Revisiting The Nine Best Second Basemen for 2013

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

In the weeks leading up to the 2013 season, I unveiled my predictions for The Nine best players at each position. Some of the lists look good, some look terrible at this point, but that’s all part of the fun. Over the next two weeks leading up to the All-Star Game I will be revisiting these lists to see how things are going so far, around the halfway mark.

Obviously, the early evaluations will feature fewer than half a season and the later lists will feature a bit more, but try to think of these as the state of the position at the halfway mark. I’ll be using Wins Above Replacement (WAR) to generate the rankings because it is the number that best captures the entire value of a player. It isn’t perfect, so don’t take the precise values too seriously, but it’s certainly the best way to make any type of holistic list. WAR values offense, defense, baserunning, and playing time, so it represents exactly what I was trying to capture when I made the rankings during Spring Training.

Here’s how this will work. Below, you’ll see all nine players I ranked in the preseason and any player who currently ranks in the top 9 at that position. The current ranking drives the order and the preseason ranking and their current WAR is noted. Hit, miss, and push distinctions are based on where their first half places them going forward. For example, I can miss on a player even if I expect them to play much better in the second half if their first half was so poor that it is impossible to make up the ground overall.

We’ve already covered the catchers and first basemen, so let’s move on to first base. Here’s The Nine Best Second Basemen for 2013. Numbers are as of the All-Star Break.

81. Dustin Ackley, Mariners (Preseason Rank: 9, 2013 WAR: -0.6)

I would feel worse about Ackley if the rest of this list wasn’t as good as it is. I whiffed on this one. Ackley might have a future yet in MLB, but he’s not going to be a top 2B for 2013 unless something otherworldly happens. MISS

26. Aaron Hill, Dbacks (Preseason Rank: 4, 2013 WAR: 0.5)

Hill’s rate stats are great, he just got hurt and has only played 30 games after fracturing his hand. That’s not an “injury-prone” kind of injury, so it’s not like the kind of thing you should account for when considering a ranking because it could happen to anyone. This one is off, but for good reason. MISS

13. Ian Kinsler, Rangers (Preseason Rank: 5, 2013 WAR: 1.4)

Kinsler is much the same as Hill, as he missed time with an injury. The rate stats are good, but he hasn’t accumulated the value because he’s about 20-25 games short of his competitors. No sweat. PUSH

12. Neil Walker, Pirates (Preseason Rank: 7, 2013 WAR: 1.5)

Walker, too, is having a good season but missed a bit of time with an injury. He’s still pretty close to on track to finish 7th among 2B, so no issues here. HIT

10. Brandon Phillips, Reds (Preseason Rank: 6, 2013 WAR: 2.0)

Phillips is pretty much who I thought he’d be. A low on base, solid power guy who plays good defense. His precise ranking isn’t dead on, but it’s very close and there’s no reason to think he won’t be right around 6-8 when all is said and done. HIT

9. Marco Scutaro, Giants (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 2.1)

Scutaro is a guy who has gotten better as he’s aged and is doing a nice job getting on base and limiting strikeouts. I had him out of the top 9, but not that far. I’ll call it a push and see how things go. He’d certainly have been 10-13th before the season. PUSH

8. Ben Zobrist, Rays (Preseason Rank: 2 among RF, 2013 WAR: 2.2)

Zobrist started the year in RF and I could only rank him in one place. I ranked him as the 2nd best RF in baseball. Nothing you can do about that. PUSH

7. Omar Infante, Tigers (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 2.4)

Infante has done a very nice job improving his defensive and baserunning game, which has done a lot to improve his overall value. Infante was a middle of the pack guy for me, so I undershot him a little to this point. MISS

6. Howie Kendrick, Angels (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 2.4)

Kendrick is another guy who I left just outside the list, and that’s on me. He’s having a strong year with the bat and it’s carrying him onto the list. MISS

5. Chase Utley, Phillies (Preseason Rank: 1, 2013 WAR: 2.6)

I’m a huge Utley fan and ranked him first as a bit of bold prediction that he’d stay healthy. He’s the best 2B in baseball in my book but he’s had trouble staying healthy, and despite missing about 25 games, he’s still 5th on this list. If he plays 65 games the rest of the way  at the pace he’s on, we’re talking about a 5+ win player in 130 games. I’ll stand by him. He won’t finish first, but he’s definitely going to stick in the top five. HIT

4. Jason Kipnis, Indians (Preseason Rank: 8, 2013 WAR: 3.4)

Kipnis was one of those young players coming into the season who could easily have taken the leap or faded back. He’s done the former and has established himself as one of the game’s better power hitting second basemen with  .514 SLG to go with his .383 OBP and good baserunning. Kipnis may not sustain this pace, but he’s a very good second baseman who I expect to finish in the 4-7 range this season. HIT

3. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (Preseason Rank: 3, 2013 WAR: 3.7)

Number 3, nailed it. Pedroia is just a great all-around player. I don’t think much else needs to be said about a guy who gets on base, hits for solid power, plays good defense, and runs the bases well. Pedroia is great. HIT

2. Robinson Cano, Yankees (Preseason Rank: 2, 2013 WAR: 3.8)

Another direct hit. Cano is a very good hitter, trailing only Kipnis and the guy who is 1st on the list in wRC+ and his defense and baserunning are about average. He’s been the only Yankees who can stay healthy and he’s setting himself up for a big payday. HIT

1. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 4.3)

I really like Carpenter as a player, I just had no idea he was going to turn into this guy. Pretty much everyone will tell you he’s turned himself into a much better player and when I wrote the original list he wasn’t even a lock to get the 2B job. He’s done a great job. He’s the best hitting 2B in baseball right now and is playing great defense. MISS

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2 responses

  1. […] already covered the catchers, first basemen, and second basemen so let’s move on to first base. Here’s The Nine Best Shortstops for 2013. Numbers are as of […]

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