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Fantasy Fix: Second and Third Thoughts

If fantasy baseball has two positions that are difficult to rank this year, they're second base and third base. At second base we have a lot of aging veterans, a couple players who were surprises last year, and the enigma of Chase Utley. At third base, the best player isn't ranked because he won't qualify at third base until the first couple weeks of the season are through - Miguel Cabrera. Meanwhile, the best player ranked at the position, Jose Bautista, may not play much third with young stud Brett Lawrie around and could end up losing his 3B eligibility.

Thinking strategically, if you can't get one of the top three second basemen, it might be worth it to take a gamble on Utley. For third base, if you're lucky enough to grab Cabrera (current position eligibility 1B) in the first round, plan to take another high-ranking 1B right away, then pick up a 3B in a later round - just a warm body assured to start the season - to start there while Cabrera qualifies for 3B.

My top 10 at 2B:

Robinson Cano, NYY: Though he doesn't steal as many bases as Kinsler and Pedroia, he makes up for it by being an overall better hitter and run producer than both.

Dustin Pedroia, BOS: Along with Cano, the only unquestionable top 20 player at this position. New-found power and improving health could mean a .320/25/100/30 season.

Ian Kinsler, TEX: Usually streaky and a bit injury-prone, he went on a home run binge last year. His 30/30 HR/SB potential gets him this ranking, but his batting average is woeful.

Dan Uggla, ATL: Took half a season to find his power last year, then went crazy and almost hit 40 HRs. I like him for HRs and doubles, but his age, 32, means he may be past his prime.

Ben Zobrist, TAM: Another aging vet at this position, he started career-year fast and faded a bit last year, though 20 HRs and 20 SBs isn't out of the question.

Brandon Phillips, CIN: His .300 average last season was a nice surprise, though his HRs and SBs have slipped in recent years, and he may no longer go 20/20 in those stats.

Chase Utley, PHI: Many people see him as having great comeback potential, and I'll buy in for 25 HRs, 25 SBs, but he hasn't hit for average in years.

Howie Kendrick, LAA: He turned doubles into HRs last year for the first time in his career, and could hit just ahead of Albert Pujols, which means good pitches to hit for a good hitter.

Michael Young, TEX: Yet another aging vet, whose great 2011 season was nice surprise. He may still have a 200-hit season in him, but has probably peaked in other stat categories.

Jemile Weeks, OAK: Played a little more than a half season last year and hit .300 with 22 SBs. I like his potential to reach 40 SBs this year, making him a nice sleeper at this ranking.

Just missed the top 10: Dustin Ackley, SEA; Rickie Weeks, MIL; Danny Espinosa, WAS; Michael Cuddyer, COL.

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My top 10 at 3B:

Jose Bautista, TOR: He quieted doubters like me last year by hitting 43 HRs and above .300.

Evan Longoria, TAM: The sub.250 average really hurt, but at 27 he has 40 HR 120 RBI potential.

Adrian Beltre, TEX: A .300/30/100 candidate if he stays healthy.

Brett Lawrie, TOR: A big risk ranking him this high, but he has the tools to score in every fantasy category. I think his youth is less of a risk than the injury-prone vets I have ranked behind him.

Ryan Zimmerman, WAS: Forever on the verge, he's still young and still has .300/30/100 potential, but gets hurt every year.

David Wright, NYM: Many have him ranked higher, but he only played 102 games last year, and his RBIs will suffer greatly this year with Jose Reyes gone.

Pablo Sandoval, SF: No problem with Panda at this position, and I'd put him higher if he had Wright's speed or Zimmerman's HR clout.

Alex Rodriguez, NYY: The storied slugger will start fading into DH territory this season.

Aramis Ramirez, MIL: I wonder if the room temperature dome will have his bat warming up an earlier than it's usual July coming-out party.

Kevin Youkilis, BOS: I see him as pretty even with the next four or five guys at 3B, but willing to buy him here as a comeback story.

Just missed: David Freese, STL; Michael Young, TEX; Mark Reynolds; Mike Moustakas, KC

Expert Wire
* Athlon Sports ranks the second basemen, with Cano, Pedroia and Kinsler in familiar spots.

* Rant Sports ranks the top five young outfield prospects. Does the CUBS' Brett Jackson make the list?

* Bleacher Report features WHIP-ready starting pitchers.

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Disco Danny O'Shea welcomes your comments.

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