1. Jeff Kent, HOU $27
Whether it is for the San Franisco Giants or the Houston Astros, it just doesn't matter. Kent is a major run producer and the obvioius choice for top billing among National League second basemen. He missed 20 games with tendinitis in his wrist and still managed to drive in 93 runs. Expect him to top the century mark in RBIs in 2004. If there is one alarming stat, it's the only 9 home runs he had at Minute Maid Park last season.
Projection: .295 - 31 - 105 - 90 - 6
2. Jose Reyes, NYM $23
Note: Reyes is switching over to second base after being hailed as the future SS of the Mets, so he may not qualify at 2B in some drafts. But second base is his new home and if his rookie season was any indication of things to come, watch out. This kid can do it all. He won't be a source of power, but he can drive the ball. Forget the power! He has tremendous speed and it should be interesting to see what type of SB numbers he's able to post with fellow speedster Kaz Matsui at the top of the same lineup. Reyes could have a breakout season (at the age of 20) in 2004 and be well worth your $22 investment.
Projection: .290 - 10 - 60 - 90 - 40
3. Marcus Giles, ATL $21
People were waiting for the younger Giles to have his breakout season and he delivered in '03, hitting 21 home runs and swiping 14 bases. He'll have to proove that last season was no fluke and he'll have to do it without the protection of Gary Sheffield in the lineup. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt....for now. With no Vinny Castilla, Javy Lopez, and Gary Sheffield, Atlanta could struggle to score runs. Giles will have to step it up.
Projection: .285 - 20 - 70 - 85 - 10
Castillo had somewhat of a disappointing 2003 campaign, seeing is SB total nosedive from 48 in 2002 to just 21 in 2003. Sure his home runs "ballooned" to 6 last year. Nobody cares. Note to Luis: you're a base stealer! Get back on the base paths buddy. If he does, he's one of the better NL 2B.
Projection: .310 - 4 - 40 - 90 - 25
5. Jose Vidro, MON $19
Vidro is a nice player. But he has developed a name now and you are sure to draft him either too high or pay too much. He'll hit .300 and give you some decent power numbers. But buyer beware! There's no more Vlad to protect him in the lineup. Keep that in mind when drafting Vidro.
Projection: .310 - 15 - 70 - 75 - 2
6. Ray Durham, SF $16
Like Luis Castillo, Durham's SB total took a serious hit in '03. Durham, who swiped 26 bases in 2002, struggled to steal 7 bases last season in his first year in the National League. Of course a nagging hamstring injury was the main culprit. Expect Durham to bounce back to his normal form and approach 20 thefts in 2004.
Projection: .285 - 13 - 65 - 90 - 20
7. Placido Polanco, PHI $13
Talk about underrated! Polanco still gets no respect among NL 2B. Use that to your benefit and plug him into your lineup at a modest price. Whether he plays 2B or 3B in '04, it's of no concern to you. He'll play and his value is best at second base.
Projection: .290 - 11 - 55 - 75 - 10
8. Junior Spivey, MIL $12
Comeback alert! Spivey was the "flavor of the month" at fantasy drafts last spring after a very good season in 2002 (.301-16-78-103-11). A change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for Spivey and his owners. Expect a mild bounceback season in the very, hitter friendly confines of Milwaukee.
Projection: .275 - 15 - 60 - 80 - 10
9. Mark Loretta, SD $11
Loretta came out of nowhere last season to set a Padres record for most hits by a second baseman in a season with 185.
Projection: .300 - 7 - 60 - 60 - 2
10. D'Angelo Jiminez, CIN $10
Jiminez excelled in Cincy after coming over from the White Sox. He hit 14 HRs and stole 11 bases in 2003 and could have a repeat performance in '04. Everyone is a "sleeper" in Cincy these days .
Projection: .275 - 10 - 60 - 60 - 10
11. Todd Walker, CHN $8
What was a great move for the Cubs may not be such a good move for fantasy owners. Walker went from cult-hero in Boston last season to platoon player this season. Walker will be splitting time with Mark Grudzielanek for the Cubs this year. He'll still be decent in 2004, just be sure you are not drafting him thinking he'll duplicate his numbers from last season.
Projection: .295 - 10 - 65 - 55 - 2
12. Mark DeRosa, ATL $7
Sleeper alert. DeRosa goes from Giles' backup at second base to the everyday third baseman for the Braves after Vinny Castilla bolted back home to Colorado. He won't come close to hitting 20 home runs, but he could quietly supply a decent season playing everyday. Watch his situation closely in Spring Training.
Projection: .290 - 10 - 60 - 55 - 6
13. Mark Grudzielanek, CHN $6
Grudz' productive days are behind him. He'll most likely win the starting second base job and could produce adequate numbers, but his numbers should not come close to eclipsing those posted by backup Todd Walker. Nothing too sexy here.
Projection: .290 - 6 - 45 - 55 - 6
14. Aaron Miles, COL $5
Miles came over to Colorado in a trade with the White Sox. He's a 27-year old rookie and if it wasn't for the "Coors Factor" here, you would probably want to pass on him. He could win a starting job and yes, because of Coors Field, is worth a modest $5 bid.
Projection: .280 - 10 - 53 - 60 - 3
15. Keith Ginter, MIL $3
Junior Spivey should win the starting 2B job in Milwaukee, but just in case he doesn't, Ginter's a nice sleeper. Monitor this Spring Training battle. If Ginter wins the job outright, he could duplicate his 2003 numbers (.257-14-44-51-1). We are projecting that he won't win the job.
Projection: .250 - 6 - 50 - 60 - 0
16. Bobby Hill, PIT $2
Talk about your fall from grace! Hill was once considered a top notch prospect and after a couple of seasons of not winning the Cubs' 2B job, he was shipped to Pittsburgh last August. All Hill might need is some Major League at-bats to wake him up. But he'll battle former Red Sox prospect Freddy Sanchez for the job. Just keep an eye on him.
Projection: .260 - 5 - 35 - 55 - 10
17. Matt Kata, ARI $2
Junior Spivey was sent to Milwaukee after Kata outplayed him the second half of last season. So the job is Kata's right? Wrong. He'll have to battle prospect Scott Hairston (see below) in Spring Training to win the job outright...and that might be easier said that done. Even if Kata wins the job, he'll most likely only be keeping it warm for Hairston.
Projection: .265 - 8 - 45 - 55 - 5
18. Chase Utley, PHI $2
Here's a kid with vast potential stuck on a team loaded with veterans and with playoff aspirations. He'll most likely struggle to collect 300 at-bats this season and for this reason, we'll project him on the low side. For those of you in keeper leagues, this kid might be one to grab now and he appears to have a bright future.
Projection: .260 - 6 - 35 - 45 - 5
19. Bo Hart, STL $2
He's a nice player. That's about it for the financially-strapped Cardinals.
Projection: .280 - 6 - 40 - 45 - 5
20. Alex Cora, LA $1
Cora is expected to miss all of Spring Training with a broken arm. No matter. He won't help your fantasy team too much even if you had him. If you can't get any of the other 19 second basement listed above, you're in trouble.
Projection: .250 - 4 - 30 - 40 - 4
Notes: Scott Hairston of the Arizona Diamondbacks is a rookie that could push Matt Kata for the 2B job out of Spring Training. Watch his situation closely. He could be a great sleeper pick and could produce a .280-12-65-75-12 season if he wins the job outright. Former Red Sox prospect Freddy Sanchez, once considered a top prospect in their system, was traded to Pittsburgh and could win the starting 2B job over Bobby Hill.