Honestly, this list was dizzying to put together. Second base is a more defensively demanding position than first base, so we put a little more emphasis on defense with this list than that one – we’ll do the same for shortstop. And there aren’t many second basemen in baseball who are under 30 and have proven themselves offensively over more than a couple of seasons.
Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Dan Uggla have. After that, we see a bit of a drop-off in talent, though Kelly Johnson isn’t too far behind the four players mentioned above. Robinson Cano is coming off a .307 wOBA season. Aaron Hill was good in 2007 but missed four months in 2008 due to a concussion. Brandon Phillips was a below-average hitter on the road last season (.300 wOBA) and not great at home (.330) – defense accounted for, he’s a better 5x5 Roto asset than MLB second baseman. And Rickie Weeks and Howie Kendrick fans have been waiting for breakout seasons since Jemile Weeks was a freshman at Miami.
This leaves us with a list that could change a lot over the next nine months. Cano could continue to struggle and slide down to an honorable mention. Ian Kinsler could very well claim the title of best second baseman in the game. Alberto Callaspo could build on his 2008 success and earn a spot among the Top 5 players on this list next season. Ryan Theriot could make us regret leaving him off the list entirely.
Whatever happens, this list will be fun to look back at in a year, as change – perhaps drastic change – will occur in the top young second basemen ranks.
|Top 10 Second Basemen Under the age of 30|
|1||Chase Utley||2B||Yes, hip injury is a concern; No, it's not yet enough of one to keep him from sitting atop this list||29.8||PHI||MLB|
|2||Dustin Pedroia||2B||Brought IsoP from .112 in '06 (98 PA) to .125 in '07 and .167 in '08; 7.2% K was 4th in the AL||25.2||BOS||MLB|
|3||Ian Kinsler||2B||Finally broke out into a clearly above-average offensive 2B in '08: .379 wOBA after .344 in '07||26.3||TEX||MLB|
|4||Dan Uggla||2B||Compensated for poor '08 contact rate (27.6% K) w/ a bunch of power (.254 IsoP); 12.4% BB||28.6||FLA||MLB|
|5||Kelly Johnson||2B||Significant drops in IsoP and BB% from '07 to '08 keep him outside of our top three 2B under 30||26.6||ATL||MLB|
|6||Robinson Cano||2B||Had a .363 BABIP with a 20% LD in '06; .286 with 20% in '08; good bet to rebound some in '09||26.0||NYY||MLB|
|7||Aaron Hill||2B||After appearing to be on verge of an '08 breakout, concussion ended his season in late-May||26.6||TOR||MLB|
|8||Brandon Phillips||2B||Heralded defensive player who has some pop (.181 IsoP in '08) but doesn't reach base much||27.3||CIN||MLB|
|9||Rickie Weeks||2B||Ranked more on potential than production; poor contact, solid BB%, signs of promising power||26.1||MIL||MLB|
|10||Howie Kendrick||2B||Ugly walk rates (2.9% between '07 and '08) combined with injury woes bring his value down||25.3||LAA||MLB|
|Honorables: Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE), Jose Lopez (SEA), and Alberto Callaspo (KC).|
|* Our rankings combine a player's ceiling with the odds that he'll reach it within a five-year period|
|** Ages are as of November 1st, 2008|
|*** Level is the highest level the player has reached|
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Questions about this list can be directed toward Adam Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org.