More than a third of the way through the season, let’s see what the list looks like now. To-date wOBA and ZiPs Ros wOBAs included for your pleasure.
The Top Targets:
1. Chase Utley, Philadelphia (.371 wOBA, .401 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
2. Robinson Cano, New York AL (.439 wOBA, .372 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
3. Dustin Pedroia, Boston (.354 wOBA, .365 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
4. Ian Kinsler, Texas (.324 wOBA, .363 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
When you’ve been excellent as long as Chase Utley has, you buy yourself more than a couple months of subpar performance before you give up the top spot (or: if this is what a slump looks like, go get me some pomeade). Ian Kinsler doesn’t quite have the same pedigree, has always had the injuries to contend with, and just has to fall behind Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano because of the AL East second basemens’ beastly seasons to date. If you’re giving up on Utley now, please contact me with trade offers because I’m buying.
Had to split tiers here because some of the medium-style second basemen are having worse-than-mediocre seasons. it’s a tough position when you can only really be satisfied with the top seven. Of course, the argument will be made for some of the guys below, but these seven are the only guys that combine track record with help in the counting stats and don’t hurt too bad in any one place. The good news for Ben Zobrist fans is that even with less power, he’s going to be a strong middle infielder going forward.
Could Still be Strong:
8. Chone Figgins, Seattle (.296 wOBA, .328 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
9. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee (.346 wOBA, .345 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
10. Ian Stewart, Colorado (.332 wOBA, .344 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
11. Aaron Hill, Toronto (.296 wOBA, .329 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
These guys are head-scratchers, and there might plenty of moaning about their spots. The thing is, there are glimmers of hope in each case. Chone Figgins is still walking and stealing bases like last year, he’s just striking out a bit much and doesn’t have a nice BABIP like he usually does. His strikeout rate is up almost 5% over his career number and he’s got his second-worst contact rate of his career, but there’s no guarantee that will continue. If he gets hot and ends up with a .280+ average going forward, and finishes like the Dan Uggla of speed at a tough position, he’ll earn this spot. Aaron Hill has a wacky batted ball profile that should get extended coverage soon, but the power is there. If he ends up with Casey McGehee numbers at the end of the year, it’s clear which of the two you want going forward. Rickie Weeks and Ian Stewart will elicit groans from the batting-average lovers, but they do decent work in the counting stats and still could produce mediocre batting averages if they recapture their early-season gains. In a couple weeks, these guys may be re-distributed upwards and downwards (Hill and Stewart, I’m looking in your direction), but I think they merit a little more attention in the meantime.
Flawed but Good:
12. Kelly Johnson, Arizona (.391 wOBA, .373 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
13. Casey McGehee, Milwaukee (.345 wOBA, .324 ZiPs RoS wOBA)
14. Ty Wigginton, Baltimore (.369 wOBA, .353 ZiPs RoS wOBA)
15. Juan Uribe, San Francisco, (.367 wOBA, .341 ZiPs RoS wOBA)
16. Placido Polanco, Philadelphia (.346 wOBA, .343 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
17. Martin Prado, Atlanta (.369 wOBA, .352 ZiPs RoS wOBA)
18. Alberto Callaspo, Kansas City (.320 wOBA, .334 ZiPs RoS wOBA)
This is the tier that holds second basemen that fit needs. If you need power, Kelly Johnson, Ty Wigginton, Juan Uribe and McGehee are your men, but all of them but Uribe (!) have already started to taper off and may yet be replaced in this tier. Our skepticism may have been warranted in McGehee’s case. Martin Prado and Placido Polanco will fit the right batting-average starved team better than many teams on the list above them, but neither is a lock to crack as many as 15 home runs, nor do they have speed. None of the bunch really has the upside to be a complete second baseman (except maybe Uribe?!!).
Upside to Join the Top:
19. Brian Roberts, Baltimore (.254 wOBA, .355 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
20. Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles AL (.310 wOBA, .329 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
21. Ian Desmond, Washington (.311 wOBA, .324 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
22. Orlando Hudson, Minnesota (.362 wOBA, .346 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
23. Mike Aviles, Kansas City (.321 wOBA, .312 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
24. Felipe Lopez, St Louis (.328 wOBA, .314 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
25. Gordon Beckham, Chicago (.253 wOBA, .328 RoS ZiPs wOBA)
26. Jose Lopez, Seattle (.254 wOBA, .306 ZiPs Ros wOBA)
Brian Roberts continues his long, painful slide and may not be back for another month or two, so it’s hard to place him anywhere but here. Falling along with him are Gordon Beckham and Jose Lopez. When a .597 OPS is ‘picking it up in June,’ it’s hard to be optimistic about Beckham. I still think he’ll get it going, but when is the question, and he’s surely not ownable in the meantime unless you are just stuck with him in a deep league. Repeat that all with a .596 OPS for Lopez, and probably less upside. Ian Desmond and Mike Aviles debut on the list, and have some upside, but Aviles is older than you think, has no power or speed, and Desmond is Kendrick-lite because he has the same lack of counting stats but about half the batting average upside.
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