Second base is deep…very deep. I’ve actually never seen it this deep before. Wait on it. The following is my personal top 20 list:
- Robinson Cano (NYY)
- Chase Utley (PHI)
- Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
- Dan Uggla (ATL)
- Ian Kinsler (TEX)
- Brian Roberts (BAL)
- Gordon Beckham (CWS)
- Neil Walker (PIT)
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka (MIN)
- Rickie Weeks (MIL)
- Ryan Raburn (DET)
- Danny Espinosa (WAS)
- Brandon Phillips (CIN)
- Martin Prado (ATL)
- Sean Rodriguez (TB)
- Mike Aviles (KC)
- Aaron Hill (TOR)
- Chone Figgins (SEA)
- Bill Hall (HOU)
- Kelly Johnson (ARI)
Close calls were Juan Uribe, Reid Brignac, Placido Polanco, and Ryan Theriot. Guys who are ranked high but didn’t even make my list include Ben Zobrist, Howie Kendrick, and Omar Infante.
Cano is a good 1st round pick. But I personally won’t take him because of how good the guys are in later rounds. Utley and Pedroia still have value but they cost too much for me. Uggla is a good option if your in position to get him where he’s ranked. Don’t jump early on him or any other 2B. Kinsler can’t stay healthy or he would be #2 on the list. Roberts is a great value considering how high he’s gone every other year. Health is a concern with him as well, but he typically is not an injury prone player. I’d be happy to have him in Round 10. Weeks is drafted much higher than most of the guys above him, but falls all the way to #10 on my list as a fantasy bust.
The next group of guys is where all the value is really at. Gordon Beckham finished great down the stretch and has tons of upside. Target him. One round later you can get Neil Walker who has slightly less power than Beckham but will put up a very nice average and hit total. Tsuyoshi Nishioka is a japanese rookie who is currently going in Round 21 of most drafts. He will bat 1st or 2nd in a good Twins lineup, hit at or near 300, and steal 20-30 bases. I will be drafting him in most of my drafts this year. Raburn is a 30 HR threat and a big sleeper this year. Espinosa could be a breakout star capable of 20 HR and 20 SB. He is undrafted in most drafts.
Phillips and Prado are being drafted much higher than my rankings. I wouldn’t touch them. Phillips has declined pretty rapidly, has limited power, low speed, and a terrible average. Rodriguez and Aviles are good young options capable of breaking out.
Hill and Figgins come at a cheaper bargain than ever before, but I don’t recommend either. Bill Hall should get the opportunity to start and will hit at least 15 HR. Thats all your going to get from Brandon Phillips who is drafted 15 rounds earlier. Kelly Johnson is dead last on my list for a reason. He was recently ranked my biggest bust of the season and is a fluke.
Basically you need to wait and get Beckham/Walker/Nishikoka/Raburn/Espinosa. Nishioka qualifies at SS so i recommend him there more. Just don’t waste a high pick when any of those guys I mentioned (except Nishioka) can hit 20 HR+ just as easily as Utley or Kinsler. Nishioka will steal you 20+ bases. All can hit for average too.
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Brandon Phillips as number 12? Come on now. He was a 30/30 second baseman in 2007, how many infielders can say that?
Mark, how worried are you about Utley’s health?
And if this were 2007 I’m sure I’d have Phillips in the top 3 lol. The description of Phillips in my spreadsheet says “hr sb rbi are declining, bad finish, inconsistent, low avg, mediocre balance of hr and sb” Like I said above a guy like Bill Hall won’t have numbers far from Phillips. Why would you waste a high pick on Phillips when you can get Tommy Hanson, Kendrys Morales, Jay Bruce, Carlos Santana, Cole Hamels, and Jered Weaver instead in the same round?
Utley will start the season on the DL. If there is one thing I love in fantasy each year its grabbing the guys that drop as far as 5 rounds because they will start the year on the DL. After their brief 2 week or monthly stint they will still put up 1st round type numbers at a fraction of the cost. Last year I Cliff Lee fell 4 rounds to me because he was starting on the DL. Did that matter at the end of the season that he missed April? No way. His huge numbers aided to another championship for me. If Utley falls into the 4th or 5th I’d take him. There’s always a risk that he misses too much time, but that’s a risk I’d be willing to take in round 4 with another 1st round talent.
while I don’t think Kelly Johnson will repeat what he did in 2010, I still think he is good. he had a bad year in 2009, but his 2010 wasn’t that much better than what he did in 2008 and 2007. I think in 2011 he could be around .275+ AVG, 18+ HR. I also read that new DBacks manager Kirk Gibson likes to run, so maybe a career high in SB, say 15+. R/RBI depend on where he hits in the lineup, but I imagine it looks like he could be batting 2nd in front of Justin Upton? that is a nice spot. as long as people don’t draft him too high based on what he did in 2010 he could be someone really nice to get in the middle of the draft.
I’d rather have Johnson than Neil Walker. he had .350 BABIP in 2010, something he never had in the minors. he had career .273 AVG in the minors. that AVG is coming down, I’d say closer to .270 for 2011. he likely wont have more HR than Johnson. I also don’t expect Walker to have more SB either. the DBacks lineup isn’t stacked, but I like Johnson’s R/RBI potential more than Walker with the Pirates.
however I think where they are drafted plays a big part. I wouldn’t want to take Johnson within the first 10 rounds at least.
@FNK – That’s all possible. With Johnson I see a guy who set a career high in everything last year except for AVG. And his AVG was still higher than his career norm. So I see everything dropping. Someone will probably take him within the first 10 rounds which is a big mistake. Even if Walker did hit .270 he would be right at Johnson’s career AVG of .269. I can see Johnson stealing 10 more bases than Walker. But I also see Walker hitting more HR than Johnson and hitting at a much higher AVG. I like Walker because he consistently hit .280 or higher in all 5 months he played last year. He also hit over .300 3 of those months. He also has multiple eligibility that Johnson doesn’t have at 2B and 3B. That aids to his ranking as well. I just see Johnson hitting .275 90 R 14 HR 70 RBI 10 SB. I just don’t want those numbers.
For whats its worth, I think #13 seems really low for Phillips as well. I’d rather have him than any of the 7 guys above him. I could see arguments for Weeks, Roberts, or Beckham but not the other 4 guys.
Out of curiosity what is the bullish projection for Nishikoka based on? He never hit more than 14 HRs in the NPB and I have to imagine he will face more difficult pitching in MLB.
@Ross – Phillips- .267 career AVG 18 HR 16 SB last year. Espinosa is capable of those bad numbers and more…like i said possible 20/20 guy. Raburn is a huge sleeper capable of 25-30 HR. Walker could hit .300 and hit 20-25 HR which outproduces Phillips as well. Beckham is projected to be a .300+ hitter with nice power and mediocre speed…based on his hot finish last year he’s capable of doing that this year…all of these guys will continue to improve while Phillips continues to decline. His average will kill you, and it will really hurt you day to day when your trying to keep your average respectable and hes putting up many 0 for 3’s. His value for the round you have to take him in compared to the value where you get these other guys aren’t even close….so draft Tommy Hanson/Jered Weaver instead of Phillips and just get Nishioka/Beckham/Raburn later. Your getting the same or better production out of your 2B plus you have another ace. Or get Jay Bruce who can hit the same AVG as Phillips but give you 35 HR and 100 RBI instead of 18 and 59.
@Ross – In 2010 Nishioka hit .346 with 11 HR and 22 SB. Your right that major league pitching will be tougher so I expect that .346 to fall to .300. That 11 HR should become 6. But hitting at the top of the Twins order instead of in the 3 hole his SB total should rise. Especially since the MLB season is longer than the NPB season. .300 90/6/55/30= solid
@The Fantasy God – Thanks for the info is that based on a regression from previous Japanese players that you ran or a gut call or other?
@The Fantasy God – I agree with the value argument but not the ranked list. We may have to agree to disagree there. Even if we take it as a given that Phillips career is in decline we still have so much more evidence on what he “is” than what Beckham, Walker, Rayburn or Espinosa “are” that I couldn’t consider ranking them ahead of an established commodity with a clear floor. We really can’t even start to guess at a floor for the other guys. I appreciate the discourse, thanks for the response.
@Ross – I just rank them based on where I think they will stand at the end of the season. I think all of these guys easily could be ahead of Phillips when the season comes to an end. I subtracted numbers from Nishioka’s Japanese numbers based on the regression every Japanese player has when they come to MLB. I think Nishioka has good tools. And if he’s a bust at least he was no risk. For a guy available in the last round there is really no risk.
Chase Utley is injured too frequently. He is probably like #8
@Steven – These rankings were done before his injury. I’d move him to 4th now. No way he drops under Ian Kinsler is more much more injury prone than anyone on the planet (besides Greg Oden)
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