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Happily Stuck (In the Middle)

Middle Infielders are valuable commodities, but there is no need to reach for a second baseman if fantasy owners want to wait to draft a solid keystone contributor in the middle rounds. After the big names, Robinson Cano, Jose Altuve and Anthony Rendon , disappear off the board, one can start to find value at second base. The second tier should include Dee Gordon, Dozier, Kinsler, and Kipnis, but the best value are the players below that tier, which include Kolten Wong , Neil Walker, and Howie Kendrick.

Fantasy Baseball Second Basemen Rankings

Wong has the biggest upside at second base, and fantasy owners can expect a stat line that is similar to Kipnis' stat line, minus some RBI's, for a cheaper price. His success rate at stealing bases (20-24, 83%), bodes well for the 2015 season, and his increased fly ball rate, 38% in the second half, led to 12 homers. Owners should expect 20-25 stolen bases this year, and more fly balls should lead to 10-15 homers, even if his 15% home run/fly ball during his hot second half regresses. Wong's .275 BABIP should regress to the mean, which should pull up his Batting Average to .260 or more. Wong needs to provide more consistency for H2H leagues, but this is a player that can jump to the next tier by 2016. Invest in him now.

Walker will not provide the speed of Wong, but he will provide more HR's and RBI's in 2015. Walker's consistent weekly production will help H2H owners, and his steady power will result in 15-20 homers. His ability to make contact and take free passes will lead to at least another .340 OBP this year, although his career-struggles versus lefties will keep him in the middle rounds for 2015. Walker's 2014 BABIP versus lefties, .330, aided his "veiled" resurgence. While owners should not expect 23 homers again this year, they can expect a reliable contributor with some pop.

Kendrick moves across LA, and owners will find a 10 HR/10 SB in the mid-to-late rounds. Kendrick's 60% ground-ball rate is not encouraging, but a few more fly balls, (21% in 2014), should find the seats this season. His consistent contact rate, 60-70 RBI's, and .280 BA could all lead to a solid 2015, but owners should place him at the bottom of this tier due to his .397 SLG%.

Two others are worth taking fliers on if owners miss out in their drafts & auctions

Jedd Gyorko is a name that last year's owners would like to forget after 2014, but his increased contact rate, 78% in the second-half, and his increased walk-rate, 11% in the second-half, illustrate a growing player that had a .745 OPS after his injury. His low BABIP, .253, last year signals a rebound this year. Some owners will envision a repeat of 2013, which is possible with more fly balls, but he will produce 16 homers and 60 RBI's for an improved Padre lineup in 2015. (Watch the Moncada sweepstakes to see if the Padres land another acquisition.)

Brett Lawrie is not for the risk-averse owner, but his age and upside, even in Oakland, are worth a late-round flyer. Yes, he may land on the DL before June, but his low BABIP, .260, and his DL-time give some hope for a semi-productive year out west. His inconsistent weekly production will not help most H2H owners, even though his overall production, .260, 15 homers, and 60 RBI, will help Roto owners. He lacks the speed of the top tier, but Lawrie will steal 5-10 bags in 2015. If he can lower his ground-ball rate, around 50% most years, then he can hit 20 homers or more for owners, and he is only 25 years old.

There are multiple options available after the top tier at second base is off the board, which are mostly kept in keeper leagues. Owners that wait on a second baseman until the middle rounds in 2015 will turn a profit.

Brant Chesser