- Chase Utley—PHI —The class of the position without question. Even though he missed a month of the season, Utley was still magnificent. Not only a stellar .332 average but over 100 RBI and 22 taters. He is still a first round pick and possible MVP candidate if the Phillies contend again this year. Assuming he doesn’t get HBP in the hand again, look for Chase to hit .323/31/111 with 13 steals
- Brandon Phillips—CIN —The gap on Utley is definitely closing thanks to Phillips. After an impressive turnaround season in ’06, Brandon completely broke out in ’07 with a staggering line (.288/30/94 with 32 steals) for a second sacker. The Indians are kicking themselves in their collective butts for giving up on this guy, and I fully expect another impressive year from Phillips. Possibly a downturn from last season, but only slight (.275/28/90/30).
- Robinson Cano—NYY —Each year I get a little closer to the front of the Cano bandwagon. Each year he gets a little better, and outside of stolen bases, he will help you in every category. I expect another year of improvement out of Cano, along the lines of .320/24/99, and over 100 runs for the first time.
- Brian Roberts—BAL —Is he going to Chicago, or not? Either way, Roberts is an elite 2B. Although his power numbers have been down the last couple of years, he is in the ballpark of a .300 average, and topped out last season with 50 steals. Whether he moves to the South Side of Chicago or not, you can’t go wrong with Roberts as your second baseman. However, if he does change addresses, expect his homers to go up five or so at Wrigley Field.
- Dan Uggla—FLA —OK, so he doesn’t hit for a very high average and strikes out a lot, but it is hard to argue with 30 HRs and 90 RBI from second base. Uggla continues to defy the odds as a Rule 5 draftee and puts up solid numbers There’s no reason to think that he wouldn’t continue to put up similar numbers to what he has his first two years, figure on .258/30/86.
Rising Star—Dustin Pedroia—BOS —Unless you are a Yankees fan, you’ve got to like the way this guy plays baseball. It seems that he gives 100% on every play, and that upper cut swing was legendary in the Red Sox championship run. He might not be a super star fantasy player, but definitely will deserve a place on someone’s roster in every league.
Falling Stock—Jeff Kent—LAD —Kent solidified his place in the Hall of Fame years ago, however, Father Time has begun to catch up with him finally. As he reaches age 40, the statistics are starting to dwindle. Some people would kill to have Kent’s line from last season (.301/20/79), especially at second base, but his days of being a dominant hitter are definitely in the rear view mirror. There could be a drastic drop in production in the near future, and it could be this season.
Make or Break Year—Rickie Weeks—MIL —Weeks has been the victim of a roller coaster of a major league career so far. The former number 2 overall pick has been hyped for years now, but he’s never been able to put a long stretch of consistency together. It looked like last season was going to be his breakout year before injuries cost him part of the campaign. At 25, it is time for Weeks to either stay healthy and put together a great year, or else slip into that dreaded “bust” category. If I had to bet, I’m guessing this is the season he starts to fulfill that enormous potential.
Risky Pick—Kelly Johnson, ATL —He put up a solid season last year, but looking at his minor league statistics, Johnson had an incredibly inconsistent trip through the farm system. I wouldn’t bet on more than 10 HRs, a .265 average, and 55 RBI. Not horrible from a middle infielder, but after last year, that would be a disappointment.
Top Prospect—Matt Antonelli—SD —OK, so the pool of 2 nd base prospects is incredibly thin. It is a distinct possibility that Antonelli might be moved to the outfield with the acquisition of Iguchi to play second base. He has never played there, but if he can put up similar numbers to what he did in the low minors (.314/14/54 in just 82 games), it makes sense for the Padres to teach him a new position to get his bat into the lineup. Also deserving consideration— Danny Richar, CWS
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