Second To None

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In the third of the off-season fantasy reviews our post-season analysis of the 2011 fantasy baseball season moves to the second base position.

While many of the names are familiar, some high-priced talent couldn't crack the top-10 (Chase Utley, Dan Uggla, Brian Roberts, Aaron Hill).

Dustin Pedroia, Boston (ADP 25) - Following a slow April and May, Pedroia transformed into a hitting machine in June and July. He and leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury put the Red Sox on their back and carried them to first place. Pedroia batted .340 in June and a smoking .411 in July with an OPS of 1.188. Even after he cooled a bit he still batted over .300 in August and September. As long as you didn't get frustrated with his early season slump and trade him, you ended up with much more value than the third-round pick he cost you on Draft Day.

Robinson Cano, New York Yankees (ADP 9) - Cano does everything a fantasy owner could ask for...except steal bases. He batted .302 with 104 runs, 28 HR and 118 RBI as the centerpiece of the Yankees offense. He finished as the runner- up to Pedroia for two reasons; 1) just eight stolen bases, 2) he cost you a first-round pick versus a third rounder for the Red Sox second baseman.

Ian Kinsler, Texas (ADP 27) - Kinsler is that rare combination of speed and power that fantasy owners (and general managers) covet. In 2011 he hit 32 homers, stole 30 bases and scored 121 runs. Two factors kept the Texas second baseman from being the best fantasy second baseman in the league - a low batting average (.255) and being the team's leadoff hitter thereby limiting his RBI potential even on an offensive juggernaut like the Rangers.

Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay (ADP 99) - After a year of disappointing fantasy owners, Zobrist returned to the 2009 form that made him a budding fantasy star. He posted an OPS of 0.822 to go along with 99 runs, 20 HR and 91 RBI. He needs to bring his strikeout total down and his batting average up if he wants to climb further up the ladder. I'm not sure he can take that next step but even if this is as good as Zobrist can be, he's top-10 material and a solid bargain in the ninth round.

Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati (ADP 36) - Phillips improved on his previous year (.300, 94 runs, 18 HR, 82 RBI, 14 SB), but is not the 30-30 guy of 2007 or even the 20-20 guy of 2008-2009. He's still a solid fantasy starter and at 30-years-old could improve. As a fourth-round pick in 2011, however, he was slightly overpriced.

Howie Kendrick, Anaheim (ADP 143) - Kendrick is beginning to show the power that he didn't display as a skinny 22-year-old. His 18 homers and career-best 0.802 OPS allowed manager Mike Scioscia to hit him in more advantageous spots in the lineup and he scored a career-high 86 runs. His 14 stolen bases matched a career high. You won't be able to "buy" his services for a 12th-round pick next year as his numbers project even higher in 2012.

Neil Walker, Pittsburgh (ADP 124) - Walker's April put him near the top of the second basemen list, but he couldn't keep up the pace. Like his Pirates team, he finished the season with a thud batting just .263 with three homers and 19 RBI over the final two months.

Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee (ADP 41) - Weeks was on pace for a top-five finish before an ankle injury cost him all of August and most of September. When he came back he wasn't the same hitter, batting just .234 and stealing few bases. Too bad, he had an "All-Star" type first half with 19 HR and 67 runs scored.

Danny Espinosa, Washington (ADP 295) - Espinosa flashed some power in 103 at- bats during a brief 2010 late-season call up and showed even more in his first full season with the Nationals, blasting 21 home runs to go along with 17 stolen bases. He'll only get better next year.

Kelly Johnson, Arizona (ADP 92) - Johnson began the season in Arizona but an August trade sent him to Toronto. He's struggled with his batting average going on two years now, but he's still hitting home runs and stealing bases (18 HR, 16 SB). Johnson was able to finish the season hitting .270 with an on- base percentage of .364 in 33 games for Toronto.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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