Second Base

The top of the list is stacked, but after the first six there are questions
March 20, 2006

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

      Avg. HR RBI Runs SB  
1. NL Alfonso Soriano, Nationals .268 36 104 102 30 No other middle infielder blends power and speed as well as he does.
2. NL Chase Utley, Phillies .291 28 105 93 16  
3. NL Jeff Kent, Dodgers .289 29 105 100 6  
4. AL Jorge Cantu, Devil Rays .286 28 117 73 1  
5. NL Rickie Weeks, Brewers .239 13 42 56 15  
6. NL Marcus Giles, Braves .291 15 63 104 16  
7. AL Brian Roberts, Orioles .314 18 73 92 27 Biggest surprise of '05 missed the end of the season with a dislocated leftelbow and may not be ready by Opening Day.
8. AL Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox .278 15 71 74 15  
9. NL Ryan Freel, Reds .271 4 21 69 36  
10. NL Craig Biggio, Astros .264 26 69 94 11 Returned to second base last season and finished with a career high in homeruns.
11. AL Mark Loretta, Red Sox .280 3 38 54 8  
12. AL Mark Ellis, A's .316 13 52 76 1  
13. AL Robinson Cano, Yankees .297 14 62 78 1  
14. NL Orlando Hudson, Diamondbacks .271 10 63 62 7 Having escaped the Blue Jays and their conservative ways on the base paths,he's poised for a breakout year in steals.
15. NL Jose Vidro, Nationals .275 7 32 38 0  
16. AL Placido Polanco, Tigers .331 9 56 84 4  
17. NL Ray Durham, Giants .290 12 62 67 6  
18. AL Ronnie Belliard, Indians .284 17 78 71 2  
19. NL Todd Walker, Cubs .305 12 40 50 1  
20. NL Luis A. Gonzalez, Rockies .292 9 44 51 3  
21. AL Aaron Hill, Blue Jays .274 3 40 49 2  
22. AL Adam Kennedy, Angels .300 2 37 49 19 Coming off a solid season, but L.A. is stacked with high-powered younginfielders who could cut into his playing time.
23. AL Mark Grudzielanek, Royals .294 8 59 64 8  
24. NL Dan Uggla, Marlins (Double A stats) .297 21 87 88 15  
25. AL Luis Castillo, Twins .301 4 30 72 10  
26. AL Jose Lopez, Mariners .247 2 25 18 4  
27. AL Ian Kinsler, Rangers (Triple A stats) .274 23 94 102 19  
28. NL Junior Spivey, Cardinals .232 7 24 37 9 St. Louis's latest reclamation project at second base won't hit 20 homersor steal 20 bases, but he's a decent end-of-the-draft pickup.
29. NL Kazuo Matsui, Mets .255 3 24 31 6  
30. NL Jose Castillo, Pirates .268 11 53 49 2  


SPOTLIGHT

Jorge Cantu

You weren't theonly one who didn't see Cantu's breakout season coming. Before hitting 28 homeruns and driving in a Devil Rays--record 117 runs in 2005, he was slow todevelop a power stroke. In two full Double A seasons ('01 and '02) he hit sevenhome runs in 1,024 at bats and had only seven more the next year, includingfour at Triple A. Cantu has never received the attention of ballyhooed TampaBay prospects such as Delmon Young and B.J. Upton, and in a 50-game stint inthe majors in '04 he didn't turn heads (two homers, 17 RBIs). But Cantu, 24, isthe real deal, a free swinger who is lightning quick on inside pitches. Once hebecomes more selective at the plate and settles at one position (he played 62games at third in '05 but enters this year as the every-day second baseman), heshould put up even bigger numbers.

DEEP SLEEPERS

ANDERSONHERNANDEZ, Mets Bret Boone retired, and Kazuo Matsui will be traded the secondNew York finds a taker, leaving this 23-year-old, who had 35 steals in theminors last season, with the job.

DONNIE MURPHY,Royals He came to camp looking ready to earn an every-day spot. If MarkGrudzielanek is traded, Murphy, who hit .313 with 10 homers in 214 Double A atbats last season, would get a look.

TONY WOMACK, RedsAfter a great 2004 in St. Louis, he fizzled with the Yankees last year. Yetthis 36-year-old still has blazing speed (53 steals over the last two seasons)and could become the starter.

PHOTOSEAN BRADY/WIREIMAGE.COM (CANTU) PHOTODOUG MURRAY/WIREIMAGE.COM (HERNANDEZ)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)