Baseball Press presents a returning miniseries entitled "Three Up, Three Down". We'll review player performances from last season and whether or not we feel they are capable of either improving upon last season's performance, or if the player had a "lucky" season in 2012.
So far, we've covered catchers and first basemen for the upcoming 2013 season. In this edition, we'll examine second basemen. Much like the shortstop position, second base contains a shallow pool of fantasy baseball talent. Unless you acquire Robinson Cano
or Dustin Pedroia, searching for a player to roster at second base can be frustrating. Here a few options to consider and avoid for the upcoming season.
For the price of a late round pick, Josh Rutledge is likely to be a great bargain come draft day this year. After filling in for Troy Tulowitzki
at shortstop in 2012, Rutledge figures to shift over to second base to open the 2013 season. He hit 8 home runs in 73 games last season, but figures to be in the double digits in home runs in 2013, thanks to his home field of Coors Field and a full season of at-bats. In addition to home runs, he figures to bat in the second spot of the Rockies' lineup, hopefully producing nice run and stolen base numbers. Owners will have to draft him as a shortstop, but can eventually move him to second base once he meets the eligibility requirements.
Last season, Neil Walker headlined as our second basemen we were high on.
Unfortunately, his full potential in 2012 was not reached due to injury. Still, posting a .280/.342/.426 triple-slash line with 14 home runs and seven stolen bases in 472 at-bats, Walker had a successful year at a thin position. The 28-year-old Pittsburgh native's power has been trending up for the
past three years, and it's likely that he will improve on that home run
total once again in 2013. There shouldn't be any lingering effects from the herniated disc that shelved him in September, but the only way to prove that is with performance on the field.
- Chicago White Sox
This is not a cry for Jeff Keppinger to be an All-Star second baseman - far from that
- but he is a very safe bet to be a strong contributor at one of the weakest draft day positions for 2013. Granted he will enter the season as the White Sox starting third baseman, but Kepp did log 27 games at second base for Tampa Bay last season, when he hit .325 with nine home runs in 385 at-bats. The 32-year-old veteran will be in a modified-platoon on the South Side, but look for him to get at least 500 at-bats. Match that many at-bats with a batting average close to .300, and probably touching double digit home runs in the hitter friendly U.S. Cellular Field, all makes Keppinger more worthy than some other second basemen with more popular names.
Brian Roberts - Baltimore Orioles
After appearing in just 115 major league games over the past three seasons, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is reportedly ready to begin the 2013 season without restrictions. However, the 35-year-old North Carolina native simply can't stay healthy and is coming off right hip surgery as well as sports hernia surgery. The biggest asset for fantasy owners who owned Roberts was his ability to steal bases, and now that he's older and coming off hip surgery, he likely won't do much running. The Orioles also signed Alexi Casilla
as a backup to Roberts.
- Washington Nationals
Danny Espinosa has been hard to own as a fantasy owner. He's either all or nothing
in regards to production, with the "all"
being just home runs. After 17 home runs in 2012 along with a .247/.315/.402 triple-slash line, it's hard to see owning Espinosa moving into 2013. For his career, he has a 27% strikeout-to-plate appearance ratio along with a 7.8 walk-to-plate appearance ratio. His fly-ball percentage has decreased every year he has been in the big leagues. Although he has cracked the 20 home run plateau once in his career, it's hard to see him doing it again. If you're going to roster Espinosa in 2013, make sure it's at the middle infield flex position for your team.
Marco Scutaro - San Francisco Giants
A lot of people tagged Marco Scutaro as a "sleeper" heading into the 2011 season because of a strong 2010 and the move to Coors Field. Those same people overlooked the fact that he entered last season at the age of 36. Most will remember his heroics once joining the Giants mid-season last year, and how he was a leader in the clubhouse on their way to the 2012 World Series championship. Most will forget that through late July he was hitting .271 with only four home runs, spending most of that time hitting at Coors. He did end the season with a .306 batting average, which was mostly fueled by a .321 BABIP in August, and an unheard of .400 BABIP in September and October. Scutaro will fall back down to earth with a line close to his career average - .276/.340/.391 and less than five home runs thanks to AT&T Park.
Reggie Yinger and Nate Springfield contributed to this article.