On we move from one of the deepest positions on the diamond to one of the shallowest. There are a handful of solid options here, but very few difference makers at the top. It is safe to assume that players like Cano, Kipnis and Pedroia will carry a heavy premium on draft day, but changes in scenery for some of the position’s elite may impact how much owners are willing to invest.
Who are the players to target once the big names are off the board? Hopefully these rankings will help you sort that out. Before we get into the ranks, however, we need to go over a couple assumptions that we made in determining eligibility.
In order to be eligible, a player needs to meet 1 of the following criteria:
A) 10 appearances at the position in 2013
B) The expectation that the player will be used primarily at a given position in 2014 (example: Miguel Cabrera will appear on our 1B list)
These rankings will focus on 2014, and are geared toward traditional 5 x 5 formats. Without further ado, here are the assembly’s rankings:
1. Robinson Cano, SEA-
Jeff: Was surrounded by a terrible lineup all of last year and still produced. I think only his HR take a slight dip; still a top 10 hitter and clear number one second baseman.
Paul: I don’t care what team he’s on, he’s as consistently excellent as anyone in the game.
2. Jason Kipnis, CLE-
Kevin: There’s a bit of risk to him, but his potential for more power puts him ahead of Pedroia.
Tommy: This pick is not without risk, but Kipnis has the best power/speed combo among second basemen. Those expecting him to equal his 2013 BA and to improve his HR output may be disappointed though.
3. Dustin Pedroia, BOS-
Jim: He won’t go 20/20 but he will give you very good numbers in all 5 categories.
Peter: His recent power outage is concerning and returning from offseason surgery increases the risk slightly.
4. Matt Carpenter, STL-
Paul: Sure, he won’t score 126 runs again, but 100 is within reach. Great doubles power is more suited to points leagues.
Peter: More value in points leagues where his 55 doubles acted like 20+ homers.
5. Ian Kinsler, DET-
Jeff: The Tigers do not run much and he has been running less, but I will still take him ahead of Carpenter.
Jim: A .242 average away from Texas turns him from an elite option to a better version of Ben Zobrist.
6. Aaron Hill, ARZ-
Kevin: Hope he’s fully healthy with no rust, because he’s one of the better power options at 2B.
Tommy: His underlying numbers from 2013 were similar to those from 2012. He is capable of hitting near .300 with a HR total in the high teens or low 20s. Just know that his days of double digit SBs are likely over.
7. Jedd Gyorko, SD-
Jim: His power and potential put him here, but if the average doesn’t come up you’re getting a healthier version of the current Chase Utley.
Peter: In his first season in SD Gyorko delivered with 23 homers in 125 games (486 at-bats), 30 homers are within reach (Gyorko hit more homers at home than on the road as well).
8. Brandon Phillips, CIN-
Paul: Should maintain 15 HR, 75 RBI in 2014. Average is slipping.
Tommy: Phillips has a rising K rate, a quickly falling ISO and the SBs are all but gone. Don’t overpay for the name.
9. Jose Altuve, HOU-
Kevin: Good BA and SB, maybe decent R, but that’s it due to awful Houston lineup. Not a great investment for one year.
Peter: A 2B who steals more than 30 bases, scores runs and hits around 0.280.
10. Ben Zobrist, TB-
Jeff: It has been a steady decline for Zobrist, but he is still incredibly useful. His HR/FB should bounce back closer to 2011-12 levels of about 12%, which should get his HR total into the high teens. That said, I would bet the under on 11 stolen bases.
Jim: He’ll give you 70 runs and RBIs with a .270 average with enough power and speed to reach double digits in each.
11. Daniel Murphy, NYM-
Kevin: I’m not buying a full repeat, but no one really is, which might make him undervalued in your league.
Paul: A drop to 10/15 would cause a significant hit to his value from 2013s 13/23
12. Jed Lowrie, OAK-
Jeff: One fully healthy season does not erase Lowrie’s injury risk, but if he can stay healthy there is a chance for him to get to 20 HR. He was a bit unlucky with his ’13 HR/FB rate.
Tommy: Lowrie has a substantial injury history that seems a little flukey. The man can hit and whether or not he a the long term answer for the A’s, he can surely be a short term solution at either 2B or SS for your fantasy team.
13. Martin Prado, ARZ-
Jeff: A less prolific, but much cheaper (fantasy-wise) Matt Carpenter. The 17 stolen bases from ‘12 are looking more and more like a fluke; Prado was caught stealing more often than he was successful in ‘13.
Peter: Prado took a fantasy step back in 2013, as his steals dropped from 17 in 2012 to a mere 3 in 2013. Without those, his numbers are rather pedestrian (14 homers, 70 runs, 82 RBIs and a 0.282 average).
14. Chase Utley, PHI-
Peter: He was able to play in 131 games in 2013. Utley finished with 18 homers, 8 steals, 73 runs and 69 RBI. Sure, this was a far cry from 2009 but the 34-year old showed he had something left in the tank. A return to 20 homers is certainly possible, and if the Phillies allow him to run, he could get 15 steals, maybe a few more.
Tommy: Utley’s 2013 production surprised many, but there are too many risk factors to rely on him as your starting 2B in 2014. Draft him late and hope for the best, but don’t count on anything.
15. Neil Walker, PIT-
Jim: The upside boat has sailed, a .275 hitter with double digit power and 60 runs and RBIs is all you’re gonna get here.
Kevin: There’s a good chance for 20 HR and a decent BA and RBI total.
16. Anthony Rendon, WAS-
Jeff: His success depends on his ability to hit for a high average and he’s yet to prove he can do so in the majors.
Paul: Hard contact hitter has chance to fly up the ranks in 2014.
17. Jurickson Profar, TEX-
Jeff: A better real life ball player than fantasy player at this point.
Tommy: Profar is an elite talent likely to get everyday ABs in an elite line-up. Until he starts running though, he is unlikely to be much of a mixed league asset. Breakouts can happen anytime for a talent like this, but don’t reach too far.
18. Brad Miller, SEA-
Jim: Could produce solid numbers hitting in front of cano, but is a much better play at shortstop.
Paul: 13 games at 2B makes him a very sneaky 2B option.
19. Howie Kendrick, LAA-
Jim: Kendrick isn’t a sexy pick, but he gets the job done and contributes everywhere.
Kevin: The Angels lineup should be good this year, so he’s an okay option for third tier 2B.
20. Brian Dozier, MIN-
Jeff: I think 2013 will be his career year fantasy-wise.
Paul: Power and speed makes him a good late round grab.
21. Alexander Guerrero, LAD-
Paul: Mystery man has some power and some speed in a great line-up.
Peter: The Dodgers didn’t bring him in to sit. He could impact at 2B like Puig did in the OF.
22. Kolten Wong, STL-
Jim: If his average translates to the majors, he could be a late round steal with double digit power and speed. Sleeper Material.
Kevin: I’m not high on him as an individual player, but in that lineup he’s capable of netting enough R to go with a potentially decent BA and SB.
23. Dan Uggla, ATL-
Peter: Top power hitting 2B option, but lots of K’s.
Tommy: The BA has gotten so bad that there are now legitimate playing time concerns in Atlanta. The Adam Dunn of 2B still has power, but he is unlikely to help your team.
24. Omar Infante, KC-
Kevin: He’s not very amazing in anything but BA, but with full playing time he’s a good option for MI.
Tommy: Infante lacks upside and may be on your free agent list for much of the season. He makes a great replacement option if your regular starter gets dinged.
Check out the rest of our 2014 rankings.