As I go around the infield and discuss sleepers that will either make or break a fantasy baseball team, we come to one of those positions, similar to catcher and short stop, that are talent-heavy up top but lack certainty as you go down. But like every season, there will always be value well beyond the top tiers.
Before last season Houston’s Jose Altuve, Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis and Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist were almost as irrelevant as the Houston Astros club but can now be found in the top 10 of most 2013 rankings for their position–including our fantasy rankings. The key is finding those pieces in your draft and distinguishing the good from the bad. And this year there are two guys at second base who will find themselves ranked inside the top 15 at the position, which in most circles isn’t the case. Those two are Colorado’s Josh Rutledge and Seattle’s Kyle Seager.
Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies
Despite the unfortunate groin injury to Colorado short stop Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Rutledge was able to fill a set of shoes worn by undoubtedly the best short stop in the game and did a well enough job that the Rockies are forced to keep him on the field.
Rutledge, 23, was brought up in mid-July and hit .345 with seven home runs though the end of August but saw that consistency dissolve in the final month of the season. But even with that said you can’t deny the potential this kid has alongside in an offense that will have Carlos Gonzalez and a healthy Tulo. Although he did struggle in the final month, it’s hard to expect a 22-year-old to stay as hot as he was. With a full season on his horizon I would expect him to hit .280, hit 20-plus home runs, drive in around 80 RBIs and steal around 20 bases.
Being that Rutledge is ranked outside the top 15 in the majority of drafts, you can expect him to go when other managers begin to take their back-up second baseman. This will give you plenty of time to stack up at other positions you see fit and still have a guy that will produce more than guys you see ranked much higher than him.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
While he will most likely man the hot corner in Seattle this season, his second base eligibility should definitely be taken advantage of this year. Seager, 26, has only been in the league for two years but last season was the first time he was given a fair shake at this level.
Despite a tough first half in which Seager had a .243 average and didn’t showoff the pop he hoped to after adding on some bulk in 2011, Seager improved after the All-Star break. He finished the season with a .259 batting average, 20 home runs and 86 RBIs. Expect to see a Seager more like the one you saw in the latter part of last season and he can only benefit from hitting in front of Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales. Some people may not have heard but the Safeco Field fences were also brought in during the offseason and I expect Seager and those hitting around him to take full advantage of that.
Seager is another guy you can take late but don’t wait too long or someone else will swipe him up and you’ll be hitting your head against a wall for sleeping on him in your draft.
If you are unable to get either Rutledge or Seager, here are two other guys who are valued much lower than they should be and could be taken later in the draft than the two guys I have already mentioned:
- Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Jemile Weeks, Oakland Athletics