Oct 28, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox second basemanDustin Pedroia
(15) throws out St. Louis Cardinals outfielderShane Robinson
(not pictured) in the first inning during game five of the MLB baseball World Series at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports
1. Dustin Pedroia (Boston Red Sox)- For years, the debate of whether Pedroia or Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in baseball has raged on. That argument will continue for upcoming seasons; however, with Cano having signed a 10 year contract with the Seattle Mariners, there’s no question that Pedroia is the best second baseman in the AL East. Pedroia suffered a torn ligament in his thumb on Opening Day of 2013, and somehow fought through the injury to play 160 games at the keystone. Though the injury did hamper his production a bit, Pedroia was still a great presence at the top of the lineup as he slashed .301/.372/.415 for the World Champion Red Sox. If Pedroia can stay healthy in 2014, it’s reasonable to expect that his offensive numbers could actually improve as he continues to make his case for best second baseman in the league.
2. Ben Zobrist (Tampa Bay Rays)- Over the last few years, Zobrist has really cemented himself as one of the most quietly excellent players in baseball. He has spent fairly extensive time at both second base and right field and has proven himself capable at nearly every other position on the field except pitcher and catcher. However, Zobrist’s only value does not come as a versatile utility man. He has also developed into a solid middle-of-the-order bat for the Rays, posting an OPS+ above 110 in five of the last six years. Zobrist had a bit of a down year in 2013, slashing .275/.354/.402 with 12 home runs and 71 RBIs, but a more stable role in 2014 could improve his offensive numbers. With Wil Myers in right field and Yunel Escobar at shortstop, Zobrist should be exclusively a second baseman for the Rays and this security could lead to another great season for the soon-to-be 33-year old.
3. Brian Roberts (New York Yankees)- Four years ago, Roberts likely would have ranked third on this list just as he does now. However, it would be a much more competitive third place coming off of his 2009 season where he was a bona fide star for the Baltimore Orioles, slashing .283/.356/.451 with 30 stolen bases. Roberts now ranks third coming off a 2013 season which saw him slash just .249/.312/.392. The last four years have been an injury-riddled hell for Roberts’ baseball life as his career has been derailed by a 2010 concussion. Lasting effects from that concussion have prevented Roberts from playing more than 77 games since that 2009 season. The Yankees picked him up on a cheap, one-year deal and are hoping that a fully healthy Roberts can give them decent production; however, it’s clear that he is just a shell of his former self.
4. Jonathan Schoop (Baltimore Orioles)- Schoop has ranked as one of the top second base prospects in baseball over the last few years, and the Orioles are finally ready to give him the keys to a starting job in 2014. A strong defensive second baseman, he has the potential to grow offensively but slashed just .256/.301/.396 in 81 games with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides last season. It’s unrealistic to expect Schoop to be a key contributor so early in his career, but it will be the start to what could be a bright future for the 22-year old from Curacao.
5. Ryan Goins (Toronto Blue Jays)- Goins is another young AL East second baseman that could likely be handed a starting job in 2014. However, unlike Schoop he has never been considered a top prospect and now 25 years old has shown much less offensive potential than Schoop. Goins played in 34 games for the Blue Jays toward the end of last season and the results were not especially pretty, as he slashed .252/.264/.345, walking just twice in 121 plate appearances. His season in Triple-A Buffalo weren’t a whole lot better, with Goins slashing .257/.311/.369 there and again, not truly showing the skills to become an every day player at the major league level. However, he is the Blue Jays’ best option going into this year and they will have to live with that for now.