Second Base Central

Second basemen tend to be overlooked. Chase Utley‘s relatively low profile despite arguably being the best non-Pujols position player in baseball for the past half-decade is just one glaring example. Maybe it’s because it isn’t a star-studded position in general, because the defensive standouts at shortstop get more attenion, or because of the superior hitters on the infield corners. What this means for FanGraphs is that the number Fan Projections for second basemen tend to be relatively low, especially for the players on the lower end of expectations. So let’s take a look at some second base candidates from the teams of the (equally overlooked) American League Central and see how you think they will do in 2010.

Despite a horrible 2010 follow-up to his impressive 2009 debut, Gordon Beckham currently seems to have a pretty firm grasp on the White Sox’ second base job. Which Beckham will show up in 2011? Alexi Casilla of the Twins’ second base situation is also pretty much guaranteed to start the season for his team, as with the departure of Orlando Hudson, he’s really the only major-league-ready option the team has..

Cleveland’s second base situations is as murky as the options are uninspiring. Former Phillies prospect Jason Donald seemed to have the inside track on the job at the beginning of the off-season, but since then there have been reports that Zombie Orlando Cabrera will be competing for the position, as well. Where this leaves Luis Valbuena is anyone’s guess. This is a situation where the insights of fans are important not only for projecting true talent, but also playing time distribution.

The same can be said for the Detroit Tigers. Scott Sizemore got his shot in 2010, but got sent down to AAA after struggling to start the season. The diminutive Will Rhymes apparently has the inside track on the starting job in 2011, but one wonders if the Tigers are really going to give up on Sizemore that quickly. How this all shakes out if and when Carlos ‘Where Will They Try to Hide My Glove This Week’ Guillen returns from injury (I know, real shocker) is another situation calling for insight from the fans.

Last but not le– well, lastly, the Kansas City Royals don’t really have a position battle at second heading into the season. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be due to having a quality player at the position. Chris Getz came over in a trade from the White Sox during the 2009-2010 off-season, pretty much got handed the job before the season, got hurt, came back, and played horribly while getting jerked around. The Royals seem to really like Getz, and they don’t have any other options. Perhaps the fans have a better insight into his potential. Speaking of Royals who get jerked around last season, Mike Aviles is slated to start the season at third base, but he’s just a placeholder for Mike Moustakas, who will likely be called up after his service time is sufficiently gamed he gets a bit more seasoning at Triple-A. Will the Royals use that opportunity to finally fulfill their longstanding desire to bury Aviles once and for all, or will they give him an extended look at second base if Getz continues to struggle?

We want to hear from you. Click here to enter your projections for the (potential) second baseman of the 2011 American League Central.




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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


37 Responses to “Second Base Central”

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  1. Everett says:

    I thought Nishioka was slated to start at second for the Twins with Casilla moving to short full-time?

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    • Whiskey says:

      Last I heard, they are going to try Nishi at short and Casilla at second during the spring. None of this is set in stone obviously, because if Nishi can’t handle short, they will flip flop.

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      • Everett says:

        Ahh got it, good to know. Was mostly just curious for fantasy where Casilla’s eligible at both but it’d be great for Nishi’s value if he’s at short. Thanks for the update.

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      • OB says:

        From what I gather (and I’m a Twins fan first), Nishioka likely don’t got the arm for SS. Now, Gardenhire gonna give him a shot, but the chances of Casilla ending up at SS are pretty good.

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      • adam b says:

        They’ll figure it out in ST, but Casilla has a cannon. I’d much rather see him at SS.

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  2. glp says:

    Aviles didn’t get jerked around. On the surface of things it may appear that he was, but remember he had Tommy John surgery in July of 2009 and was well short of 100% for a good chunk of the season. It takes most guys a year to recover, after all. The Royals were trying to take it easy on him.

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    • Chris says:

      No, I’m pretty sure he got jerked around. He showed he could throw fine, yet Yuni and Getz were getting the playing time.

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      • Vegemitch says:

        Not only that but position players come back from Tommy John surgery much quicker than pitchers as the strain on their arm isn’t in the same ballpark.

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      • glp says:

        Aviles himself has said he didn’t feel 100% until September. I’m aware that position players come back quicker, but when a player has made it clear how he was feeling I tend to go with that.

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  3. NEPP says:

    If Utley continues on a slow decline, where does he end up on a HoF debate?

    Last year sure feels like an off year due to injuries, not a huge warning sign. If he reverts back to a 6+ WAR player as he should (he’s really not that old), he should then settle into the tail end of his plateau phase and the beginning of his decline (averaging .5 Wins a year).

    So if the following happens:

    Age 32 2011: 6 Wins
    Age 33 2012: 5.5 Wins
    Age 34 2013: 5 Wins
    Age 35 2014: 4.5 Wins
    Age 36 2015: 4 Wins
    Total: 25 Wins + his current total of 44 Wins= 69 Wins (solid HOF consideration territory.

    Even if you assume a more rapid decline, say -0.75 Wins per year, he still goes

    6,00 Wins
    5.25 Wins
    4.50 Wins
    3.75 Wins
    3.00 Wins
    Total: 22.5 Wins + 44 Wins= 66.5 Wins.

    Thoughts?

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    • ToddM says:

      Given how unappreciated he is, and considering how unfavorably the better of the two projections above (69 WAR) compares to say… oh, I don’t know… LOU WHITAKER… I’d say Utley’s screwed.

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      • NEPP says:

        It also compares to Roberto Alomar (68.2 WAR) and Craig Biggio (70.1 WAR)…both of whom will be HOF members by the time Utley is up for consideration.

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      • ToddM says:

        Well, that means one of two things:

        1) My rant was more about Lou Whitaker.

        2) Biggio and Alomar were more appreciated during their careers, and it’ll be interesting to see which group Utley ends up in.

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      • NEPP says:

        I agree on Whitaker. He got screwed. I think his biggest problem was never having that amazing peak but instead being consistently very good.

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      • NEPP says:

        The Phillies and Utley could help his case by winning another WS…sad as that may sound.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Utley will make it, as long as he stays healthy.

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    • Not David says:

      I think it’s a shame that his inferior infield mates received MVP’s while he didn’t and that it could very well keep him out of the HoF.

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      • NEPP says:

        Utley didn’t help his case in 2007 by getting hurt and missing 30 games. He was the easy favorite to win before that.

        Here’s his line on the day he got hurt (July 26th)

        100 G, 462 PA, .336 AVG, .414 OBP, .996 OPS, 41 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 82 RBI, 79 R.

        There’s no way Rollins wins that year if Utley stays healthy.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Rollins did have a 30/40/20 season that year. It’s hard to argue against him winning the MVP.

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      • Anon says:

        Pretty easily, actually. David Wright’s .325/.410/.546, 30 HR 34 SB season blows Rollins’ out of the water. Rollins being a loudmouth jackass got him the award.

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      • hk says:

        @ Anon,

        I’d say the Mets collapsing and being overrun by the Phillies got him the award over Wright. I’m not saying that it was deserved, but I’m sure it impacted the voting.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        I know Mets’ fans are suffering from a severe case of inferiority–and are still particularly upset that the 2007 Phillies were a better baseball team and that Rollins had the audacity to correctly predict they would win the division (I assume Carlos Beltran is also a loudmouth jackass for his incorrect prediction a year later)–but the only players that should have been in the 2007 MVP race were Rollins, Utley, and Matt Holliday. Any player associated with a historic collapse need not apply.

        Any short stop that hits 30 HR, steals 40 bases, and hits 20 triples while playing above average defense on a division winning team is going to be on the shortlist for MVP.

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      • Menthol says:

        “Any short stop that hits 30 HR, steals 40 bases, and hits 20 triples while playing above average defense on a division winning team is going to be on the shortlist for MVP.”

        That’s probably true, but it doesn’t mean that should be. Rollins had a nice year, but Wright was clearly the better player. Punishing him for his team’s choke makes no sense, although of course it happens all the time.

        Rollins led the league in outs made, and not just because he had a bunch of PAs. His OBP was a very unimpressive .344.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        “Rollins had a nice year, but Wright was clearly the better player. Punishing him for his team’s choke makes no sense, although of course it happens all the time.”

        A nice year? Even just going by WAR, Rollins was the 7th best player in the NL. Wright did lead the league in WAR, but the MVP isn’t an award for leading in WAR. The Mets didn’t collapse around Wright, he contributed to it.

        Leading the league in outs doesn’t mean anything. He lead the league in PAs. Rollins’ OBP may have been ‘unimpressive’ but his wOBA of .378 was.

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      • NEPP says:

        Wright was barely a .370 (.372 actually) hitter during the final 2 months in 2007. Total meltdown on his part.

        Rollins had a fantastic year and was a worthy winner regardless though.

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  4. Chris says:

    I think Beckham is the best in the Central. Easy. Unless Aviles is starting at 2B.

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  5. david says:

    speaking of underrated 2b, whatever happened to marcus giles? homeboy popped off and then just disappeared. he’s another one of those multiple concussion guys (2/18 post), but i don’t think that had anything to do with his departure from the game. anyone got any insight?

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  6. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    espinosa will hit more than 20 homers as a secondbaseman this season for the Nats

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  7. Vegemitch says:

    Utley got a late start on his career with only 439 PA before becoming a full timer when he was 26y 5m old. Most HoF caliber player begin their career at 23-24 y/o so really his career projection would be somewhere around 80+ WAR if he had a big league job a little earlier. As such, barring a complete meltdown or career threatening injury, I think his peak is so impressive that he’ll glide into the Hall, even if he tops out at about 60-65 WAR.

    I’m not a Phillies fan but in my short research for this post I found that Utley’s minor league numbers at age 23-25 are pretty stout. Was there someone in Philly blocking his path to MLB? Why did the Phillies delay his call up? He projected to be an offensive force and given his outstanding defense I’d figure he wouldn’t need to be a 100% polished hitter anyway before breaking through. Thoughts?

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  8. OzzieGuillen says:

    The above debate about Lou Whitaker made me look up his stats and see that his career was better than I remember it being. Replacement level must not have been very good in the 80′s.

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    • ToddM says:

      Well, yeah. A much larger percentage of middle infielders hit like complete crap in the 80′s.

      Whitaker played very good (but mostly unrecognized) defense, he walked quite a bit, he hit for some power, didn’t ground into DPs, and kept it up right through to the end.

      He’s no all-time great, but he’s better than at least half of the HOF second sackers.

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  9. Gah this page bogs down Firefox, it crashed three times today. What’s going on?

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