Chase Utley (PHI)- Â It is a tribute to the weakness of the NL 2B crop that Utley is still number one. He was very productive on a per at-bat basis last year, and purportedly is as healthy as someone can be with a degenerative condition. He has apparently lost a bit of bat speed, as he is no longer able to sustain an above-average BABIP, but who else should be at the top?
Neil Walker (PIT)-Walker is a solid, not spectacular, player who has very little upside; it looks to us that he is what he looks like. He is already 27 years old, has slightly above-average power and speed. He is proof that calling someone â€œmajor league averageâ€ is no slight.
Brandon Phillips (CIN)-Phillips is only 31 but he seems older. His batting skills have remained consistent over the years; he will always have a below-average OBP but decent enough skills across the board, and there is not much to suggest he cannot repeat his 2012 performance. His biggest skill is as an at-bat compiler.
Aaron Hill (AZ)-Pop quiz: who thinks he will hit .300 again? You can probably take off 30 points of batting average right now, and maybe more, but his power skills are legitimate, and at 2B anyone with power plays well. The real question is whether those SB are real; they are fueled by a spike in SBO%, and that appears to be a team philosophy so probably yes.
Daniel Murphy (NYM)_ This may be a stretch but we are big believers in his BA skills, and his power outage of the 1H is fluky and unlikely to repeat. If he can walk a few more times there is a non-zero chance he rates as the best NL 2B in fantasy.
Dan Uggla (ATL)- Uggla is intriguing player as there is among 2B this year. His 2010 season is a BABIP-related fluke; he was never above average in any other season, and the regression of the last two seasons tells the story. He is only 32 so we are not buying that his 11% HR/FB rate is a new level; we think it bounces back, and with it 25 HR. And when that pendulum starts to swingâ€¦.
Rickie Weeks (MIL) â€“ Wow, that was a train wreck, huh? It was one bad half, and that should not dissuade you from going after him as a big bounce back profit play. His 2H was a 30 HR 20 SB pace, and he hit a respectable .269 as his BABIP came back to normal. His ranking is probably too low in this group; he has a better than 20% chance that he is the number one NL 2B.
Marco Scutaro (SFG)- See NL SS
Danny Espinosa (WAS)- See NL SS
Ty Wigginton (StL)- Right now Daniel DeScalso is the starter on the depth chart but you can bet that Wigginton gets enough time there. He struggled with his BA last year as his contact rate took a dip but it should bounce back. He, as usual, can get you $10 of value for $1 or $2 in an only league. Aside from his contact rate, everything else was consistent, so we are going to play the percentage and bet that gravity takes him back to his normal level.
Josh Rutledge (COL)- See NL SS
Mark Ellis (LAD)- His best argument is that he will get the ABs to compiles some counting stats. His last three years have shown a relatively steady decline and now he is 35 years old, so there is a decent chance it continues. If it does, he will be a net negative. Speculators may note that his SBO% last year was essentially a career low, so there is some hope of double digit steals, but not much hope.
Darwin Barney (CHC)-After three years he has a career high OBP of .305 and has not even sniffed a .700 OPS. Like Ellis before him, you are drafting him hoping that 600 AB nets him something close to ten HR and SB. Otherwise there is not much to recommend him, even in only leagues. And mixed leaguers can ignore him. To his credit he has a unique claim as the most unusual of the â€œtwo first namesâ€ group. So if that counts as a category in your league, jump all over him.
Cliff Pennington (AZ)-See NL SS
Skip Schumaker (LAD)-Now backing up Mark Ellis in LA, it does not take much imagination to envision him getting the lionâ€™s share of AB. What will he do if he gets them?Â He makes good contact and takes his fair share of walks, so he is a lite version of Daniel Murphy or a poor manâ€™s Jeff Keppinger. That is always worth a buck in an NL only league at the 2B/SS position.
DJ LeMahieu (COL)- LeMahieu has well above average speed, but it is hidden by a lack of opportunities. He is probably a better player for fantasy purposes that Barney or Ellis, and if he gets any significant playing time he can net 15 SB. He is also not useless with the bat, as his .297 BA attests. Your gamble here is that Josh Rutledge fails at 2B or SS.
Logan Forsythe (SD)-Right now he looks like the starter for a bad team in a terrible hittersâ€™ park, so obviously we are excited. He has below average power, so do not think that his 6 HR last year might be 12 in full-time at-bats. On the good side, he has above average speed, and you may be able to double his SB total from last year (8) in full-time play. He probably is a better risk for the money than a lot of the players ranked ahead of him.
Yuniesky Betancourt (PHI)- The ONLY reason he merits ranking is the possibility that Utley misses significant time. Though Betancourt was a starter in his prime, he was perhaps the worst starter ever, and that is not hyperbole. He is working on a string of five straight years with a sub-.700 OPS and sub-.300 OBP. The chance that he makes it six years in a row is 99%.Â There is a gaping hole between him and Forsythe.
Alexi Amarista (SD)- He is backing up Logan Forsythe in SD, and isnâ€™t half the player that Forsythe is, so unless a miracle happens he will be a negative in fantasy for 2013. He is, however only 23 and was not terrible overmatched last year, so if that counts as a ringing endorsement so be it. He has some potential in the long term, but not much for this year.
Daniel DeScalso (StL)-DeScalso got over 20 games at 2B, SS and 3B last year, so he has some utility as a utility man. But thatâ€™s it. He has an average batting eye, with an 80% CT and 9% BB rate, but his inability to hit with any authority means he wonâ€™t do much when he hits it. Like a lot of end gamers, his best argument is that he might net double digit steals for a buck in 400 AB.
Justin Turner (NYM)- Murphy is flexible enough that if Turner does anything he can wrest some playing time away from the rest of the junk the Mets are throwing out there. He can hit .260 but unlike the other bottom-of-the-barrel types he doesnâ€™t have the speed or power to luck his way into ten SB or HR. So, that makes him a waste unless you are in an extremely deep league, and there are leagues where he merits that $1.
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