Positional Power Rankings: Second Base

For an explanation of this series, go ahead and read the introduction. All the posts in the series can be found here.

We’re going to continue our positional power rankings series by focusing on the keystone. While playing time for some teams were relatively easy to figure, there were more than a few teams that have serious question marks at second. As Eric Seidman explained yesterday, the goal here is to determine how much value the position will produce. So while you will see Michael Young make an appearance on this list, his WAR only reflects his value at second base. Enough talking, let’s do this.

30. Los Angeles Dodgers

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Mark Ellis R 0.253 0.303 0.350 5.0 500 1.5
Reserve Adam Kennedy L 0.258 0.307 0.362 0.0 50 0
Reserve Jerry Hairston Jr. R 0.259 0.319 0.373 1.0 50 0
Prospect Justin Sellers R 0.232 0.308 0.349 1.0 50 0

Mark Ellis is still capable of providing stellar defense, but he cannot be relied on to stay healthy. When he eventually succumbs to an injury, the Dodgers don’t great backups. Adam Kennedy and Jerry Hairston Jr. should pick up at-bats when Ellis is on the shelf, but the team also has Justin Sellers waiting in the wings. At 25, Sellers isn’t particularly young, but there’s a good chance he would be as good as — if not better than — the Dodgers current reserve options.

29. Minnesota Twins

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Alexi Casilla S 0.261 0.324 0.361 2.0 450 1.5
Reserve Luke Hughes R 0.229 0.288 0.363 1.0 100 0
Super Utility Tsuyoshi Nishioka S 0.271 0.327 0.376 -4.0 100 0

There’s just not that much to like about the Twins current situation at second base. Alexi Casilla isn’t going to wow anyone with his bat, but at least his defense is regarded as above-average. ZIPS projects a .288 OBP from Luke Hughes this season, meaning he’ll have to really shine defensively to be a useful option. Tsuyoshi Nishioka is a bit of a forgotten man. He had an abysmal rookie season, but came over with a solid track record. If given enough playing time, there’s a chance he’ll improve quite a bit. As of right now, he looks like he’ll be fighting for playing time.

28. Baltimore Orioles

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Robert Andino R 0.249 0.301 0.358 3.0 500 1.5
Reserve Brian Roberts S 0.265 0.332 0.411 -1.0 150 0.5
Prospect Ryan Adams R 0.260 0.307 0.381 -1.0 50 0

If healthy, Brian Roberts is an easy bet to start. Unfortunately, at this point in his career, he cannot be counted on to receive significant playing time. As a result, Robert Andino steps into the starting role. Andino wasn’t great last season, but played solid defense, and nearly produced a two-win season. Ryan Adams isn’t a strong prospect, but he performed adequately in limited duty last season. If Roberts isn’t going to play much this season, the Orioles might want to see what Adams can do with more playing time.

27. San Francisco Giants

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Freddy Sanchez R 0.273 0.313 0.373 2.0 400 1.0
Reserve Mike Fontenot L 0.245 0.308 0.367 0.0 200 0.5
Super Utility Ryan Theriot R 0.272 0.323 0.337 -2.0 100 0.5

When healthy, Freddy Sanchez will make enough contact to be a useful second baseman. He’s also been a pretty good defender over his career. Problem is, the last time he received 500 plate appearances in a season was way back in 2008. The Giants are relying on Mike Fontenot as Sanchez’s main backup, which isn’t the greatest strategy. Fontenot may be the epitome of scrappy, but that doesn’t make him a good baseball player. Ryan Theriot could steal some at-bats at second as well. While he won’t hit for power, there’s a good chance he’ll be slightly better than Fontenot.

26. Kansas City Royals

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Johnny Giavotella R 0.271 0.320 0.384 -3.0 550 1.5
Reserve Chris Getz L 0.266 0.323 0.320 1.0 100 0.5
Super Utility Yuniesky Betancourt R 0.262 0.283 0.385 -8.0 50 0

The Royals have a ton of young, major-league ready talent, but not at second base. Giavotella seized the job late last season, and has the inside track at starting in 2012, but that’s mainly because he’s not Chris Getz. It’s unclear if Giavotella is even better than Getz, but he hit for high averages and made a ton of contact throughout his minor league career. Getz is probably capable of producing a similar average and on-base percentage as Giavotella, but he won’t give the Royals any power. If you’re going to employ Yuniesky Betancourt, it should be in a situation like this, where people will really have to struggle in order for him to receive playing time.

25. San Diego Padres

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Orlando Hudson S 0.249 0.329 0.364 0.0 500 1.5
Reserve Andy Parrino S 0.207 0.298 0.322 1.5 150 0.5

Orlando Hudson is running on fumes at this point. Even his defense is starting to slip. While his park definitely hurts his offensive production, there’s just not much to like here anymore. Andy Parrino is nothing special with the bat, but gets exceptional marks for his defense.

24. Miami Marlins

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Omar Infante R 0.282 0.324 0.383 3.0 650 2.0
Reserve Donnie Murphy R 0.226 0.287 0.428 1.0 50 0

Omar Infante isn’t special, but he won’t kill you in any one area. He also rates as a pretty solid fielder at second base. Even if his offense takes a hit, you can rely on Infante to produce decent fielding statistics. That’s more than you can say about some of the team behind the Marlins on this list. Donnie Murphy showed some power in the minors, but that’s yet to transfer over to his brief stint in the majors.

23. Oakland Athletics

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter vs RHP Jemile Weeks S 0.267 0.318 0.374 -2.0 600 2.0
Reserve vs RHP Eric Sogard L 0.254 0.321 0.347 1.0 50 0
Reserve vs LHP Adam Rosales R 0.234 0.288 0.347 1.0 50 0

Jemile Weeks has strong future potential, but ZIPS sees a bit of a slump this season. Though Weeks is fast, and should be expected to post high BABIPs, his .350 rate last season is likely to drop. Weeks displayed strong patience in the minors, but only walked 4.8% of the time once he reached Oakland. If he regains his patience, he might be able to offset the batting average decline. Of all the players on this list, Weeks might be the most likely to outperform his WAR total.

22. Arizona Diamondbacks

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Aaron Hill R 0.265 0.318 0.424 2.0 550 1.5
Reserve Willie Bloomquist R 0.258 0.305 0.348 -3.0 100 0
Defensive Rep John McDonald R 0.251 0.283 0.374 2.0 50 0.5

It’s been a strange past couple of seasons for Aaron Hill. After a breakout in 2009, Hill has slumped badly. While he was able to resurrect his value once he was dealt to Arizona, that was an incredibly small sample. If Hill misses time, Willie Bloomquist should fill in behind him. Bloomquist isn’t special, but he won’t kill you if he’s in a reserve role. John McDonald was signed as a defensive replacement, but should never be given a bat.

21. Detroit Tigers

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Ryan Raburn R 0.255 0.308 0.429 -3.0 500 1.5
Reserve Ramon Santiago S 0.258 0.321 0.364 3.0 200 1.0

For all the improvements Detroit made this off-season, second base still appears to be somewhat of a weak spot. Raburn is going to need to keep his strikeout rate in check if he hopes to have a successful season. Ramon Santiago won’t hit for much power, but plays strong defense and could be a nice reserve infielder.

20. Chicago White Sox

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Gordon Beckham R 0.254 0.318 0.388 2.0 550 2.0
Reserve Eduardo Escobar S 0.256 0.290 0.344 0.0 50 0
Super Utility Brent Lillibridge R 0.230 0.299 0.378 -1.0 50 0.5

This should be a make-or-break season for Gordon Beckham. After a strong debut, Beckham has been terrible over the past two seasons. At least he turned into a solid fielder last season. It’s unclear who will be Beckham’s primary backup this season. Eduardo Escobar appears to be a likely candidate, but he has very little track record in the majors. Brent Lillibridge could see some time at second base as well. After years of toiling in the majors, Lillibridge experienced a bit of a breakout last year. Unfortunately, he’s unlikely to repeat that performance.

19. Cleveland Indians

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Jason Kipnis L 0.258 0.320 0.420 -6.0 650 2.5
Reserve Jason Donald R 0.248 0.314 0.350 -1.0 50 0

Jason Kipnis got off to a strong start last season, which could make him somewhat overrated heading into this year. While he probably won’t slug .500 this season, he’s definitely got strong potential down the road. Unfortunately, he doesn’t provide much value with the glove. He’ll still hit enough to be a useful second baseman, but his overall line might be slightly lower than last season’s. Jason Donald isn’t anything special, so expect Kipnis to get a ton of at-bats.

18. Atlanta Braves

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Dan Uggla R 0.248 0.330 0.451 -9.0 650 2.5
Reserve Josh Wilson R 0.241 0.288 0.351 0.0 50 0

Dan Uggla is a statue at second base, and will never hit for high averages, but his power gives him a ton of value. While five straight seasons with at least 30 home runs is quite an accomplishment, his terrible fielding numbers will limit his WAR. Josh Wilson has been starting games at second base this spring, and might be Uggla’s primary backup. Uggla should play a ton, however, so Wilson shouldn’t receive significant playing time.

17. New York Mets

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Daniel Murphy L 0.286 0.334 0.432 0.0 600 2.5
Reserve Justin Turner R 0.265 0.327 0.372 -2.0 100 0

Daniel Murphy won’t provide much power or speed, but ZIPS expects him to be a pretty solid hitter. Since he’s also regarded as a strong fielder, his value is higher than some of the more proven players on this list. Turner is nothing special as a hitter and rates pretty poorly as a fielder. Hopefully, Murphy stays healthy.

16. Toronto Blue Jays

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Kelly Johnson L 0.242 0.323 0.434 2.0 600 2.5
Reserve Luis Valbuena L 0.251 0.313 0.377 -1.0 50 0
Super Utility Omar Vizquel S N/A N/A N/A N/A 50 0
Prospect Adeiny Hechavarria R 0.241 0.269 0.345 1.0 50 0

Over his career, Kelly Johnson has alternated between pretty good, and really average. He’s patient and he hits for a decent amount of power for his position, but he’s also regarded as an above-average fielder. Luis Valbuena was picked up during the off-season and is out of options, so he may force his way onto the team. Omar Vizquel and Adeiny Hechavarria probably won’t see a ton of playing time at second unless things have gone horribly wrong for the Blue Jays.

15. St. Louis Cardinals

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Tyler Greene R 0.233 0.309 0.364 0.0 300 1.0
Reserve Daniel Descalso L 0.263 0.328 0.378 -1.5 200 1.0
Reserve Skip Schumaker L 0.272 0.328 0.352 -6.0 100 0.5
Super Utility Allen Craig R 0.276 0.329 0.454 0.0 100 0.5

The Cardinals’ current situation at second base is a bit of a mess. Tyler Greene is the worst projected hitter of the bunch, but it looks like he has the first shot at the second base job. Daniel Descalso and Skip Schumaker are decent reserves, but would likely be stretched in full-time roles. At the same time, both Descalso and Schumaker might be more valuable than Greene. The wild card here is Craig. He hit well last season before injuries took hold, and should miss some time at the start of this season as well. There’s a playable combination here, I’m just not sure what it is.

14. Chicago Cubs

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Darwin Barney R 0.273 0.311 0.352 5.0 600 2.0
Reserve Adrian Cardenas L 0.272 0.323 0.360 -1.0 50 0.5
Reserve Jeff Baker R 0.250 0.299 0.375 1.0 50 0.5

Darwin Barney isn’t a strong hitter, though he will likely post a solid average. Most of his value comes from great defense at second base. The Cubs picked up Adrian Cardenas this off-season, and while he might be a better hitter than Barney, he’s not strong defensively. Jeff Baker is nothing more than a league-average reserve.

13. Houston Astros

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Jose Altuve R 0.292 0.326 0.403 1.0 650 2.5
Reserve Matt Downs R 0.255 0.315 0.413 -1.0 50 0.5

Despite his small stature, Jose Altuve whacks the hell out of the ball. He won’t walk much, so he’ll have to make solid contact in order to be a valuable commodity. ZIPS seems cautiously optimistic about his chances to build on his rookie year. Matt Downs probably isn’t special, but he showed some promise in a limited role last season. He can hold his own as a reserve.

12. Colorado Rockies

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Marco Scutaro R 0.289 0.350 0.415 1.0 600 3.0
Reserve Chris Nelson R 0.261 0.303 0.408 -1.0 100 0

Trading for Marco Scutaro was a pretty nice move for the Rockies. Scutaro isn’t often mentioned as a strong player, but he’s been quietly effective over the past four seasons. Staying healthy will be the key for Scutaro since Chris Nelson is relatively unproven at the major league level. He’s hit well in the minors, but his walk rates haven’t been strong in the big leagues.

11. Washington Nationals

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Danny Espinosa S 0.229 0.309 0.400 4.0 650 3.0
Reserve Mark DeRosa R 0.244 0.300 0.277 0.0  30
Prospect Steve Lombardozzi S 0.265 0.316 0.379 0.0  20

A lot of Danny Espinosa’s value is tied up in his exceptional defense at second base. If he can improve on his rookie line, he might be able to outperform his projected WAR. DeRosa should receive playing time at a bunch of positions, and Lombardozzi may not be up unless there’s an injury. Espinosa played in 158 games last season, so that seems unlikely.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Neil Walker S 0.268 0.325 0.432 -4.0 650 3.0
Reserve Josh Harrison R 0.271 0.308 0.377 1.0 50  0

Walker’s not the perfect option at second base, but he hits well enough to make it work. His defense is a work in progress, but he makes up for that with above-average power for his position. Walker should get the majority of playing time, so Harrison is somewhat of a non-factor here.

9. Seattle Mariners

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Dustin Ackley L 0.261 0.348 0.410 3.0 650 3.0
Reserve Munenori Kawasaki L N/A N/A N/A N/A 50 0

It’s probably a bit of a risk to expect this much out of Dustin Ackley at such a young age, but he was a top prospect for a reason. Over a full season of playing time, Ackley should hit better than the average second baseman, and has much more power potential as well. He received solid marks for his fielding last season, and that’s definitely a big factor in this ranking. Kawasaki is a bit of an unknown, but it’s not likely to matter as Ackley will receive the bulk of the playing time.

8. Los Angeles Angels

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Howie Kendrick R 0.275 0.320 0.431 6.0 575 3.0
Reserve Maicer Izturis S 0.268 0.327 0.377 3.0 70 0.5
Utility Alexi Amarista L 0.254 0.288 0.341 -0.5 50 0

After years of waiting, Kendrick finally broke out last season. While his slash line was pretty impressive, it was Kendrick’s excellent defense that put the Angels in the eighth spot on this list. Maicer Izturis slides into a backup role, and he should be successful there. Amarista probably won’t get a lot of playing time at second unless Kendrick goes down with an injury and Maicer is ineffective.

7. Milwaukee Brewers

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Rickie Weeks R 0.260 0.350 0.460 2.0 500 3.0
Reserve Brooks Conrad S 0.224 0.297 0.392 0.0  100 0.5
Super Utility Cesar Izturis S 0.248 0.291 0.306 1.5 50  0
Prospect Eric Farris R 0.257 0.291 0.342 0.0  50  0

If Rickie Weeks could stay healthy, the Brewers would rate higher on this list. In his one healthy season, Weeks was as good as any second baseman in the game. Once regarded as a terrible fielder, Weeks has improved his defense and can be considered passable at this point. Brooks Conrad should be the main backup for Weeks. He’s patient and has displayed power, but his defense might not play at second. If Weeks gets injured and Conrad is ineffective, perhaps Eric Farris will get a chance to show what he can do in the bigs.

6. Cincinnati Reds

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Brandon Phillips R 0.279 0.331 0.436 9.0 650 5.0
Reserve Wilson Valdez R 0.253 0.298 0.332 0.0 50  0

Brandon Phillips has definitely established himself as one of the elite second basemen in baseball. While he doesn’t walk as much as you might like, he makes up for that with power and incredible defense. Wilson Valdez is an ordinary backup second baseman. He won’t kill you in a limited role.

5. Philadelphia Phillies

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Chase Utley L 0.265 0.362 0.448 8.0 550 5.0
Reserve Michael Martinez S 0.231 0.277 0.339 0.0 100  0

Chase Utley is just way too good when healthy. And even though his slash line was slightly down last season, he still managed to provide solid defense. While he’s no longer a sure thing, he should put up great numbers when he plays. Utley’s knee condition will only get worse, and how he chooses to manage it will have a great impact on his value this season.

4. New York Yankees

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Robinson Cano L 0.299 0.347 0.506 -2.0 650 5.5
Reserve Eduardo Nunez R 0.273 0.312 0.379 -7.0 50  0

The only thing that separates Cano from the players ahead of him on this list is defense. While Cano is an exceptional hitter, he still struggles defensively. He doesn’t walk much either, but makes up for that with his strong contact rate and high averages. His power potential at second base is unmatched right now. He can mash.

3. Tampa Bay Rays

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Ben Zobrist S 0.261 0.355 0.444 10.0 600 6.0
Reserve Jeff Keppinger R 0.270 0.313 0.366 -2.0 100 0.5

Zobrist may not hit for as much power as Cano, but he still has the ability to hit for 20 home runs. He’s also a patient hitter, and plays phenomenal defense. He may never reach the highs of his 2009, but Zobrist proved last season that he’s far from a fluke. Bringing in Keppinger this off-season was a solid move. He’s not a great defender, but he absolutely destroys lefties. He’ll be a valuable reserve when he plays.

2. Texas Rangers

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Ian Kinsler R 0.274 0.360 0.474 8.0 600 6.5
Reserve Alberto Gonzalez R 0.254 0.288 0.337 1.0 50  0
Super Utility Michael Young R 0.291 0.336 0.431 -1.0 50 0.5

With all the strong offensive players on the Rangers, it’s a shame that Ian Kinsler still somehow falls under the radar. Finally healthy for an entire season, Kinsler put up eye-popping numbers. He may not hit for high averages, but walks enough to offset that deficiency. He also plays great defense. Alberto Gonzalez could play the utility infielder role and spell Kinsler when he needs a day off, but Ron Washington could choose to get creative with Michael Young if that situation comes to pass. Young’s not a great defender, but his bat will play at second.

1. Boston Red Sox

Role Player Bats ZIPS BA ZIPS OBP ZIPS SLG Fielding PA WAR
Starter Dustin Pedroia R 0.294 0.368 0.461 11.0 650 7.0
Reserve Nick Punto S 0.250 0.332 0.335 1.0 50 0.5

There’s probably not much difference between Pedroia and the last four guys on this list. Pedroia just does everything really well. Depending on how you feel about UZR, you might not agree with this ranking. Pedroia’s UZR jumped to 17.9 last season, which was much higher than his average in the category. Still, Pedroia is as consistent as they come in the batters box. He consistently hits for high averages and above-average power, and is capable of stealing at least 20 bases per season. He’s a true five-tool player.




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


91 Responses to “Positional Power Rankings: Second Base”

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  1. Kirsh says:

    Minor correction, Chris: I think you mean “Eduardo Nunez,” not “Eduardo Perez,” is the backup second baseman for the Yankees.

    Nice list, though. I agree with most of it.

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  2. Malemute says:

    How do you determine which teams get 650 PA, which teams get 700 PA, and which teams get 750 PA?

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    • Chris Cwik says:

      I tried my best to give each team 700 PA out of their second base slot. I know there were some cases where I didn’t reach that amount, but I tried to keep it consistent.

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  3. Ransom says:

    Allen Craig at 2nd was a Tony LaRussa experiment last year. I would be shocked if he plays anywhere but 1st and the corner OF spots this year.

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  4. Eric C says:

    If nothing else, I love Michael Young because we now have “super utility” listed as a role.

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  5. Kevin says:

    I think Uggla’s 2.5 projection is way low. He ended up at 2.5 last year despite batting under .200 for 40% of the year.

    I love my hometown Cardinals but I don’t see how they’re rated at 15. Too many unknown commodities being given too much credit.

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    • Shane says:

      2.5-3 WAR is waht you get from Uggla.

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      • Undocorkscrew says:

        He’s been above 4.5 3 times in his career. He’s obviously not getting any younger and I don’t expect his second-half performance to sustain itself, but I think he’s more than capable of topping 3 WAR again……

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      • bstar says:

        I don’t think his first two months last year are gonna happen again, that’s the unsustainable part. He’s convinced me he can hit the way he hit the last four months for a full year. I think he could put up a 5-win season, and the Braves certainly, certainly need an offensive star.

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  6. ElJosharino says:

    I think Uggla’s primary backup is probably going to be Jack (not Josh) Wilson, or maybe Prado. Not that it matters much, because Uggs will probably play 160 games.

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  7. Jibb says:

    I have a couple of comments about the Cardinals. I doubt Craig receives much time at the position, and if he does he’s almost certain to be quite bad with the glove. I’m much higher on Greene than ZiPS. He’s put up some excellent seasons at AAA and many Cardinal fans think he was never given a fair shot due to perceived differences with Tony La Russa. I think his FANS prediction is closer to what I’d expect out of him this year. Average defense, mediocre contact but good walk rates and power for a 2B and excellent speed. To be honest I’m surprised you have the Cardinals ranked so highly, given how bad Greene’s ZiPS line is. He’s really the only Cardinals 2B with good upside.

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    • cpebbles says:

      Don’t think Greene and TLR ever had any issues. LaRussa admitted that Greene needed a prolonged chance that he had never been given late last year.

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  8. Nate says:

    Reds/Phillips projection seems high. He had a great season in 2011 in part due to a career high babip. Zips projects about a league average stick for him. He’s stick plus w/ the glove and solid on the bases.

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  9. GP says:

    Fontenot and Sanchez are basically the same player. Seriously, look at their ZiPS:

    .245/.308/.367

    .273/.313/.373

    I’m not going to tell you which is which, because it really doesn’t matter.

    And UZR likes both of their defenses about the same.

    There’s a lot to say about the Giants weaknesses, but criticizing them for having a poor backup, when in fact the backup is basically the same player as the starter, isn’t it.

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    • KKSC says:

      How exactly are they the same player?

      That ZIPS projection is the lowest in terms of OPS for other projections. Marcel and *Fans* have him as high as a .720 OPS.

      Secondly, who even knows if this projection is accurate?

      Sanchez’s OPS over the last three seasons are as follows: .742, .732, and .730. He hasn’t shown any signs of decline (offensively), although granted, he’s getting up there in age.

      Still, saying Sanchez is the same as Fontenot because of a ZIPS projection is weak.

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    • wat says:

      Giantpain, I wish you nothing but a slow, painful death.

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    • Baltar says:

      I agree that the falloff from an old (older than his years because of his handicap) perenially injured Freddy to a Fontenot/Theriot platoon is not that great.
      Cwik perhaps used an unfortunate choice of words when he said Fontenot as backup is a poor strategy. There’s not much difference between Fontenot and Theriot (if anything, Fontenot’s better), and, obviously, it’s smarter to use the lefty to spell the righty.
      That the Giants don’t have a better choice of 2B’s in their organization (not to mention SS’s) is a result of poor strategy on Sabean’s part.

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  10. jeca11 says:

    I am concerned about this list cause you called Daniel Murphy a strong fielder.

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    • Franco says:

      I think he’s above average if he ever learns how to not use his ACL to block second base.

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      • jeca11 says:

        I will watch Murphy this spring before I argue too much but like the dude below as a Mets fan I also laughed out loud. He is one clumsy dude. Perhaps second basemen set a low bar.

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    • Madoff Withurmoni says:

      Murphy is decent enough at the catching ground balls part of defense. Everything else can be an adventure. He makes some amazing plays, but then makes some amazing miscues. Seems to be one of those guys that’s better the less time he has to think about it. And yeah, if he manages to stay alive out there, it’s a major plus.

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    • Dave S says:

      I had the same feeling. He seems universally regarded as a mediocre to bad fielder in everything that I read, and a potential danger to himself in the field.

      Its funny though, Murphy gets unanimously panned in the fan scouting reports for infield position (1b,2b,3b), but has good UZR/150 in all 3 positions (in very limited exposures, granted).

      He gets neutral FSR for outfield play… yet his UZR/150’s are all quite poor in the outfield.

      And yeah, it’ll be interesting to see if he can actually survive a season at 2b. But I think if he can, he will be surprisingly effective, and could perform well north of his ranking here.

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  11. soamx says:

    As someone who’s seen Cano and Pedroia play hundreds of games, I completely disagree with defensive metrics that rate Pedroia so far ahead of Cano. Cano appears to me to be the superior defender, I think this is one of the cases where defensive metrics fail us.

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    • Ari Collins says:

      Not when all defensive metrics and scouting agree. He’s got poor range, if solid hands and a good arm.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        While Pedroia’s range is just ridiculous.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bstar says:

        And a 5 foot nothing guy with little speed has awesome range? My pink, polka-dotted butt. Dan Uggla’s near the same height, turns the double play great, is great on getting bloop shots over his head in right field, and gets murdered by every defensive metric. Yet Pedroia is a plus plus defender? c’mon.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        If you think that Pedroia’s not fast, or, more laughably, that Uggla and Pedroia have similar builds and athleticism… you’re crazy. LIKE A FOX. (Who’s crazy.)

        Being good at the double play and making some tough plays are fantastic, but they don’t beat having great range.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jonathan says:

        @bstar,

        It amazes me that, five full seasons into his MLB career, people are still underestimating Pedroia’s capabilities based on his height.

        Yeah, he’s short, but he’s still got insane range. Don’t ask me to explain the physics of it, he just somehow manages to get to everything.

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    • phoenix2042 says:

      it is not that severe, but I would put pedroia at +8-10 and cano at anywhere from even to +5. he has about average range, maybe a little less (not terrible like ppl think), and the best hands/arm I have seen at second. there is no better player at turning the double play anywhere in baseball. basically, they should be a lot closer in value, given cano’s hitting prowess.

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    • colin says:

      Ah yes, I wonder what team it is that you support…..

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      • Shane says:

        Pedroia defense vs. Cano defense is not even debatable. The stats and the scouts agree on this and so do my eyes. It’s Pedroia. His instincts allow him to make plays others don’t. When he was at Arizona State with Kinsler they started with Kinsler at shortstop and Pedroia at second. They soon realized they had it backwards and put Kinsler at second and Pedroia at shortstop. Pedroia out plays his skillset more than most others. I don’t know how else to explain it.

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      • Steve says:

        I am sure there is some bias here, but let’s not pretend that other defensive systems don’t rate Cano better than UZR.

        All of a sudden UZR is gospel?

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      • Ari Collins says:

        Reposting my comment in part from below:

        Defense is not just about UZR. Every single defensive metric has Pedroia as the far better defender. While UZR is particularly harsh on Cano, every other metric (and scouting report) has Pedroia with a substantial advantage, so blaming UZR is rather pointless.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jim says:

      pedroia makes more plays on BIZ but struggles (compared to cano) on OOZ, while cano does the opposite. it’s not a big deal, dude

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  12. stuck in a slump says:

    I can’t believe that Kipnis will be that bad defensively, I never thought he was an exceptional defensive player and everything I read about him has him below average, but nothing I’ve ever read has called him ‘close your eyes’ awful like the -6 FLD score suggests.

    I’d bet on Kipnis ending up as a better defender by the end of the year than Walker.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. JeffMathisCera says:

    For Amarista to even get 50 PA, Izturis and Kendrick would both have to be hurt, and even then I would bet that Callaspo would slide over before Amarista sees any time at the plate.

    Given this, I’d add another 0.5 WAR for Izzy’s PA and slide the Angels up one in the rankings.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • AA says:

      Scioscia and the Angels seem to like Amarista a lot. Little guy with pop and good defense. He got some decent playing time before, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it again.

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  14. Dekker says:

    Pedroia…Cano..Kinsler…..Zoborist

    DRS and TZL are pretty kind to Cano’s fielding. I imagine UZR is just an outlier in this case.

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  15. gonfalon says:

    I agree with the Pirates’ ranking of #10, but I think Walker will do a bit better than the projections.

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  16. CircleChange11 says:

    As a Cardinal fan, I’m happy as heck if our worst position is rated 15th out of the 30 teams.

    If they can get 2 WAR out of Greene, Descalso and Skip … I’ll be very pleased.

    The only time Craig will be in the vicinity of 2nd base is when he’s coasting in for a double.

    IMO, we’ll see him on the “run” side of a hit and run before we’ll see him play 2B … and I don;t anticipate seeing him to either one ever again.

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  17. Matt says:

    Yes! The Dodgers are at the top of 2 out of 3 lists so far!
    That’s really good, right?
    Getting 30 points for both Catcher and Second Base is outstanding.

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. JT says:

    Can you briefly explain why you think Zobrist will have a higher WAR than Cano, even with fewer PAs?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. JT Grace says:

    The Braves are ranked WAAAAAAAAAY too low at 18th on this list. When you have a 2B who hits 30+ home runs each and every season that team should NOT be ranked 18th out of 30 teams at the 2B position. I would probably have them at about 5th or 6th on the list but at the very least they should be in the top 10. Also, Josh Wilson will most likely not even make the 25 man roster. Drew Sutton will probably have a better chance of making the roster than Wilson.

    You even have the Blue Jays with Kelly Johnson ranked ahead of the Braves. Now that is just ridiculous.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Louis says:

      Defense matters d00d

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • dave says:

      he also makes a LOT of outs and can’t field the ball unless it’s within falling distance. just because he’s a good fantasy 2b, doesn’t mean he’s a good major league one.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Snorlax says:

      Uggla’s defensive woes are manifold. A run allowed on defense cancels out a run scored on offense.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JT Grace says:

        The MLB network recently ranked all 2B in MLB. Uggla was in the top ten and their rankings INCLUDED defense. I watched him every game last season. He really wasn’t as bad as what his UZR shows. And his 35 home runs eclipse any defensive shortcomings. This article predicts that he will only have a 2.5 WAR. He had that last year in a historically bad season for him. His WAR the previous season was something like 4.9. There is absolutely NO WAY that the Braves should be 18th on this list. That is absurd.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason says:

        “A run allowed on defense cancels out a run scored on offense.”

        This is, of course, true. However, it is actually quite difficult for a second baseman to allow a run on defense. A ball that gets past the second basemen is a single. The run expectancy of a single is not very high. Also, the frequency that a ball is hit that is in the range where some players get the ball and others don’t is low (certainly fewer than one a game). So we have a rare event that usually doesn’t lead to (or save) a run anyway. There just aren’t that many opportunities for a second baseman to really save a run with his glove. On the other hand, most players average a hit a game. Creating runs is easier than saving them and more likely to impact any given game.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ari Collins says:

        That is simply not true, Jason. Second basemen field an awful lot of balls, and the differences between the best, worst, and average is factored into defensive metrics. Uggla costs his teams 5-10 runs a year below the average second baseman, and, what’s more, while he hits for a TON of power, he also made a TON of outs last year, resulting in an above-average-but-not-great offensive production.

        That said, I agree that 2.5 WAR is a bit low. A simple 5/3/2 average of his last three years gives you a 3.25 WAR projection, which sounds about right to me.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. RBIGuy says:

    Daniel Murphy has played only 43 games at 2B in his entire professional career, so I’m not sure how his defense has managed to gain anybody’s regard just yet. His outlook ranges from league average at best to completely over-matched at 2B at worst.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • MalteseFalcon says:

      I’m a Mets fan and actually laughed out loud at the Murphy comment. He’s an above avg hitter, but he’s an atrocious fielder just about anywhere you put him. He’s the prototypical bat without a position. The Mets are forcing him to play 2nd because they need his bat in the lineup. I don’t know how you can qualify Murph as anything but a terrible 2B at this point.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Charles Krome says:

    How far up do the Tigers move once Brandon Inge becomes the starter at second?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. KKSC says:

    I’d put the Jays at #12, because I think Johnson has a good year. As well, the 2.5 projection for WAR I disagree with. I understand it’s hard to accurately project, but these projection systems tend not to work with players whose numbers are volatile from year to year. I think with players such as Johnson, the *fans* projections will be more accurate because of human analysis. Equation based systems seem to trend towards the average, which it has done with Johnson.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Daniel says:

    great list! although im a huge believer of the cano-is-way-overrated-especially-on-defense, i am very surprised that zobrist passes him on this list. I do agree, though, with pretty much everthing

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. junker23 says:

    Projecting 7 WAR for Pedroia seemed excessive, then I saw that’s exactly what the “Fans” projected. Still seems kinda high though?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • colin says:

      Pedroia has average 5.75 WAR over the last four seasons…hope springs eternal.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ari Collins says:

      Fans are bit optimistic on most stars. You could knock everyone down a win if you wanted, or just look at people relative to each other, as the article does.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • colin says:

        As a practical matter I really don’t even consider “fan” projections anymore because they are replete with bias in various forms.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Krog says:

    I sense a pattern in these rankings. The top 5-6 guys are really good and the rest of the league is just awful. 2B has a little bit more depth than other positions, but now I realize what “championship player” really means. You need superstars or you’ll be just like everyone else.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. YanksFanInBeantown says:

    Cano’s defense is underrated IMO. UZR just seems to hate him. TZ says he’s slightly above average, DRS thinks he’s a pretty good defender, and PMR has him as the best second baseman in the American League.

    I’d say DRS is about right, but I’m obviously biased.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Andrew says:

      That’s fine. And Pedroia is every bit the hitter he is, hence he’s the overall better player.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        That’s true, but I don’t think Zobrist’s wOBA is going to be that close to Robbie’s next year (I strongly disagree with ZiPs on Cano), or that Kinsler, who’s injury prone and a worse hitter who makes up the gap with defense, is a lock to have 650 plate appearances next year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tom B says:

        No, no he is not.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ari Collins says:

        By wOBA:

        Pedroia .368, Cano .359

        By wRC+:

        Pedroia 122, Cano 118

        Even OPS, which places a higher weight on Cano’s strength, SLG, has Cano with only a slight edge:

        Pedroia .836, Cano .843.

        OPS also fails to take park factors into account or baserunning, and while baserunning isn’t technically “hitting,” it’s certainly offensive production.

        Defense is not just about UZR. Every single defensive metric and scouting report has Pedroia as the far better defender. While UZR is particularly harsh on Cano, every other metric (and scouting report) has Pedroia with a substantial advantage, so blaming UZR is rather pointless.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. asdfasdf says:

    Uggla had 2.5 WAR last year in his worst season, I can’t imagine him doing that poorly again, I know his defense is like having a tree play second base, his bat should make up enough to be worth more than 2.5

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. shel says:

    if jeff baker is a “league-average reserve” why is his WAR only 0.5? I thought a league averae WAR was around 2?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. Karlita says:

    Why on earth do you think Daniel Murphy is an above-average fielder?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. Tom B says:

    While Cano is an exceptional hitter, he still struggles defensively

    BAHAHAHAHA
    man, this series or articles is a joke… right?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Preston says:

    I think that Cano’s UZR is unfavorable because of the way the Yankees infield aligns. Because Teixeira is an excellent defender and Jeter is not very mobile they shade him more up the middle. So UZR thinks that he’s missing a lot of balls in his “zone” when it’s really a coaching choice. I’d say his range is average and his glove and arm are both pluses. I don’t disagree that Ben Zobrist and Ian Kinsler have better all around skill sets both baserunning and fielding but I would still take Cano as the superior player.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. wont let me post without a name says:

    Nothing against Pedroia, but his numbers are always inflated by playing in Fenway Park.
    Last year was his best season, but if you look at his career hitting stats, his home numbers are a lot better than his road totals. (.389 career home wOBA, .347 career road wOBA–He’s really a lot lower in every offensive category imaginable)
    If he was truly a great hitter, I would expect great home and road production, not good road hitting and great home hitting.
    Cano’s career road wOBA is .373, and his home is .377. All of his other important offensive stats are similar home and away.
    It shows me that Pedroia’s “greatness” is a product of his stadium.
    He’s very good, but Cano is the superior hitter, to all people saying otherwise.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ari Collins says:

      The numbers are already park-adjusted. Home-away splits are NOT a statistically valid way of looking at it, since instead of adjusting for park, you’re introducing a lot of noise by bringing in half-seasons of data. Some players don’t show the same amount of home advantage as others, but that is NOT the same as saying their home field isn’t helping them. Similarly, a player with a more severe platoon split for home and away is NOT showing that their home field is helping them more.

      What you want to look at is park-adjusted stats like wOBA and wRC+.

      The only argument you could make is that Pedroia is helped more than an average hitter by his park due to his style of hitting, but you can make the same argument about Cano, only more so. Pedroia is helped in doubles by a lot, but Cano is helped even more in the home run category.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • wont let me post without a name says:

        “since instead of adjusting for park, you’re introducing a lot of noise by bringing in half-seasons of data.”
        I said in my post to look at their career stats. I wouldn’t base an assumption off of only 1 season.
        “What you want to look at is park-adjusted stats like wOBA and wRC+.”
        I used wOBA as an example. Use any stat you want–There will be a dramatic difference in Pedroia’s home and road splits.
        “but you can make the same argument about Cano, only more so. Pedroia is helped in doubles by a lot, but Cano is helped even more in the home run category.”
        I wouldn’t make that argument because Cano’s career home/road splits are nearly identical in every category.
        “Some players don’t show the same amount of home advantage as others, but that is NOT the same as saying their home field isn’t helping them.”
        Yes, I agree with that. But I think it is fair to assume it is a factor if they continue to greatly outperform their road numbers dramatically over a long period of years. Especially when that player has a 290 foot giant wall in left field, or is batting up in Colorado. But you never know, agree to disagree I guess.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ari Collins says:

        Using wOBA home-away splits is not the same thing as using wOBA, which is already adjusted for park.

        Once again, the home/away splits are not a statistically valid measurement of how much a player is helped by their home park. Feel free to judge Pedroia based on that, but you’re wrong, and any statistical analyst would laugh at an analysis based on that.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bstar says:

        Kinda like the way they laugh at Larry Walker and Todd Helton’s home/away splits, right?? Of course they matter. Do you think Jim Friggin Rice would be in the Hall of Fame without his great home numbers at Fenway? Home/road splits will probably keep Walker and Helton out of the Hall/right on the borderline. Of course they’re damn important. You think Jacoby Ellsbury leading MLB in WAR had anything at all to do with his home advantage? Of course it did.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Peter R says:

        Lol gotta love the “but you’re wrong.” Thus dude is a huge Pedroia hugger and has been bashing people left and right all over these comments.

        Just doesn’t want to agree with what people are saying that Cano and Pedroia are much closer players than these charts say. We not saying one is better than the other, just that they are closer in caliber.

        That all being said, I would take Cano over Pedrioa if I was building a team from the ground up. I prefer his skill-set and makeup long term. But I could completely understand if someone disagreed with me and went the other way.

        Lastly, I don’t understand how looking at how a player actually performed over his career home vrs away is a worse method than looking at a “park adjusted” stat. Just doesn’t make sense in my brain.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ari Collins says:

        Have I been trashing people? If so, I apologize! I’ve been disagreeing with people, but I didn’t think I’d been insulting. Didn’t mean to, if true.

        The “you’re wrong,” is, while maybe a bit confrontational, just a matter of fact. Home/road splits are not a meaningful statistical sample. That’s just straight fact.

        @bstar: I never said park effects didn’t matter. I’m saying they matter very much. But it’s a common mistake to look at home/away splits instead of park factors. Larry Walker and Todd Helton are not HOF shoe-ins because their parks helped them an awful lot. But home/away splits are the worst way to figure out a player’s true talent level. They are useful for telling you what a guy did at home and what he did on the road. They are NOT useful for concluding from that evidence how much a home park helped a player.

        Those are just the facts, sirs.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bstar says:

        So, Ari, you’re suggesting the best way to evaluate guys like Ellis Burks, Dante Bichette, Eric Young, and Andres Galarraga would be, what, to ignore their home/road splits? I’d just like the facts, please.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        Bro, Pedroia’s career ISO is .048 higher at home
        His BABIP is .037 higher at home
        His wOBA is .042 higher at home
        His wRC+ is 28 points higher at home
        His K/BB ratio is the same.

        If that doesn’t suggest that having a short wall that turns pop-ups into doubles is helping him, I don’t know what will.

        Meanwhile, Cano’s career ISO is .006 higher at home
        His BABIP is .021 higher away
        His wOBA is .004 higher away
        His wRC+ is 3 points higher away.

        I rest my case

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ari Collins says:

        Yes, ignore their home/road splits. Because those do NOT tell you how much their home park is helping them. Of COURSE you want to look at how much their home park is helping them. That’s very very important. That’s why you should look at park factors, because they do a much much better job of letting you adjust for how much a home park is helping or hurting a player.

        You can quote home/road splits all you want, but they honestly tell you nothing about a player’s value whatsoever. Yes, Pedroia is helped a lot by his home park. But so is Cano. The fact that Pedroia’s home/road split is massive and Cano’s is tiny is statistically meaningless.

        Honestly, this has been covered in a ton of sabermetric articles. Park factors are the way to go.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        Because Sabermetric stats are perfect and there are no factors which they cannot account for.

        Got it.

        The massive split in the park-adjusted stat wRC+ isn’t through any fault of wRC+ in accounting for park factors. Pedroia just gets so pumped up in front of Red Sox Nation that he outperforms his road wRC+ by 28 POINTS.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Randy says:

    Brandon Inge should be listed, though I understand there being no projection at this point.

    Philly-Wigginton will play some games at 2B.

    TB-Might see Sean Rod at 2B.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. AA says:

    Izturis should probably be classified as a super utility, not a reserve, for the Angels. He has a long history playing 3B/SS/2B, and will likely see time at all 3 this year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. Tim says:

    I honestly can’t believe the analysis for the Mets said Daniel Murphy is regarded as a strong fielder. That’s just laughable. Murphy is a terrible defender no matter where you put him. I remember watching him play outfield and it was like they had picked a fan out of the crowd to play LF. It was an adventure every time the ball was hit to him. Johan Santana used to get so upset when he was on the mound and Murphy would make bad plays, his reactions were priceless. Murphy isn’t any better in the infield either. Daniel Murphy being ‘regarded as a strong fielder’ might be the most ridiculous thing I have ever read on the internet, not just on a baseball website.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. George says:

    Daniel Murphy is not a second baseman. He is a natural third baseman with the ability to cover either corner infield positions. His bat will play but it will be a matter of finding a position where he could do the least damage.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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