- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
This is apparently what happens when a fantasy baseball position feels like it's been wronged. We're less than a week through the season, and the second-base position is on fire. Entering Monday's games, second basemen comprised three of the top five spots among the home run leaders and five of the top 11 spots on the Player Rater. And those who had selected Rickie Weeks, Ian Kinsler, Howard Kendrick and Brian Roberts were feeling really, really smart.
Alas, while second base does appear stronger than originally thought -- certainly in comparison to shortstop, which through five days of games had been outhomered by its middle infield counterparts 21 to four -- fantasy owners should reel in expectations a bit. I mean, the Angels' Kendrick has three home runs already but has never hit more than three home runs in any month of his career. The Orioles' Roberts once hit eight home runs in April 2005, but then hit 10 the rest of the season. I presume his balky back is feeling good today, but take the under on his first 20-homer season.
Second base is looking pretty good, but I thought I'd point out players at that position who remain a bit too ignored -- even in standard leagues -- but offer promise.
Mike Aviles, Kansas City Royals: I like that Aviles is leading off and that he's running, two things I expect to continue. Yes, Aviles entered Tuesday hitting all of .214 and with only one walk, but wouldn't it be just a bit too easy for me to recommend someone off to a better start, such as Neil Walker? I do like Walker, but Aviles has staying power and a career .298 batting average with potential for double-digit power (and definitely speed). I'd invest.
Will Rhymes, Detroit Tigers: I've discussed him recently so I won't belabor the point too much, but I saw the weekend games against the New York Yankees, and Rhymes is hardly overwhelmed at the plate. In fact, he hit the ball hard, but mainly at fielders, the entire series. Then Rhymes hit a pair of singles and stole a base Monday. This is a scrappy player who will be owned in most standard leagues at some point this season. I'd rather own Rhymes than Tsuyoshi Nishioka, for example.
Freddy Sanchez, San Francisco Giants: He's off to a nice start, with seven hits through four games, and it's not fluky. He is swinging the bat well and appears healthy for the first time in a while. Sanchez doesn't offer much power or speed, but even with a painful shoulder injury last season, he hit .292 with seven home runs in 111 games. He's the second-base version of Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco; if healthy, expect a .300 batting average and plenty of runs scored.
Other second-base notes: Maicer Izturis is the second-most-added second baseman in ESPN leagues, and I could see as many as 20 stolen bases with health and opportunity, but neither is assured. Izturis has played a game at three different infield spots already. If he hits, he will play. ... Caught Danny Espinosa of the Washington Nationals the other day, and he reminds me a bit of Sean Rodriguez when he hits right-handed; he misses a lot of pitches. Espinosa can hit for power and run, and he's 4-for-9 with a pair of doubles, but I doubt he hits better than .250. ... I've got Blake DeWitt in a league that counts walks, but I'm thinking I'll need to look elsewhere soon. Then again, he hits left-handed and he's better than Darwin Barney and Jeff Baker, so I'm not seeing why DeWitt has been squeezed out by the Chicago Cubs. ... Why drop Ty Wigginton after two Colorado Rockies games? He did start one of them. He'll get 400 at-bats and hit his 15 home runs.