2B or not 2B? The eternal question we all face on draft day. Fear not my poetry loving reader as I will break down the second base position with an in-depth look at who I believe have the potential to not only turn a ton of double plays but also return excellent value on draft day. Nobody wants to get caught looking around like Aubrey Huff after a failed attempt to cover the second in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded against the Mets at Citi Field. No Aubrey you are not forgiven and the internet does not forget.
The second base position has been a bit of disappointment in 2012 but there are a few emerging bright spots worth evaluating and reevaluating prior to next season's draft. So the story goes as we jump right into the third part of our eventual eight part series on value maximization. In the interest of keeping it brief I have removed the players who i think won't return value and focused on those that I think will. Let's jump right in!
For profit in 2013:
1.) Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS: Dustin Pedroia has been as consistent as they come from the keystone position. His career averages over 162 games are as follows: .303/.369/.461 with 106 runs, 77 RBI's, 17 home runs, and 19 stolen bases. Solid all around production from a solid all around player. The reason he makes my list as a potential profit maker in 2013 is simple. He failed to live up to anyone's expectations in 2012 and the volatility surrounding the Red Sox and the trading of stars like Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford limit an already anemic offense. Prior to 2012, Pedroia was rated as the second best second baseman in the game and the 17th best player overall. Unfortunately for owners who drafted him in the top 20 he ended up being the 95th best player by posting full season career low's in batting average, runs, and OPS. But all is not lost. Jacoby Ellsbury will be at full strength atop the lineup which is always helpful and I would imagine the Red Sox will be active in the free agent market/trade market to improve what on paper looks like the weakest offense in Sox history. Click here if you don't believe me. Pedroia's peripheral stats also seem to be just fine as he posted a .300 BABIP (career .311) his walk rate dropped off significantly from 2011 to 2012 (11.8% to 7.7%) but he also cut down on the strikeouts from 11.6% to 9.6%. He swiped 20 bases in 2012 for the fourth time in five season and is a good bet to do so again in 2013. In the end he may never again challenge to be the best fantasy second baseman but he is a consistent producer and you can almost guarantee 15+ home runs, a .300 average and 20 stolen bases. He won't win you any one category but he will contribute to all five and if you can nab him between the 5th-7th rounds in 2013 you will make a profit.
2.) Dan Uggla, 2B, ATL: Dan Uggla was absolutely horrible in 2012. Just awful. Now that we have that out of our system let's see if we can make any profit off him in 2013. From 2007-2011 Uggla averaged 32.6 home runs per season never hitting below 31 or above 36. He routinely posted between high RBI totals and for a fleeting moment wasn't a total drain on batting average. The 2012 happened. Uggla posted career lows in the categories that once made him famous: home runs (19), RBI's (78) and to a lesser degree batting average (.220). Once regarded as a top five second baseman and top 50 overall player he plummeted to being worth less than guys like Marco Scutaro, Omar Infante, and Daniel Murphy and ended the season as the 235th best player in the fantasy game. The biggest culprit being his HR/FB rate which dropped 7.2% from 2011 to 2012 while his GB% dropped to a career low 33.5% and his FB% rose 3% from 2011 and he hit an absolutely unacceptable 16.9% infield fly balls. Now I am not saying that Uggla will ever bounce back to the glory days of 2010 where 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI's were a lock. But I believe that he will offer tremendous value in 2013 as the once top five two-bagger has a good shot to regain his power stroke at the dish and continue to build on his plate discipline which resulted in a career high 14.9% BB%. His average will likely never again eclipse .250 since he strikes out a ton and pop's out a ton but I think he can easily hit 22-25 home runs and drive in 80+ RBI's plus being attached to that potent Atlanta offense never hurts. He will likely slip down past round 10 in 2013 and if you can nab him anywhere between round 12-15 he could be a good source of counting stats, but be sure to off set his presence in your line up with someone who carries a high batting average as he will likely cost you in that department.
3.) Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL: Rickie Weeks went from being one of the top ten second baseman entering 2012 to being waiver wire bait in even the most competitive leagues thanks in large part to his absolutely horrific start to the season. Prior to the All-Star break Weeks limped to a .199/.314/.343 slash line with only 8 home runs and a very scary 100 strikeouts in only 297 at-bats. He eventually righted the course (to a degree) by posting a .261/.343/.457 line with 13 home runs over his final 291 at-bats. It is clear that 2012 was an awful season and by finishing with a paltry .230/.328/.400 he will be cheap in 2013. The question is should you buy him at his depressed price tag? It depends on if you think he can return to the player he was in 2010 or during the first half of 2011. I think he can but the owner who takes a chance on him is definitely rolling the dice. He is injury prone but he did log 157 games in 2012 and his second half was very encouraging. I would imagine he will last until the later rounds (15-18) and he can be one of those guys who you draft as a sneaky depth play and if he stays hot flip him to another owner at the deadline. It's always tough to find a power/speed combo in the middle infield and Weeks presents that opportunity at a discount in 2013. Any player that has 20/20 potential is on my radar and Weeks is always hovering around that mark. Keep an eye on him come draft day as he may represent a nice buy low opportunity.
4.) Howie Kendrick, 2B, LAA: Kendrick was tabbed as top ten option entering the 2012 season and a lot of that was due to his break out 2011 season that saw him set a career high in home runs with 18. It is just not Kendricks profile to contribute at that level and the owners that were counting in him in 2012 paid the price. After being rated the 70th best player overall prior to draft day he ended the season as the 223rd best player. A steep drop from his draft day price tag. To roster Kendrick in 2012 you need to accept him as a guy who is going to give you a solid average because he makes a lot of contact at the plate and not much else. He is is a career .292 hitter and 2012 saw him hit .287, solid but not excellent. He is likely to contribute as a 10/15 guy. (10 HR's and 15 steals) expecting anything more is foolish. But there is room for him in the fantasy game as he is attached to a great offense and he is entrenched at the keystone position in Anaheim. Look for him as a steady contributor who will likely be available around the 15th round in 5x5 redraft leagues. He has the potential to deliver a Martin Prado circa 2012 type season next year but that is his ceiling.
5.) Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX: Kinsler is a guy who people often select as one of the top three second baseman and for good reason. He contributes at an above average level in all categories sans batting average and is part of one of the most prolific offenses in baseball. He posted an outstanding 2011 campaign that saw him log his second 30/30 season as a professional. That kind of production from a middle infielder puts him squarely in the conversation of the elite keystone contributors in the fantasy game. In 2012 he took a step backwards in production and hit only 19 home runs and stole only 21 bases despite logging a career high 655 at-bats. He was drafted as the 18th best player overall in 2012 but performed like the 72nd best player overall. There is a real chance that he will log some innings in left field this season as the Rangers try and make room for Jurickson Profar and that will just and to Kinsler's versatility. He still has the power to hit 25+ home runs and the wheels to steal 25+ bases but the .250 average is all but a forgone conclusion. If you can nab him in 5th or 6th round he has a chance to deliver value, but taking him an earlier could leave you hurting if he repeats 2012's results next season.