We kicked off our big rankings week yesterday with the corner infield, first and third base. Now let’s turn our attention to the typically weaker overall infield spots for fantasy output, down the middle at second base and shortstop. Of course with the likes of Hanley Ramirez and Robinson Cano, there is no saying you can’t build your team around one of these stud hitters. You’ll earn a big position advantage over your league mates if you do.
1. Hanley Ramirez, SS, FLA – Han-Ram is the total fantasy package. He plays at a premium position, has power and speed, scores runs and hits for average. He’s the only player to possibly consider for the number one overall pick other than Albert Pujols.
2. Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY – Cano finally lived up to the hype that New York built for him. His breakthrough season in 2010 has put him in the top tier of fantasy second basemen. He is probably going to be available through the middle of the first round, but will get snapped up quickly after that. For a mid-to-late first round pick, you should get .320/27/97 from the keystone position for your troubles.
3. Jose Reyes, SS, NYM – Reyes will try to get back into the group of elite middle infielders after a less than Reyes-like prior two seasons. Reyes has pop in his bat and speed in his legs. Unfortunately, that speed might not be as good as it was a few years ago as Reyes missed considerable time in 2009 and 2010 with a variety of injuries, including a hamstring injury that never seemed to heal. Since this is a contract season expect big things as he auditions for other teams. Perhaps he’ll even play through nagging injuries.
4. Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX – Kinsler stumbled in 2010 as the injury bug bit two months out of his season, but this came as no surprise since he’s played more than 130 games only once in his five Major League seasons. He is always going to be a risk to miss time, but when healthy Kinsler is a fantasy stud.
5. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL – Tulowitzki is my most controversial ranking this season, and it isn’t that I don’t like the guy but based on his history he appears to be an ongoing injury risk. He’s only had one 600+ at-bat season in his career. If he can stay healthy, he could be ready for elite fantasy baseball status. A .289/22/83/9 season is realistic at about 500 AB but if he can go for 600, which are very long odds, he could hit about 26 bombs and drive in around 100. A player who can do that from the ultra-thin shortstop position is a real find. Just make sure you back him up with a solid player for when the first injury hits.
6. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS – Pedroia is good at a lot of things, but not great at any one particular area. If he can stay healthy this season, look for a .313/14/68/13 line with 106 runs scored in the potent Red Sox lineup.
7. Dan Uggla, 2B, ATL – Uggla will struggle with the glove but not with the bat for his new team. Uggla has put up five straight seasons of 27 or more homers. This year will be no different and he’ll add close to 100 ribbies to go with it. The batting average will hurt a little but you can live with that when this kind of power comes from a second baseman that you can draft in the fourth round.
8. Chase Utley, 2B, PHI – Utley was the elite second baseman in fantasy baseball, but ongoing injury concerns drop him down the ranks. He still hits for power and average and can steal bases. He is struggling with injuries for a second consecutive season and his bothersome knee is reason to let him be someone else’s headache this year. He’s not worth the high draft pick it will cost to acquire him, so stay away.
9. Jimmy Rollins, SS, PHI – Rollins is another speedy middle infielder trying to come back from an injury that derailed his 2010 season. He should make you proud with a .262/16/68/39 line, as he is playing for his next contract. You can probably get Rollins in the late third round or maybe early fourth as many have lost faith in his ability to play when dinged up.
10. Brandon Phillips, 2B, CIN – Phillips seems to be showing a little age, but a .276/17/79/14 season is a positive contribution for your fantasy squad. Don’t reach too high for him as there are others who can provide similar numbers available a few rounds later.
11. Derek Jeter, SS, NYY – For all the love Yankee fans give him and all the hate showered on him by the anti-Yankee fans, this guy just keeps on plugging along. He’s 37 this season, but should still provide you with .274/12/67/18 and 102 runs scored. If he finds the newest meddling Steinbrenner to be a motivating factor, a better season is quite possible. Unfortunately, his reputation will cost you a fourth round draft pick to acquire him.
12. Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL – Weeks finally had a breakthrough season and looks to improve upon it. He will put up similar stats this season, but probably not quite as good as last season because his BABIP is a little higher than it seems he can sustain. He’s being drafted in the third round, which is a round or two above his worth, so wait him out a bit.
13. Aaron Hill, 2B, TOR – Hill is yet another middle infielder coming off an injury plagued 2010 season. He put things together in the famed, “age 27 season” in 2009, and looks to return to that glory with something around .256/31/88. Due to his porous season last year, many have lost faith in Hill and he is being drafted in the twelfth round. Grab him a round or two early and enjoy that power.
14. Howie Kendrick, 2B, LAA – Kendrick is still looking for the long-awaited break out season. This is the famed “age 27 season” for him but this won’t be the year he puts it all together. He will put a nice batting average together with some ribbies, but the power may never be more than it is. Look for a .295/11/80/16 season for a guy who can be had in the early-to-mid teens in your draft.
15. Kelly Johnson, 2B, ARI – Johnson’s power broke through in 2010 with 26 taters. That was quite a season for a guy who never showed that kind of power before. Johnson is more like a .283/18/69/11 guy. Since he’s going in rounds eight to ten on average, he might not be worth that price.
16. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, CLE
17. Stephen Drew, SS, ARZ
18. Alexei Ramirez, SS, CWS
19. Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX
20. Brian Roberts, 2B, BAL
21. Rafael Furcal, SS, LAD
22. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B, MIN
23. Neil Walker, 2B, PIT
24. Chone Figgins, 2B/3B, SEA
25. Jhonny Peralta, 3B/SS DET
26. Gordon Beckham, 2B, CWS
27. Ian Desmond, SS, WAS
28. Ryan Theriot, 2B/SS, STL
29. Danny Espinosa, 2B, WAS
30. Omar Infante, 2B/3B, FLA
31. Orlando Hudson, 2B, SD
32. Starlin Castro, SS, CHC
33. Jason Bartlett, SS, SD