This post is the third in a series of position rankings catered specifically to fantasy baseball head-to-head points leagues.
All hitters in this post and future points league rankings are based on these scoring values:
(1B x 1) + (2B x 2) + (3B x 3) + (HR x 4) + (R x 1) + (RBI x 1) + (BB x 1) + (SB x 2) + (SO x -1) = Total
For my thoughts on draft strategies and stats to track in H2H points leagues, consult the top of the catcher's rankings post here.
Notes on Second Base:
Depth - Unlike third base or shortstop, second base seems to have tremendous depth this season with many potential 20/20 candidates throughout the entire top 20 as well as some upside with young hitters like Jemile Weeks, Jason Kipnis, Dustin Ackley and Danny Espinosa.
Target the top - While there is certainly depth, the difference between the top three second basemen (Kinsler, Pedroia and Cano) is fairly significant with no one else at the position coming close to 500 points. It may be a good idea to draft one of the premiere 2B with your first or second pick in 2012 in the hopes their differential each week gives you an advantage over your opponent.
Rankings after the jump:
2012 Fantasy Baseball H2H Points League Second Base Rankings:
1) Robinson Cano, NYY
2011 Points Scored: 512
Cano, don't ya know, is one of the better all-around hitters and defenders in 2011 he posted a stellar .302/.349/.533 (.882 OPS) with 28 HR, 118 RBI, 8 SB and 104 runs scored. You could argue Cano is the safest bet of all 2B (and most top picks) as he has posted close to the same season three years in a row now, and, if you ask me, "better safe than sorry" should always be your motto for the first round.
2) Dustin Pedroia, BOS
2011 Points Scored: 549
Dustin Pedroia, aka "The Laser Show," returned healthy and raring to go for the Red Sox in 2011 as he finished with a .307/.387/.474 (.861 OPS), 21 HR, 91 RBI, 27 SB and 102 runs scored. It marked the first season in which Pedroia reached the 20/20 mark and I don't assume it will be his last as he once again maintained a HR/FB % over 8.0. While the increase in power comes at the cost of an increase in SO% (11.6 in '11), it's not enough of a concern considering the kind of potential he provides over the course of 700 or more plate appearances.
3) Ian Kinsler, TEX
2011 Points Scored: 575
In 2011, Ian Kinsler joined Alfonso Soriano and Vladimir Guerrero as the only players to record multiple 30/30 seasons since the year 2000. While the three might soon have company with players like Kemp, Ellsbury and Braun each posting their first 30/30 seasons in '11, it is an impressive feat nonetheless and one only made possible by top-notch health. And that is where the problem lies with Kinsler. When healthy, thanks to his rare combination of speed and power atop the Rangers' lineup, he is able to lead all 2B in points as he did last year. But, it was the first year he appeared in over 150 games, while his career average per season is roughly 130. It's really up to you. If you feel he will play in 150 games again, draft him first with confidence as his '11 season is repeatable and could even be better considering his .243 BABIP. Otherwise, if he misses those 32 starts he drops down to second or third behind Pedroia and Cano. What's the old saying, "You can't win your league in the first round, but you can lose it." While I'm all for risk taking, it's not something I'd advocate so early in the draft.
4) Ben Zobrist, TB
2011 Points Scored: 453
In 2011, Zobrist came up just shy of his first 20/20 season and finished with a .269/.353/.469 (.822 OPS) slash line, 20 HR, 91 RBI, 19 SB and 99 runs. It's alarming that his SO% jumped from 16.3 to 19.0 and BB% dropped from 14.3 to 11.1, but, if he is able to return both to his career average, he should improve his AVG, OPS and counting stats for the Rays and fantasy owners in 2012.
5) Brandon Phillips, CIN
2011 Points Scored: 442
Is it just me, or does Brandon Phillips share almost identical stats with Ben Zobrist? Phillips posted a .300/.353/.457 (.810 OPS) slash line with 18 HR, 82 RBI, 14 SB and 94 runs scored in 2011. It's somewhat concerning that his HR/FB rate has now dropped four years in a row and it would seem that his 20/20 days are behind him, but the AVG should remain intact and considering he's firmly planted at the top of the Reds' lineup, he should continue to be an excellent source of runs and RBI.
6) Dan Uggla, ATL
2011 Points Scored: 350
Dan Uggla had a roller coaster of a debut with the Atlanta Braves that featured an AVG below the Mendoza Line for most of the season along with a 33 game hit streak between July and August. But, in the end, Uggla offered what he always offers, which is HR. His 36 HR were the most at the position in 2011 and accompanied a .233/.311/.453 (.764 OPS) slash line, 82 RBI and 88 runs scored. His power doesn't come cheap though as his 156 strikeouts were the third most at the position and the result of a SO% sadly in line with his career average. His .253 BABIP could account for the drop in AVG and its likely he can improve that in 2012, but until he limits the strikeouts (which is unlikely at this point), his value won't approach what it does in standard scoring leagues.
7) Michael Young, TEX
2011 Points Scored: 473
Read my Michael Young profile here. Depending on your league, Young should qualify at 1B/2B/3B in 2012.
8) Chase Utley, PHI
2011 Points Scored: 287
Chase Utley is no spring chicken. He's more like a fall chicken these days as his plate appearances have declined three years in a row now largely due to injury. In fact, almost everything about Utley is declining including his HR/RBI/R/SB totals along with his AVG/SLG and OPS over the last three seasons. About the only thing that's been declining over that time that's positive is his SO%. But, the good news is, when you fall from an elite level, your stats are still pretty solid all around. I don't think he'll reach 20/20 again, but he could approach it. His .269 BABIP certainly didn't help his AVG or hit total, and with an increase in that combined with the aforementioned lower SO%, Utley should put up a season fantasy owners will be happy with in 2012.
9) Rickie Weeks, MIL
2011 Points Scored: 299
Rickie Weeks merits this ranking because he has the tools and potential to be amongst the top four or five 2B, but it seems as though he has way too many questions surrounding him to make that potential a reality. First off, his health is always a concern (2010 is the only season in which he's played in 130 games or more). Other questions revolve around where he will bat in the Brewers' lineup and what players will surround him. Weeks could bat leadoff as he has done for the majority of his career or he could hit fifth, like he did throughout the second half of 2011. In terms of teammates, it seems a foregone conclusion that Prince Fielder will no longer be with the team and now it appears as though Ryan Braun won't be inserted into the lineup until almost June. Like I said, too many questions mean too much risk considering some of the 2B available later in the draft.
10) Michael Cuddyer, COL
2011 Points Scored: 356
Read my Michael Cuddyer profile here. Depending on your league, Cuddyer should qualify at 1B/2B/OF in 2012.
11) Jemile Weeks, OAK
2011 Points Scored: 260
If you're looking for home runs, look elsewhere than Jemile Weeks in 2012. However, what you should be looking for is points and Weeks could put up 380 if all goes well considering his speed, low SO% and spot at the top of the A's lineup. Oakland seems more than willing to let Weeks run wild as his 33 attempts (despite a 67% success rate) indicate (so much for the Moneyball philosophy of valuing outs). Considering he is in line for an additional 200 or more plate appearances in '12, it seems reasonable to expect 30-35 SB, along with 60 RBI, 80 runs and maybe even 4-5 HR.
12) Ryan Roberts, ARZ
2011 Points Scored: 361
Holy ink, Tatman! If tattoos ever become a fantasy baseball scoring category, Ryan Roberts will skyrocket up these rankings. For the time being, his .244/.355/.495 (.850 OPS) slash line, 19 HR, 65 RBI, 18 SB and 86 runs scored were good for 361 points (seventh most at the position). So, why not rank Roberts higher? Well, he is 31 years old and his 2011 production essentially came out of nowhere. There's not much reason to assume his .249 AVG will improve, while his HR and SB totals could both decline. I'd expect another productive season from Roberts considering his home ballpark and lineup, but there's not much to build upon from his breakout '11 season.
13) Howie Kendrick, ANA
2011 Points Scored: 340
Read my Howie Kendrick profile here. Depending on your league, Kendrick should qualify at 1B/2B/OF in 2012
14) Neil Walker, PIT
2011 Points Scored: 363
Neil Walker won't "wow" fantasy owners with his .273/.335/.408 (.743 OPS), 12 HR, 83 RBI, 9 SB and 76 runs scored, but what he will do, and has done thus far, is put up points as part of Pittsburgh's lineup. Everything about his '11 season seems repeatable to me, but, because he doesn't possess an elite skill set and isn't surrounded by elite talent, it's best to err on the side of caution. If his AVG were to drop, things could get ugly real fast.
15) Aaron Hill, ARZ
2011 Points Scored: 312
When it comes to ranking players, it doesn't get much harder than Aaron Hill. In 2009, he hit 36 HR compared to 8 in 2011. Prior to last year, he had never stolen more than six bases. How many did he steal in '11? Oh, you know, just 21. Therefore, there's the potential for a 20/20 season from Hill, or an 8/8 in 2012. I'd prefer to cut it somewhat down the middle and expect something closer to 20/10 in his first full season with the Diamondbacks. He enjoyed quite a bit of success with Arizona with a .315/.386/.492 (.878 OPS), and while his AVG will most certainly decline, there's a chance the change in scenery suits him well and stabilizes his overall output in '12.
16) Jason Kipnis, CLE
2011 Points Scored: 99 (minor leagues/injuries)
There's a lot to like from the little we saw of Jason Kipnis in 2011 (only 150 PA due to a somewhat late call-up followed by injury). He posted a .272/.333/.507 (.840 OPS) with 7 HR, 19 RBI, 5 SB and 24 runs scored. The 7 HR were somewhat unexpected, and while Kipnis probably won't be knocking balls out of the park every 19.4 Abs as he did in '11, it seems like he should hit somewhere in mid- to high-teens while offering a similar number of SBs. Also impressive was his 11.3 XBH%, which means that even if he doesn't profile as a .300 hitter, he should put up points via doubles and triples. I'm not concerned about his high SO% and low BB% at this point as last year was his first real look at MLB pitching and if all goes well, I think there's a good chance Kipnis will be in the top 10 of these rankings in 2013.
17) Dustin Ackley, SEA
2011 Points Scored: 187 (minor leagues)
I'm predicting very similar production between Dustin Ackley and Jason Kipnis in 2012 as they exhibited almost identical skill sets last year. Ackley had over 200 more plate appearances than Kipnis in 2011 and finished with a .273/.348/.417 (.765 OPS), 6 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB and 39 runs scored. Where I think Kipnis could have a HR total in the high teens, I don't see Ackley hitting more than 15 and probably closer to 10-12, somewhat due to his ball park and the other cavernous stadiums of the AL West (Arlington not included). Ackley's 10.6 BB% is encouraging and you always like to have a base stealer on first base, especially one that was 100% in their attempts. If he is given the green light on the base paths, you could see anywhere between 15-20 SBs from Ackley in '12.
18) Danny Espinosa, WAS
2011 Points Scored: 300
No one outside of the top five 2B was closer to a 20/20 season than Espinosa in his first full season with the Nationals. While his 20/20 potential is legitimate, it comes at a few costs, including his paltry .236 AVG and astounding 166 strikeouts (most at the position). He should continue to be a nice source of points via HR, XBH and SB in 2012 and beyond, but when you start subtracting 150 or more points due to strike outs, it's hard to build up much excitement in a points league.
19) Daniel Murphy, NYM
2011 Points Scored: 269
At the moment, Daniel Murphy is still a man without an everyday position in the Mets' lineup, although reports are that he should be the front-runner for the 2B job going into spring training. If he does win the job and the majority of starts at the position, Murphy should see anywhere from 150-200 more plate appearances in 2012, which would lead to a significant increase in RBI and runs and a modest one in HR and SB. There is a chance his .320 AVG decreases as he won't maintain his .345 BABIP, but the increase in PA should more than make up for it.
20) Kelly Johnson, TOR
2011 Points Scored: 287
Despite his poor AVG, Kelly Johnson is very appealing in standard scoring leagues thanks to his potential for a 20/20 season, but not so much in points leagues. His 163 strike outs were the second most at the position behind only Espinosa accompanied by a jaw-dropping 26.6 SO%, which essentially means Johnson will strike out at least once a night. There is a chance he could drop that SO% down to his career average of 21 and increase his .222 AVG since his .277 BABIP offers room for improvement, but, I'd rather take a shot on the similar, yet younger, Espinosa.
Omar Infante, Darwin Barney
Brian Roberts, BAL
2011 Points Scored: 94 (injured)
Brian Roberts has not played in a full season since 2009 and hasn't eclipsed 60 games in either 2010 or 2011 (as his 94 points scored might indicate). So, obviously health is a concern and you wouldn't want to count on him as your starting 2B entering the season, but if (a big if) he were to remain healthy he would provide a significant number of points late in the draft. He doesn't strike out at an alarming rate (career 13.3 SO%) and should be a lock for 15 HR, 20-25 SB and a lot of runs atop the Orioles' lineup.
Is there a second baseman you're excited about in 2012 that didn't make the top 20? Feel free to comment below on these rankings or ask any general fantasy baseball questions.