Brandon Phillips has been the definition of durability and consistency for the Cincinnati Reds for the past six seasons. He has played in at least 140 games for each of the past six years and his numbers have been very solid. He’s coming off a 2012 in which he batted .281/.321/.433 with 18 home runs, 30 doubles and 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts. The power numbers are very good considering his positioning at second base, as he has hit at least 18 home runs in each of the last 5 seasons and at least 30 doubles in each of the last 4 seasons. However, defense is usually what lands Phillips on the highlight reels. He is known for making countless plays at second base that require seemingly impossible athleticsim. In addition, Phillips has saved a positive number of runs in each of his last 5 seasons, saving 11 a year ago. He has consistently been at least a 3.5 win player in each of the past 3 seasons so I would expect to see him reach that mark again and with the possibility of being a 4 win player in 2013.
4. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
Ian Kinsler had a “down” year for his normal standards in 2012. However, he was still able to be a productive player. His walks were down (60) and strikeouts were up (90) which resulted in the lowest OBP of his career at .326. However, he was still able to hit for good power with 42 doubles, 5 triples, and 19 home runs. He also managed to swipe 21 bags in 30 attempts. It’s Kinsler’s track record that makes it realistic that his numbers will improve and return to being more like his 2011 numbers of .255/.355/.477 with 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, 118 OPS+ and a 7.1 WAR. Although he does not particularly hit for a high batting average, Kinsler historically has made up for that with his on-base skills. Defensively, Kinsler has also been above average at second base, saving 40 runs throughout his career, despite having a high number of errors in some of his seasons. I expect Kinsler to be around a 4 to 5 win player in 2013 for the Texas Rangers.
3. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
Aaron Hill has not been as consistent as Phillips, but is coming off one of the best season of his career. The Diamondbacks second sacker batted .302/.360/.522 in 2012. Although he may be aided by the ballpark in Arizona, Hill hit for tremendous extra base hit power as a second baseman by slugging 44 doubles, 6 triples and 26 long balls. Hill also adds a bit of speed to his offensive game, as he stole 14 bags in 19 attempts in 2012. After a 2009 in which he launched 36 home runs for Toronto, his numbers took a steep decline in 2010 and 2011 and many thought 2009 was just a fluke. However, he is still just 30 years old and he should come into 2013 feeling very confident and healthy after his great 2012 campaign. Defensively, Hill has been average the past 2 seasons, saving 2 runs in 2011 and -2 runs in 2012. Don’t expect to see any Phillips’ like plays from Hill at second base, but his offense is what will make him around a 4-4.5 win player again in 2013 for the Diamondbacks.
2. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia has turned himself into a major fan favorite and team leader in Boston. Entering his 8th campaign with the Red Sox, Pedroia has put up career marks of .303/.369/.461 with a 117 OPS+. Dustin has dealt with a couple injury problems throughout his career, but it has not kept him from being a very productive second baseman. He has proven to have solid power, speed and on-base skills throughout his career, earning him a Rookie of the Year and an MVP in his first two seasons. Pedroia has hit at least 15 home runs in 4 of his last 5 seasons, at least 35 doubles in 4 of his last 5 seasons, and stolen at least 20 bags in his last 4 full seasons. Defensively, Pedroia has proven to consistently be among the best, if not the best in the game at his position. He has saved at least 11 in his past 4 healthy seasons (75 games in 2010) and has never committed more than 7 errors in his 7 seasons with Boston. He is not coming off one of his best campaigns; however this may be a result of his nagging thumb injuries throughout the season. If healthy, I expect Pedroia to return to form and be around a 6 win player in 2013.
1. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Almost infamously traded to the Rangers as a prospect for Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano has made the most of his opportunity in the Bronx, slowly becoming the game's best second baseman. His consistency is unmatched as he has been able to stay on the field for 8 seasons and has a career line of .308/.351/.503 and a 123 OPS+. He is also coming off his three best seasons, finishing in the top 6 in the MVP voting each year, winning 3 consecutive silver sluggers and 2 gold gloves. Cano’s power numbers have also increased in the last few years, putting up a very impressive 48 doubles and 33 home runs (both career highs) in 2012. He is also among the elite defenders in the game at second base as he saved 10 runs last year and 17 for his career. He also committed just 6 errors last year. Overall, Cano had the second highest WAR in all of baseball last season at 8.2. It will be tough to match that number in 2013, but still just 30 years of age I would expect Cano to be anywhere from a 6-7 win player.