2/6/2014 10:00 A.M. ET
Cano leads way among fantasy second basemen
By Andrew Simon / MLB.com
Second base was involved in some big news this offseason, with Robinson Cano spurning the Yankees to sign with the Mariners and Ian Kinsler going from Texas to Detroit in the Prince Fielder trade. But despite the headlines, the keystone is a little light on elite fantasy talent, compared with its infield neighbors.
While Cano once again figures to come off the board very early in most drafts, the bulk of the second-base selection qualifies as more solid than spectacular. Still, there is plenty to like throughout the group, from Jose Altuve's speed, to Aaron Hill's power, to Jurickson Profar's breakout potential.
Here is a look at the best options at second base in standard fantasy leagues.
TIER 1: Cano
Cano could find Safeco Field to be less than inviting when compared to Yankee Stadium, but even if his new home puts a bit of a damper on his power numbers, the 31-year-old remains in a class by himself at the position. An owner who drafts Cano is getting a model of health and consistency, as he has played at least 159 games for seven straight years, hitting better than .300 in six of those and reaching 25 homers in five straight. Cano has never stolen many bases, but his contributions in the other four categories separate him from the rest of the pack.
TIER 2: Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis
Despite leading the league in plate appearances last season, Pedroia's nine home runs were his lowest total since his rookie year, and his .415 slugging percentage was a career low. But MLB.com's projections see Pedroia's power numbers bouncing back, to go along with his usual production in average, runs and steals. Meanwhile, Kipnis will be looking to build on a breakout 2013 as he enters his age-27 season. Possessing a rare combination of 20-homer power and 30-steal speed, Kipnis raised his OPS more than 100 points over 2012, and the best could be yet to come.
TIER 3: Matt Carpenter, Kinsler, Hill, Altuve
Carpenter no longer qualifies as a sleeper pick after leading the league in runs, hits and doubles last year, batting .318 along the way. Enjoy the second-base eligibility this year, however, as Carpenter is slated to move back to third with rookie Kolten Wong coming up. Kinsler was a 30-30 man as recently as 2011, but he hit only 13 homers and stole 15 bases in 26 attempts last year. Leaving Rangers Ballpark for Comerica Park doesn't figure to help him rebound.
If healthy, Hill is a good source of power (26 homers in 2012), but injuries limited him to 87 games and 11 roundtrippers last year, potentially making him a bargain play. The diminutive Altuve won't hit many over the fence, but he offers 40-steal upside. An improved Astros offense would provide a boost for a player who scored only 64 runs in 152 games last year.
TIER 4: Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist, Profar, Howie Kendrick, Brandon Phillips, Martin Prado
This tier offers a selection of solid across-the-board contributors, with one high-upside wildcard. That's Profar, who figures to have an everyday job for the Rangers at age 21. The former top prospect out of Curacao hit only .234 in the big leagues last year, but he possesses the tools to be a five-category fantasy contributor.
The rest are established veterans who, while short on exciting numbers, won't hurt you anywhere. Fantasy owners in standard leagues don't have to worry about Murphy's on-base percentage or defense and can enjoy his strengths, which last year included a career-high 23 stolen bases. Kendrick doesn't stand out in any category, but he has consistently produced solid numbers in each, though his streak of five straight years with double-digit steals came to an end in 2013. Prado recovered in the second half of his first season in Arizona, contributing in every category except steals. Since 2009, he's a .291 hitter who has averaged 13 homers per year.
Zobrist and Phillips both showed signs of decline last year, which is concerning for players entering their age-33 seasons. The versatile Zobrist saw his power fall off significantly, while his steals dropped for a third straight year. Phillips drew praise for his 103 RBIs, but his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all dove, something that doesn't bode well for the future.