Chase Utley (Phillies) led the MLB in home runs at one point last season, and knocked out 25 before the All-Star break. That's insane for a second baseman. Unfortunately, his monstrous season was cut short due to a hip injury. In his past four seasons, Utley has batted at least .290, while hitting 20+ homers and driving in 100+ RBI. No point in stopping now, right? Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox) broke out last year, posting 213 hits and scoring 118 runs. He also comes with power and speed, hitting 17 home runs and 83 RBIs with 20 stolen bags. Expect big things this year from the 5' 6” Pedroia. Ian Kinsler (Rangers) had his career season in 2008, hitting .319, stealing 26 bases, and contributing his first 100+ run season. He displayed power, as well, knocking out 18 and driving in 81 runs. Being only 26 years old, he has a bright future ahead of him.
Second base is definitely an underrated position. There are usually quite a few players available in the mid-to-late rounds in many drafts. Brian Roberts (Orioles) is almost guaranteed to steal 30+ bases, post around a .290 average, and give you at least 100 runs. Dan Uggla (Marlins) is arguably the biggest power threat for second basemen. Mark DeRosa (Indians) is coming off of a great season, and he is usually available for multiple positions like 2B, 3B, and OF. Jose Lopez (Mariners) is another very underrated fantasy player, and is a great top ten grab in any league. Kelly Johnson (Braves), Howie Kendrick (Angels), and Felipe Lopez (Diamondbacks) are some other second basemen usually being picked late that will sufficiently help your team.
> Need a new Cubs hat? Check out the selection at DFN Sports!
Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), Alexei Ramirez (White Sox), and Jose Lopez (Mariners).
Pedroia (Red Sox) is an obvious riser at the age of 25. In 2007, he won the the A.L. Rookie of the Year, and last year he won the A.L. MVP award along with a Gold Glove at second base. I don't know about you, but to me this is a HUGE leap. There shouldn't be much downside with Pedroia; he should accumulate numbers comparable to last year. (.326 avg., 17 HR, 83 RBI, 209 runs, 20 stolen bases)
Alexei Ramirez (White Sox), who's 27 years old, displayed both contact/average and pop in his rookie campaign in '08. He batted .290 with 21 bombs, 77 RBIs, and 13 SBs , which are all above- average stats for a second baseman. His name wasn't thrown around too much last year, so expect Alexei available in the later rounds of your drafts.
Jose Lopez (Mariners) could be one of the most underrated fantasy players. Look at his change of numbers from 2007 to 2008. (2007: .252, 11 HR, 62 RBI, 58 runs.) (2008: .297, 17 HR, 89 RBI, 80 runs.) That is a monstrous jump in every necessary category. Lopez plays on the Mariners, a team who hasn't had much hype in the past couple years. That's a big reason why he flies under the radar. Just keep these stats in mind when drafting your second baseman, as Mr. Lopez just may be available in later rounds.
Orlando Hudson (Dodgers), Aaron Hill (Blue Jays), and Robinson Cano (Yankees)
Orlando Hudson (Dodgers) was a no-doubt top 15 second baseman from. He has declined in speed and has been prone to injury, having his last two seasons ended short. He will keep an average around .290, which is fortunate, but he won't bring much power, nor speed. He can't seem to stay healthy, but being on a new team in L.A., maybe he could have some upside, if he doesn't get hurt, that is.
Aaron Hill (Blue Jays) lost out the last half of the season last year due to a concussion. In 2007, he batted .297 and hit 17 bombs, while driving in 78. However, he struck out over 100 times. In 55 games last year (205 Abs), Hill hit .263 with 2 homers and 20 RBI. He also doesn't bring speed, only averaging 5 steals a season. Not what we expected coming out of 2007.
Robinson Cano (Yankees) was stellar in his first three seasons with the Yanks', especially in 2007. However, Cano just wasn't himself last year. His numbers dropped from .306 to .271, 19 to 14 home runs, 97 to 72 RBI's, and 93 to 70 runs. He fell last year, and although many experts disagree, I don't see much upside in 2009 for Cano.
Kazuo Matsui (Astros) is vital for two sure things for your team: A) stealing at least 20 bases, and B) posting an average above .290. He is also capable of 70 runs, now that he has a starting job with Houston. Not much power, but he can compensate with speed and average. He is available in most leagues as a free agent, with only a 62.5% own rate.
Mike Fontenot (Cubs) is a huge sleeper. He's capable of an average around .300 and around 10 homers a year. He's not capable of much power, but he will bring you average and runs. He is only owned by an average of 4.3% of fantasy owners, so he will definitely be available in late, LATE rounds. His only downside is fighting for the starting role with Aaron Miles. If he wins it over, he can really be that guy to grab around the 16 th or 17 th round to lock you a better pick earlier in your draft.
By: Tony Falcioni
MLBcenter.com Fantasy Correspondent Brian Chmielewski, Director of Fantasy Content, contributed to this article.