he has a much longer track record of strikeout/low AVG issues (going into the minors), and isn’t so young that you necessarily expect him to suddenly correct that issue (26 this year).

  4. Dave Shovein said...

    A few of my observations:

    I also would have Kendrick ranked over Kipnis

    I think that Jemile Weeks is entirely too low, I’d have him at least 3-4 spots higher

    Chase Utley is someone who likely won’t be on any of my teams this year, just doesn’t look like the same player he once was

    Giavotella and several others should be on this list

    Brian Roberts absolutely should not be ranked in the top 25 at the position. I’d easily bet the under on 30 games played this year

  5. Andrew said...

    Would it be possible to include links to the previous articles?  It would be nice to be able to quickly move from position to position.

  6. Brad Johnson said...

    This is Nick’s baby, but I assume he’s going to have a series wrap-up piece with links next week.

    On Kendrick, .290, 12, 12 smells reasonable to me and you may well be right to prefer Kipnis at his cheaper price. In terms of ranking the talents though, Kendrick with those numbers + a pretty strong supporting cast for R/RBI is heads and shoulders above Kipnis.

  7. MH said...


    I can agree to that, though I think its a bit closer than you’re suggesting.  ZiPS has Kendrick at .275-77-75-15-15 and Kipnis at .258-82-67-16-13, so they see Kendrick as a bit more balanced, but otherwise its basically just a .017 AVG difference, which is meaningful but not particularly large.

  8. Derek Ambrosino said...


    Who ranked on this list ahead of Weeks would you demote in favor of weeks?


    I haven’t dove too deeply into the numbers, but what are the concerns about Ryan Roberts after a 19/18 season? He doesn’t seem like a perennial .250 hitter. Do we just not trust him having come out of the blue and only having only done it once? Did the power seem flukish? A repeat of last season with a .270 average would probably put him in the 10 – 12 range.

  9. Brad Johnson said...

    I haven’t had eyes on Roberts too often and when I have he’s reminded me of Wilson Valdez (not a good thing) so I don’t trust him. It’s a purely personal thing.

    I could be underselling a good player, but I don’t see any downside in being careful with him. It’s not like a Bautista situation where the guy was clearly a stud and the fantasy community substantially undersold him.

  10. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Dave Shovein- Granted I probably ranked Brian Roberts a little high. I wasn’t very educated on the fact that he’s still dealing with the concussion issues that ended his 2011 season. Knowing that much, I’d still take the over on 30 at bats. That would be a unintelligent bet on your part.

    I understand what’s to like about Giavotella. I had him 30 but since we published I have changed my opinion somewhat. I would say he’s more deserving of being in the mid-twenties. I would say the same the same thing about Sean Rodriguez. But past those two guys I don’t think there’s anybody else deserving to break this top 25. SRod and Giavotella have their issues as well. Gia had off-season hip surgery and SRod is a batting average killer that struggles to find regular at bats.

    The only other guys close would Infante and Casilla but I wouldn’t say you could rank those guys over Craig, Altuve, Raburn, Murphy, or even Beckham.

    So I see your arguments about Giavotella and Brian Roberts, but I don’t agree that there are “several other guys” that deserve to be on this list.

  11. Werthless said...

    In 12 team OBP leagues, 2B is the deepest position in fantasy. Guys like Kelly Johnson are very viable options for me. Replacement level seems quite high (Allen Craig, Ryan Roberts, and Aaron Hill are all decent options).

  12. OaktownSteve said...

    Surprised nobody mentioned the presence of Pujols in the Angels line up and it’s impact on Howie Kendrick.  Angels should be better up and down their line up.  How much weight, if any, do you give the ‘rub off’ effect of Albert?

  13. Ben Pritchett said...

    @OaktownSteve- I don’t think we’ll have your answer about how much Pujols will affect Kendrick until the season nears. Their OF situation is like the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. Absolutely packed but still fun and exciting. This is MLB Depth Charts guestimation:

    However, I disagree that this will be the lineup that the Angels start the season with. Surely Kendrys Morales and/or Mark Trumbo will be batting around Pujols in the middle of the order. The higher in the order Kendrick bats, the more “rub” he will get off of Pujols. I think they’ll bat Kendrick fifth or sixth. I must note that I think Kendrick could be really good this year.

    In fact, Kendrick and Uggla will be the primary second baseman I will be focused on drafting.

  14. Nick Fleder said...

    Why focused on drafting Uggla, Ben?

    Shovein: 30 games? I assume you were exaggerating with the 30 game estimate, and yes, Roberts is a bit high, especially on my list; but he’s ultra-productive when he plays and at $1, a worthy risk, in my estimation.

    MH: Going back to KJ, I agree. Was always a fan, and maybe this isn’t entirely fair, but I noticed, watching him a lot last year, that he was a player that really, really got stuck in his own head. It was evident to the broadcasters, his teammates, his manager, and me, a fan who watched probably 200+ of his at-bats. He gets flustered and is more slump-prone than just about anyone else I can think of (more-so than Jay Bruce), and well, sometimes, like last year, those slumps extend for the entire year, essentially. You’ll get no argument that he’ll do better than .222 (I’d peg .250 as a good estimate), but his approach when he gets into slumps scares me. Maybe that’s not the soundest logic, and perhaps he could use a bump to 15-16, but it wouldn’t be a substantial one.

    As for Kendrick, you expanded upon my point quite nicely. I see him slipping back into old numbers (as you said, HR rate was unsustainable and very lucky; 16.5% rate is close to double his 8.8% mark of HR/FB) and a subsequent change in his approach is always an issue, though I wouldn’t put too much stock into that. Relative price, though, makes Kipnis an easy take over Kendrick for me, though. You hit the nail on the head.

  15. Brad Johnson said...

    Some thoughts:

    Yea, I like Chase Utley. Call it the homer in me.

    For me, Brandon Phillips is the Tex of 2b. He draws strong rankings but I’ll probably never draft him. I don’t understand why that happens.

    Jason Kipnis is not a better pick than Howie Kendrick. I’m sorry, our consensus is just flat out wrong on that one.

    Not sure I understand why Beckham/Roberts are on anybody’s radar as more than a $1 flier. Beckham has gotten worse over time and when is the last time Roberts was on the field for any length of time, let alone productive?

  16. Brad Johnson said...

    To follow up on that last point, I have Omar friggin Infante ranked ahead of Roberts/Beckham and I’m pretty confident he’ll outperform them.

  17. Daniel said...

    I can’t help but bee surprised that 5 of the 6 people selected cano as number one and none of them selected kinsler. kinsler-pedroia-cano are much closer than you’d think.

  18. Nick Fleder said...

    Daniel, Kinsler is a very, very close 2nd in my book. Brad, not so quickly on Kendrick over Kipnis. I think it was pretty calculated; Kendrick had, to me, a career year last year and Kipnis has immense upside—reminds me of Chase Utley. Sure, Kendrick qualifies everywhere, but frankly, I had no idea how to account for that in my rankings.

    Utley is one giant headache at this point in his career, at least by my estimation. I think his days of fantasy stardom are over, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up on a couple of my teams for cheap.

    Agreed on Phillips. Can we talk about Dan Uggla though? He had a career high in HR and was the 5th rated 2B, behind Phillips. Sure, his BA was low to his career mark, but would 20 more points propel him into the top tier? I don’t think so, frankly. There’s a chance he hits .240 again—I think he has twice now? – and more than a chance he doesn’t hit (36?) homers again. I’m staying away.

  19. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Here is probably where we diverge most. And yes, I realize my #1 is a bold and ballsy pick. Kinsler has 5×5 stud, top 15 overall player upside and I think this is finally the year he fires on all cylinders.

    Rank   Player Name
    1   Ian Kinsler
    2   Robinson Cano
    3   Dustin Pedroia
    4   Ben Zobrist
    5   Dan Uggla
    6   Rickie Weeks
    7   Michael Young
    8   Chase Utley
    9   Brandon Phillips
    10   Jason Kipnis
    11   Michael Cuddyer
    12   Danny Espinosa
    13   Howie Kendrick
    14   Kelly Johnson
    15   Aaron Hill
    16   Dustin Ackley
    17   Neil Walker
    18   Jemile Weeks
    19   Gordon Beckham
    20   Ryan Roberts

  20. Daniel said...

    I completely agree with this. Maybe move BP up a few spots and you could switch pedroia and cano, but really you said it. Kinsler’s potential is just too good to ignore. Sure, it’s a risk and that7s where it comes down to preference; higher reward/higher risk kinsler vs. not quite as high reward and lower risk of cano and pedroia. I’m fine with people ranking kinsler third because of his risk but those who say that based on 2011 numbers that Cano was better, really focus too much on basic stats.

  21. Brad Johnson said...

    Most fantasy leagues are all about basic statistics. In standard formats, Cano and Pedroia both outperformed Kinsler last year. The only wrinkle involved here is Kinsler’s BABIP. Normalize that and in 2011, the trio were basically the same in total value. Pedroia was your all categories guy, Cano’s more of a 4 category guy, and Kinsler puts up hefty production in 3 categories. Cano’s the one guy who isn’t seen as an injury concern. Your decision can easily depend on what kind of roster you’re trying to build.

  22. Dave Shovein said...

    @ Derek: I actually have Jemile Weeks ahead of Walker, Ackley and Espinosa, and right on par with Kipnis

    @ Ben: I said 30 games for Roberts, not 30 AB, but I get your point. It may have been a slight exaggeration, but I doubt he plays much more than that. And even then, how effective do you expect him to be? He’s going to be 34 this year and is dealing not only with post concussion symptoms, but also a history of back problems. I doubt how effective he’ll be even if he does come back.

    As for the “several other guys who I think deserve to be on the list, or at least merit consideration were Infante and Casilla

  23. Ben Pritchett said...

    My bad Dave… I could have sworn you said 30 ABs. That’s what I get for scanning. I still think he gets more than 30 games in, but you did convince me to shift him down a bit. I had no idea he was still dealing with post-concussion symptoms. I guess, I just figured he’d have that under control after almost a year. He is definitely a health risk, but I think he’s got a higher upside if he plays than the rest of the guys he’s ranked against down at the bottom of second basemen.

  24. jerrydwiz said...

    I think you are all missing Cuddyer’s value at 2b.
    He should hit mid 20s plus HR in Colorado and approach 100 rbi with 80 plus runs scored. Also his average should be benefiited by his home park as well. I think it’s easy to see him bat .285 next season. Consequently I see him as the 5th ranked 2b for this season (assuming he is eligible with 17 games played).

  25. Jeffrey Gross said...


    I think that I would re-rank Cuddyer 10 right ahead of Kipnis because i think that Cuddyer has Kipnis’ upside with a better track record (and park). Cuddyer is likley only to hit .270 with 18 HR and maybe 5 SB however. Cant say I would confidently forecast more than 80 R or RBI. That would give the edge to Phillips, who will likely hit up to .010 points higer in AVG, a few less HR, but 2.5-3x as many SB. Ditto on Utley, though Utley has even greater upside than Phillips (countered by injury risk downside).

  26. Jeffrey Gross said...

    New top 20:

    Rank   Player Name   Team
    1   Ian Kinsler   TEX
    2   Robinson Cano   NYY
    3   Dustin Pedroia   BOS
    4   Ben Zobrist   TBR
    5   Dan Uggla   ATL
    6   Rickie Weeks   MIL
    7   Michael Young   TEX
    8   Chase Utley   PHI
    9   Brandon Phillips   CIN
    10   Michael Cuddyer   COL
    11   Jason Kipnis   CLE
    12   Danny Espinosa   WAS
    13   Howie Kendrick   ANA
    14   Kelly Johnson   TOR
    15   Aaron Hill   ARI
    16   Dustin Ackley   SEA
    17   Neil Walker   PIT
    18   Jemile Weeks   OAK
    19   Emilio Bonifacio   MIA
    20   Gordon Beckham   CHW

  27. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Wait, I take that back. I though Bonifacio qualified at 2B for some reason. Bump Beckham up one and add Ryan Roberts back to No. 20

  28. Ben Pritchett said...

    @jerryd- My ranking of Cuddyer has more to do with my overall rankings and where I rank him in contrast to other outfielders and first basemen. Where I agree that he could easily accumulate the stats you suggest, those stats are pedestrian for first basemen. I have a hard time adjusting him there and in my overall rankings to boost him ahead of the likes of Espinosa, Walker, and J Weeks. He’s the exception for the way I approached this exercise. I might need to evaluate how to improve Cuddyer’s second base ranking without compromising the integrity of the other rankings.

  29. Shauntell said...

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand Michael Young at #7 and B. Phillips at #9.

    M. Young is 35, will probably bat in the 6 spot, thus I see little to no upside in him.
    Eventually age will catch up to him and you don’t want to have him on your team when it happens.

    Phillips has been pretty consistent the last 4 season and is still 30.

    Young’s upside is what Phillips does every year minus 10 steals and plus .025 in the average column.

    It just makes no sense to me to entrust a 35 year old dude with limited power with my 3B spot.

  30. Matty said...

    I am deciding on my final keeper. I have both Utley and Kipnis (as well as C. Young, Berkman, and Shelby Miller), and had been thinking Utley, but now I am not so sure. There aren’t any financial considerations for our keepers, so it is mostly just upside for this year and the next few.

  31. Ben Pritchett said...

    And consistency… And positional flexibility…Young was second in batting average and ninth in RBIs as a 34 year old. Of course his AVG will regress a bit but he has tremendous value still. He was lacing liners like never before in 2011. If he qualifies as a second baseman he’s every bit as valuable as Phillips. I don’t hate Phillips. He made strides in 2011. He has his warning signs too he’s not the speedster he once was And Phillips is 31 to start 2012 so look for the steals to stay low double digits. I’ll take Young if forced to choose.

  32. Shauntell said...

    Ok, I see your guys’ point.

    I’m just scared of the fact that Young is 35 and was never that good of a hitter to begin with.

    However it does seem that Young surpasses people’s expectations every year.

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