Cullen: Cano, Pedroia stand out at second

Scott Cullen
3/24/2014 9:15:37 PM
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He's moved across the country, and to a ballpark that isn't as hitter-friendly, but Robinson Cano remains the best of the bunch at second base.

Over the past five seasons, Cano has led second basemen with 142 home runs, 496 runs scored, 513 RBI and a .314 batting average. Gaudy numbers at a position that doesn't have a ton of competition, so it would normally land Cano in the first round and it still could, but there is an argument to be made that Cano isn't going to have the same power numbers in Seattle and there is a difference between a .300 hitter with 25 home runs and a .300 hitter with 18 home runs when it comes to assigning relative value.

The closest rival to Cano is Boston's Dustin Pedroia, who has hit .297 over the past five seasons, averaging 88 runs, 71 RBI and 18 stolen bases in that time frame.

With those two as the established leaders at the position, the rest are definitely a tier behind.

Cleveland's Jason Kipnis is closing the gap, with back-to-back 30-steal seasons and Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips won't duplicate his 100 RBI season and doesn't provide stolen bases as he did earlier in his career, but he's in the middle of a productive lineup and has registered more than 600 plate appearances in six straight seasons, so he can help many teams.

Another longtime productive option at second base is Ian Kinsler, moving to Detroit from Texas. While Kinsler has dipped from his two 30-30 (HR-SB) seasons, he's in prime position to score a lot of runs and he's topped 100 runs in a season four times.

Houston's Jose Altuve offers value in terms of batting average and back-to-back 30-steal seasons, but his overall numbers are limited somewhat by the weak Astros supporting cast.

Tampa Bay's ultra-versatile Ben Zobrist hold more value because he can play more than one position, and even coming off a bit of a down year, still had his fifth straight campaign with double-figure homers and steals.

The thing about second base is that, unless you're going after Cano or Pedroia early, you can probably afford to wait and make a value play.

Health was an issue for Arizona's Aaron Hill last season, as he was limited to 87 games, but he's been really productive since going to the National League, hitting .300 with an .862 OPS in 1060 at-bats with the Diamondbacks.

Veteran standbys Chase Utley, always an injury concern, and Howie Kendrick are worth looking at for middle-infield spots and the Mets' Daniel Murphy, a .290 career hitter, added value to his game last season when he stole 23 bases.

San Diego's Jedd Gyorko mashed 23 home runs in 486 at-bats as a rookie. If he is healthy enough for 550-600 at-bats, is a 30-homer season within reach?

Gyorko is only one of the younger guys that would have potential to help. Milwaukee's Scooter Gennett hit .324 in 213 at-bats last season and .297 three-and-a-half minor league seasons.

Texas' Jurickson Profar is widely considered one of the top prospects in baseball and may be a year or two away from putting up big numbers (and is hurt in camp), but he's going to get a chance to play every day now that Kinsler is gone.

Washington's Anthony Rendon, the sixth overall pick in 2011, is another young player with a chance to break out. He had a .939 OPS in the minors and a .725 OPS in 351 at-bats as a rookie last year. Over a full season, 20-plus homers is possible.

For a potential late-round bargain, consider the Dodgers' Dee Gordon, the speedster who won the starting job over Cuban import Alex Guerrero and has swiped 66 bases in 182 career games.

Scott Cullen can be reached at and followed on Twitter at For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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