Second to None!
The Best: Rickie Weeks, Brewers
After breaking out last season with 29 home runs, 112 runs, and 11 steals many baseball fans expected Rickie Weeks to take a small step back this season. I’m not really sure why expectations were so low.
The second overall pick of the 2003 draft is finally healthy and at 28 years old he should be in his prime. Plus, he is surrounded by sluggers such as Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Corey Hart, all who guarantee that Weeks will rack up plenty of runs. Weeks has managed to cut down on his strikeouts this season, while improving his batting average to .286. Considering the drastic difference in expectations, Weeks gets the edge as the best second baseman over Yankees star Robinson Cano.
The Surprise: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Coming into the season, Danny Espinosa had been called the poor man’s version of Dan Uggla. While the expectations have been met with Espinosa blasting 15 home runs despite just a .238 average, it turns out that Espinosa has actually outperformed Uggla.
At 24 years old, Espinosa is a building block for the Nationals. The 2008 third round pick out of Long Beach State has also impressed with a keen ability to draw walks. Plus, something that he offers that Uggla never has is his speed on the base paths. Pretty soon, baseball fans will have to compare Espinosa to Rangers star second baseman Ian Kinsler.
The Bust: Dan Uggla, Braves
After belting 33 home runs with 105 RBI and a .287 last season, Dan Uggla was sought by several teams and ended up joining his long-time rival Atlanta Braves. As it turns out, Uggla is not done punishing the Braves. This time the damage is not a result of his power, but instead an unsuspecting power outage.
Sure, Uggla does have 12 home runs, which still ranks amongst the top second basemen. The problem is that his .178 average is more than 100 points off last year’s batting clip, as his home runs make up 22% of his total hits. There have been no signs of a let-up either, as Uggla hit just .179 in June.
The 2nd Half Sleeper: Howie Kendrick, Angels
Riding a nine-game hit streak, it looks like Howie Kendrick is on the verge of a bounce back season. After hitting just .279 last season, his average is up to .305 plus he has shown signs of power and speed. The good news is that Angels fans can expect even better for the second half of the season.
Kendrick missed some time in the first half due to a injury that forced him out of the lineup for two weeks and when he did return, Kendrick was hitless in his first ten at bats. Now that he is healthy, Kendrick should surpass his first half production culminating in what could be his best season so far.