3 Second Base Sleepers for Fantasy Baseball Drafts
I have been tasked with deciphering which second basemen currently being drafted outside of the top 10 rounds (ADP over 120) will deliver the statistics needed to help you win your fantasy league this year. Second base is a dicey position in fantasy year-in and year-out, as it is generally a top-heavy position, and if you miss out on the big boys (Robinson Cano, Jason Kipnis, Dustin Pedroia), it can be very tempting to reach for someone out of fear that the well will run dry as the draft unfolds. Fear not, my friends, for although "reaching" for a guy like Matt Carpenter might not be that bad a move, there is still plenty of value left at the position after Round 10.
The first player I would endorse is Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets. He stole 23 bases last season, smashing his previous career high, and was only caught three times. He also set a career best in home runs, more than doubling his previous two seasons with 13. Entering his 29-year-old season, which many would call a prime year, he is also coming off a career-year in the RBI department (78). His batting average slipped a little in 2013, but expect around a .285 average from Murphy, with a floor of .270. His one weakness is that he does not draw many walks, but in most fantasy formats walks don't equate. In a standard league, then, Murphy will not be a cancer in any category, with one notable weakness being his lack of 20-homer potential. If he can get to 15 home runs, and match or exceed his 2013 stolen base total, Murphy will be a steal in Round 11 or 12.
Another player that holds some value at second base after Round 10 is Chase Utley. Utley was a former MVP candidate who is still showing that he has something left in the tank when healthy. He will be 35 in 2014, and injuries have really hampered him the last four seasons, but last year he played 131 games, the most he has played since 2009 when he finished eighth in the NL MVP balloting. Utley had a hip labrum injury cleaned up a couple of years ago, and if he can avoid any freak injuries to his legs, he should have enough to give the Phillies one or two more years of .285, 20 HR, 85 RBI and 10 SB-- with those projections, he would give you great value on a 13th-round pick, which is where his ADP currently sits.
The last player I think will be a great value after the 10th round at second base is Bradley Miller. He will be manning the shortstop position for the Seattle Mariners in 2014, but has 2B eligibility in most formats. Miller is raking this spring, currently batting over .400 with three HR and one SB. After a defensively sloppy rookie campaign in 2013, Miller has dedicated himself this to improving his timing when addressing ground balls. He is doing so with the help of former big-league utility man Chris Woodward. If Miller can keep his defense up to par, he will have a stranglehold on a starting spot in the Mariners lineup, and he possesses enough power and speed to be relevant in any fantasy format. Miller is the biggest "reach" among the three players I've profiled here, but if he improves on his understanding of how pitchers are trying to get him out, he could very easily hit .275 with 15 HR and 15 SB. His ceiling is much higher than that, but that is a safe prediction. He will neither score nor drive in a ton of runs, but he should do enough in the other categories to bring you solid value in the 17th round. He plays in a small market, so if you didn't get a chance to see him play after his June 28th debut, take a peak below.
He gets there early and takes a solid hand-path to the ball. When he's on, he takes the timing advantage away from the pitcher, and forces hurlers to beat him with pure stuff. Solid speed and body control add another dynamic dimension to this package, so Miller has the potential to become a player in Seattle. You could do much, much worse this late in the draft.
Other 2B Sleepers for 2014
Anthony Rendon, Jurickson Profar, Kolten Wong and Brian Roberts are also worth mentioning. Rendon was a highly touted hitter coming out of college, and has a firm job; he could hit for a high average. Profar was baseball's #1 prospect heading into 2013, but he flopped at the plate for the Rangers; still, her's extremely young and will break out eventually. I think he is more of a 2015 player for myself, but you could do worse on someone you choose to take a flier on. Wong has hit at every level in the Cardinals organization, but did not hit very well with the big club in 2013. He is having a solid spring, and it seems everyone the Cardinals bring up hits over .300, so don't be shocked if he is the next one. Brian Roberts will be the everyday second baseman for the Yankees, and with the short porch, he should be a threat to approach 15/15. He has not been healthy in years, but stranger things have happened.