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Not With a Ten-Foot Pole: Second Basemen
Joseph Merkel | Sunday February 27th, 2011
Ben Zobrist isn't worth the risk on draft day (Getty)
Ben Zobrist isn't worth the risk on draft day (Getty)
With fantasy drafts hitting full stride over the next few weeks, you will see plenty of debate on where to draft players.  While some players may be reaches and some will be bargains, we at Baseball Press have put together a list of the guys that should be drafted cautiously on draft day.

While the first basemen market that we just took a look at was full of both popular names and star talent, second base is quite the opposite. After the big three of Robinson Cano, Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia, there is a major drop-off due to both talent and injury risk. While there are players at the position that will provide solid value for you throughout the draft, it's a good idea to stay away from these second basemen on draft day.

Joseph's Pick: Ben Zobrist (2010 Totals: 655 PA, .238/.346/.699, 10 HR, 75 RBI)
Just two years ago, fantasy owners relished Zobrist's power and likely added him off of their league's waiver wire, but his value sank like a rock in 2010.  After posting a .948 OPS and hitting almost .300 with 27 home runs in 2009, the versatile second baseman saw a statistical drop in most major categories last season. Zobrist's .238 average last year will scare plenty of owners away early, but it's his 2010 OPS that should have alarms going off.  While a .699 OPS might cut it for a defensive-minded shortstop, a power-hitting second baseman needs to be in the mid-to-upper .850s.  The Rays lost both Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena this off-season, which means Zobrist will not see the pitches he has grown accustomed to over the last few years. And while some will fall in love with his potential, he shouldn't be drafted in the top ten of his position.  There will be someone in every draft that jumps on the Rays second baseman early purely because of his past, so it's best to steer clear on draft day.

Reggie's Pick: Brian Roberts (2010 Totals: 261 PA, .278/.354/.391, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 12 SB)
Ranked among the top second baseman a few seasons ago, Roberts' fantasy value has fallen due to lack of production and injuries.  Even removing last season because of a back injury, the 33-year-old switch-hitter has seen a steady decline in stolen bases (50, 40, and 30 in 2007, 2008, and 2009, respectively), with a total of 12 last season over 59 games.  He's a career .283 hitter with a little power, but without the steals and runs scored, his value takes a fall.  While owners can speculate that an improved lineup due to acquisitions over the off-season may help Roberts produce again, it's a huge risk that I'm not willing to bet on.  In addition to the back injury that sidelined Roberts most of last season, his newest neck ailment is all the reason more to look elsewhere for a middle infielder on draft day.

Dan's Pick: Gordon Beckham (2010 Totals: 498 PA, .252/.317/.378, 9 HR, 49 RBI)
Gordon Beckham was a popular sleeper pick in fantasy drafts last year, but in a full season for the White Sox he fell well short of expectations.  With little explanation, the power-hitting righthanded slugger failed to reach any of the marks he had in 28 fewer games back in 2009, when he hit .270 with 14 home runs and 69 RBI in just 103 games.  He seemed destined for a 20-plus home run season in 2010, but struggled badly in the first half of the year, with just 3 home runs and a .210 batting average.  Beckham rebounded late in the year and hit .310 with 6 long balls after the All Star Game, but the volatility of his 2010 season is enough to make me look elsewhere.  If he struggles again to start 2011, you'll be glad you didn't draft him.  Even if he succeeds and has a 20 home run year, there are many other second baseman capable of those stats, without the unpredictability.

Nate's Pick: Danny Espinosa (2010 Totals: 112 PA, .214/.277/.447, 6 HR, 15 RBI)
Danny Espinosa is a soon-to-be 24-year-old prospect for the Washington Nationals and is heralded as a 20-20 candidate.  A switch-hitter, Espinosa did well from the right side of the plate as a 2010 September call-up, posting a .846 OPS despite a .188 batting average on balls in play (BAbip).  The two reasons to stay away from Danny on draft day are the hype and his off-season surgery.  Even though his average draft position is only 330 overall and he's one of the last second basemen drafted at Mock Draft Central, he is currently ranked at 178 in CBS Sports top 300 and as the 18th best second baseman in Roto Hardball's reader rankings.  In November, Espinosa had surgery on the hamate bone in his right hand and, as with any hitter's hand/wrist procedure, it is bound to effect his swing and production in 2011.  Danny's future is bright, but I'd rather pick him up off the waiver wire (because he will end up there in most leagues) while on a hot streak than invest a draft pick in 2011.

Reggie Yinger, Dan Port, Nate Springfield, and Joseph Merkel all contributed to this article.
Joseph MerkelJoseph Merkel is a freelance journalist that has been with Baseball Press since early 2011. His knowledge of sports and baseball in particular, have taken him from, fan, to enthusiast, to sports journalist. You can contact him at Joseph.Merkel11@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Joseph_Merkel.