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2015 Fantasy Landscape: Second Base

Alex Kantecki opens second base week with an overview of the position, including his thoughts on AL/NL-only leagues and draft strategy.

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The usual second base superstars, namely Seattle's Robinson Cano and Boston's Dustin Pedroia, didn't return value in 2014. Cano predictably suffered from the east to west coast shift from Yankee Stadium to Safeco, losing 13 home runs and 25 RBI despite only seeing 16 fewer plate appearances in his first year in Seattle. Pedroia, meanwhile, hit .278 and played through various injuries, failing to reach double-digit home runs and steals and dropping from 91 runs and 84 RBI in 2013 to 72 and 53, respectively in 2014.

Following his 2013 breakout campaign, Jason Kipnis was perhaps the biggest bust at second with a slash of .240/.310/.330 slash and just six home runs in 129 games. While the consensus top-3 picks disappointed, second base saw the emergence of Anthony Rendon, Jose Altuve and Dee Gordon in 2014. The first two, along with Cano, are consensus top-3 second basemen heading into 2015.

The Great Divide (AL/NL)

According to NESN.com's NFBC ADP rankings, six out of the first seven second basemen listed reside in the American League, with only one National League second basemen among the top-five (Dee Gordon). Rendon isn't ranked at second base but would be the No. 2 second baseman right after Altuve. Given the depth at second base this year, I anticipate most fantasy owners using him at the hot corner in 2015.

The second and third keystone players to show up in the National League are Kolten Wong and Javier Baez, respectively. Switching from the American League to the Senior Circuit is Howie Kendrick, who joins a still very talented Los Angeles Dodgers lineup that has undergone an offseason shakeup, losing Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon to free agency or trade.

Bounce back candidates in the NL include Jedd Gyorko, who was a consensus top-12 pick at second base last year. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to preseason expectations with 11 home runs in 111 games. Veterans such as Chase Utley, Brandon Phillips and Aaron Hill can be had in the later rounds, but all three have shown serious signs of regressionas they age. I feel most comfortable with Utley in that group, but I wouldn't want any of the three to be my everyday second baseman; they are better suited for a middle infield spot at this point in their career.

In the AL, Ben Zobrist moves from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Oakland Athletics. I'm less optimistic about the Zorilla producing in Oakland, with his power already declining significantly over the last two seasons (12 home runs in 2013, 10 in 2014). His speed is also in decline, which doesn't bode well for his fantasy value in 2015. I believe his ADP as the 10th second baseman is too high. I have him just outside the top-10 second basemen in my personal ranks.

The Draft Strategy

Second base is deeper than in years past, with the emergence of Rendon and Altuve as elite options and a healthy list of serviceable players that can be had later. Rendon and Altuve are going at the tail end of the first round, according to NESN.com's NFBC Average Draft Position. It wasn't long ago that Cano was a potential No. 1 pick in fantasy, but he's now dropping to the second round with an ADP of 21.82. That still leaves room for value, in my opinion, and I wouldn't hesitate picking Cano if it fell that way.

Dee Gordon is the No. 3 second baseman with an ADP of 40.86, followed by Ian Kinsler (55.84), Brian Dozier (67.49), Jason Kipnis (72.90) and Dustin Pedroia (99.76). Out of this second group, I believe Pedroia is the best value, and I'd be hesitant to take Dozier or Kipnis. I need to see Dozier do it again, and Kipnis fell hard from this 2013 breakout.

The next tier includes Wong (101.14), Baez (124.47) and Neil Walker (129.37) to round out the top 10. I'm not sure I'll be taking Baez on any of my fake teams unless he really falls, but I like the upside of Wong in St. Louis and the relative safety and floor of Walker. There continues to be value plays in the top 15, including Kendrick (160.98), whose move to the other Los Angeles could allow him to shoot for a top-10 finish.

My draft strategy would be to take one of the top-three second basemen in the first two rounds, or wait it out and grab a value play later. My preference is Rendon in the second round if he falls, but I would have no problem taking a Pedroia, Wong or Neil Walker in the middle rounds and loading up on outfielders and power before setting my middle infield. I think the depth of the position allows you to strengthen other areas of need first.

Daniel Kelley will have more draft strategy for you on Wednesday.

The Newbies

Wong emerged as a source of both power and speed in 2014, batting .242 with 12 home runs, 52 runs, 42 RBI and 20 steals across 433 plate appearances. Set to be the Cardinals everyday second baseman in 2015. Also in the National League Central Division, Baez made his much-anticipated debut, displaying raw power but also struggling mightily with a 41.5 percent strikeout rate. Any thing he gives you in the power department is currently being offset by a low batting average.

Other second baseman set for expanded playing time in 2015 are Rougned Odor, Jonathan Schoop and Micah Johnson. On Tuesday, Jason Hunt and the Fake Teams prospect staff will bring you the top-15 second base prospects.

What's Next?

We have a lot of great second-base centric content (!) coming up this week from the talented group of writers at Fake Teams, including rankings, "sleepers," targets/avoids, player profiles and much, much more. Be sure to check back real soon as Ray releases Part 1 of the Fake Teams consensus ranks. Let's play two!

Time Slot/Day
Monday 2/09/2015
Tuesday 2/10/2015
Wednesday 2/11/2015
Thursday 2/12/2015
Friday 2/13/2015
7am
Landscape of the Position
Top 15 Second Base Prospects
Top 30 Second Base Rankings, Part 2
Second Baseman to Target
Second Baseman to Avoid
10am
Top 30 Second Base Rankings, Part 1
Prospect Profile: Jose Peraza/Dilson Herrrera
2015 Second Base Draft Strategy
Second Base Profile: Marcus Semien
NL/AL-only Sleepers
12pm
Second Base Profile: Javier Baez
Second Base Profile: Jose Altuve
Second Base Profile: Jonathan Schoop
Second Base Profile: Brian Dozier
Second Base Profile: Robinson Cano
2pm
Second Base Profile: Rougned Odor
Second Base Profile: Arismendy Alcantara
Second Base Eligibility
Second Base Projections from Steamer
Second Base Profile: Dustin Pedroia
4pm
Rankings Rumble: Jason Kipnis
Rankings Rumble: Kolten Wong