KEEPERS: Dynasty reload - Second basemen

This is the third of a 10-column series designed to help owners playing in keeper league (KL) and dynasty formats look ahead over the next few years to address their weak spots. From now through December, we'll be putting forth by-position lists of our favorite low-dollar players and prospects. All could be relatively available in your leagues -- and could earn double-digit dollars sometime over the next three seasons, between 2012 and 2014. Our criterion includes the following:

  • Player must be growth-age -- 27 years old -- or younger as of Opening Day
  • Player must have earned less than $10 in 2011
  • Player must have accumulated at least 100 AB above A+ ball

It's easy to identify the top players at a given position looking forward, even without numbers at our fingertips. But while Adam Dunn's miserable 2011 reminds us that there are no sure things, the one certainty is that most "established" players are already firmly entrenched on one of your league's 2012 keeper rosters -- and likely available only via trade offer of equal value. The ability of dynasty owners to identify available breakout-ready talent is a must in order to compete on an ongoing basis.

Second base looks relatively shallow for our purposes, partly due to an older positional 'demographic" -- and also because of a relatively high number of $10+ performers from 2010. The following are the next best possibilities to join that group sometime soon.

Even though he struggled down the stretch in his MLB debut, Dustin Ackley (2B, SEA) is the name that jumps out on this list from an overall skills perspective. His BA (.273) and patience (11% bb%) held up well in 333 SEA AB -- and we expect the power and contact he showed early to rebound some after adjustments. The 151 Spd adds to the building blocks we see here. Potential .300 BA / 20-20 upside, with outstanding on-base skills.

Entering 2011, we liked Alexi Casilla (2B, MIN) as an SB source from a middle infield spot. Casilla had recorded Spd scores of 159 and 144, in 2009-10 -- and an outstanding 35/4 SB/CS over his MLB career. And in spite of a slow 2011 start, Casilla still owned a 15/3 SB/CS mark as he heated up in July (.283 BA, 91% ct%), until his season ended abruptly late that month due to hamstring problems. Durability seems to be his biggest obstacle, and a 106 Spd is no longer rosy -- but his SB% still suggests that Casilla still has double-digit earning potential.

Gordon Beckham (2B, CHW) endured a second consecutive disappointing season on a CHW team filled with them. The power he displayed in his 2009 debut (120 PX) continues to trend in the wrong direction (76 PX), in synch with his other declining plate skills (7% bb%, 78% ct%). He's included here because we can't believe he's this awful, and because his age gives him time to re-group as part of the CHW makeover. But we wouldn't pay more than a flyer price for him, either.

Jason Kipnis (2B, CLE) impressed in his 2H MLB debut by hitting six HR during a 10-game stretch -- including a HR in four straight contests -- just before missing a month due to oblique and hamstring issues. Always a high-BA minor league hitter, Kipnis' MLB HR streak was aided by an inflated hr/f, but CLE officials think his 2011 power growth is real. There's long-term potential here -- though the small sample plate skill metrics (7% bb%, 75% ct%) suggest that he may not reach it immediately.

Jose Altuve (2B, HOU) made it to HOU with only 188 AB above A+ ball -- overcoming odds offered by many observers. After batting .389 between A+ and AA, the diminutive Altuve held his own -- .276/.267 BA/xBA in 221 MLB AB -- but his shortcomings were also apparent. He maintained his high ct% (87%), but sub-par patience (2% bb%) and power (59 PX) are issues. Altuve's 31 SB across three levels showed decent speed, but a 65% SB% says that his running game needs some polish. He'll still be just 21 years old on Opening Day, and his inexperience at higher levels could catch up with him.

While Ruben Tejada (2B, NYM) hasn't won a starting job yet, he can play either middle-infield position, and the Mets like his defense. But it's the 21-year-old Tejada's 2H offensive uptick that has our interest. Over his final 206 AB, Tejada recorded a .286/.279 BA/xBA combo, supported by an 87% ct% -- while maintaining a 10% bb% and 20%+ LD% all season long. With just average speed, Tejada also recorded a 5/1 SB/CS mark during this period. He won't hit for power, but if he gets the AB, he could surprise.

In his MLB debut, Johnny Giavotella (2B, KC) maintained the LD stroke that made him a .300 hitter in the minors, but a 3% bb% and 82% ct% suggest that he remains a work in progress. He has time to grow, but gap power and barely above-average speed will limit his upside.

Missed the cut, but worth mentioningÉ

Sean Rodriguez (2B, TAM): Teased with power (140 PX) again in 1H, fell apart again in 2H. Athleticism remains intriguing, but continued flailing vs. RHP -- .192/.280/.286 over 234 AB -- will soon limit AB and future value.

Chris Nelson (2B, COL): Still flashes skills (21% LD%, .276 xBA) through the raw physical tools, but his pitch selection hasn't improved, and his defense may keep him from a full-time job. Coors Field helps keep him interesting.

Trevor Plouffe (2B, MIN): A player without a position and with questionable defense, he showed decent power with 23 HR between AAA and MIN. But pitch selection and contact remain obstacles.

Reese Havens (2B, NYM): With Slg and OBP potential, his rise through minors has been limited by a variety of injuries. Now undertaking an offseason strengthening program, this 25-year-old could rise quickly with good health.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.