2014 Second Base Draft Strategy

Ezra Shaw

How should you approach drafting a second baseman in 2014?

Second base looks to be a bit of an odd position in 2014.  The position is dominated by one player (which is nothing new - Chase Utley and Robinson Cano have stood out above the rest for the better part of the last decade), but the rest of the position is kind of lumped together.  Of course we can create tiers and we've obviously ranked each player, but I feel like second base is the position with the greatest number of players who carry a wide range of rankings and possibilities.  There are new faces mixed in with old staples.  Players like Ian Kinsler have fallen in many rankings lists while remaining a top option on others.  Feelings are mixed about whether or not Daniel Murphy can repeat his 2013 or if Aaron Hill will bounce back from his injury.  We have up-and-comers like Jurickson Profar and Anthony Rendon who look poised to break out with a full slate of at bats.  This year, at second base, you have to decide who you like and grab him.

After Robinson Cano, who in my opinion is worthy of a first round pick in all formats, second base comes down to a lot of personal preference and your affinity for risk/reward potential.  Although no longer a 20/20 candidate, Dustin Pedroia is still your best bet in terms of safety and production once Cano is off the board.  He may not be able to hold Jason Kipnis off much longer though.  Kipnis has put together back to back 30 stolen base seasons and has above average pop for the position.  He's had better first halves than second halves each season, so keep that in mind if you play in head to head leagues.  One could argue that Matt Carpenter is the other player that can be included in this group.  I don't think Carpenter has the upside of the other players here or several other players at the position but he's always shown good walk and strikeout rates and is a safe bet to bat close to .300.  Throw in the fact that he plays for potentially the best team in baseball and bats that the top of the order and you have a guy who is going to get plenty of chances to rack up the stats.

If you don't get one of the guys mentioned above, and according to NESN's NFBC average draft positions you'll need to spend a pick in the top five rounds to do so, you will have to really start assessing your team and how each player may fit.  Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist and Martin Prado probably won't win your league for you but there is very little chance they will lose it either.  Grab these guys if you have some question marks or are taking risks in other places or have players who are one-trick ponies in the vein of Chris Carter or Leonys MartinJose Altuve is one of the few of these one-trick types at second base as he can be counted on for a good batting average and 30+ stolen bases but nothing else.

The top second baseman to go off the board in your draft will likely come from combination of the aforementioned players and a stock of young guys looking to establish themselves.  Jurickson Profar and Anthony Rendon lead this group that includes Jedd Gyorko and Nick Franklin, as well.  Gyorko had the best season of the group last year, slugging 23 home runs while driving in and scoring more than 60 runs.  He probably has the most power of the group but Profar and Rendon are better hitters.  I think these guys will have decent seasons, possibly very good seasons for second baseman.  If some owners in your league try to get cute, however, and take them early, let them have these guys.  I think the hype is real but a little early so I don't think I'll come away with these guys in leagues that don't use a dynasty format.

Second base is fairly deep this year but you don't want to wait too long.  Howie Kendrick, Omar Infante and Neil Walker are guys that very much resemble the Zobrist Group but look like more of a poor man's version.  They are relative stable and safe but the production levels will not be the same.  We've seen flashes from some of the other guys at the bottom of the barrel like Gordon Beckham and Josh Rutledge but those moments are few and far between.  Brian Dozier might be considered in that group after coming out of nowhere to hit 18 home runs and steal 14 bases in 2013.  The last player I would advise you avoid is Alexander Guerrero.  He has no big league experience and the Dodgers are not sure he can handle second base.

The players to target this year are an interesting mix.  Chase Utley had somewhat of a revival last year, playing in 131 games and hitting 18 home runs with roughly 70 RBIs and runs while adding 8 stolen bases.  The stolen bases are encouraging since his knees were the problems in prior years.  Utley was once the best in the game and he seems to have a little bit left in the tank.  He will probably go for a relatively cheap price in most leagues.  Aaron Hill is coming off a bad injury but was very good when he was playing last year and has put up top 5 seasons three of the last five years.  I think he bounces back in Arizona and provides a nice return for a guy going off the board somewhere between 10 and 15 among second baseman.  Daniel Murphy has been a doubles machine for the last few years and hit double digit home runs in 2013.  A good hitter with a career .290 average and an improved Mets lineup could have Murphy finishing the year as a top 10 second baseman in mixed leagues.  Jed Lowrie, when healthy, has the potential to take Murphy's stats and supersize them and he played in a career high 154 games last season.  Get one of these guys and I think you will end up pretty satisfied with your selection.

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