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Fantasy Fix: 2B Or Not 2B

First base traditionally is a position rich in fantasy baseball talent. No fewer than 11 1Bs could go in the first four rounds of most fantasy baseball drafts this year (though I only listed seven in my own top 40 picks a couple weeks ago).

Second base traditionally is a much different story. Only five players with 2B eligibility are widely considered to be in the top 40 this year.

Fantasy owners have two different ways of looking at this disparity: Some like to join the 1B rush because the best of them tend to be some of the league's big boppers, and not draft a position like 2B with a shallow talent pool until later in the draft. Others like to go for the top 2Bs (or another shallow position - shortstop) right off the bat, figuring they can still get a decent 1B in deeper rounds.

I like the latter strategy. I wouldn't take top-ranked 2B Chase Utley over top-ranked 1B Albert Pujols, but I probably would take young 2Bs like Ben Zobrist and Dustin Pedroia with big-name 1Bs like Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis still on the board.

With that in mind, here are some 1Bs and 2Bs to think about past Round 4:

Top 3 1Bs likely to survive past Round 4:

1. Mark Reynolds, Arizona (also 3B eligible): He's borderline top 40. No one thinks he'll hit 44 HRs again, but what about a 30 HR/30 SB year?

2. Adam Dunn, Washington (also OF eligible): Consistent home run power, 115+ walks and close to 120 RBIs this year with improved Nationals.

3. Billy Butler, Kansas City: Starting to live up to the buzz. Hard to surpass his 51 doubles of 2009, but he could build on his 21 HRs and 93 RBIs of last year - and he's only 24.

Top Sleeper Pick: Jake Fox, Oakland (also OF/3B eligible). Probably a last-round pick. It will not be so easy for him to belt homers in Oakland, but he's a real hitter, and should feast on American League pitching.

Best Chance for Rookie Impact: Brandon Allen, Arizona. Assuming he breaks camp with the big club, I think the former White Sox farm hand could earn at-bats quickly and show off his power, maybe even challenge starter Adam LaRoche.

Best to Avoid: Todd Helton, Colorado. He battled back from injury last year and came up with a .325 batting average and 86 RBIs, but he'll be 37 this summer, and a dignified but clear decline is in the cards.

Top 3 2Bs likely to survive past Round 4:

1. Robinson Cano, NY Yankees: A 200-hit season for the champs last year and a surprising burst of power with 25 HRs. Plus, he's at the prime hitters' age of 27.

2. Aaron Hill, Toronto: No one thinks he'll rack up 36 HRs and 108 RBIs again, but he can't fall that far can he? Even 25 HRs would put him in the top four or five at the position.

3. Brian Roberts, Baltimore: Continues to pile up doubles and stolen bases every year. Can he manage an odd 60-30 in 2010?

Top Sleeper Pick: Ian Stewart, Colorado (also 3B eligible). Showed some nice power last year with 25 HRs, but his .228 average buried him in the rankings. I like him for more average, fewer homers and maybe double digit stolen bases.

Best Chance for Rookie Impact: Scott Sizemore, Detroit. This year's Chris Getz? That may not be such an endorsement, but he's supposed to have a lively bat, and probably will score a lot of runs hitting ahead of Miguel Cabrera.

Best to Avoid: Kelly Johnson, Arizona. Carried great buzz into last year and flopped with a .224 average.

The Baseball Expert Wire
* The Talented Mr. Roto is back at ESPN.com with his top 250 rankings, and some particular notes on various players.

* Bleacher Report ranks the top 15 relievers just in time for what may be a season-ending injury to Joe Nathan, the guy who would have been No. 3 or 4 on many lists.

* FanHouse has an interesting list of much-hyped players from previous years who still haven't seen breakout campaigns. I never thought I would say this, but I now like Homer Bailey more than David Price.

* OPEN Sports laments the death of rotisserie-style fantasy baseball leagues, but then goes on to offer some strategic advice for remaining roto-leaguers who haven't made the jump to head-to-head leagues. Like many baseball fantasy leaguers, I started in a roto league about 25 years ago - a team I shared with my dad. I'm still in one today, along with a couple H2H leagues, and even though the format seems dated, how do you walk away from tradition when the game is all about tradition?

Fantasy Basketball
We'll be back next week with our final fantasy basketball update of the year as leagues head into their playoff slates.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Comments welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like it's about.

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