Can I Get A Hitter?

Dear American League Middle Infielders,

You suck.


The Year 2008.

Seriously, what is up with the junior circuit’s middle infielders this year? It’s early, yes, and there’s a couple talented players who will do better as the year wears on, but this is one ugly start to the season. Brian Roberts is the only second baseman in the AL with a positive WPA/LI, and he’s coming in at a whopping 0.07. Way to set the bar high there, Roberts. Every other second baseman is running a negative WPA/LI, and as a group, they’re running a -5.39 WPA/LI. That’s terrible. Robinson Cano is the main culprit, as he’s been the worst hitter in baseball so far this year, but he’s just one among a group of slackers that make him feel welcome.

The story is slightly better when you look at shortstop. Over there, two guys have positive WPA/LI marks through the start of the season. The problem – they both play for Texas. Michael Young and Ramon Vazquez are #1 and #2 on the list among players with at least 50 plate appearances, and they both get the benefit of playing their home games in a very friendly offensive environment. Once we get past the Rangers duo, though, it’s right back to the lousiness, with Derek Jeter being a little bit less terrible than everyone else and Tony Pena Jr giving Cano a run for his waste-of-money.

Everyone knows the bar for offensive production from premium defensive positions is lower than at a corner spot, but right now, the bar is just sitting on the ground. The all-star game is two months away – does anyone want to play like they belong there? Please?

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

5 Responses to “Can I Get A Hitter?”

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  1. Mark Runsvold says:

    Your point still stands, Dave, but I think we need to acknowledge the atrocious luck Cano has had this year. His BABIP is .159 even though 16.4% of his batted balls have been line drives.

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  2. Jason says:

    That’s awesome. I came to see if the comment was someone defending a Yankee and I was right. Mark is correct, that BABIP sucks but still…

    Dave, care to speculate on ‘why’ it’s so bad this year?

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  3. Mark Runsvold says:

    Geez…I don’t like that characterization, Jason. Let’s say I was defending the truth. Go Mariners.

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  4. Jason says:

    Sorry, Mark. I wasn’t intentionally being mean. Just funnin’. You raise an excellent point by the way. Last season Cano’s LD% was 16.9%, whilst his BABIP was .331(!). Now, I believe that if you add .10 or .11 to the LD% that’s supposed to be a fair guess as to what your BABIP should be. Seems maybe last year Cano was extra lucky and this year slightly unlucky. Maybe? Heck in ’06 it was 19.9% while he had a .363(!!) BABIP.

    Interestingly enough A-rod grossly out-performed his probable BABIP last year too. And he’s doing it again this year also. I’d like to be corrected if I’m not right in the whole ‘add .10 to the LD% thing’ before I begin to wonder if it’s a Yankee stadium thing to out pace your expected BABIP.

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  5. Eric Seidman says:

    Jason, it is generally LD% + .120 to find the area of BABIP. Not necessarily the exact BABIP but the area. If Cano is at 16.9% LD than his xBABIP would be in the range of .289.

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