Fantasy Baseball 2015: Second Base Rankings & Projections

Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners

Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners (Getty)

With Major League Baseball’s Opening Day [April 6th] less than two weeks from now, that means fantasy baseball is right around the corner too and has it covered.

Heavy ranks and projects the top players at each position including their 2014 statistics as well as a player preview for the upcoming 2015 season. The follow list is Heavy’s projected top 20 second basemen for the 2015 season.

The stats included for reach player listed are: Games, Batting Average, On Base %, Slugging %, OPS (OB + SLG), Home Runs, Runs Batted In.

1. Robinson Cano

2014 Stats: 155 G; .314/.382/.454; .836; 14 HR; 82 RBI

2015 Outlook: After essentially matching his slash line in his final season in pinstripes in his 1st full season at the more pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, Cano established himself as the runaway best 2B in all of baseball. His power numbers will never be what they once were because of not playing in Yankee Stadium, but he’s the only elite second baseman that exists.

He hasn’t played less than 157 games in any season in his major league career. Glass half-full: he’s incredibly durable and worth a top 10 fantasy pick. Glass half-empty: he’s due to get hurt at some point. That shouldn’t be enough to scare you away from drafting the six-time All-star with a high pick.

2015 Projections: 156 G; .320/.390/.450; .840; 17 HR; 92 RBI

2. Jose Altuve

2014 Stats: 158 G; .341/.377/.453; 830; 7 HR; 59 RBI

2015 Outlook: Altuve was the 5-foot-6, 175 lb. soaking wet anomaly who was never supposed to have this much success as an everyday major league player. He won the 2014 batting title, hitting .341.

Altuve’s explosion was either a sign of things to come or a really good outlier in what should be a good career. It’s probably somewhere in between. The Astros are on the rise, and will be better than people think. He may not hit .341 again, but it seems like he can be a consistent .300 hitter.

2015 Projections: 160 G; .320/.350/.425; .775; 6 HR; 65 RBI

3. Jason Kipnis

2014 Stats: 129 G; .240/.310/.330; .640; 6 HR; 41 RBI

2015 Outlook: Kipnis turns 28 just before the season starts. Whether it was his oblique, his finger, his back…

The last year has not been kind to Kipnis. The injuries hindered his ability to get going at all in 2014.

A healthy Kipnis is vital to Cleveland’s success – they were a playoff team in 2013. Kipnis will continue to sit to make sure he’s fully healthy by Opening Day so he won’t suffer a slow, interfered start again.

2015 Projections: 154 G; .270//340/.380; .720; 12 HR; 80 RBI

4. Anthony Rendon

Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals (Getty)

Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals (Getty)

2014 Stats: 153 G; .287/.351/.473; .824; 21 HR; 83 RBI

2015 Outlook: The most incredible Anthony Rendon stat that you don’t know about is: he finished 5 in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2014. He played 98 games in 2013, and improved his numbers all across the board from 2013 to 2014.

Rendon is elite defensively as well, and his 6.5 Wins Above Replacement was 4th among all NL players in 2014. Don’t hesitate to grab a high pick on him; he’s a complete and mature player.

2015 Projections: 162 G; .285/.385/.470; .855; 25 HR; 92 RBI

5. Dustin Pedroia

2014 Stats: 135 G; .278/.337/.376; .712;   7 HR; 53 RBI

2015 Outlook: The diminutive second baseman existed before Altuve did it. Pedroia’s numbers have seriously fallen off a cliff in his last two seasons, but he has still maintained that elite level of defensive play, winning two Gold Gloves in that span.

He only played 135 games last season, so if he’s healthy over a full season, expect closer to the 15 home runs and .290 that he’s accustomed to. He’s worth where he’ll be drafted in the middle rounds, but take a second baseman not too soon after him to have an adequate back-up plan.

2015 Projections: 154 G; .285/.340/.335; .675; 14 HR; 78 RBI

6. Ian Kinsler

2014 Stats: 160 G; .275/.307/.420; .727; 17 HR; 92 RBI

2015 Outlook: Kinsler played 160 games in a better lineup in 2014. The result was a career-high 92 RBIs that wasn’t a fluke. Kinsler’s Rangers were loaded top to bottom, but as good as Josh Hamilton was from 2009-11, he was never as good as peak Miguel Cabrera despite his down season.

Kinsler benefits from playing in Detroit. Although his OPS dropped 61 points, he drove in 15 more runs. The production opportunities outweigh the fact that he’s on the wrong side of 30 and slightly on the downside.

2015 Projections: 150 G; .255/.310/.375; .685; 14 HR; 80 RBI

7. Brian Dozier

2014 Stats: 156 G; .242/.345/.416; .762; 23 HR; 71 RBI

2015 Outlook: Dozier’s 2013/2014 splits weren’t too different from each other. The noticeable difference was the five home run spike from 18 to 23 from 2013 to 2014.

Dozier turns 28 during the regular season, so there’s a real chance that his mild breakout last season was real, but in order to be a more valuable fantasy asset and stay ahead of the three players immediately behind him on this list, his average is going to have to jump 20-30 points to compensate for his, presumably, decline in power coming this season.

2015 Projections: 158 G; .240/.325/.350; .675; 15 HR; 65 RBI

8. Neil Walker

Neil Walker of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Getty)

Neil Walker of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Getty)

2014 Stats: 137 G; .271/.342/.467; .809; 23 HR; 76 RBI

2015 Outlook: After Walker’s averaged dipped to .251 in 2013, he rebounded to hit .271 in 2014 – essentially his career-average mark of .273. He also added a career-high 23 HRs and 76 RBIs. He presents a safe player and perfect middle-round value for owners who don’t want to over-draft and reach or hope for production at 2B.

With Russell Martin gone, Walker and teammate Pedro Alvarez are going to be looked at to protect 2013 MVP Andrew McCutchen in the lineup. If Walker can stay healthy – the 25 games he missed in 2014 were due to a fluke appendectomy – and play close to 160 games, not only will he perform better than this ranking, but he will make his 1st All-Star team.

2015 Projections: 152 G; .255/.350/.480; .720; 25 HR; 88 RBI

9. Howie Kendrick

2014 Stats: 157 G; .293/.347/.397; .744; 7 HR; 75 RBI

2015 Outlook: Kendrick has arguably been the best “good player on a good team that has slightly come short of expectations” for a few seasons now. He hasn’t come close to matching his breakout 2011 campaign that saw him hit a career-high 18 home runs and make his lone All-Star team.

Kendrick was traded to the Dodgers in the offseason. He won’t replace Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon’s production for the other LA team, but he’s going to be put in a tremendous position to succeed. The Dodgers hired Andrew Friedman, former Tampa Bay Rays general manager, and Friedman is a big believer in small-ball players for winning teams. Kendrick epitomizes the type of style that Friedman is trying to blend in to the Dodgers already established big-market/spending style.

Kendrick is a slap-hitter who will score a bunch of runs in Dodger blue in 2015.

2015 Projections: 160 G; .270/.350/.370; .720; 8 HR; 60 RBI

10. Dee Gordon

2014 Stats: 148 G; .289/.326/.378; .704; 2 HR; 34 RBI; 64 SB *ML leader*

2015 Outlook: Gordon is the Billy Hamilton of 2B. His value is in one asset: his stealing ability. He has 335 career hits and 130 career steals. Gordon will essentially attempt to steal one in every three times he is on base – once every two games.

He led the majors in steals in 2014 with 64. He’ll have the green light to steal at the same rate in Miami.

2015 Projections: 150 G; .275/.330/.360; .690; 3 HR; 30 RBI; *55 SB*

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11. Daniel Murphy

2014 Stats: 143 G; .289/.332/.403; .734; 9 HR; 57 RBI

2015 Outlook: Murphy, when healthy, is one-dimensional – but it’s a borderline elite dimension. He hits .290 and averages 173 hits per season. He doesn’t do anything else, and he isn’t a sexy name, but his 2014 All-Star appearance was well deserved, although it will, most likely, be his only trip of his career.

If he’s healthy, he’ll have 175 hits and 125 singles.

2015 Projections: 155 G; .280/.340/.425; .765; 12 HR; 65 RBI

12. Kolten Wong

2014 Stats: 113 G; .249/.292/.388; .680; 12 HR; 42 RBI

2015 Outlook: Wong was yo-yoed by St. Louis in 2014. He started with the big club then he stunk with a .544 OPS and was sent down. He was later recalled, but put on the Disabled List in June with a shoulder injury. He got better as the season went on, peaking with this game-winning home run in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series:

Wong will be better from the get-go this season. If he has a better start, his average should spike 20-30 points, making him a more valuable fantasy commodity.

2015 Projections: 145 G; .265/.320/.390; .710; 15 HR; 60 RBI

13. Martin Prado

2014 Stats: 143 G; .282/.321/.412;.733; 12 HR; 58 RBI (Total of Arizona and New York)

2015 Outlook: Prado was traded mid-season to the Yankees in 2014 and hit seven home runs, giving him the nickname “The Prado [pride] of the Yankees” by Yankees radio play-by-play broadcaster John Sterling.

Prado was then traded to the Marlins along with starting pitcher David Phelps in December 2014. Prado basically plays everywhere, but 2B the most. The NL East is noticeably weaker with the decline of Atlanta and Philadelphia and Prado’s best seasons came in Atlanta. He’ll be a prime candidate to bounce back and hit close to 15 home runs in 2015.

2015 Projections: 145 G; .275/.310/.385; .695; 14 HR; 58 RBI

14. Ben Zobrist

2014 Stats: 146 G; .272/.354/.395; .749; 10 HR; 52 RBI

2015 Outlook: In: Ben Zobrist and Billy Butler. Out: Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson. Nobody knows what to expect in Oakland this season, but Zobrist has some big shoes to fill, regardless.

The bad news is: Zobrist hasn’t been a difference-making fantasy player in two seasons. He’s drafted high because of his multiple-position eligibility. He’ll get the plate-appearances to sink or swim in 2015.

2015 Projections: 142 G; 250/.330/.350; .680; 12 HR; 50 RBI

15. Chase Utley

2014 Stats: 155 G; .270/.339/.407; .746; 11 HR; 78 RBI

2015 Outlook: Utley is the Frank Gore of Fantasy Baseball – kind o, minus the whole missing time thing. He’s been injured and his 155 games he played in were the most he’s played in since 2009. You think he’s going to fall off of the cliff and then he doesn’t. Utley has had a remarkably consistent career and is a borderline Hall of Famer – it’s true.

The Philles, though, are terribly awful. Their best player, Cole Hamels, will most likely be traded before July 31st. With Jimmy Rollins in LA, Utley is the longest-tenured Phillies positional player, and it seems like he’s the captain going down with his sinking ship.

2015 Projections: 142 G; .265/.310/.375; .685; 9 HR; 56 RBI

16. Javier Baez

2014 Stats: 52 G; .169/.227/.324; .551; 9 HR; 20 RBI

2015 Outlook: The 22-year-old and former 9th overall selection in the 2011 MLB Entry Draft layed only 52 games as a rookie in 2015. He struggled hitting just .169, but is expected to be a contributor for Chicago in 2015.

2015 Projections: 138 G; .230/.290/.365; .655; 18 HR; 56 RBI

17. Asdrubal Cabrera

2014 Stats: 146 G; .241/.307/.387; .694; 14 HR; 61 RBI

2015 Outlook: Cabrera came out of nowhere in 2011 to earn an All-Star selection. He also hit 25 home runs that season, a number that he’s failed to eclipse in each of his last five seasons. The highest he’s reached was 16 and that was in the season after.

The Nationals took a flier on Cabrera last July and his production was pretty similar to what we’ve come to expect. Cabrera lands himself in a good situation where he doesn’t have to be the focal point of the batting order. With a more secondary role in Washington, expect his average and hits to spike upward a bit in 2015.

2015 Projections: 144 G; .240/.310/.370; .680; 15 HR; 64 RBI

18. Jedd Gyorko

2014 Stats: 111 G; .210/.280/.333; .612; 10 HR; 51 RBI

2015 Outlook: The good news: Gyorko will probably not hit .210 again like he did in 2014. The better news: he is signed through 2019 and is a cost-controlled bat entering his magic age-27 season – okay, fine, he turns 27 in September.

2015 Projections: 148 G; .250/.330/.390; .720; 12 HR; 58 RBI

19. Aaron Hill

2014 Stats: 133 G; .244/.287/.367; .654; 10 HR; 60 RBI

2015 Outlook: Hill colossally fell off the map last season. His average dropped 50 points and for the second consecutive season, he failed to reach 20 home runs. In 2013 it was because he only played 87 games. What was last year’s excuse?

Maybe he’s in decline. If the Diamondbacks are better in 2015, I suspect Hill will be too, but probably not by much – but just enough to be rostered in most 10-team leagues.

2015 Projections: 125 G; .235/.300/.350; .650; 8 HR; 55 RBI

20. Nick Franklin

2014 Stats: 28 G; .160/.222/.247; .469; 1 HR; 6 RBI

2015 Outlook: Franklin was blocked in Seattle by Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano. The Rays are in the midst of a huge organizational turnover, but they acquired Franklin because they believed they saw a major league starter at 2B and somebody who could eventually replace Ben Zobrist’s long-time role with the organization.

2015 Projections: 135 G; .225/.285/.310; .595; 7 HR; 50 RBI