So far we’ve looked at the overall top ten and the top twenty, the top twenty catchers and 1st basemen. Today we look at where to draft the top twenty 2nd basemen for 2008. Second base has been historically weak for fantasy, with some experts saying at last year’s draft that 2nd base was weaker than catcher. Well, that turned out to be a wrong. In 2008, experts have changed their tune dramatically. So when people start amping up hype on a position is when you need to tone your excitement down. Sure, there’s some quality 2nd basemen in this year’s draft, just know a lot of them come with caveats. If you want to see how they stacked up on our 2007 Player Rater, click here.
1. Chase Utley – I’m unabashedly a fan. See the top ten for his projections.
2. Robinson Cano – Granted, the pre/post All-Star splits are an unpleasant trend, but who cares if at season’s end the numbers are there. Plus, I love the increase on his HRs and RBIs from ’06 to ’07. He’s not going to hit .342 like he did in ’06, but at his young age and in the Yankees lineup, I see the absolute safest 2nd basemen after Chase. You won’t have to draft him insanely high and you can still get numbers. If you need speed, you’ll have to look elsewhere though. Projections: 100/25/100/.295/3
3. B.J. Upton – The most upside on this list with the ability to jump to the late 1st round next year. His BABIP was leprechaunian so the average will drop a bit, but he’s a young Soriano. Speed, power, quick wrists. Projections: 100/30/85/.280/27
4. Brandon Phillips – I kind of wanted to drop him down even more to emphasize how much caution you need to take with Phillips. I’m just going to point out one negative. In 650 ABs, he walked 33 times and struck out 109 times. He’s got speed; he’s in a great hitting park. He will not hit .288 again. At the first sign of struggle, he starts swinging for the fences and he goes into a deep funk. Hitters who don’t take walks fall into slumps. Do yourself a favor and let someone else draft Phillips. Projections: 80/19/75/.240/25 and is benched in July because his slump is “all in his head.”
5. Brian Roberts – Honestly, I don’t like him. Never have had him on a team. His numbers are too erratic for my taste. One year 4 homers, next year 18. Career average 29 steals, last year 50. This year he’ll be 30 years old, next year he’ll be 42. His average being in the .290s is about the only thing I would count on. I don’t think 50 steals are coming again. Projections: 105/10/55/.290/30
6. Ian Kinsler – I’m very high on Kinsler. As he moves into the prime of his career, he enters the final year you can grab him at a bargain price. His swing is a bit too upper-cutty for a .300 average but in his park and with his speed, he’s getting you 20/20 by August. Projections (assuming he’s at the top of the order and not at the bottom): 110/25/70/.270/25
7. Rickie Weeks – Too many injuries? Actually, same injury, long time to heal. When you flap your bat like Sheff, a wrist injury is bad news. Hopefully, a year and a half after the wrist surgery will set things right because he could still be a power and speed monster. This is the year he gets himself right. Aside, if Clint Barmes, Rocco Baldelli and Rickie Weeks board your cross-country flight, do you get off? Projections: 100/20/60/.260/30
8. Jeff Kent – Might be the last time you can draft Jeff Kent as the swan song approaches. Luckily, he’s too much of a conceited prick to play past the point he can contribute, so the fact he’s playing in ’08 means he’s going to give his best. With the Dodgers rookies having one more year of experience, I could see a bit of a boon to all of their numbers. Projections: 80/25/90/.300
9. Dan Uggla – Strong candidate to repeat his numbers from last year, minus ten to fifteen runs with the depleted Marlins’ lineup. Unfortunately, one of those numbers he’ll repeat is a sub-.250 average. Average that low over 600 ABs is too taxing on your team. You should try and avoid. Projections: 95/30/80/.245
10. Aaron Hill – I get the sneaky suspicious that Aaron Hill’s Fan Club meetings are not well-attended. Does anyone care about Aaron Hill? I think he’s probably his Mom’s third favorite after her two cats. Anyway, he does have pop in his bat and just now entering his prime years. He could jump five spots by next year or his low OBP could foreshadow a disappointment. Usually I side with the low OBP as a sign of trouble, but I say closer to the former. He’s a young Jeff Kent, I tell ya. Projections: 90/24/85/.280/5
11. Kelly Johnson – It’s disturbing that Bobby Cox benched Johnson against a majority of lefties, because when Cox gets set on something he’s slow to change. Johnson will be sitting there in the later rounds and has an outside shot at 15/15, plus he’s only 26 heading into ‘08. Projections: 85/17/65/.275/12
12. Placido Polanco – If you draft PP, you’re just not trying hard enough. His upside is non-existent. He’s 32 and his best, oft-injured days are behind him. He’ll hit you .310 with nothing else. You’re honestly better off taking Kelly Johnson against righties and filling in Yunel Escobar when the Braves play lefties. It’ll be more productive. The people over at Faketeams.com usually run a great site, but they have Polanco in the fifth position. Peyote? Perhaps. Then again, they have Marcus Giles at 20 and 21. He’s so bad we gotta list him twice! At least they didn’t list Ray Durham. Oh, wait, they did. At #15. Anyway, PP’s Projections: 90/7/65/.310/7 and you’re coming in fifth in your league.
13. Howie Kendrick – Can’t say I’m fully aboard the Kendrick love boat just yet. He tore up a half-season of AAA in ’06. He’s got upside, no doubt. My concern is 21 walks in over 500 at-bats in ’06 and 9 base on balls in ‘07. Scioscia loves to run, or as Rex “The Hud” Hudler says, “Shose plays aggressive!” So playing for Shose could lead to 20 steals for Howie and there’s potential for 15-20 homers, but I’d be very careful. People are loving themselves some Kendrick and he’s going higher than I would take him. I say ’09 is his year to shine. Projections: 70/12/55/.290/15
14. Dustin Pedroia – He’s about as safe as a pick can be without getting anything that exciting. He’ll be driven in plenty and get his share of RBIs because the Sox lineup is Shirley Hemphill-thick. Just don’t ask for too much. Projections: 105/12/60/.300/12
15. Orlando Hudson – O-Dog, as Gracie likes to say, can sure “Pick ‘em.” But if your league doesn’t count putouts, then you’re getting an offensive player about as dull as Jimmy Fallon as a leading man. Orlando seems like a really nice guy though. Nice finishes fifteenth. Projections: 90/10/60/.280/10
16. Kaz Matsui – The Astros will give Matsui the green light when he’s healthy. Last season was a great contract year, don’t bank a return to form, but for cheap steals, you’ll find some here. Projections: 75/3/30/.275/25
17. Mark Ellis – He avoided injuries last year, but the two seasons before, not so much. The A’s decided to make a run for last place with this offseason’s moves and I don’t see Mark Ellis being the guy to lead them back to respectability. He’s barely average with the bat eight-tenths of the year, and he gets hot for two-tenths as the summer heats up. Don’t draft him, then grab him late May from his owner, who by that point, absolutely hates him. You’re welcome. Projections: 75/17/70/.270/7
18. Freddy Sanchez – Senior Contributing Writer Rudy Gamble said the Pittsburgh reporters were dying for Freddy to be mentioned in the Mitchell Report so they could use the headline, “Dirty Sanchez.” That made me giggle. Projections: 75/10/75/.310
19. Asdrubal Cabrera – Really, I could’ve put DeRosa, Vidro or Iguchi at #19, but when you’re drafting this low into a position it’s worth taking a gamble on a young guy. In a half-season of Double A in ’07, Droobs hit 8 HRs and swiped 23 bases. Also, he has strike zone discipline by walking more than he struck out leading to a .383 OBP. What’s not to love? Someone taking DeRosa cause he’s safer. The final rounds is not the time to be safe. You should have been safe early on. Projections: 85/7/50/.300/15
20. Felipe Lopez/Luis Castillo/Julio Lugo – Felipe, Manny Acta doesn’t believe in costing his team an out with a steal. Ugh. Castillo, You’ll get runs and a decent limp. Now that I think about it, I kinda like him more than Polanco. Lugo, The steals were a bit of a surprise on Boston last year. Don’t think the average will be as bad as last year. Hmm, maybe he’s better than Polanco too. Projections: These guys will get you cheap runs and steals. Not much else. Act accordingly.
Tomorrow, the top twenty 3rd basemen.