Unless you want to pay a premium for power-hitting second basemen, the position is a good source of speed in 2012.
NOTE: Some of these blurbs are copied or modified from the AL-only top 20.
2012 early 5×5 ADP Top 20 second basemen
1. Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY: Fewer questions than a couple guys chosen already. Cano has averaged 103.5 runs, 28.5 homers, 113.5 RBIs, 5.5 SBs and a .310 average the last two years.
2. Dustin Pedrioa, 2B, BOS: How much better is Cano? I’m not sure Pedroia can match his 2011 output, but he has closed the gap and offers more speed than the Yankees slugger.
3. Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX: Kinsler gave us a glimpse at what he can do when healthy in 2011. He went 30-30, scored 121 runs and drove in 77. His BABIP was a little low too, indicating the potential for a bump in average in 2012.
4. Dan Uggla, 2B, ATL: You can’t draft many 30-homer hitters in the fifth round, let alone one who plays middle infield.
5. Brandon Phillips, 2B, CIN: Skills appear to be on decline. He didn’t even make 15-15 last year and the Reds need him in the middle of the lineup. Don’t overpay.
6. Chase Utley, 2B, PHI: Like Phillips — and Utley’s Phillie’s teammates — skills seem to be on the decline.
7. Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL: Prince Fielder’s departure and Ryan Braun’s probable suspension should make fantasy owners pause. With the right help around him, Weeks could score 100 runs and hit 25 homers.
8. Ben Zobrist, 2B, TB: After a power outage in 2010, Zobrist returned to 100-20-100-20 territory in 2011. Those are good numbers, Dustin Pedroia numbers minus the average, available in the eighth round.
9. Howie Kendrick, 2B, ANA: Just walk away. Kendrick’s HR/FB rate was more outrageous than his BABIP. Both numbers say he won’t repeat last year’s career-year performance.
10. Dustin Ackley, 2B, SEA: Playing in Seattle will holster Ackley’s power potential, but he could hit 10 and steal 20 bases. His high BABIP/low average profile doesn’t bode well for him to reach .300, but he’ll only be 24 on opening day. There’s room to grow for one of 2011’s top prospects.
11. Neil Walker, 2B, PIT: The 26-year-old second baseman hit 12 homers, stole nine bases and approached 80-80 in the runs-RBI categories. Probably a safer pick than Ackley.
12. Danny Espinosa, 2B, WAS: A lot of people are thinking Espinosa will improve his batting average, but his indicators, like BABIP and BB/K, say otherwise. Still, Espinosa offers a nice speed-power combo and he’ll turn 25 during the season’s first month so there’s room to grow.
13. Jemile Weeks, 2B, OAK: Most every expert has Jemile Weeks pegged for 30 stolen bases and a .280 average. He could make those marks, but he only has one Major League season under his belt. It feels like he’s being picked a little early.
14. Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE: Like Weeks, Kipnis had an exciting debut in 2011, but he did it in just 150 at-bats. In one mock draft the other day a guy picked Kipnis at 67 overall. I had been picking him if he fell into the 170s. Don’t overpay for somebody with so little Major League experience.
15. Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU: Like Kipnis, Altuve had an exciting, but short, debut in 2011. He profiled 10-homer, 25-steal skills that fantasy owners would love. The average draft difference between Kipnis and Altuve, however, is 60 picks. That makes Altuve a much better choice.
16. Aaron Hill, 2B, ARI: A serious sleeper, Hill hit .315 after being traded to Arizona, helping the Diamondbacks to a division title. Remember 2009 Aaron Hill? That guy hit 36 homers, scored 103, drove in 108 and was an all-star. Once a player displays a skill, he owns it. Let’s not say rejuvenated Diamondbacks 2B Hill will hit 35 homers in 2012, but let’s keep it in mind when he’s still available in the 23rd round.
17. Kelly Johnson, 2B, TOR: Blue Jays hope to use Johnson at No. 2 in the batting order. That means more at-bats. More at-bats mean more chances to use that power-speed combo and more chances to score runs.
18. Alexi Casilla, 2B/SS, MIN: It would be interesting to see how many counting stats Casilla could get if he played in 120 games or 500 at-bats. Unfortunately, that .252 career batting average will continue to cap his production.
19. Omar Infante, 2B, MIA: I wouldn’t draft Omar Infante. I might pick him up off the wire, but I’m not wasting a late pick on him.
20. Gordon Beckham, 2B, CHW: *Looks up at Omar Infante. Looks back at Beckham* How are you not better than Omar Infante? I will not waste another draft pick on you Gordon Beckham.
The next five: Brian Roberts, 2B, BAL; Johnny Giavotella, 2B, KC; Robert Andino, 2B/3B/SS, BAL; Jamey Carroll, 2B/SS, MIN; Orlando Hudson, 2B, SD.