<
>

Which underrated 2B and SS options should you pick up?

Jonathan Villar offers base stealing ability and is widely available. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you're trying to replace the suspended Robinson Cano, injured DJ LeMahieu, struggling Scott Kingery or just trying to get depth in the middle infield, who are some under-the-radar options managers should pick up now to start at second base and shortstop?

Eric Karabell: I think an obvious second baseman to start targeting is Boston Red Sox veteran Dustin Pedroia. He claims his left knee is fine after offseason surgery and he is already on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Fantasy managers will not get the MVP Pedroia, of course, but even last season he hit .293 with more walks than strikeouts and did much of it from the No. 2 lineup spot. I think that is where he will hit again, which offers great possibility for runs scored and even runs batted in. Pedroia missed a third of last season with various maladies, but he was on his way to reaching double digits in home runs, perhaps steals and would have knocked in more than 80 runs.

I just do not see much out there at middle infield -- Matt Duffy? Niko Goodrum? Miguel Rojas? -- and have learned to restrict skepticism when it comes to Pedroia.

Tristan H. Cockcroft: If it's a standard or 12-team mixed league, Yolmer Sanchez is an underrated second baseman who is out there in the vast majority of leagues (more than 75 percent on ESPN), and he fits the Cano/LeMahieu mold better than most because of his relatively high floor (at least compared to other players with that level of availability). Sanchez has good contact/line-drive skills and middling ability in terms of power, hard contact and speed, meaning a .275-12-70, 12-steal season isn't out of the question. He also has shown an ability to get better lift on the ball in years past, and in Chicago's homer-friendly venue that could mean a bit more in the homers/RBIs categories.

In larger leagues, Logan Forsythe is available in significantly more leagues than I'd have expected, suggesting he might be out there in anything other than 20-team mixed and 10-plus-team NL-only formats. Yes, the Dodgers do mix and match often, have Justin Turner back at third base and Enrique Hernandez available as another matchups candidate against lefties, but Forsythe should find his spots against lefties somewhere around the infield and is a more productive hitter than most of what you'll typically find out there in the super-deep leagues.

AJ Mass: As much as I'd like to get on the Niko Goodrum bandwagon, especially given his versatility -- he's already played all four infield positions, and two of the three outfield spots -- I'm going to wait to recommend him until I see how his playing time shakes out once Leonys Martin returns to the Detroit lineup.

Brandon Crawford has hit safely in all but two games this month, and while his .443 May batting average is quite unsustainable, he should continue to be a reliable source of at-bats going forward -- and one that is still available in 76.4 percent of leagues. Marcus Semien (47.7 percent availability) is also locked in at the plate, with hits in 14 of 16 May contests. There's not a ton of flash here in the Bay Area, but these numbers can only help you -- at least more than an automatic goose egg. Other potential names to consider include Matt Duffy, Daniel Descalso and Yolmer Sanchez.

Kyle Soppe: The fact that Rougned Odor is on the waiver wire in the majority of leagues is crazy to me. Sure, he was off to a slow start before the hamstring strain that cost him a month, but we are talking about one of three middle infielders who hit at least 30 homers in both 2016 and 2017 (the others are a pair of fantasy staples in Manny Machado and Brian Dozier). The plate skills are spotty at best, but you have a lot of counting numbers to replace if you're coping with the loss of Cano and Odor will help you there much more than any other widely available option.

If you play in a league where Odor is rostered, Jonathan Villar would be my next choice. In an environment where speed is tough to find, the fact that Villar has attempted to swipe a bag once every 2.7 games since joining the Brewers in 2016 is enough to pique my interest. This is another "chase the counting stats" play and I'm fine with that. Could the batting average regress toward last season's woeful .241? Maybe, but if he does that with some power and speed, that's enough to bandage your middle infield situation. Eric wrote him up earlier this week and I'm all onboard with this endorsement.