Now that we have completed our consensus position rankings for 2014, it is time to address rankings for those of you in AL only and NL only leagues. Ray has already begun posting his NL only positional rankings and you can find them here:
In case you missed the consensus mixed league position rankings and projections that we have published to date, you can find the links to each post below:
I will be posting my AL only rankings over the course of the next week. Today, we'll take a look at second base.
Despite the move to Safeco Field, Robinson Cano is still top dog at second base. Even if he hits fewer home runs he will still be at the top for the position and he's the safest bet to bat .300. Dustin Pedroia is my number two guy and I know some people will disagree with that. His homer total has fallen three straight years and he's entering his age 30 season, but he's as much of a sure thing for 80/80 in RBIs and Runs as there is at the position with an elite batting average and 15+ stolen bases. If Pedroia is 2, Jason Kipnis is 2a. KIpnis has posted back to back 30 stolen base seasons and has similar power to a younger Pedroia. His average however will probably land about fifty points below Pedroia's and that's enough for me to slot him in behind Pedroia.
Ian Kinsler isn't the 30/30 player he once was, but he still has plenty of value left in the tank. Some people may knock Kinsler down with the move to Detroit but I think that his game plays nicely in that park. The outfield is spacious but his home run output was declining anyway and he's more of a doubles hitter now. Ben Zobrist will be 33 this year and his numbers declined considerably last season. He still hit .275 with double digit home runs and steals. He's even better in leagues that use OBP and his skills not be what they once were, but he's reliable and you really can't go wrong with him. You know what you're getting with Jose Altuve - a decent batting average and 30+ steals. He won't help in much else, but there aren't many players who do what he does.
I think Jurickson Profar is going to be very good. I believe in his power potential and think he will move into the top 5 at the position. I just don't think he will do it this year and so I ranked him 9th behind Jed Lowrie and Howie Kendrick. We finally got to see Lowrie put together a full season and while he didn't hit as many home runs as I expected, he was strong in batting average, runs and RBIs. I think he has the potential to hit 20 home runs but even if he remains in the teens and keeps up with his other numbers, he's an excellent option at the position. He has shortstop eligibility as well which is an added bonus. Everyone talks about the batting champion expectations that were hung on Howie Kendrick and about he'll probably never reach them. While he might not win a batting title, he's a career .292 hitter with the potential for home run and stolen base totals in the low to mid-teens.
While his average, runs and RBIs won't do much for you, Kelly Johnson could hit 20 home runs in Yankee Stadium and add a handful of stolen bases. Brian Dozier is kind of a trendy guy this year and while I think the power surge might be a little inflated, he seemed to make some big strides last year and I think he could return value commensurate with his price tag. Omar Infante is a slightly lighter version of Howie Kendrick but I think he will do well with the Royals. I would be comfortable with any of the top twelve guys as my starters in an AL only league which speaks to the depth at the position. Once you get outside of the top twelve, however, the drop off is steep.
Dustin Ackley is moved to the outfield last year after being sent down to AAA and the emergence of Nick Franklin. He hit well once returning to the big leagues and retains second base eligibility. I don't love Ackley's game but he'll get the at bats and he probably has the most upside of anyone left. Marcus Semien's K:BB was atrocious in his big league debut but he showed better numbers in the minors and he's a guy who could add a little speed and a little pop to your lineup in a deep league or at the middle infield slot. I ranked Jonathan Schoop just ahead of Ryan Flaherty but if it comes out that the O's will go with Schoop as their guy, he would jump up in these rankings and Flaherty would fall off completely. Flaherty's ranking is a product of his being the starting second baseman right now and he has a little bit of power. Schoop is a 20-homer potential bat and I think he is ready to hit in the big leagues after his performance in the minor the last two years (although he battled some injuries), the World Baseball Classic and spring training. Even if Schoop starts the year in the minors, I don't think it will be long before he gets called up. The Orioles are in win now mode and they will need him if Flaherty struggles.
Brian Roberts is a starter but it's hard to count on him in really any capacity and Maicer Izturis is the more interesting side of a platoon with Ryan Goins. I think everyone has lost their patience with Gordon Beckham and it looks like he'll start the season on the DL. I could see Semien keeping the job but there is a chance Beckham gets a shot when he gets back. The last player I ranked is Logan Forsythe because I think the Rays are very good at maximizing potential. Also, I felt like they gave a good bit in the package they traded for him so I believe they intend to use him often. A strong line drive rate, decent speed and a very low BABIP suggest the average should come up some and he could steal 10 bases.
You can follow Zack on Twitter at @FantasyNinja8.