Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Surveying the Position: Second Base

If you are playing in a league with us and you haven’t begun your fantasy baseball research for 2014, you have fallen behind. Soon fantasy baseball writers will release their ranking lists [How to Choose a Ranking List] for each position, going anywhere from 10 to 25 deep. But before we get to rankings, we need to study the positions as a whole, looking for trends or changes, or anything else that will help us prepare for the upcoming season.

So in the next few weeks we will be surveying each position, pulling back and taking a bird’s eye view of each place on the diamond. Today we look at second base.

History of the Second Base Position

From 2000 to 2010 we saw the likes of Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent, Bret Boone and a young Chase Utley at second base. They gave the position some pop, but it was actually Alfonso Soriano who had the most second base home runs during the decade with 289.

After the turn of the decade (2010-2013) it was Robinson Cano sitting alone at the top. Sure, Ian Kinsler had a couple 30 homer years in there and Dan Uggla was the Adam Dunn at second base, but historically speaking 2B hasn’t had a depth of home run hitters at the position dating back before even the Clinton administration.

Stolen bases are another matter, however, because if we reflect through our golden years we can remember flipping to the back of our baseball cards and seeing big SB numbers from the likes of Bip Roberts, Jose Offerman, Delino DeShieldsChuck Knoblauch, Eric Young and Roberto Alomar. After the turn of the century Brian Roberts was killer on the base paths, but it’s actually been speed that has been shed from the ranks of second basemen.

Modern Trends Second Base

Last season two players at the keystone had 30+ steals, Jose Altuve and Jason Kipnis, and both are good bets to repeat that. That’s the end of the good news though. Only one other guy had more than 20 and that was Daniel Murphy, whose speed is a mirage. Speed is at short supply at second.

In terms of both power and being a great all around hitter, it’s lonely at the top for Robinson Cano. There may not be another position where the gap between #1 and #2 is greater. The difference between Cano and the second best player at the keystone is wider than the distance between Brad Pitt and Steve Buscemi on the attractiveness scale. Grab Cano if you can. If you can’t, then you have one of two choices to make.

  1. You could grab Kipnis, Pedroia, Carpenter or Kinsler, but you may have to overpay to do so.
  2. You could punt the second base position entirely and speculate on a young guy with question marks, hoping to strike it rich.

Before we go any further, let’s establish a ballpark baseline so you’ll have a better idea of the bare minimum you should expect if you are speculating. Assuming a 12-team league, a rosterable 2B should be at or better than this stat line:

R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Replacement 2B 55 13 61 6 0.279 .334 .421

You may be able to snatch the equivalent of the above ‘Replacement 2B’ off the waiver wire or cheaply via FAAB, assuming you play in a league that doesn’t use an extra MI position.

Davey Lopes, 1983

Davey Lopes, 1983

Coincidently, that replacement stat line looks a lot like Davey Lopes‘ 1983 season, after you strip away all of Davey’s steals, cut most stats by 15%, then factor in that Davey was 38 years old at the time. They just don’t make second basemen like they used to and today’s keystoners certainly aren’t as mustachioed.

But fear not, finding a replacement-level 2B may not be as difficult as it was even two years ago. While it’s still certainly true that it’s thin at the top of the position, after the drop in talent the field really widens out. This says more about the sorry state of offense at the 2B position as anything else. Just imagine what offense you want to get out of the keystone, then lower your expectations across the board.

There are 12-15 guys who may not help you, but they certainly won’t hurt you you in a category or two. You can grab Altuve if you need steals and help with your average, Jedd Gyorko has power, and Matt Carpenter is a high average hitter, high OBP guy. Again, just keep in mind the sorry state of 2B offense and draft accordingly. It’s a bargain shopper’s market.

The Future of Second Base

Being that the position right now is thin, let’s speed some time talking about what the future may hold, because there is some talent for dynasty league players.

  • Brian Dozier doesn’t have a high ceiling, but he’s got a solid floor that could give you a 15/12 in 2014 if everything breaks in his favor. He might only be at  2B short-term for the Twins, however, because Eddie Rosario is a good looking prospect who will hit, but might end up in RF.
  • Anthony Rendon took over the National’s 2B job after the ineffectiveness of Danny Espinosa. Rendon has excellent plate discipline and may start to produce for fantasy owners as early as 2014, but 2015 is more likely.
  • It’s too early to give up on Josh Rutledge, Nick Franklin of the Mariners has promise, while Jonathan Schoop of the Orioles has crazy talent but it may be a while before he’s in the show for good.
  • But it’s Jurickson Profar who is the star of the show in terms of young second basemen. The way the Rangers used him last season was odd, but it won’t hamper his development for long. Profar will ultimately be putting up seasons that we’ll talk about for years.

When you take a survey of second base it’s apparent there isn’t a glut of top tier talent that will help your fantasy team, but if you are patient and willing to dig around, you just might be able to find a $4-7 dollar guy who will give you production in a category or two.

Tags: 2B Anthony Rendon Ian Kinsler Jason Kipnis Jonathan Schoop Jurickson Profar Robinson Cano Second Base Surveying The Position

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