Second base has become a rich vein for fantasy baseball rosters the last few seasons. The emergence of 5 and 4-category players, led by Chase Utley, has turned the position into one worthy of an early draft pick. However, 2010 has been a pretty miserable year for second basemen. Check this out:
[These numbers are for a standard ESPN 5×5 league (count OPS, and Zobrist was #2 overall last year)]
Last year, the top 10 second basemen on average were ten spots higher in Player Ranking and came from an average draft pick 3 rounds later (in a 10-team league). In 2009, the top three second basemen drafted (Utley, Pedroia and Kinsler) returned an average Player Rating of 8.4, good for a top 40 ranking. This year, Robinson Cano and Brandon Phillips are the only second basemen drafted early who can be argued were a decent return upon investment.
Injuries (Utley, Kinsler, Pedroia and Roberts) robbed the top tier of usefulness, and general offensive ineptitude (Figgins, Hill, Zobrist) or misplaced expectations (Beckham) sunk the rest.
There were some breakouts in both seasons, of course. Nobody expected the 2009 campaigns of Aaron Hill (40 rank, 177 ADP) or Ben Zobrist (47, undrafted). Similarly, 2010 has been a pleasant surprise for Dan Uggla (22/115), Rickie Weeks (44/199), Martin Prado (53/184) and Kelly Johnson (73/224) owners. But generally speaking, the market for 2010 second basemen was both harder to predict, and returned less production for draft investment.
NOTE: ESPN Player Rater numbers for 2010 through August 23, 2010.