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The first month of the 2013 fantasy baseball season is almost in the books, and we've gotten a good look at which players are off to hot starts and which guys are struggling in the early going. RotoBaller will be updating our original preseason rankings over the next week. Today, we're revisiting the second base rankings we initially published in February. Second base has been an intriguing position in the early going of the 2013 season. We've seen an aging veteran regain his form, another couple of veterans struggle mightily, a superstar carry his team and a lot of good players maintain their value. All the ranks below are compared to the FantasyPros ECR (Expert Consensus Rank), which will show you where RotoBaller differs with the expert community and by how much. Check out our tier-by-tier analysis below the rankings, and let us know where you agree or disagree with us!
(The previous month's rank are listed in parentheses in the "notes" column")
TIER 1: Cano is just an absolute beast. Any concerns that he'd suffer without the likes of Tex, Grandy or Jeter have been put to rest. He’s single-handedly carrying the Yankees now, and leading all 2Bs in HR, with a .300+ BA, to boot.
TIER 2: The surprise here is Chase Utley who is playing like the 2007 version of himself. He’s on pace for 25 HR, 110 RBI and 25 SB. It’s likely he slows down somewhat, but he’s raking, running, and showing himself to be injury-free and a legitimate upper-echelon 2B. Brandon Phillips remains the very picture of fantasy consistency and the 20+ RBI are a nice unexpected plus. The only downside so far is that he has yet to steal a base. Jose Altuve makes a jump into Tier 2 by proving that last year was no fluke. Altuve has a ridiculous 27% LD rate and is not swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Don’t worry about the steals yet-- Altuve has two and more should come. 35 SB is still very much within in reach.
Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia are playing up to their draft value. Pedroia has yet to go deep but has rewarded owners with 6 SB to date.
TIER 3: Daniel Murphy jumps into the third tier based on his ability to combine a plus average with RBI production. His power has jumped up this year and he should be able to double his 6 HR output in 2012. Aaron Hill falls into tier three only because he is injured. Before his injury he was playing like a top 2B. When he returns he should regain his spot as a top producer. Howie Kendrick is putting together a solid year and showing promise that he can yield stats at the high end of his range. He’s teased fantasy owners long enough and it’s about time he rewards owners with fair value.
Martin Prado is off to a slow start but year is young and the sample size is small. His .207 BABIP is holding him back and that should return to the career norm around .300
TIER 4: The later tiers are for plug-in players who should return solid if unspectacular value. Kelly Johnson has avoided the dreaded platoon reputation and is getting consistent ABs in Tampa. His average will always be an eyesore but his power, RBI and speed should be enough to satisfy. Rickie Weeks continues to test your patience, and it is patience you will need. He’s just a streaky player – take a look at his production jump from his first half to second half in 2012, when he raised his average by more than 60 points. You may choose to sit him in a weekly league format but it’s premature to drop him. Someone else will scoop him up if you do.
TIER 5: These guys are the last couple of players on your roster whom you are contemplating dropping but have no real solid alternatives. All the Tier 5 guys are likely to end up on waivers at some point this year and may just be rosterable because they are riding a hot streak, a la Mark Ellis or because you used a high-end pick, a la Jason Kipnis. Of all the tier 5 guys, Kipnis is the most surprising and the most concerning. He played with an injury in the second half and Rotoballer was wary about whether he was completely healed. His strikeout rate has jumped by more than 50%, and he’s not walking either. Too early to completely cut him, but come May, you’ll want to think about making a decision. Dan Uggla still has some power but he's been way too bad for more than a year now and he's borderline waiver material.
And on that note, some good fantasy advice on roster transactions: don't fret about what a player does after you've made a decision to cut bait and move on. You cannot change the past. All you can do is make sound decisions on the information you have now, and if you do that, you'll be right more often than not.