MLB
March 23, 2012 posted by Collin Hager

2012 Fantasy Baseball – HVaC Middle Infield Ranks

2012 Fantasy Baseball – HVaC Middle Infield Ranks
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Robinson Cano, New York Yankees 2B

While head-to-head owners are going to find their power on the corners, more balanced players are the name of the game up the middle. Owners need to find their steals in one of these two spots while still not giving up completely on the power game. It is harder to do than one might think.

The good news is that there are definitely more options this year than in the past. While the middle infield spots are not quite to the level they were when Miguel Tejada, Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Derek Jeter were all in their primes and crushing pitchers, there is far more depth because younger players have filled the void and more are on the rise.

So what will an owner get from these positions? The numbers below show the average for all players ranked by FantasyPros911 that are expected to have more than 450 at-bats.

Name                    AB          HR          R             RBI         SB           AVG

Avg 2B                  494         12           66           63           11           .272

Avg SS                   514         10           68           61           16           .275

Obviously the player here is very different than those talked about the other day at first and third base. It is, though, a spot where you can differentiate through owning some of the premier players. This is especially at Second Base where it is very top-heavy. As a result, there is additional weight placed on this position to boost values. At Shortstop there is something to be said inside the top-three players, but beyond that the talent is remarkably similar. It’s not elite, but it is deep for head-to-head owners. That means there is a chance to wait and still be productive.

Check out what you should know from the HVaC scores for the two positions and what you should look for in your head-to-head leagues.

At Second Base…

  • Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano both still find their way to the top of the list. There is little not to like about the five-category production each will provide. Interesting to see that Brandon Phillips and Howie Kendrick both find their way ahead of Ian Kinsler. Why? Answer is largely in Kinsler’s average projection being 20 points lower while similar production is found in runs and RBI.
  • One interesting point to note is where Rickie Weeks sits. He checks in at number 13 overall and his issue is also largely average. Weeks will generate plenty of home runs and should score runs as well. There is some lineup concern as to how the Brewers will perform overall without Prince Fielder and that could temper any potential RBI production.
  • Dustin Ackley will enter the season with the full-time job and will give owners a decent balance towards the bottom of the top-ten. Nothing spectacular, but 90 runs, 80 RBI, 15-20 steals, and 12-15 home runs is strong production from a second-year player. Seattle could make a little noise and Ackley will be a big part of that.
  • There is depth to be found at the position as well. Dan Uggla, Kelly Johnson, and Aaron Hill can all provide power, runs, and RBI at a cheaper price than Phillips or Kendrick. They all just have some flaws. Uggla will hit about .250 while Hill will continue to adjust a new league and need to certainly rebound from a disaster of a 2011 and a 2010 where he hit just .205 despite 26 home runs. Johnson will have similar average issues but should eclipse 20 home runs.
  • Two of my personal favorites continue to be Neil Walker and Jason Kipnis. Walker’s downfall is that he has a lack of speed and that puts an owner short-handed in a spot where steals are key. Still, he will provide four-category production that will exceed positional averages. Kipnis is tougher to read simply due to limited at-bats. If healthy, Kipnis would the top-ten player to target given his equal to or better than average production in all five spots.

At Shortstop…

  • Again, little surprise at the top with Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki checking in at one and two. Add in the flexibility Ramirez will be able to give owners and you have a reason to see him as more valuable than Tulo, though that is not factored in here. Check out Starlin Castro at number three over Jose Reyes. Castro is projected to produce more RBI to go with comparable home runs, runs scored, and average. Slight difference in steals, but not enough to tip the scale away from Castro.
  • With shortstop holding the highest average number of steals against the other positions, it is not a dramatic surprise to see Emilio Bonifacio on this list. Seeing him ahead of some perennial All-Stars though is surprising. With nearly 40 steals to go with 80 runs and nearly 70 RBI projected by FantasyPros911, Bonifacio provides surprising upside for head-to-head owners. He can single-handedly win a steals category with averaging two per week and will produce even at the bottom of the Miami lineup.
  • Many are pinning their hats on the youth of Dee Gordon. Be careful following suit. His dominance is really only in steals. While he is a push in runs, Gordon will cost you against the average shortstop in RBI and home runs rather dramatically. It is enough to outweigh the benefit of owning the one-category wonder.
  • Once outside the top-seven, there are only one and a half points that separate the eighth ranked Shortstop from the 13th. Basically, if you do not draft early it is possible to wait and achieve similar results. Each player simply has their own plusses and minuses and none is going to dominate in all five categories. It will either be decent but not spectacular performance across the board or there will be category swings. A player will be strong in one, solid in two or three more, and a drag in the final. Beyond that, risks come with each. A player like Jimmy Rollins is an injury risk while Jeter’s age could be a problem as well.
  • Rightfully, Zack Cozart is getting a fair amount of ink. Cozart has some great upside in an offense that could really be a pleasant surprise. He brings a balance across each category and has a chance for some upside in steals and home runs. The challenge is that he is on the radar for many and possesses the most risk inside the top-ten simply because there is no track record. I would want to grab a player like Alexei Ramirez as insurance, but Cozart would be a strong target outside the top-tier.

Here is how the scores break down at Second Base:

HVaC Ranks for Top 30 2B

And here is Shortstop:

 

HVaC Ranks for Top 30 SS

 

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