Here's a reminder, though. This is a ranked list, but don't be too worried about placement within the tiers themselves. Those at the top are more highly thought of than those at the bottom, of course, but if you're splitting hairs about who is where in the middle of a tier, you're over thinking the process here. The point is that players within a tier are similarly-valued enough to merit inclusion within that tier. There might be $1 of draft value separating a four players within a tier, so if you think Player X is better than Player Y by that $1 or two, then it's likely you wouldn't hear me argue with you about it.
Cano was my lone five-star second baseman last year, too. Dustin Pedroia is certainly capable of being up here as well, but between Cano's park and the lineup around him, I like his chances as far as being a guaranteed five-star caliber player better.
As I said, Pedroia is certainly five-star capable in a standard league, especially since he swipes some bases. I'm just more comfortable placing him in the four-star tier and considering him in my head to be something akin to a 4.5-star guy. Ian Kinsler is also five-star material, but sometimes injuries get in the way of that. If healthy, he's going to be worth $30 or so, but guaranteeing health at that price is a risky proposition.
Phillips has the best chance of sneaking into the four-star value level here, but he just made it in 2011, and is more likely to be three-star going forward. Rickie Weeks is something of a poor man's Kinsler; he'd be worth so much more if he could just stay on the field, but even with that under consideration, he's still very useful.
If Zobrist's back issues are behind him, he's easy money for a $15-20 season at second base. He doesn't do any one thing excellently, but he does a little bit of everything well. Chase Utley is another who, if you could guarantee health for, I would feel much better about. Like Weeks, 650 plate appearances would be an easy four-star rating, but he hasn't approached that for two years now, and isn't getting younger.
Kendrick finally broke out in 2011, at basically the same moment many gave up on him ever turning into anything. It's a good lesson going forward, but don't be overzealous with your 2012 approach to acquiring him. He's good, but not markedly better than many others at the keystone.
Dan Uggla is likely capable of being a lot better than this, but as 2011 reminded us, aging second basemen with old-player skills are also capable of completely falling apart. Let's split the difference like he did, and project him for $15 or so. Neil Walker isn't a sexy option, but he gets the job done better than most. Aaron Hill completely fell apart in Toronto last year, but he rebounded a bit in Arizona, thanks to an easier division and a much more hitter-friendly environment. I've already put my draft picks where my mouth is with him, picking him up in expert mocks, so give him some thought for the later rounds when everyone else is focused on how awful he was in his old environment.
|Two-Star ($9 and under)|
Espinosa's power intrigues me, but so does his second-half collapse. I have faith in him being a useful piece, but I'm not going to spend what he was worth in 2011 to test that theory, either. Kelly Johnson completely cratered, but still had his uses last season. A complete rebound isn't necessary for him to be a two-star type, so be sure to bid low to stay pleased with the results. I like Dustin Ackley a whole lot, even if I don't like his home park. In an environment less-suited for pitchers, Ackley is probably a low three-star option for me. Jemile Weeks will rack up steals for you, but hitting in Oakland won't do him lots of favors. He'll need an exceptional batting average to stand out in a weak lineup in a pitcher's park.
Jason Kipnis has much better potential than being a two-star player, but he'll have to show us that before he gets handed a promotion to the next tier. Jose Altuve has the potential for a huge fantasy season due to his bat, but he's very young, very raw, and in the middle of a very bad lineup. Mike Aviles should pick up most of the playing time at shortstop for Boston, and if he does he should be able to produce $5 or more worth of value thanks to hitting in a park tailor-made for his doubles power.
Ryan Raburn is the kind of guy you would love to get to man second in an AL-only, but he's less appealing in mixed formats. He still has his uses, though, so don't sleep on him if you're stuck for a middle infield option late. Gordon Beckham continues to disappoint, but consider 2012 his last chance for redemption in regards to me being nice about his ranking.
|One-Star (AL/NL Only)|
As you would expect from this section, these guys are mostly $1 fliers, or the kind of second basemen you pick up in AL- or NL-only leagues to fill out some middle infield slots. Playing time is the key with almost all of them (especially Brian Roberts, who is in some kind of not-quite-dead yet state each spring). If they aren't projected to get much of it by the time draft season is in full swing, there's no reason for you to spend more than that buck on them, if anything.