Shaw on MLB: Top fantasy second basemen

October 1, 2012, 4:06 PM

Once again Yankees star Robinson Cano wins the second base battle over the Red Sox former MVP Dustin Pedroia.

In fact, in a season that Red Sox fans would prefer to forget, Pedroia failed to crack the top-five list of top offensive second basemen.

On the other hand, former Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill rediscovered his stroke in the desert to rejoin the group of hard-hitting middle infielders.

5) Martin Prado, Braves

Fresh off a disappointing 2011 season that included a career-low .260 batting clip, Martin Prado is enjoying his finest season. Prado has established several career-highs including 69 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, and perhaps most impressive is the 56 walks. Combined with the .305 average, the walks result in a .360 on base percentage.

A 28-year-old super utility man, Prado looks like a younger version of Phillies veteran Placido Polanco (okay, a lot younger). Prado has manned all four infield positions this season, with the majority of his time being spent in left field. The multiple position eligibility adds to his value for 2013 fantasy leagues.

4) Brandon Phillips, Reds

For the seventh straight season Brandon Phillips managed at least 17 home runs and 14 steals (18 and 17 in 2012). It is a bit concerning that Phillips slipped in his plate discipline, drawing just 28 walks, his lowest total since joining the Reds.

On the other hand, Phillips has been remarkably reliable and played a key role in the Reds NL Central division title. Phillips is a solid and steady option at second base in fantasy leagues.

3) Ian Kinsler, Rangers

This was a rather ordinary season for Ian Kinsler, a 30-year old veteran who currently boasts 19 home runs with 21 stolen bases. The two-time 30-30 star may miss out on 20-20 this season, but he scored 100-plus runs for the fourth time in five years.

Unfortunately, it’s been an uneven performance by Kinsler. With just five home runs and a .225 average on the road, it looks like Rangers Ballpark has played a large role in his success this season. Kinsler also enters the final days of the season reeling with just a .239 average following the All-Star break. As long as Kinsler remains with the Rangers, he offers fantasy value, but in any other ballpark his value declines sharply.

2) Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks

It turns out that Aaron Hill still has plenty to offer. The former Blue Jays star who wore out his welcome with back-to-back disappointing seasons in Toronto has flourished in the desert with the D-Backs.

Traded towards the end of last season, Hill hit .315 in 33 games with Arizona in 2011. He has continued to rake with the Diamondbacks this season, now batting .303 with 24 home runs, 43 doubles, and 81 RBIs.

Hill has managed to improve his base running with 14 stolen bases and 90 runs scored. He is drawing more walks than ever before and has been effective against both right-handers and southpaws.

As far as the ballpark impact, as Hill now plays his home games at the second highest elevation in Major League Baseball, the home runs have been equally split with 12 at home and 12 on the road. It looks like Hill has made some adjustments to his swing and has regained the confidence of fantasy managers while doing so.

1) Robinson Cano, Yankees

Likely to garner some MVP consideration once again, Robinson Cano has been the top performer for the Yankees with 30 home runs, 84 RBIs, and 98 runs. It will mark Cano’s fourth season with a .300-plus average and he has already set career-highs in home runs and walks (60).

The 30-year-old All-Star remains vulnerable against southpaws, but he’s never an easy out and seems to rise to the occasion. For instance, Cano belted four home runs in six games against the cross-town rival New York Mets this season.

Cano is a cinch to get drafted in the first round of next year’s fantasy drafts as he looks to build on a career that appears destined for enshrinement in Cooperstown.

And now, on to the season’s biggest busts at the position …

3) Michael Young, Rangers

At 36-years-old, Michael Young’s surname is a misnomer as he is finally showing his age. The Rangers legend has fallen mightily after hitting .338 with a career-high 106 RBIs last season. His home runs have declined for a third straight season to a career-low of seven, and his .275 average is the lowest it’s been in a decade. Young no longer brings value to the base paths, and considering his lack of pop and low average his fantasy value is minimal.

The good news is that Young still brings value against southpaws with a .327 average. The utility infielder also enjoyed most of his production on the road this year, which is a major shift away from his career norm. Young may have a hard time getting regular at bats next season, as retirement seems to be calling.

2) Dan Uggla, Braves

The best power hitting second baseman of his generation, Dan Uggla had a woeful season that includes a career-low in power, run production, and batting average. Uggla had a low batting clip last season as well, but his 36 home runs helped make up for the decline.

This season, Uggla’s .221 average comes with just 19 home runs. To his credit, Uggla is drawing walks at a career-best pace with 93 bases on balls to lift his on base percentage to a very respectable .347. Never hailed for his defense, Uggla will need to crush more home runs next season in order to meet fantasy expectations.

1) Jemile Weeks, Athletics

It is difficult to determine the greater surprise: the Oakland A’s success or Jemile Weeks’ struggles. Weeks was stellar last season as a rookie, leading the A’s with a .303 batting clip while racking up 26 doubles and eight triples in 97 games. Slotted as the A’s 2012 leadoff hitter, Weeks did not reach base consistently.

Weeks’ batting average sits at just .221, his on base percentage is .305, and his slugging has declining more than .100 points to .305. Even his 16 steals and eight triples do little to bolster his value. At this point, Weeks is having a tough time cracking the A’s lineup. It’s been a hugely disappointing season for the franchise’s 25-year-old prospect.


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