Not only is he a talented and consistently productive player, but New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is both of those things at a fantasy position relatively scarce of such players.
As an example, the 12th-best batting average among qualified second basemen last year was .259. Only five of them had 20-plus home runs and six had more than 75 runs batted in.
While the position is a decent source of stolen bases, many of the top base-stealers at the position either had a low batting average or little power production (or both). Seven second basemen stole 20-plus bases and only one of that group hit .260-plus with double-digit home runs: Boston's Dustin Pedroia.
With the exception of stolen bases, Cano is elite in all four other categories of standard 5x5 rotisserie leagues. Stealing just three bases in 2012, Cano actually stole eight bases in 2011. If he steals close to that number again, just consider it gravy.
Last year, Cano hit .313 with 33 home runs and 94 runs batted in, all of which led second basemen. In addition, he scored 105 runs, which tied him with Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers.
Going forward, he remains a lock to be the leader or very close to the leader in those four categories at the position.
Over the past four seasons, Cano has the following minimums: .302 average, 25 home runs, 103 runs scored and 85 runs batted in. When it comes to power numbers, those four-year lows actually occurred four seasons ago. He has averaged exactly 30 home runs and 107 runs batted in the past three seasons.
As a career .308 hitter, Cano has had only two seasons below .300: .297 (2005) and .271 (2008). Looking at his pre- and post-All Star splits since 2009, however, he never hit below .296 in any of those eight splits. Not only is he consistent year after year, but he is also consistent within the year.
Last but certainly not least, Cano is durable. Over the past six years, he has never missed more than three games in any season and has missed a total of only 12 games during that span.
At a position with many question marks, Cano is the surest of sure things.
Phillips: A Lock for 18-15 (or Better)?
Although it was six seasons ago, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has a 30-30 season under his belt. While he's been a consistent source of both home runs and stolen bases, you should expect about half those numbers in 2013.
Since 2006, Phillips is only one stolen base (in 2011) shy of having seven consecutive seasons of 15-plus home runs and 15-plus stolen bases. After three straight 20-20 seasons (including the 30-30 season) from 2007 to 2009, Phillips has failed to reach 20 of either in the past three seasons.
From 2010 to 2012, he has hit exactly 18 home runs each year and has stolen 16, 14 and 15 bases, respectively, during that timeframe as well. Phillips is a solid five-category contributor at the position with a three-year average line of .285/93/18/73/15.
While he has held relatively steady in stolen bases, his number of attempted swipes has continued to drop. Over the past four years, here are his number of attempted steals: 34 (2009), 28 (2010), 23 (2011) and 17 (2012).
Can Utley Stay Healthy For a Full Season?
From 2005 to 2009, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was as good as it gets at second base. During that five-year stretch, he hit .301 and averaged 111 runs scored, 29 home runs, 101 runs batted in and 15 stolen bases.
Since then, however, he's been a shell of his former self.
Utley has played in a total of 301 games over the past three seasons with those numbers dropping each season: 115 (2010), 103 (2011) and 83 (2012).
Now that he's healthy (or at least healthier) and participating in spring training games for the first time since 2010, Utley should give fantasy owners (much) more in 2013 than he has recently.
While owners should not expect numbers close to the 2005-2009 range, it's possible that he comes close to a 20-15 season if things go well.
Here are my second basemen rankings for the 2013 fantasy baseball season (based on Yahoo! eligibility):
1. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
2. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
3. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
4. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
5. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
6. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
7. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
8. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
9. Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves
10. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
11. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks
12. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
13. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates
14. Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies
15. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
16. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
17. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels
18. Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
19. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
20. Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers
For a second opinion, check out Duncan Sanford's second basemen rankings. (Or view our consensus second basemen rankings here.)
Other positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP
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