Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sleeperville - the second basemen
Build the coolest keeper fantasy team in the land

As we inch closer to the Major League regular season so many questions hang gently in the air like an inviting Kei Igawa fastball. Will Barry Bonds head eventually simply implode? Does Jarrod Saltalamacchia have the coolest name in baseball? Who is Ryan Spilborghs?

It is hard to build a dominant fantasy team and harder still to build a dominant fantasy keeper team. I am here to make that task that little bit easier. I am going to list the cool, chíc young/unheralded players that might not be obvious choices in your fantasy baseball draft. Stun your friends by grabbing those sleeper picks before anyone else.

Previously posted: First Base Catchers

Let's break it down. On to the second baggers. A list of potential sleeper second basemen and where they were picked in the .406 Club Forum fantasy keeper draft I took part in last month.

Remember, you won't find the 'usual suspects' here. Everyone knows about Adam Kennedy and Robinson Cano. These are the guys you might pick when working 'outside the box'.

62. Dan Uggla (2B-FLA)
105. Howie Kendrick (1B/2B-LAA)
119. Ian Kinsler (2B-TEX)
187. Dustin Pedroia (2B-BOS)

62. Dan Uggla (2B-FLA)
Uggla is still flying just below the radar although word is starting to spread about the 26 year olds skills around the second base bag, as illustrated by him going at 62nd in my Fantasy Keeper League draft. Uggla lost out to narrowly to his team mate Hanley Ramirez for the 2006 NL Rookie of the year. He finished third behind Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals, who both posted sensational rookie seasons.

105. Howie Kendrick (1B/2B-LAA)

Anybody who is a regular reader of Sports Guy on ESPN2 knows all about Howard Kendrick. Sports Guy has been high on Kendrick's potential since last year and has mentioned him several times in baseball columns. After destroying minor league pitching to the tune of a career .359 average Howie has made his splash in the majors and qualifies at both second and first base. With Adam Kennedy signing as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2006-07 offseason, second base will be all Howie's for 2007.

Here's what Dayn Perry of FoxSports had to say about Howie in his Top 10 breakout performers for 2007 piece;

''Few hitters can put bat on ball like Kendrick. He scuttled a bit last season after his call-up to Anaheim, but he was a career .361 hitter in the minors. Yes, in 1,475 minor league at bats, Kendrick maintained a .361 average. And all the while he was doing it at every level and generally competing against older peer groups. That's a hitter. He doesn't boast much in the way of secondary skills, but Kendrick could contend for a batting title right away. In fact, don't be surprised if Kendrick in 2007 emerges as the best second baseman in the AL not named Robinson Cano.''

119. Ian Kinsler (2B-TEX)
Kinsler won the Rangers' starting second base job in spring training, 2006. He was hitting a ridiculous .476 before he dislocated his left thumb sliding into second base on April 11, 2006. On May 25, 2006, Kinsler came back after being on the 15-day disabled list. He went 3-4 with a single and 2 home runs, to lead the Rangers to an 8-7 victory over the Oakland Athletics. He finished 2006 with a .280 batting average, 11 home runs, 10 stolen bases, and 48 RBIs in 378 at bats. He showed an eye for clutch situations by batting .300 with runners in scoring position, and managing healthy .333 when the game was 'late and close'.


187. Dustin Pedroia (2B-BOS)
When finally called up, Red Sox prospect Dustin Pedroia struggled a little during the first few months of the 2006 season. He did however start to put it together in terms of on base percentage and showed enough potential and moxy to be given the nod for the starting job at second in 2007. Whilst Pedroia should be a useful infielder for the Red Sox next year, the hope is that he could soon develop into an above-average infielder if he stays healthy.

His defence should help the Sox mightily. This from Baseball Prospectus;
''But the main source of change is none other than Dustin Pedroia. Mark Loretta’s defense was fairly brutal last year (feel free to check David Pinto’s work for some independent confirmation of this), while we’re expecting Pedroia, who has spent most of his baseball career at shortstop, to be a spry defender at second base.''

Of course, some like Pedroia even more than others.



Previously posted: First Base Catchers

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Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

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