From your first baseman, you generally want power. From your center fielder, you're probably seeking some combination of runs and steals. For a catcher, you just want a guy who plays as much as possible.
What do you want out of a second baseman, though? I mean, the obvious answer is the stereotype - a guy with a decent batting average, hitting second in a no-thought-at-all lineup, scoring enough runs to keep you afloat. I just don't think that's what the position necessarily is right now.
I mean, Brian Dozier, Neil Walker and Ian Kinsler hit 20-plus homers last year. Dee Gordon and Jose Altuve went nuts on the basepaths. Kinsler, Anthony Rendon and Robinson Cano drove in 80 or more; seven guys scored at least 80 times. Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia didn't reach any of those thresholds and promise relevance, while you'd expect a rebound from Jason Kipnis, and Javier Baez, Rougned Odor and even Yoan Moncada should be heard from.
It's been true in recent years that second base is shallow. And it's not like the position is chock full of mega-elite guys now. But it is at the least not a wasteland, and that means you can be a little pickier.
It's for reasons like this that you'll see a lot of divergence in our rankings. Brett Lawrie was a top-10 second baseman for me, unranked for someone else. Jason Kipnis peaked at fourth, bottomed at 23rd. We had 10 rankers, and all 10 of us, obviously, come in with our own strategies. That's why group rankings are helpful, and sure, you'll have disagreements at every position (seriously, come back in two weeks and look at the third base rankings), but the varied rankings at second base highlight strategic differences.
You strategize. Especially if you're in a roto league, as opposed to a head-to-head. When you enter a draft, you have an idea of player types you want to target. Like I said, your first baseman is going to be your source for power. Your shortstop, speed. Et cetera, et cetera. There are positions that, by and large, you fill with what is typical.
Second base, though, affords you some options. If you've decided on a power-heavy lineup - Nelson Cruz is one of your outfielders, J.J. Hardy is your shortstop, and the heck with stolen bases - maybe you want Jedd Gyorko as your second baseman. If you have Billy Hamilton and Jose Reyes, though, you'll be leaning more to the Dee Gordon side of the position.
Obviously, the reverse is also a viable tactic - "Oh, heck, I'll only get five homers from one of my outfielders and my shortstop, better make up the difference at second." And sure, while Gordon and Altuve offer ridiculous stolen-base upside, you aren't finding 40 homers at second base without Frankensteining together five, six different guys or convincing Jeff Kent to come back or something. The point is, though, that second base offers flexibility.
When preparing for your draft, ask yourself what kind of roster you want to have, and who you want to make a point to end up with (this is obviously easier in an auction draft than a snake, but it ultimately works anywhere). Once that is established, you can settle on a type of second baseman to target. It's a position of flexibility, and that means you can make it work for you.