With the already strong top three in the American League to go along with full seasons in 2012 out of Dustin Ackley, Jason Kipnis, and Jemile Weeks, second base in Rotisserie could be the strongest it has been in the American League in years. I run down the CBS A.L.-only Analysts auction results at the position below.
Robinson Cano $33, Dustin Pedroia $32, Ian Kinsler $28.
In 2011, Pedroia earned $34, Cano $32 and Kinsler $30. Despite this, Cano seems to be the near-consensus choice among fantasy experts as the top A.L. second baseman. Part of this is due to his consistency. He's earned $27, $33, and $32 the last three years and offers something rare up the middle: 25 HR power with a shot at 30. But Pedroia has been fairly consistent himself. His injury-marred 2010 is the only subpar year in Pedroia's rearview mirror, and last year he came pretty close to Cano's HR total while also providing 20+ SB and a better batting average. Meanwhile, Kinsler finally stayed on the field long enough to log 600+ AB, resulting in 30/30 season. If not for the low batting average, he might have blown Cano and Pedroia away. It would be nice to own any of these guys. They're not bargains, but each one provides pretty strong numbers at these dollar values.
THE LOW $20s
Ben Zobrist $24, Howie Kendrick $22
If there are any RC+ leagues out there, then Zobrist belongs with the trio of studs above. If you're in a Rotisserie League, though, this price is on the nose. Zobrist is a legit 20/20 guy, but it's unlikely he comes close to a .300 batting average again. He could hit 30 HR, but as great as his prolific HR streaks are, his HR droughts are equally frustrating, and 2010's disappointing season isn't that far off the screen. Opinions are mixed as to whether or not Kendrick's slight power bump is a sign of more power or just an anomaly. His HR/FB rate was high, particularly for someone with such a high G/F rate, but Kendrick does fit the profile of the kind of hitter who "finds" more power in his late 20s/early 30s. This price is fine, though; Kendrick earned $23 last year with "only" 18 dingers, should come at the very least fall into that range again this year, and is always at least a plus batting average guy.
THE UP AND COMING CROP (SPECIAL GUEST STAR: THE FRUSTRATING VET)
Dustin Ackley $17, Jason Kipnis $15, Kelly Johnson $15, Jemile Weeks $15
I've read several ADP articles saying that Ackley was being picked a few rounds ahead of Kipnis, but figured this wouldn't happen in a Roto auction. I figured wrong. In real life, Ackley has the better chance of turning into the star, but Kipnis' 20/20 Roto potential simply can't be ignored. These prices should be flip flopped in Roto leagues, though be aware that Kipnis' first full trip through the league won't be as HR/SB happy as his abbreviated run in '11. Is it all really as simple as BABIP luck for Johnson? He had terrible luck in that department last year, so perhaps a return to his 2010 levels is in order. I don't want to pay for that, though, and would rather pay this, live with a .230 batting average and hope he reaches the 20/20 potential. Weeks is never going to be the complete player that Ackley or Kipnis will likely become, but despite the lack of power potential, a .280-.300 hitter with 30+ SB speed is worth buying in the mid-teens or higher. The big concern with Weeks in the minors was health, so it will be interesting to see if he holds up in his first full Major League season. That's the only reason not to go higher here; based on the potential numbers alone, Weeks is a $20 player.
(MOST OF) THE OTHER STARTERS
Gordon Beckham $9, Jamey Carroll $9, Alexi Casilla $9, Johnny Giavotella $8
Many (including me) expected a bounce back year from Beckham in 2011. He had a $19 average salary last year coming off of a $10 season in 2010...and proceeded to earn $8. Beckham looked like a mechanical mess, swinging at a lot of bad pitches and making a lot of weak contact. He's 25 years old, so he's certainly young enough to turn it around, but I wouldn't bet on it. It's hard to accept if you're a mixed leaguer, but Carroll's speed/BA combination has made him a $10+ earner two years running in only leagues. Still, Carroll isn't the kind of player where you want to pay the full freight. Any regression in batting average and his value will evaporate. Pay $4-5 instead, hope for profit, and don't cry if he somehow winds up hitting .250. Casilla is a speedier version of Carroll with a poorer batting average. Again, I don't like paying par for these kinds of players, but there are still those out there hoping that this will be the year Casilla steals 40-50 bases. Again, $4-5 is a safer bet here. Giavotella's debut was poor, and while a torn labrum in his hip may have been partially to blame, he's going to have to walk more in order to remain a viable Major Leaguer. He doesn't do any one thing particularly well, and could wind up losing his job to Chris Getz if he doesn't perform again this year.
Maicer Izturis $4, Brian Roberts $4, Ramon Santiago $3, Robert Andino $2, Chris Getz $2, Jeff Keppinger $2, Nick Punto $1.
A lot of owners in CBS kept some dollars on hand for the endgame this year, and it showed up in the prices here. Izturis should get his usual 300-350 at bats and provide high single digit/low double-digit value backing up most of the Angels' infield. That price on Roberts could be great, but right now he looks like a huge risk. Andino at $2 could work out better. Even if Roberts is healthy, Andino should get a fair number of chances to provide value with his legs. Santiago might win the 2B job in Detroit because of his defense but doesn't offer much in the way of Rotisserie excitement. If he is playing, he'll be great at this price if only for the runs/RBI. Getz could supplant Giavotella (as noted above), but even if he doesn't he could still steal 15-20 off of the bench. Keppinger shouldn't play that much for the Rays, but he's always good for a solid batting average and a handful of dingers. He's not useless in A.L.-only. I liked Punto a lot more when he was stealing bases. Now he's just a package of batting average variability that may or may not play enough to give me runs and RBI. I'd rather take a flier on a back-end-of-the-bench A.L. player who might steal me some bases.