Fantasy Baseball Preview 2014: Second Basemen

Welcome to the next installment of our fantasy baseball preview series. Today we’re moving into the all-important middle of the field and discussing MLB’s second basemen. Much like the catchers that Josh Helmuth broke down on Monday, second base is an incredibly deep position this season, so my best advice is not to reach for a star too early.

Of course there will be some drop off after the few superstars at the top, but you won’t be kicking yourself if you missed out on the chance to draft Ian Kinsler, settling for Jedd Gyorko instead (as a Cubs fan, it saddens me that the same can’t be said for Darwin Barney, but we’ll get to that later).

Without further ado, I present the definitive second base fantasy rankings for 2014.

Fantasy Baseball Preview: Catchers

Fantasy Baseball Preview: First Base/DH

Joe Morgan Tier

The very best in fantasy baseball.

1 Robinson Cano – Seattle

The first ranking is the easiest. Cano is clearly the cream of the second base crop and has been for several years. The back end of his contract with the Mariners could get ugly, but he should continue to produce at a high level for at least the next few years. Expect some dip in homers without the Yankee Stadium right field short porch, but Cano has proven power to the opposite field, so you can still count on 20-25 bombs to go along with a .315 average.

2 Dustin Pedroia – Boston

Pedroia is a bounce-back candidate for 2014 after a torn ligament in his left thumb cost him some of his power (his HR/FB rate of 5.6% and his FB rate of 27.9% are both well below his career average). At 30, he should still be in his prime, so pencil him in for at least 15 dingers and his usual 20+ steals. His average might fall slightly after he had .326 BABIP last season, but the increase in homers will raise his slugging percentage considerably.

3 Jason Kipnis – Cleveland

Kipnis comes in behind Pedroia for at least one more year, but make no mistake, the 24-year old Indian is gaining ground…quickly. He’s stolen 30 bases two seasons in a row and his walk rate has increased in all three of his big league seasons, from 7.3% in 2011 to 11.6% a season ago, so expect that trend to continue as he matures and enters his prime. Although he hit .284 in 2013, he projects as about a .270 hitter after factoring in BABIP, but he does possess 20-homer power.


Jeff Kent Tier

Still among the best in the game, drafting here ensures great consistency and reliability.

4 Matt Carpenter – St. Louis

Carpenter will likely regress from his .318 average from a year ago after posting a .359 BABIP, but he’s a line drive machine who has a career .351 BABIP, so you can likely count on .300/.380/.450 from him and he’ll score over 100 runs batting in a solid Cardinal lineup that led the league in runs in 2013. Plus, he’s at least three years younger than each of the next three guys.

5 Brandon Phillips – Cincinnati

Phillips turns 33 in June, so he’s probably at the tail end of his prime, but he’s been a consistent fantasy star for over half a decade. He’s a rebound candidate after posting his lowest BABIP since 2008. He’s hit 18 home runs four seasons in a row and he’s always good for at least 80 RBI and 80 runs. His great glove guarantees he’ll keep getting reps through slumps.

6 Ian Kinsler – Detroit

This is something of a risky choice because Kinsler will be 32 in June and his steals have declined three years in a row, from 30 in 2011 to 15 last year. I’m betting on his track record, though and he’ll still be playing in a loaded lineup even after a trade from Texas to Detroit. He’s especially attractive in OBP leagues as he’s walked at least 50 times five years in a row and has a career .349 OBP.

7 Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay

Zorilla is always a stat sheet stuffer, but last year he posted a walk rate 15% below his career average, his lowest in a full season of his career. His power numbers dipped as well as he hit just 12 bombs after smacking 20 or more in three of the previous four years. He’s still a solid option, as a mid-round pick, but he’s 32 and looking at the downside of his career.


Chuck Knoblauch Tier

Although not always an All-Star, these guys could show flashes of greatness and are worth starting on many teams.

8 Bargain Alert! Aaron Hill – Arizona

9 Daniel Murphy – New York Mets

Although many are calling for regression, I see no reason the 29-year old Met can’t duplicate much of what he accomplished a year ago when he was a top 5 fantasy pivot man. His average will be around .290 and he stole 23 bases in just 25 attempts in 2013. 12 homers and 20 steals with 80-90 runs scored is reasonable. He might deserve to be higher on this list.

10  Jose Altuve – Houston

The diminutive Altuve (he’s listed at 5 feet 5 inches) is only 23, but he already has two 30-steal seasons under his belt. He’ll only get better as he increases his knowledge of the strike zone and his low walk rate. He’s a .280 hitter who’ll score 70 runs, too, so feel free to give an Astro some love. They’ll need it again this year.

11 Chase Utley – Philadelphia

Utley’s 35 so his days as a superstar are behind him, but he played in over 130 games in 2013 for the first time in five years and he should be good for at least 15 bombs and 65 RBI to go along with a solid .280/.350/.450 line. Still, draft a solid backup with him-even 500 at bats is a stretch at this point.

12 Sleeper Fav! Jedd Gyorko  – San Diego

Power generally goes to waste at PETCO, but Gyorko was able to lead all second basemen with 23 long balls in just 125 games during his 2013 rookie campaign. He struggled to hit for average, but that should improve during his age-25 season. He could be one of the top second basemen in the league this season-a low-risk, high-reward late-round pick (his average ADP is 222!)

13 Martin Prado – Arizona

Prado’s a versatile player, having spent time in the outfield and at third, as well as second. He hit .324/.374/.490 after the All-Star Break last year and he hit 23 doubles in that time. He also struck out at the lowest rate of his eight-year career. .300 and 20 bombs isn’t out of the question.


Ryan Theriot Tier

Only draftable in the deepest of leagues (I had to get a Cub on this list somehow, even better that it’s The Riot)

14 Jed Lowrie – Oakland

Lowrie will likely see his average regress from his career high .290, but he cut down his K rate last year, so the drop-off won’t be as severe as some think.  He shouldn’t have a problem hitting 15 home runs and driving in 75 again, either. Those numbers might actually be low for a player who hits a whopping 47% of his batted balls in the air.

15 Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Angels

Kendrick hit .310 with 11 dingers before the All-Star Break last year, so if he’s healthy he could move up this list. Some of his value depends on how Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols hit (so it’s dubious at best).

16 Brian Dozier – Minnesota

Dozier quietly hit 18 homers in his first full big league season a year ago despite playing in pitcher-friendly Target Field. Add in his 15-steal speed and a batting average that will improve and Dozier is a sleeper late-round pick.

17 Sleeper Fav! Anthony Rendon – Washington

This ranking could look pretty dopey on my part in a few months (okay this probably isn’t the only one) if Rendon rakes the way the Nats expect him to. He’ll probably be a top 5 second baseman within a few years, so it’s entirely possible he parlays his modest success (.265/.329/.396 with 40 runs in 98 games) into a breakout season. For now, he’s only keeper league fodder, but keep two eyes on him.

18 Kelly Johnson – New York Yankees

Johnson, eligible at second and third, hit 16 home runs a year ago and, as a left-handed hitter will benefit from the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium (Cano will miss it, very soon) so 20 bombs is reachable.

19 Neil Walker – Pittsburgh

Walker has some pop, with 16 home runs in 2013 and 60 runs scored three years in a row. His average will likely rebound from .251 to its normal .270-ish, so deeper league teams can add some power without sacrificing average.

20 Dustin Ackley – Seattle

With Cano’s presence, Ackley will likely move to the outfield, and he lost his sheen as a top prospect about two years ago. Still, he hit .304 and got on base at a .374 clip after the All-Star Break. Does it seem like he’s finally flashing his tremendous talent or am I too high on him? Yeah, I’m probably too high on him.

21 Jurickson Profar – Texas

If you take away one thing from these rankings (other than the fact I definitely jinxed Aaron Hill), make sure that you don’t waste a mid-round pick on Profar. I see nothing in his underwhelming minor league stats (he didn’t hit .300 at any level) or his six homers and .231 average in 94 big league games that shows he’ll be the star he’s projected to be.

22 Alexander Guerrero – Los Angeles Dodgers

An intriguing option from Cuba, who hit .320 with power in his home country, Guerrero could be worth a late-round flyer in deep leagues. Could he be a poor man’s Yasiel Puig?


Other Options

Only consider these guys if you’re desperate — and I mean as desperate as a guy who goes on Tinder looking for a girlfriend…so pretty desperate.

Kolten Wang, Omar Infante, Rickie Weeks, Dan Uggla, Brian Roberts, Marco Scutaro, Darwin Barney, Nick Franklin, Josh Rutledge, Gordon Beckham, Scooter Gennett, Ryan Flaherty, Maicer Izturis, DJ LeMahieu, Alberto Callaspo, Ryan Goins, Daniel Descalso 

Dylan Sinn is a freelance contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSinn or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty