2014 Second Base Tier Rankings: July by Scott Strandberg June 30, 2014 If you’d like to check out my tiered second-base rankings from last month, click here. TIER ONE Jose Altuve Ian Kinsler Robinson Cano Alright, Cano, you’ve officially got company. I said last month that, if Cano still wasn’t hitting many homers, he would no longer be the sole occupant of Tier One, and I am staying true to my word. Cano’s got three homers over the last month, and a total of five on the season. Altuve and Kinsler are both having monster years, and I would take either over Cano rest-of-season. Cano is still having a very productive season, and the slight uptick in power in June is a welcome sign, but Altuve and Kinsler are simply performing far too well to keep valuing Cano over them in his own tier. TIER TWO Brian Dozier Dee Gordon Anthony Rendon Daniel Murphy Jason Kipnis If you’re in an on-base percentage league, push Dozier up into that first tier as well. I took some heat for ranking Gordon fourth last month, but he was the No. 6 fantasy second baseman in June, and he’s still No. 2 on the season. Sticking to my guns with him. Rendon and Murphy both jumped from Tier Three to Tier Two this month. After looking completely lost for the entire month of May, Rendon rebounded in a big way, and was the No. 1 2B in June. In Murphy’s case, he has sustained the same high level of performance for three full months now, with significant improvements to his solid 2013 campaign. His walk rate is way up (2013: 4.6%, 2014: 7.7%), his strikeouts are down (2013: 13.6%, 2014: 11.3%), and the rest of his numbers are in line with what he did last year. I’m buying. Kipnis is in danger of falling into Tier Three. He missed almost all of May with an oblique injury and he’s had zero power since returning. His last home run came on April 21. TIER THREE Dustin Pedroia Neil Walker Chase Utley Howie Kendrick Brandon Phillips Matt Carpenter Speaking of falling into Tier Three, that’s exactly what happened to Pedroia this month. I really didn’t drop him more than a couple spots, but I think there’s a clear gap between him and the Tier Two guys. He did enough things well last year (.301 AVG, 17 SB, 91 R, 84 RBI) that it was easier to ignore his lack of power, as he failed to hit double-digit homers for the first time since 2007. This year, the average is down to .268 — as a result, his runs and RBI are down — and he’s still not hitting home runs, as he has just four long balls on the season. Even more troubling is the fact that he’s just 2-for-6 on stolen-base attempts. Pedroia’s been a near-lock for 20 steals for years now, and his lack of success on the basepaths is a major detriment to his fantasy value. TIER FOUR Brett Lawrie Brad Miller Luis Valbuena Scooter Gennett Aaron Hill Martin Prado Ben Zobrist I wrote a couple weeks ago about Valbuena’s crazy-high line-drive rate. He’s had a solid season and, while it’s a bit aggressive, I like him enough to put him in the top half of this tier. For more of my thoughts on him, check out the linked article. I honestly thought about dropping Hill and Prado even further, seeing as this is only a couple spots deeper than I had them last month, and they were both worthless again this month. Both finished outside the Top 25 fantasy second basemen this month, they each hit only one homer, they have nine long balls and two stolen bases combined on the season, etc. I don’t even really like Gennett that much, and I see his outstanding June as pretty flukish, but I’d still rather roll the dice on him than keep trotting out Hill or Prado. Speaking of guys I’m done with, I wrote an article last week entitled “Stick A Fork In Ben Zobrist.” TIER FIVE Jed Lowrie Rougned Odor Gordon Beckham Tommy La Stella Omar Infante Yangervis Solarte Kolten Wong Mike Aviles Emilio Bonifacio DJ LeMahieu Dustin Ackley Jordy Mercer This tier was a tough one. I spent a good 45 minutes shuffling these names around before deciding on this order. I’ll probably change it five or six more times before this publishes. There’s a crazy-wide variance amongst the guys in Tier Five. I’ve always liked Lowrie, and bought into his production over the last two years. This year, he has been about as valuable as an empty roster spot. Odor and La Stella both had pretty decent months, and both have enough upside to be worth a look in AL/NL-only leagues. Beckham, Infante, Solarte — these are guys that I feel you can reasonably rely on to not totally suck, but none are worth a look outside of deep leagues. Wong spent the month trying to play through a shoulder injury, eventually landing on the DL after his numbers took a nosedive. I still really like him long-term, but the injury came at a very unfortunate time after his hot hitting in May. TIER SIX Kelly Johnson Brian Roberts Grant Green Rickie Weeks Jonathan Schoop Derek Dietrich Danny Espinosa Alberto Callaspo Sean Rodriguez Darwin Barney This is a list of guys that are hopefully not on your team. It’s getting kind of painful to see the Orioles still running Schoop out there on a regular basis. He is desperately in need of a trip back to Triple-A — he’s now hitting .218/.262/.333, with a 2.8% BB-rate and 22.0% K-rate — but when the other options on the 40-man are Ryan Flaherty, Steve Lombardozzi and Jemile Weeks, there’s not a whole lot they can do. Personally, I’d still like to see them send Schoop back to the minors and see if Weeks can do enough to hold down the job; he’s having a good season in Triple-A. TIER SEVEN Brandon Hicks Steve Tolleson Last month, a commenter tried to debate the merits of Hicks with me. I referred to Hicks as a poor man’s Mark Reynolds. I would like to revise that statement. Hicks is a homeless man’s Mark Reynolds. Hicks hit .115 with no homers last month, striking out in 24 of his 62 plate appearances. Another commenter asked if I could create a Tier Seven for Hicks, and so here I have done just that. I’ve played a whole lot of baseball with Tolleson, and by that I’m referring to my Road To The Show mode on MLB: The Show 11 (I got so invested in my career modes in that game that I just never got a newer edition). I started out my career as a raw, toolsy shortstop in the Twins organization, but they shipped me off to Baltimore after one season. I spent the next year playing in Triple-A Norfolk, with Tolleson as my double-play partner. The game sets these goals for you, like “Draw five walks in the next six series” and stuff like that. One that pops up pretty often is to go several series without making an error, which is really tough when you’re a raw middle infielder. This one time, I was one game away from successfully completing the nearly impossible no-error challenge, when a grounder comes Tolleson’s way. I head to cover second, looking for a double play, and Tolleson chunks this god-awful throw, forcing me to reach all the way across my body to try to scrape it out of the dirt. The ball hits my glove, but I can’t corral it…and they charged the error on ME! If he doesn’t butcher that throw, I would’ve completed all four of my objectives for that time period, and probably would have gotten called up to the majors. Instead, I was told that I was very close, but not quite ready. I spent another two months in the minors. Screw you, Tolleson. (In real life, he hit .143/.211/.171 in June.) TIER EIGHT Dan Uggla Congratulations, Uggla. You and your .164/.239/.234 slash line have earned this. Your very own tier of terrible, even below the extreme level of awful that Hicks and Tolleson bring to the table.