2015 Outlook: Everyone projected Cano's home run output to drop with his ballpark switch, but he ended up hitting 11 fewer homers on the road than he had the year before. However, he still delivered a strong five-category effort that yielded a top-25 ranking among hitters. At 32 years old, there's no guarantee we see a resurgence of the power that gave him a .500-plus slugging percentage for five straight seasons from 2009 to 2013 ever again. There have been only 14 seasons of .500-plus slugging from second basemen aged 32 or older; most recently, Jeff Kent in 2007 during a much different offensive era. This skill set feels like it will age gracefully, however, and the front office's intent on making the lineup deeper will only help Cano's counting stats.
2015 Outlook: The 2014 campaign was the kind of perfect-world scenario that's always been plausible for Altuve, but also questionable due to his team context. Speed and batting average have always been his game, so the path to a huge season would include an exorbitant BABIP, a ton of infield hits and a career-best line-drive rate. Altuve delivered all of those at age 24 last year while still very much in his speed prime, so the .360 BABIP, MLB-high 31 infield hits, and 22.8 percent line-drive rate yielded not only a .341 AVG, but also a .377 OBP that led to 56 stolen bases -- all career highs. He'll almost certainly regress, but even with drops in average and steals, he'll be one of the more productive second basemen out there.
2015 Outlook: It looked like a carbon-copy season for Kinsler in 2014, but what happened to the walk rate? He ranged from 7.7 percent to 12.3 percent in his first eight seasons before a hideous 4 percent last season. At least he continued to avoid striking out (10.9 percent), something he has done with aplomb throughout his career. The biggest concern with his trade from Texas to Detroit was the shift in home ballpark, and the 61-point drop in home OPS justified those concerns. His road batted-ball profile included a 22 percent line-drive rate that would have played better in Comerica, though he managed just a 17 percent mark at home. The 33-year-old is still a solid bet at the keystone, but teen totals in homers and stolen bases look like the high end after he averaged 20/20 when healthy over his first seven seasons.
2015 Outlook: Kipnis saw his first two full seasons fall apart in the second half, but he broke the trend in 2014 by tanking in both halves. He managed just three homers per half and sat on the wrong side of a .700 OPS in each as well -- not that even a .700 OPS would've really counted for much. His 22 stolen bases couldn't save his value, as he finished 22nd among second basemen. An oblique injury cost Kipnis the bulk of May and seemed to linger throughout the season, holding him to a .615 OPS from his late-May return through the end of the year. The fact that a guy's playing doesn't mean he's 100 percent healthy, and Kipnis exemplified that last season. There is still substantial upside here, and it can now be acquired at a better price after costing a second-round pick just a year ago.
2015 Outlook: Dozier wasn't heralded as a prospect, but he's emerged as a legitimate power-speed threat thanks to an approach based on patience. In fact, that patience gives him a significant value boost in OBP leagues. He scored 112 runs in a sneakily solid Twins lineup that could get quite a bit better in 2015 as they continue their youth movement, so another campaign of 100-plus runs isn't out of the question. However, Dozier's slow second half created some questions about how sustainable his results are, as he managed just five homers and steals in 283 plate appearances after the All-Star break. A July 31 thumb injury only cost him one game, but it may have lingered and sapped some of his power over the final two months. Despite lacking any flashy tools, Dozier brings real value, especially since that batting average tends to depress his value more than it really should.
2015 Outlook: The wrist that Pedroia first hurt in April eventually ended his season in early September and plagued him throughout en route to his worst season ever. The power was in free fall prior to 2014, though, so don't expect too much of a rebound even with full health. His batted-ball profile supports the dip, with a surge in groundballs and back-to-back seasons of sub-30 percent fly ball rates after he sat north of 35 percent in five of his first six seasons. Having stolen just six bases in 12 tries in 2014 and now being on the wrong side of 30, the speed has to be in question going forward, too. Volume is his key to success now. Health should bring the batting average back, but the rest of his value will be tied to staying atop what should be a potent order so he can score a ton of runs. Heed the declines and don't pay for the name value.
2015 Outlook: The positive slant on Zobrist's 2014 looks at his 6.3 percent HR/FB rate and spins it as an outlier based on his 10 percent career mark, but the negative slant sees that he also had a 6.1 percent rate in 2013 and a 6.0 percent rate in 2010, giving him three seasons of something in the six percent range in his past five. He hit 20 homers in the other two seasons, with a 12 percent HR/FB in both. His three-position eligibility includes shortstop again, making the power dip much more palatable if that's where you plan to slot him more often than not. Only 12 shortstops hit 10-plus home runs, and only six of those chipped in at least 10 stolen bases, too. If you throw in a batting-average threshold of Zobrist's .272, you're down to just three shortstops meeting all three criteria, with Hanley Ramirez and Alexei Ramirez joining Zobrist. There is still a lot of value here, even at 34 years old and in a spacious new home park in Oakland.
2015 Outlook: Odor might have gone unnoticed by many last season, as he was stuck on the hapless Rangers. Any time a 20-year-old can put in 417 plate appearances of near-league-average work, it's worth noting. He nearly managed double digits in homers and steals despite not quite logging a full season. A boost in batting average is his best route to taking that OBP north of .300, as his plate discipline issues at the MLB level (a meager 4.1 percent walk rate) were foretold by his minor league work (5.6 percent), but at his age, there's is plenty of room for growth in that area. Youth doesn't always develop linearly, meaning he won't automatically build on his rookie season in 2015. This is a high-volatility pick with plenty of intrigue, but tons of downside. Re-drafters, tap the brakes; dynasty leaguers, be ecstatic.
2015 Outlook: As the theory goes, players are supposed to have a big year in their final year before free agency. Even if the theory is mostly junk science (it is), Cabrera missed the memo, as his 2014 was painfully disappointing. He did not finish in the top 15 among shortstops despite a double-double season because his batting average suffered for a second consecutive season. In fact, his batting average has declined in each of the past six seasons, right along with his batting average on balls in play. It wasn't too long ago Cabrera toyed with a 20/20 campaign, but that one season was fueled by an abnormal HR/FB rate. Another double-double turnout is entirely possible for Cabrera, who settled for a one-year, $7.5 million deal with Tampa Bay, but so is yet another below-average batting line, unless he makes some changes at the plate.
2015 Outlook: Injuries once again limited Lawrie's contributions in 2014, as he played in just 70 games for the Blue Jays while back, hamstring and hand ailments put him on the disabled list at various points. When he was on the field, Lawrie put together a .247/.301/.421 line with 12 homers and 38 RBI -- putting him on pace for career bests in both categories. He also took advantage of the hitter-friendly confines of Rogers Centre, hitting .285/.321/.496 in Toronto compared to .213/.285/.353 on the road. The A's acquired Lawrie as part of a blockbuster deal with the Jays in late November, putting him in position to replace Josh Donaldson as their starting third baseman. The aforementioned home-road splits have been consistent throughout his time in the big leagues (career .815 home OPS vs. a .683 road OPS), so there may be reason to lower the ceiling for Lawrie with the move to Oakland. However, at age 25, Lawrie may not be a finished product, and it's reasonable to think that he may be able to provide double-digit homers and steals if he can avoid losing significant time to the disabled list.
2015 Outlook: Johnson appears to have won a spring competition with Carlos Sanchez and Emilio Bonifacio to become Chicago's starting second baseman in 2015, and for fantasy purposes, Johnson is far and away the more appealing option. While Sanchez may have the defensive edge, Johnson, 24, has the speed to put up 25 to 35 steals if he can find his way to 500-plus plate appearances. Even if he wins the job, veterans like Bonifacio and Gordon Beckham, who will both be used in utility roles, could steal some starts at second base, but it seems like the White Sox want to award the starting job to one of the two youngsters to take advantage of the versatility of the veterans. Johnson's batting average probably won't be anything special and he won't hit for much power, but for someone who can be had at the very end of drafts, he could be a nice source of speed if he can hold on to the job at the keystone on the South Side.
2015 Outlook: Infante looked like a low-risk, low-upside pick for 2014 after four solid-if-unspectacular seasons. You were buying the solid batting average and hoping for double-digit power. He should've looked like a superstar to Royals fans who have been saddled with the worst second-base play in baseball over the past five seasons, but instead he came down to the level of his predecessors and posted his worst OBP since his rookie season in 2005. Infante's .275 BABIP was similarly a nine-year low and tanked his batting average by 66 points to .252 -- 22 points lower than any of the four prior seasons. He should bounce back a bit, but something in between his 2011 and 2012 output -- that is, an OPS in the low .700s -- is a more reasonable expectation.
2015 Outlook: Semien was a deep-sleeper candidate in 2014, after a huge season in his first tour through the upper minors. He logged a .284/.401/.479 slash line with 19 home runs and 24 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A, which included an eye-catching 98 walks against just 90 strikeouts. Add in that he has played shortstop, second base and third base, and you can see why the excitement was there. Alas, that impressive approach from the minor leagues has yet to surface in the big leagues (22 walks to 92 strikeouts in his 326 PA), and ultimately he was sent back to Triple-A Charlotte in early June and didn't return until rosters expanded in September. The A's acquired him in the offseason, so Billy Beane no doubt sees the upside in this 24-year-old and hopes to extract those minor league skills in a big league setting. He won't start the season with shortstop eligibility, but he will have three positions once he logs enough games to qualify. Temper expectations for the short term, but don't completely forget him after just 85 games as a big leaguer, either.
2015 Outlook: After waiting until late May for a team to finally sign him in 2014 and proceeding to have the worst statistical season of his career, Drew had to settle for another one-year deal this offseason to go back to the Bronx. As a 31-year-old splitting time between Boston and New York, Drew slashed .162/.237/.299 in 300 plate appearances. His batting average and OBP were the lowest marks in the majors among players with at least 300 plate appearances, and of those players, he was one of just two (Jackie Bradley Jr. being the other) to hit below .200 and slug below .300. The good news is Drew can only be better in 2015, as his BABIP of .194 was also the lowest among big leaguers with 300 plate appearances and the figure contrasted starkly to his career BABIP of .299. Drew figures to get a chance to be the starting second baseman for the Yankees, and prospective owners should view his 2013 numbers in Boston -- 13 homers, six steals, .253 average -- as the ceiling for his age-32 season.
2015 Outlook: Prior to 2014, Valbuena had failed to catch on as a platoon player. While he had regularly struggled against lefties, he wasn't exactly cutting up righties. In fact, his career platoon split is all of six points in OPS, but in 2014 he emerged as a cheap power source on the strong side of a platoon at third base. His 16 home runs were tied with Pablo Sandoval, Matt Dominguez and Juan Francisco for seventh at the position, and Sandoval and Dominguez both had more plate appearances than Valbuena. Of course, holding the spot and fending off Mike Olt was one thing, but with uber-prospect Kris Bryant pounding on the door of the big leagues (43 HRs, 1.098 OPS across Double-A and Triple-A in 2014), the Cubs traded Valbuena to the Astros in January. He slots in atop the depth chart at third base for Houston, though a platoon with Matt Dominguez seems likely.