Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy sleepers at second base

FOX Sports Fantasy Department
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Each FOXSports.com fantasy contributor shared three-to-five fantasy baseball sleepers to keep an eye on heading into owners' fantasy baseball drafts.  Over the next two months, expect several updates to our positional fantasy baseball second base rankings.

2013 Fantasy Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

Beall


Howie Kendrick, Angels – Heading into last April, Albert Pujols’ arrival in Anaheim positioned Kendrick up the second basemen ranks, with the theory that the presence of the three-time MVP would correlate to amplified run production. This principle didn’t come to fruition, as the emergence of Mike Trout slid Kendrick from the two-hole to the bottom of the lineup. A stumble out of the gate didn’t help matters either, flashing a shabby .251/.280/.367 through his first 53 games. Yet the rest of the way home, Kendrick showcased the hitting tools that made him such a prominent selection, hitting .308 in the final 94 games of his campaign.

Hoping for Kendrick to duplicate his feat of 18 long balls in 2010 is wishful thinking, but the Angels second baseman is a top-10 talent at his position that can be had in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.

Daniel Murphy, Mets – Absolutely no power production here, but you’re getting a solid and steady, if not spectacular, player in Murphy. His .302 batting mark the past two seasons makes Murphy a viable shot in the arm for teams searching for help in the average column. His hike in strikeouts is somewhat troubling giving the lack of homers, though his career 22.6 line-drive percentage is too enticing to pass up. Though he’s more suited for a bench role than a starter, in daily leagues, Murphy is the type of glue guy whose consistent output can be the difference at the end of the season.

Jeff Keppinger, White Sox – The journeyman infielder had a career year in Tampa and parlayed that success into a long-term deal on the South Side of Chicago. While that’s normally enough info to shy away from a soon-to-be 33-year-old, don’t envision the raking to diminish for Keppinger, who should flourish in the hitter-friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field. Reaching double-digits in the four-bagger category probably won’t befall, yet a figure on the positive side of a .300 batting average with 60 runs and 60 RBI should be expected. Given this forecast is similar to second basemen ranked near the top 10, Keppinger, who will go unselected in many a draft, is a bargain.

Harmon


Chris Nelson, COL - Nelson, a former first-round pick, finally broke through in a big way for the Rockies in 2012. He logged 33 extra-base hits with 53 RBI and a strong .301 batting average last season. The looming concern about Nelson is his contact rate. He struck out 84 times in 345 at-bats last year (one per four at-bats). Still, while Colorado doesn’t have the same home field advantage of years past, Nelson certainly acclimated well to the home park. He batted .347 at home, a full 90 points higher than his road mark.

As an added bonus, Nelson boasts both second base and third base eligibility for 2013.

Scott Sizemore, OAK - Sizemore missed the 2012 season because of a torn ACL. As a result, he’ll slip off the radar, though he’s likely to claim either the starting second base or third base role in Oakland. In 2011, Sizemore produced fantastic numbers as a member of the A’s after coming over from the Tigers. He batted only .249, but yielded 33 extra-base hits (11 home runs) with 52 RBI in 93 games.

Steve Lombardozzi, WAS - Lombardozzi isn’t going to be the everyday second baseman in Washington immediately, but there are lingering concerns about platoon-mate Danny Espinosa’s inability to hit left-handers. Lombardozzi batted .273 in 126 games last season, producing 22 extra-base hits with 27 RBI and five stolen bases.

The 24-year-old switch-hitter demonstrated great speed in his minor league career. Lombardozzi stole at least 20 bases in three consecutive minor league seasons before joining the Nationals in 2012. Lombardozzi also demonstrated great gap power in the minor leagues and has always carried a strong contact rate.

Dustin Ackley, SEA - Fantasy owners clamored to select Ackley early in 2012 drafts following his strong introduction to Seattle. Unfortunately, he produced only a .226 batting average with a sub-.300 OBP. Armed with a new hitting coach and a re-tooling of the lineup, Ackley’s vying for “post-hype sleeper” status this year. Despite his weak batting average, Ackley did generate solid numbers in three other standard categories. He hit 12 home runs, scored 84 runs and stole 13 bases for Seattle last year.

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Fowler


Chris Nelson, Rockies -

The fantasy tidbits Nelson has going for him:

1) Plays half the season at Coors Field
2) Has position eligibility at 2B/3B
3) Hit righties and lefties well last year (.299 L / .307 R)
4) The ability to hit between .285-.300 on a consistent basis

The fantasy tidbits Nelson has going against him:

1) Plays half the season away from Coors Field
2) Does not possess great power
3) Will not post great power numbers
4) Tentatively slated for the 9-hole in the Rockies’ lineup

Daniel Murphy, Mets - When dealing with fantasy baseball second basemen, the phrase “you could do a lot worse than {name}” is tossed around often after the first few players come off the board. Daniel Murphy finds his name inside the brackets heading into 2013. The Mets’ second baseman hit .291 with six home runs, 62 runs, 65 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 156 games last season.

Chase Utley, Phillies - If you are the gambling type, why not wait and take a shot on the 34-year-old Utley? After missing 185 games over the last three seasons (62 games / season), the Phillies second baseman has reportedly looked healthy during offseason conditioning drills and the hope is he can be an everyday player in 2013. While, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, Bill James has projected Utley a .274 / .372 / .463 with 19 home runs in 122 games this season. The projections are far from stable, but the gambling fantasy owner would be happy with .265 / .355 / .453 with 14 home runs compared to the remaining bottom-tier options.

Meyer


Jose Altuve, Astros - Sorry Houston fans, but this is the only player on the roster I’m willing to draft (admittingly, it will be tough to pass on Jed Lowrie). Fantasy baseball is all about balance and finding the right combination of players to take categories. For 2B, look at runs, stolen bases, and batting average. Altuve finished 1st in SBs (33), 5th in AVG (.290), and 12th in runs (blame that on his team).

Jose is entering his third year in the pros and first year in the American League. His stats will only get better with the aid of a DH in the lineup.

Marco Scutaro, Giants - I’m not quite sure what happened to Scutaro after joining San Francisco and I’m not asking. Until a PED test proves positive, I’m finding a way to get him on my roster. In only 61 games with the Giants he hit 41 RBI and batted an astounding .362 AVG.

The post-All-Star game production by Scutaro helped boost his stats to a career-high level driving in 74 RBI, 20 more than 2011. Last year was also the first time he hit above .300 (.306) and nearly .100 higher after leaving Colorado.

Omar Infante, Tigers - Infante to Detroit…take three…action! His stats won’t jump off the page (12 HR, 53 RBI, 17 SB, and .274 AVG in 2012), but if you spend higher picks on other positions Infante can be a great filler and gets the job done at 2B.

I tend to shy away from players who bat last in the order (obviously, just a projection right now), but if you miss the run of second basemen in the draft don’t force a pick just to fill a roster spot. Instead, stash Infante on the back burner and wait until other options are fulfilled. It’s highly unlikely fantasy teams will draft two 2B.

Dustin Ackley, Mariners - While Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik is catching a lot of flak for trading John Jaso away in order to acquire Mike Morse, you can’t blame the guy for wanting to boost the AL-worst 619 runs (3.8 per game)his team scored last season. Jesus Montero will now catch full-time and new signees Kendrys Morales and Jason Bay will rotate at DH. Ackley should benefit from all of these roster moves.

Dustin recently had surgery to repair left knee issues that seemed to affect his 2012 season. As the leadoff hitter, Ackley had the fifth-most at-bats (607) with his injury compared to other 2B. He’ll get the chances; it’s a matter of what he’ll do with them in 2013. I’d take a flier on him.

Jemile Weeks/Scott Sizemore, Athletics - So, I’m clearly cheating by selecting two guys battling for the 2B spot in Oakland. These write-ups take place well before a decision will be made. I like either player as a potential sleeper in 2013.

If Sizemore wins the job, his strengths will be HR and RBI. He’s recovering from a torn ACL that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season. In his 93 games with Oakland in 2011, Scott hit .249 with 11 HRs and 52 RBI. Also, he finished second on the team in OPS (.778).

If Weeks gets the nod, his biggest strength will be SB. His 2012 turned out to be a sophomore slump. His average dipped from .303 to .221, RBI fell from 36 to 20, and his stolen bases slipped from 22 to 16, all of this happened with 21 more games played, too. There’s potential for Jemile to bounce back and I like his wheels for Team Moneyball.

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Halpin


Chase Utley, Phillies – Utley is on the SLEEPER list? Absolutely, since he’s going as the 13th second baseman in early Mock Draft Central drafts, with an ADP of 188. Utley’s health is certainly a risk, but after missing most of the first half of 2012, he hit 11 homers and stole 11 bases in 83 games. I’d have no problems taking a mid-round chance on a potential top-six fantasy second baseman. If things don’t work out on the injury front, you can replace him with one of the guys listed below.

Daniel Murphy, Mets – Nothing Murphy does will blow you away, but when you’re looking for late-round value at this wasteland of a fantasy position, try the guy with the .292 career batting average instead of reaching for five extra stolen bases that come with all sorts of BA danger. I’m looking at you, Cliff Pennington.

Johnny Giavotella, Royals – Hey, did you know that Giavotella’s aunt runs Gio’s Pizza and Spaghetti House in suburban New Orleans? Mmm … pizza. Anyway, Giavotella will need to compete with Chris Getz for the Royals’ keystone job, but he’s a better hitter, with minor-league numbers that suggest a 10-homer, 10-steal kind of guy. That’s not bad for an endgame option, and his gritty, scrappy, Brett Gardner-ness will make him fun for you to watch.

Jedd Gyorko, Padres – The Padres want Gyorko to win their second-base job. He hit 30 homers between Double A and Triple A last season, so fantasy owners should want him to win it as well. Gyorko batted .309 in 2012, so batting average doesn’t appear to be a worry, and the moving in of the outfield fences at PETCO Park can only help. Gyorko might qualify only at third base in some leagues, but FOXSports.com will have him at the keystone from the get-go.

Jurickson Profar, Rangers and Kolten Wong, Cardinals – Neither of these guys is expected to start the season in the majors, but you should keep them on your radar. Profar is regarded by many as baseball’s best prospect, but he’s currently blocked by Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus in the Rangers’ middle infield. Whenever he comes up – perhaps when Lance Berkman’s knee starts to bark – speed/power fantasy stardom probably won’t be far away.

Wong has a much lower ceiling than Profar, but his main obstacle to playing time (Daniel Descalso) is less daunting. He’s a little guy with a good BA – Dustin Pedroia is a widely-mentioned comp – who could be in St. Louis pretty soon.

2013 Fantasy Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

Tagged: Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, Tigers, Royals, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers, Blue Jays, Braves, Cubs, Reds, Astros, Dodgers, Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Cardinals, Padres, Giants, Rockies, Rays, Marco Scutaro, Omar Infante, Chase Utley, Jose Reyes, Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Jeff Keppinger, Ian Kinsler, Justin Verlander, Dustin Pedroia, Howie Kendrick, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw, Daniel Murphy, Chris Getz, Scott Sizemore, Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, John Jaso, Buster Posey, Chris Nelson, Daniel Descalso

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