Earlier today our second base rankings were released with a bunch of familiar names in the top five or six spots, but let’s look at some guys who are poised to the climb the rankings this season…
Mr. Big Shot: Gordon Beckham
I already looked at Beckham earlier this winter, so I’ll keep this relatively brief. The ChiSox second baseman went on the tear after addressing some ground balls issues in the second half last year, finishing the season with a .313/.377/.502 batting line in his final 225 PA. The potential for a respectable average (.280-ish) with double-digit homers seems to be just the tip of the iceberg, but if Beckham broke out in 2011 and finished the league as a top five second baseman, would anyone really be surprised? If he’s hitting first or second in front of Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, the runs scored will come by the boatload.
Good, But Not 2010 Good: Neil Walker
After a few years of trying to figure it out at the upper levels of the Pirates’ system, Walker finally found a home at second base and gave the Bucs a nice shot at the arm with a .296/.349/.462 performance that featured a dozen homers and 66 RBI in 469 PA. I’m not a huge believer in Walker’s ability to repeat or improve upon that performance, but I agree with the projections that a .270-.280 AVG and about 15 homers is a reasonable expectation going forward. He did benefit from a .340 BABIP and a 22.4% line drive rate that was the tenth highest in the game last year (min. 400 PA), which probably isn’t indicative of his true talent level. That said, Walker can certainly be a serviceable fantasy option this year and at age 25, there could always be breakout on the horizon. He’ll have 2B and 3B eligibility in most leagues.
Back From The Dead: Bill Hall
When the Red Sox acquired Hall from the Mariners last winter, they counted on him to be some kind of five or six-position utility guy, but they didn’t count on him to get close to 400 plate appearances. He rewarded them with his best season in four years, posting a .342 wOBA with 18 homers and nine steals. Hall’s .209 ISO ranked 47th out of the 238 players with 350+ PA last year, tied with Prince Fielder and just a notch below Evan Longoria, Adrian Gonzalez, and Robinson Cano. The Astros imported Hall to play second base for them in 2011, and although he won’t have the Green Monster at his disposal, Minute Maid Park is very friendly to right-handed batters. StatCorner has the park with a 117 HR factor for RHB and dead neutral for wOBA. Chance are he’ll kill you in average, something around .250 or .260, but Hall could make a run at 20+ homers with double-digit steals with regular playing time in Houston. With eligibility at 2B, OF, and even 3B in some leagues, you’ve got some flexibility and a little bit of upside at a low cost.