The Fantasy Landscape: Second Basemen

Otto Greule Jr

Alex Kantecki opens second-base week with an overview of the position, including his thoughts on AL-/NL-only leagues and draft strategy.

You know the drill. Today we kick off second-base week at Fake Teams, where the staff brings you positional rankings, player profiles and much, much more. In addition to all of the great content you are about to see throughout the week, we are again very excited to bring you Daniel Schwartz's projections and auction values from Rotobanter, as well as Daniel Kelley's Equivalent Fantasy Average. As Ray outlined on Sunday, here is the schedule for the following week:

Time Slot/Day

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

7am

State of the Position (Alex)

Prospect Profile: Alexander Guerrero (Brian C.)

Top 30 Second Base Rankings, Part 2 (Ray)

Second Baseman to Target (Staff)

Second Baseman to Avoid (Staff)

10am

Top 30 Second Base Rankings, Part 1 (Ray)

Prospect Profile: Kolten Wong (Jason)

Prospect Profile:Arismendy Alcantara(Matt)

Prospect Profile: Roughned Odor (Matt)

AL-only sleepers (Ray)

12pm

Second Baseman Profile: Daniel Murphy (Daniel)

Second Baseman Profile: Brian Dozier (Joe)

Prospect Profile: Jonathon Schoop (Jason)

Second Baseman Profile: Anthony Rendon (Zack)

NL-only Sleepers (Ray)

2pm

Second Baseman Profile: Scooter Gennett (Ray)

Second Baseman Profile: Jedd Gyorko (Alex)

2014 Second Base Draft Strategy (Zack)

Breakout Candidate: Jurickson Profar (Daniel)

Bust Candidate:Jason Kipnis(Joe)

4pm

Second Base ADP Trends (Ray)

EFA Analysis: Second Base (Daniel K.)

Prospect Profile:Mookie Betts(Brian C.)

The Lay of the Land

In 2013, second base was dominated by (who else?) Robinson Cano. At the keystone, the ex-Yankee recorded the most home runs (27) and RBIs (107), while finishing first in slugging percentage (.516) and second in batting average (.314). Now a Mariner, Cano is still cream of the crop at his position, but there are legit concerns about his cross-country trek from Yankee Stadium to Safeco; 25 home runs are still in play for a talent like Cano, but expectations should be adjusted accordingly.

You might have the next two flip-flopped, but you'll find Jason Kipnis and Dustin Pedroia listed second and third in the majority of second-base rankings. Kipnis followed up a breakout campaign in 2012 with an even better 2013. The Indian tallied 17 home runs and swiped 30 bags, surpassing both 80 runs and 80 RBI for the first time. Pedroia, meanwhile, did his usual thing in Boston, providing value across the board with a .301 BA, 91 runs, 84 RBI and 17 steals.

Second base's biggest surprise was Matt Carpenter, who led baseball in runs scored (126) and tacked on a healthy 78 RBI from the lead-off spot. Carpenter led all second basemen in batting average (.318) and on-base percentage (.392), trailing only Cano in slugging (.481). He -- like most of the Cardinals' lineup -- was a beast with runners in scoring position, slashing .388/.458/.543. Carpenter enters 2014 as the National League's highest-ranked second baseman.

Brandon Phillips smacked 18 home runs again (for the fourth straight season), taking advantage of a cushy spot in Cincinnati's lineup. The Reds' second baseman set a career-high with 103 RBI, but his batting average dipped to .261, his worst mark since 2008. I understand he's 32 and you shouldn't expect a repeat, but I still like him because of his consistency and strong track record. Perhaps the biggest off-season move at the position comes from Ian Kinsler, who will now call Detroit his home; the ex-Ranger hit .277 with 13 home runs and 15 steals a year ago. Comerica plays less favorably for right-handed bats, so it's fair to wonder if Kinsler's power will ever return to the 20-homer level.

Second base appears to be a lot deeper this season, although the drop-off from the elite to the next tier or two is a considerable fall. Ben Zobrist will once again be a popular pick, but he's on the wrong side of 30. Daniel Murphy never slowed down in 2013, crossing home plate more than 90 times and challenging 25 thefts. Chase Utley is still one of the best pure hitters at the position, but he enters the season at age 35. Pittsburgh's Neil Walker always seems underrated. A pair of NL West second basemen, Aaron Hill and Jedd Gyorko, could battle for the home-run crown at the position. And Jose Altuve is still running effectively -- and under the fantasy radar -- in Houston.

The Great Divide (AL/NL)

The Official Fake Teams Consensus Rankings will be coming out shortly (in two posts of 15, with the first batch in three hours), and it's an even split with each league contributing 15 of the top 30. Breaking up the tie is rather easy, however, as the American League claims the top three at the position and five of the top six.

It's really no secret as to who's at the top, but the AL players should dominate the early-round selections, while the top NL-pick is less of a sure thing. In AL-only leagues, I see a big advantage for owners willing to draft one of the "Big 3," but -- if you do pass on the elite -- I'd make it a top priority to grab someone in the second tier (Kinsler, Zobrist, Altuve). Otherwise, you'll be forced to trust unproven options like Jurickson Profar and Brian Dozier. Both are risks for returning negative value.

In the NL, I maintain that the top spot is between Carpenter and Phillips, but I don't expect either to match last year's counting stats. Close by are Utley, Hill and Gyorko, but all three carry varying degrees of risk. My next tier down includes Anthony Rendon, Neil Walker and Daniel Murphy, which -- if you are waiting at second base -- should be steady options up the middle. Compared to the AL, the gulf between the top-tier and the second/third tiers is not nearly as large in the NL, so waiting for the second-base market to develop is an advisable option in the Senior Circuit.

The Draft Strategy

Zack Smith will bring you an in-depth look into the draft strategy at second base on Wednesday, much like he did last week with first basemen. Because there is a clear "Big 3," you should expect the top three keystones to go in the first three rounds in standard 12-team/5X5 leagues. Cano is still a first rounder in Seattle, while -- depending on your league mates -- Kipnis and Pedroia could pop as early as Round 2. Taking a second baseman this high could keep you from landing a top-tier outfielder, however, so I strongly suggest targeting one if you do go the route of Cano, Kipnis or Pedroia.

I would then let the second-base market develop before claiming yours; the most recent NFBC ADP shows plenty of strong value in late rounds, including Walker (214.81) and Rendon (224.93), so I don't see a pressing need to reach for a second basemen. For example, No.'s 8-12 on the NFBC list are: Phillips, Gyorko, Murphy, Hill and Utley. You'd probably feel OK entering the season with any one of the five as your starting second baseman.

The New Kids on the Block

Second base is infused with plenty of youth this season, including the Rangers' Profar and the Nationals' Rendon. Both second-year players could provide top-12 value as soon as 2014, but I believe they are one year away. Profar, who turns 21 later this month, has an underwhelming .231/.301/.343 slash in 341 major-league plate appearances; Rendon, 23, currently sits at .265/.329/.396 in 394 PA. Both have connected for seven home runs thus far. Out of the potential up-and-comers at second base, I give Rendon and Profar -- in that order -- the best shot at making the jump in 2014.

Another young second baseman to keep a close eye on is Kolten Wong, the Cardinals' No. 3 prospect, according to Baseball America. He has the inside track as the Opening Day starter at second and St. Louis should once again be a top-NL offense. Meanwhile, Cuban import Alexander Guerrero's stock is already falling as we get closer to spring training; the Dodgers aren't guaranteeing the 27-year-old a job just yet, as there are questions to his defensive ability. Los Angeles reportedly tried to pry Michael Young out of retirement as insurance, so you know the team's concern is sincere.

In addition to Wong and Guerrero, the Fake Teams Prospect Staff -- Jason Hunter, Brian Creagh and Matt Mattingly -- will profile Arismendy Alcantara, Jonathan Schoop, Roughned Odor and Mookie Betts later this week.

What's Next?

In three short hours, Part 1 of The Fake Teams Consensus Second Base Rankings will be released, along with projections and auction values from Rotobanter and Daniel Kelley's Equivalent Fantasy Average for every player ranked. Over the next five days, we'll bring you seven player profiles -- including one breakout and one bust candidate -- and six prospect profiles. The staff will also highlight multiple keystones to target and avoid, a comprehensive draft strategy and AL- and NL-only sleepers. Ray and the gang have worked long and hard to bring you the best pre-season coverage available, so we appreciate all of the feedback, whether it's good, bad or in-between. If there is anything you'd like to see in addition to the content being provided, please let us know about it in the comments below.

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