We will be continuing on with our review position-by-position of our preseason 2012 rankings with second base today. Reviewing our predictions from the beginning of the season helps us see what went right and what went wrong, as ranking players continues to be a learning process each year.
When ranking, I try to look at how the production they provide plays not only as a total, but in comparison to both their position and to all players in general. Drafting a second baseman that will give you 30+ home runs means you can potentially construct your team differently at other positions, and that flexibility can really help with evaluations.
As with all rankings, there are going to be some great ones, and some terrible calls. It is just kind of the nature of the beast, and hopefully the logic that went into them was good at the time. With that, let's take a look back at my 2B rankings from the preseason.
1. Robinson Cano (NYY)
Cano led all second baseman in home runs, runs batted in, tied for the lead of runs, and finished second in batting average (behind only Jeff Keppinger). Job well done for the #1 overall 2B in the game, who will be there at the top of the rankings again next season.
2. Ian Kinsler (TEX)
Kinsler didn't quite have the season that was expected out of him, as he wasn't able to repeat either the 30 home runs or 30+ stolen bases this year. He still had a very good year, scoring 105 runs, 19 home runs, 21 stolen bases, and 72 RBI, but if you drafted him as a top 25 player, it probably didn't go as well as you'd hoped.
3. Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
Pedroia suffered through some unexpected injuries but still had a solid season with 81 runs, 65 RBI, 15 homers, 20 stolen bases and a .290 batting average. He only missed 21 games all season, but was slowed on numerous occasions it seemed by nagging injuries.
4. Dan Uggla (ATL)
And here's where the rankings fall off the chart. While I anticipated some regression from Uggla during his season, I did not anticipate as much as we saw. His home run rate dropped to a career low 11.4%, despite a similar fly ball percentage. I don't know if we can reasonably expect Uggla to hit more than .250 for a full season any more, but the power numbers should return to their norms in 2013.
5. Chase Utley (PHI)
Utley posted solid numbers in the games he appeared in, which would have translated to around a 20/20 season. However, he missed nearly 80 games at the start of the season, and his batting average and BABIP appear to have set a new standard rather than improve to pre-2011 levels.
6. Brandon Phillips (CIN)
Phillips has really evolved into Mr. Consistency at this point, as he provided solid 5-category production this year. It was the third straight season where he has hit at least 18 home runs, stolen at least 14 bases, and hit .275. The only real concern I see at this point is that his walk rate dropped to 4.5% this year, as he had been consistently around 6.5% each of the past 5 seasons. While it's not a huge drop, just something to take note of at this point.
7. Rickie Weeks (MIL)
It really was a tale of two seasons for Weeks, as he was horrendous in the first half of the season, and performed much more in line with his career numbers in the second half. Considering his .230 batting average, his counting numbers didn't turn out that badly. He's a likely candidate to normalize, as his BABIP was 20 points below his career average and almost 25 points below his previously established levels over the past few seasons.
8. Ben Zobrist (TAM)
The biggest news with Zobrist seems to be that he will be shortstop eligible as well as second base for next year, now that he is the starting shortstop for the Rays. He didn't quite reach the numbers I had mentioned as reasonable this year, falling short on the stolen bases and RBI by 6 in each category, but he still had a very solid season and will likely be a top 5 2B coming into 2013.
9. Howie Kendrick (LAA)
Kendrick reverted back to his slightly less powerful self in 2012, hitting just 8 home runs over the course of the season. The concern before the season was whether or not the 18 homers were a fluke, and at this point I think we have to believe they are. I think that we are seeing what Kendrick can be at this point, which is a decent, but not amazing fantasy 2B.
10. Michael Cuddyer (COL)
The hope with Cuddyer (who qualified in some leagues at 2B for 2012) was that the move from Target Field to Coors Field would help raise his statistics to another level. While that happened to some extent, Cuddyer also missed over a third of the season due to injuries. He could be a nice buy low candidate next year, but he will only be eligible in the outfield.
11. Michael Young (TEX)
Knowing that Young would have position eligibility all over the place this year, I liked his potential to rebound from a down season in 2011. Apparently I wasn't aware that there was a further drop to be had. Young had career lows in home runs and stolen bases, and it really looks more and more that he may be done as a fantasy contributor for most leagues.
12. Dustin Ackley (SEA)
There was a lot of hope for Ackley's first full season, and I liked him as a potential 5 category contributor with both double digit speed and power potential. That was close, but he was a batting average sink as he hit just .226 on the season. I still believe he can be a hitter for average, and like him going into 2013.
13. Aaron Hill (ARI)
If you owned Hill, you know just how good he was this year - 26 homers, 93 runs, 85 RBI, 14 steals, and a .302 batting average. Looking at his advanced numbers, I don't see a lot of real large outliers which would lead me to think he couldn't repeat this performance (or something similar) in 2013.
14. Jason Kipnis (CLE)
Kipnis carried fantasy owners for the first half of the season, and while he struggled down the stretch, his overall performance was still much better than originally anticipated. I don't know if anyone thought the speed (31 steals) was coming.
15. Jemile Weeks (OAK)
Weeks played so poorly as the season dragged on that he ended up finding himself back in Sacramento, and off the playoff roster for the ALDS. With Cliff Pennington taking over at 2B, I could very well see the A's trying to trade Weeks this offseason, but I'm not sure how much they could really expect to get based on the performance.
16. Danny Espinosa (WAS)
I wrote in the preseason that I liked the counting stats from Espinosa, but was concerned he would remain a batting average sink regardless. To some extent, I was right about that, as he did improve, but just to .247 despite a nearly 40 point increase in BABIP. I think he remains a 20-20 threat, but the low batting average seems likely to keep him right outside the top 10.
17. Kelly Johnson (TOR)
Johnson had a similar season in 2012 to his previous one, hitting for some power, providing some speed, and absolutely killing you in batting average. The drop in home runs seems almost entirely attributable to his drop in FB% (40% in 2011, 33% in 2012), and most of those hits were ground balls instead. Add in a slight uptick in strikeout rate as well, and the overall performance is a bit concerning.
18. Allen Craig (STL)
Craig made 8 starts at 2B in 2011, but none this year for the Cardinals. That said, if you were able to slot him into your 2B spot (Yahoo leagues primarily), you were extremely happy with the production when he was healthy. If Craig can stay healthy for a full season, I could see a 30 homer, 100 run/100 rbi slugger who hits over .290. He'll definitely be a top 10 1B starting the 2013 season.
19. Ryan Roberts (ARI/TAM)
I wrote in my preseason rankings that I thought Roberts was a candidate for regression, and apparently I nailed that one. Roberts performed poorly enough in the first half of the season that the Diamondbacks DFA'd him, and he performed a bit better in Tampa Bay. Overall, his performance still leads me to think he will be looking for a bench job this offseason rather than a starting one.
20. Neil Walker (PIT)
I ranked Walker at #20 mostly due to my thought that he was a replacement level fantasy 2B with minimal upside from what he had done in 2011. Walker improved in two categories (HR and AVG), while slightly regressing in the other 3. Walker will likely be higher next year due to his consistent production, but I'd be hard pressed to think that he will provide any more than 15 homers, 10 steals, and around 75 runs and 75 RBI in a season.