By Scott Barzilla

We continue our intermittent look at the top ten players from the past season at each position. The key thing to remember in fantasy circles is that what constitutes the best in fantasy baseball doesn’t always coincide with what constitutes the best in real life. Fantasy baseball is about accumulating numbers. Real baseball is about the quality of those numbers. Sometimes they are one in the same, but often they are not.

1. Robinson Cano– New York Yankees

AVG: .313 (1st)

HR: 30 (1st)

Runs: 105 (1st)

RBI: 94 (1st)

SB: 3 (23rd)

BB: 61 (6th)

Someone in one of our leagues actually dealt Cano for setup relief help. Of course, Cano wasn’t performing well when he did it. Cano seemed uneven at certain points in the 2012 seasons and October is probably fresh in most fans’ minds. Very few fantasy players play any games that revolve around October. Cano will be fine and could be the best of the Yankee hitters now that Arod appears to be on the down slide.

2. Aaron Hill– Arizona Diamondbacks

AVG: .302 (3rd)

HR: 26 (2nd)

Runs: 93 (3rd)

RBI: 85 (2nd)

SB: 14 (9th)

BB: 52 (9th)

Hill is a surprising choice for second best. I still remember going on Brett Talley’s podcast and having him ask me to talk him out of drafting Aaron Hill. At this point, he probably wished I hadn’t tried. Hill does a little bit of everything, but there is no denying that 2012 was a career season for him. Hopefully, he doesn’t completely transform into a pumpkin in 2013.

3. Ben Zobrist– Tampa Bay Rays

AVG: .270 (11th)

HR: 20 (4th)

Runs: 88 (4th)

RBI: 74 (6th)

SB: 14 (9th)

BB: 97 (1st)

Ben Zobrist could be worth a top 50 pick in fantasy drafts. He produces numbers across the board at a very sneaky clip and he will be eligible at three or four different positions (including shortstop) in some fantasy leagues next season. In a league that counts walks/OBP he could shoot up the rankings big time.

4. Ian Kinsler– Texas Rangers

AVG: .256 (14th)

HR: 19 (5th)

Runs: 105 (1st)

RBI: 72 (8th)

SB: 21 (3rd)

BB: 60 (7th)

A lot was expected out of Kinsler after his 2011 campaign and he somewhat disappointed. Yet, after two consecutive low BABIPs, it might be time to double down on Kinsler. If he produces normal BABIP numbers he could hit as high as .300. That would be tremendous for someone of his power/speed combination.

5. Jason Kipnis– Cleveland Indians

AVG: .257 (13th)

HR: 14 (12th)

Runs: 86 (6th)

RBI: 76 (5th)

SB: 31 (2nd)

BB: 28 (22nd)

Jason Kipnis is what we would call an accumulator. 2012 was not a good season for him from a quality standpoint, but he produces enough in some key areas (particular steals) to be valuable in a fantasy sense. He would be the textbook definition of someone you might bid high on in fantasy or rotisserie circles who may not be that good in actual baseball.

6. Dustin Pedroia– Boston Red Sox

AVG: .290 (5th)

HR: 15 (11th)

Runs: 81 (12th)

RBI: 65 (11th)

SB: 20 (4th)

BB: 48 (10th)

2012 was one of those seasons you would want to hit the reboot button on if you are a Red Sox fan. Pedroia struggled some (by his standards) like many on the Red Sox. Bobby Valentine was simply a disaster as a managerial hire and his absence will probably help a lot of the Red Sox perform better, so I might sneak in and nab Pedroia during the 2013 fantasy draft.

7. Rickie Weeks– Milwaukee Brewers

AVG: .230 (18th)

HR: 21 (3rd)

Runs: 85 (9th)

RBI: 63 (13th)

SB: 16 (7th)

BB: 74 (3rd)

There is no way in hell that Rickie Weeks was anywhere near the seventh best second baseman in baseball last season. Heck, he was barely among the top five in his own division. Yet, in fantasy circles, each individual category is just as important as the other. That means his home runs and run production dwarf his horrible average.

8. Brandon Phillips– Cincinnati Reds

AVG: .281 (8th)

HR: 18 (7th)

Runs: 86 (6th)

RBI: 77 (4th)

SB: 15 (8th)

BB: 28 (22nd)

A number of leagues are including walks and/or on base percentage as categories. In those leagues, Phillips falls to eighth best among second sackers. In traditional five category leagues, Phillips would be a top five fantasy second baseman. That is how much his lack of patience kills him overall in new wave leagues.

9. Marco Scutaro– San Francisco Giants

AVG: .306 (2nd)

HR: 7 (17th)

Runs: 87 (5th)

RBI: 74 (6th)

SB: 9 (15th)

BB: 40 (13th)

Let’s start with the obvious, most of these numbers were accomplished when he played half of his games a mile above sea level. Even with a hot finish in San Francisco you would have to expect these numbers to drop. That coupled with his MVP performance in the NLCS will cause some fans to significantly overvalue him.

10. Dan Uggla– Atlanta Braves

AVG: .220 (22nd)

HR: 19 (5th)

Runs: 86 (6th)

RBI: 78 (3rd)

SB: 4 (22nd)

BB: 94 (2nd)

Dan Uggla in 2012 was Rickie Weeks without the speed. Both players have significant pop in their bats and both players are patient at the plate. The difference is that people have come to expect 30+ home runs a season from Uggla and he simply didn’t produce it last season. The Braves are surely hoping that the power will come back in 2013.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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