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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 338

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2013 Positional Power Rankings: Introduction.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Last year, we decided to do season previews a little bit differently, and instead of running down each individual team, we previewed the league by position. We liked the format, so we’re doing it again this year. For those who didn’t see the series the first time around, let me borrow from last year’s introduction:

This is only looking at the upcoming season and doesn’t account for potential long term value – we’re just concerned with what each team may get from a given spot on the field this year…

The fun part of comparing teams at a given position is that we’re not limited to just looking at one player, but can compare the expected production of an everyday guy against a left/right platoon, or we can note what a team should expect from giving a stop-gap two months of playing time before they call up their top prospect in the early summer. Few teams get an entire season’s worth of playing time at a position from one guy, so by using depth charts to create an expected playing time matrix, we can give a more thorough evaluation of what kind of strength an organization has at a given spot.

We’re following the same structure as last year, but we’ve also made some improvements that should upgrade this year’s version. To create the data that drives the actual placement of each team within each position, we’re combining a few resources to give us a custom projection that I think could end up being quite an interesting forecast. For playing time, we author-sourced depth charts for every team, handing out playing time at each spot based on the best information available at this point in time. We then prorated the ZIPS and Steamer projections to those playing time levels and averaged– with a straight 50/50 split — those forecasts, then ran those inputs through our WAR calculation.

It might sound a little convoluted, but the hope is that we’re taking the things that projection systems do the best and complementing them with playing time projections informed by updated injury information and the kinds of things that humans can know by reading the paper and following a team’s moves with a close eye. Because it’s a hybrid of multiple inputs, and because these are positions specific, these projections aren’t going to match any of the ones you’ll find on a player’s page.

For guys who play multiple positions, you might think they look low, but keep in mind that his value is being split across multiple posts. This system doesn’t hate Ben Zobrist – it just isn’t going to reflect all of his value within any single post. The author of the second base post also doesn’t hate Ben Zobrist, by the way — the data was given to the writers, so don’t get mad at them if you don’t like the placement of your particular team on a given list. The rankings are essentially based on an algorithm, and thus don’t reflect any particular bias against your favorite team. Really. We don’t hate your team. I promise.

Certainly, there’s no way to know exactly how playing time is going to be distributed. We don’t know when the Rays are going to call up Wil Myers. We don’t know who is going to blow out their knees in April and miss most of the season. These are hopefully educated guesses that will probably end up being wrong, but might be less wrong than automated playing time projections. And, by combining two of the better projection systems out there for the rate stats with those playing time forecasts, the hope is that we can somewhat decently reflect what each team has in the organization at a given position. Even if the Opening Day starter is terrible, if they have a legitimate prospect on the door step, this system will reflect that there is some hope for the position at some point during the year.

For the most part, we’ll be publishing two parts of this series each day over the next week and a half, though the pitching staff posts are so ridiculously large that we might end up splitting those into thirds. When the series is over, we’ll also recap the totals and give you a look at the overall picture by team, and hopefully you’ll gain some insight into each team’s strengths and weaknesses along the way. We hope you enjoy this exercise. It’s a decent amount of work, but we find the results pretty interesting, and we hope you will as well.



2013 Positional Power Rankings: Catcher.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
With the intro out of the way, we have to start this series somewhere, and I can’t think of a compelling reason not to start with the catchers. So, we’re going to start with the catchers, and yes, since the rankings are based on imperfect projections and subjective depth chart determinations, there are quibbles to be had here if you’re the type who enjoys quibbling.

Especially because catchers occupy the position about which we probably know the least. Oh, we know a lot about how catchers run and hit, and we know something about how they throw, but we’re still in the beginning stages of understanding the importance of handling a pitching staff. There’s been some groundbreaking research in the study of pitch-framing, but those numbers aren’t included here. There’s a lot more than pitch-framing, too, which also isn’t included here. So while, below, you’ll find rankings based on what we can measure, I’ll take care to note when I think a ranking might be off for other reasons. With that all expressed, let’s start from the top.


#1 Giants


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Buster Posey 448 .302 .380 .488 .370 19.8 -0.8 5.3 5.0
Hector Sanchez 173 .258 .297 .379 .293 -3.1 -0.2 0.0 0.6
Guillermo Quiroz 19 .234 .292 .348 .278 -0.6 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 640 .288 .355 .453 .346 16.1 -1.0 5.2 5.7

In theory, depth could be a big help in allowing a team to achieve the #1 spot. I don’t really have anything against Hector Sanchez — he’s perfectly adequate — but this isn’t about Hector Sanchez. This is about Buster Posey, because it helps your ranking when you’re dealing with the last season’s league Most Valuable Player. No, Posey isn’t projected to do what he did in 2012. No, Posey shouldn’t be projected to do what he did in 2012, nor does it really matter for purposes of this ranking. He’s simply tremendous, and tremendous enough to lift the Giants to the top.

Of interest is that this isn’t even all of Posey’s projected WAR, since he should get some time at first base that isn’t accounted for here. He’s got a projected .380 OBP. He’s got a career .380 OBP. Seems sensible. Say hello to Guillermo Quiroz, potential emergency catcher who is still in baseball, and who is actually only 31 years old.

#2 Cardinals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Yadier Molina 512 .288 .351 .430 .338 9.5 -1.6 8.2 4.5
Tony Cruz 102 .241 .290 .358 .283 -2.7 -0.2 0.9 0.4
Rob Johnson 26 .215 .288 .322 .268 -1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 640 .278 .338 .414 .326 5.8 -1.9 9.1 4.9

Chances are you don’t know anything about Tony Cruz, aside from his name, now, and the fact that he’s a Cardinals catcher, now. It doesn’t matter, because Cruz shouldn’t play that much, because Cruz is behind Yadier Molina, and Yadier Molina is amazing, as backstops go. It’s true that, when Molina was first getting going, he didn’t hit. But he started to hit in 2007, and he can also hold his own on the bases while being arguably the best defensive catcher in baseball. As is, he’s so good in the field that the Cardinals might be even with the Giants at the position in terms of true talent. And that’s using Molina’s rather bearish projection, which doesn’t believe in his last two seasons. At least, I suspect the difference between #1 and #2 is less than almost a full win.

#3 Diamondbacks


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Miguel Montero 512 .268 .357 .432 .341 10.7 -1.3 5.3 4.4
Rod Barajas 96 .230 .296 .395 .296 -1.4 -0.3 -0.6 0.3
Wil Nieves 32 .237 .284 .310 .256 -1.5 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 640 .261 .344 .420 .330 7.7 -1.7 4.6 4.7

Three spots, three teams carried by outstanding starters and little depth. There’s not much not to like about Montero, who doesn’t get the attention of a Posey or a Molina. For a catcher, he can hit for above-average power. He hasn’t finished with a wOBA under .330 since 2007, his strikeout-to-walk ratios are acceptable, he throws out a lot of runners, and he frames. Montero is solid across the board, allowing him to be a star even though he doesn’t have an outstanding skill. It’s an open question as to who will actually be his backup, but it’s of little significance; neither option is great, and neither option would stand to play that often. Because, by the way, Montero is durable, too.

#4 Phillies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Carlos Ruiz 448 .281 .364 .425 .339 8.7 -0.6 3.2 3.7
Erik Kratz 141 .247 .313 .428 .318 0.3 -0.2 0.3 0.8
Humberto Quintero 51 .234 .269 .324 .257 -2.4 -0.1 0.2 0.0
Total 640 .269 .345 .417 .328 6.7 -0.9 3.7 4.5

Here’s a tricky one — Ruiz, see, is facing a 25-game suspension to begin the year. Whenever a guy turns out to be a drug cheat, it’s hard to know what to do with his numbers. Thus, it’s hard to know how to project his numbers, assuming the drug use stops. Ruiz is coming off a career-high .215 ISO and a career-high .398 wOBA. But it stands to reason that Ruiz shouldn’t completely fall apart, and his projected .339 wOBA is right on his career mark. So I’m willing to accept it. Also helping matters is that Erik Kratz actually looks to be a reasonable backup. Kratz has power and hints of plus defensive ability, allowing him to survive a below-average contact rate. Once Ruiz is back, then the Phillies should have a pretty good catcher behind the plate every day. That’s one of the reasons they can’t be written off as a bounceback 2013 contender.

#5 Orioles


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Matt Wieters 512 .257 .333 .433 .330 6.3 -1.2 7.8 4.2
Taylor Teagarden 115 .203 .281 .347 .275 -3.7 0.1 -0.2 0.2
Luis Exposito 13 .234 .291 .358 .285 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 640 .247 .323 .416 .320 2.3 -1.2 7.6 4.5

At one point, Taylor Teagarden was a pretty good prospect. He hasn’t panned out, but for the 2013 Baltimore Orioles, it hardly matters, because Teagarden’s behind Matt Wieters, and Wieters was a super-prospect who’s an excellent regular who also hasn’t scraped his ceiling. I remember, in a chat I did some time back, a user asked if Wieters might be one of the league’s best catchers this coming year. Wieters was already one of the league’s best catchers in 2012, and I don’t see any reason to believe he’s going to decline. He’s 26, and between the last two seasons he barely changed. Maybe you want for Wieters to be more. His prospect hype, after all, was loud and inescapable. If he never becomes more, he’s already terrific. Most teams in baseball would not-literally kill to have Matt Wieters.

#6 Tigers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alex Avila 512 .252 .355 .415 .337 8.8 -0.9 3.1 4.0
Brayan Pena 96 .255 .300 .368 .290 -1.9 -0.3 0.1 0.3
Bryan Holaday 32 .229 .283 .318 .265 -1.3 0.0 0.2 0.1
Total 640 .251 .343 .402 .326 5.6 -1.1 3.3 4.4

He doesn’t always look it, but Avila’s only newly 26 years old. Though the 2012 season took a bite out of Avila’s power, he played the season through knee discomfort that took a toll on his swing mechanics, and now Avila claims to be healed up and capable of things he couldn’t do, physically, a year ago. Every year, players come to camp saying their injury problems are behind them, but with Avila it makes sense, and two years ago he slugged .506. That’s why the projections foresee something of a bounceback, allowing the Tigers to show up high in the rankings despite very limited positional depth. If Avila’s problems aren’t behind him, then the Tigers will have a problem at catcher. But as long as Avila’s symptom-free, that’s just a negative hypothetical.

#7 Royals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Salvador Perez 480 .284 .320 .423 .320 2.0 -0.7 5.7 3.4
George Kottaras 128 .235 .339 .399 .323 0.9 -0.2 -0.8 0.7
Brett Hayes 32 .224 .273 .346 .267 -1.2 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 640 .272 .321 .415 .318 1.6 -0.9 5.0 4.1

On the tenth day of May, Salvador Perez will turn 23 years old. He’s already batted almost 500 times in the bigs, with a .311 average and legitimate power. Last year he struck out just 27 times in more than 300 plate appearances. It would be easy to knock Perez for not walking, and he most certainly doesn’t walk, but he’s got phenomenal bat control and the Royals say good things about his ability to handle a pitching staff. His projection is modest, given what he’s done, and he has upside beyond this. And behind him, there’s George Kottaras, who isn’t Yadier Molina in the field but who does own a 97 career wRC+. Anyway, that long-term Perez contract looked a little weird at the time. It looks more sensational now. For the Royals.

#8 Twins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Joe Mauer 352 .299 .390 .431 .355 11.4 -0.3 -0.8 3.0
Ryan Doumit 192 .260 .319 .414 .314 -0.1 -0.4 0.0 1.0
Drew Butera 96 .217 .267 .308 .254 -4.7 0.0 0.6 0.1
Total 640 .274 .350 .407 .328 6.6 -0.7 -0.2 4.1

Well, Butera can’t hit, Doumit can’t field, and Mauer can’t catch every day. Doumit is easily one of the very worst defensive catchers in baseball, despite what these numbers say, and it’s his bat that keeps him in the lineup. But this remains predominantly Joe Mauer’s position, even though he won’t get all of his time behind the plate. The projection doesn’t see Mauer getting back to his dinger-happy 2009 days, and it shouldn’t — since then, Mauer’s gone deep just 22 times. But Mauer still hits for average and Mauer still walks, and most catchers just can’t hit the way that Joe Mauer can hit. Of all the Twins’ problems, the catching position isn’t much of one.

#9 Braves


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brian McCann 448 .257 .340 .445 .336 7.5 -1.2 1.2 3.3
Gerald Laird 96 .245 .309 .337 .281 -2.6 0.1 0.3 0.3
Evan Gattis 64 .254 .309 .466 .333 0.9 -0.1 -0.3 0.4
Christian Bethancourt 32 .246 .276 .323 .259 -1.4 -0.1 0.2 0.0
Total 640 .255 .329 .424 .324 4.4 -1.2 1.4 4.0

Much like Carlos Ruiz, Brian McCann is going to miss the beginning of the regular season. But not because he’s facing a suspension — McCann, rather, is coming back from shoulder surgery. Which is bad, because it’s shoulder surgery, but which is good, because last year, with a hurt shoulder, McCann slugged .399. Healthy, McCann should get back to hitting like he used to, and between 2008-2011 McCann’s worst wRC+ was 119. The numbers also suggest McCann is a hell of a pitch-framer, so a healthy McCann is among the league’s elite. What the Braves don’t have now is David Ross, who has been an incredible backup. Laird is worse, and Evan Gattis is a wonderful mystery. But from the time McCann is able to make his return, the Braves should be sitting pretty at the catcher position. If McCann does get back to 100%, the Braves probably belong higher on this list.

#10 Reds


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ryan Hanigan 384 .268 .360 .356 .313 -0.8 -0.4 6.3 2.7
Devin Mesoraco 224 .244 .316 .416 .314 -0.2 -0.4 -0.2 1.2
Miguel Olivo 32 .236 .273 .420 .295 -0.5 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Total 640 .258 .340 .381 .312 -1.5 -0.9 6.2 4.0

Like McCann, the framing numbers love Ryan Hanigan. He blocks pitches, too, and he throws runners out. He makes contact 10 out of every 11 times that he swings, and he seldom goes fishing. Hanigan’s walked in 12% of his plate appearances. What Hanigan doesn’t have is power, which keeps him from being truly outstanding. Behind him we find the confusing Devin Mesoraco, who’s been putrid in his limited big-league career. His minor-league numbers are far more encouraging, and he’s only 24. That’s what the projection is seeing. If Mesoraco hits, the Reds should have a legitimate two-headed threat. If not, well, the starter’s pretty tremendous, so they’ve got that going for them. Hanigan is far from being a problem.

#11 Rockies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Wilin Rosario 384 .266 .310 .489 .339 7.4 -0.7 -0.8 2.7
Ramon Hernandez 224 .260 .314 .404 .309 -1.2 -0.9 -0.1 1.0
Jordan Pacheco 32 .284 .332 .398 .318 0.1 0.0 -0.3 0.2
Total 640 .265 .312 .455 .327 6.3 -1.6 -1.2 3.9

You don’t find many pitch-blockers worse than Wilin Rosario. You don’t find many walk rates worse than Wilin Rosario’s. If you wanted, you could make a strong statistical case against Rosario having much of a big-league career. But the guy just slugged 28 dingers in 117 games as a 23-year-old rookie, and of note is that he drew eight walks in the first half and 17 walks in the second half. Rosario was at his best down the stretch, and there’s the hope that he made some adjustments and refined his approach. He’s a volatile sort, of course, because of his swinging ways. Hernandez is an acceptable backup who isn’t otherwise remarkable. The error bars around the Rockies’ catcher position are considerable. But Rosario can’t be dismissed, and there’s a fair chance he comes out and slugs .500 again. Slug .500 and you make up for a lot of shortcomings.

#12 Indians


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Carlos Santana 352 .250 .367 .443 .351 10.1 -0.8 -0.3 2.9
Lou Marson 256 .225 .319 .315 .287 -5.8 0.0 -0.1 0.8
Yan Gomes 32 .236 .288 .396 .296 -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .239 .344 .388 .322 3.8 -0.8 -0.5 3.8

Carlos Santana can hit, so it’s acceptable that he isn’t much of a defensive catcher. Lou Marson can’t hit so good, so it’s less acceptable that he isn’t much of a defensive catcher. Marson does have Santana beat in blocking and arm, but as we’ve written about here before, neither scores well in the pitch-framing metrics, which seems to have done the Indians’ pitching staffs a real disservice. Because of Santana’s bat, no one would consider the Indians’ catching position a team weakness. Santana still does a lot of things well, and he’s only nearly 27. But I can’t help but wonder how the Indians might look with a backstop more defensively able.

#13 Brewers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jonathan Lucroy 448 .271 .329 .417 .324 3.1 -0.1 1.4 2.9
Martin Maldonado 192 .238 .302 .367 .295 -3.2 -0.4 1.4 0.8
Total 640 .261 .321 .402 .315 -0.1 -0.6 2.8 3.8

All right, so the projections don’t buy Jonathan Lucroy’s 2012 bat, and that’s fine. All right, so the projections don’t buy Martin Maldonado’s 2012 bat,and that’s fine, too. The projections are smarter than I am; the projections are free of bias. But despite those modest projections, the Brewers still project for nearly 4 WAR from their catchers, and these are two catchers who have scored well in the framing sheets. Lucroy in particular has been outstanding from Day One, and for that I think they deserve a boost. What you see is the Brewers slotting in at #13. Personally, I’d probably bump them into the top 10. But I’m a big fan of framing research, and maybe I’m the one who’s wrong.

#14 Rangers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
A.J. Pierzynski 467 .274 .315 .429 .319 1.4 -1.7 -0.2 2.5
Geovany Soto 160 .234 .320 .418 .319 0.6 -0.2 0.2 0.9
Eli Whiteside 13 .219 .281 .356 .278 -0.4 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 640 .263 .315 .425 .318 1.6 -2.0 0.2 3.5

Last year, A.J. Pierzynski slugged .501, and he’s probably going to regress away from that. A few years ago, Geovany Soto slugged .497, and he’s probably going to regress toward that. Pierzynski isn’t the hitter he just was, but Soto probably isn’t the hitter he just was, allowing for some averaging out. Though it was too bad for Pierzynski to have to leave the hitter-friendly confines of Chicago, Texas ought to treat him well. Depending on how much Soto bounces back at the plate, the Rangers might never have to start a liability. But there is the chance that Soto’s just done being all right.

#15 Athletics


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
John Jaso 448 .253 .356 .389 .329 5.0 -0.6 -3.6 2.6
Derek Norris 160 .210 .311 .362 .298 -2.2 0.0 -0.4 0.6
Luke Montz 32 .205 .291 .361 .284 -0.8 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 640 .240 .341 .380 .319 1.9 -0.6 -3.9 3.3

The Mariners traded John Jaso because they don’t think he’s a regular player, and because they don’t like his work behind the plate. The A’s are going to try him as a regular player, and while he isn’t a defensive wizard, he’s fresh off a near-.400 OBP. Jaso has one of baseball’s better plate approaches, and there’s also the chance he holds on to some of his 2012 power gains. If Jaso hits like that again, the A’s won’t care if he drops every fifth pitch. Well, no, that’s not true, they would care, but they’d console themselves by looking at his batting line. Norris is looking at a platoon job, and he ought to hit better than he just did. This has the makings of a very classically Oakland job share.

#16 Dodgers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
A.J. Ellis 448 .247 .357 .356 .316 0.3 -1.2 2.1 2.6
Tim Federowicz 160 .234 .302 .351 .287 -3.6 -0.1 1.0 0.6
Jesus Flores 32 .230 .274 .366 .276 -1.0 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .243 .339 .355 .307 -4.3 -1.4 2.9 3.3

A year ago, these rankings had the Dodgers last. Then A.J. Ellis went and got on base more than 37% of the time, and he slugged .414, instead of the projected .317. So that’s kind of how the Dodgers moved so far up in the list. Ellis, probably, won’t hit quite so well again, and Tim Federowicz can’t yet be counted on as a strong reserve. What the Dodgers don’t have is one of the league’s best catching situations. But what the Dodgers also don’t have is one of the league’s worst catching situations. Whoops.

#17 Red Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 384 .228 .295 .428 .313 -0.7 -0.5 -1.5 1.8
David Ross 192 .244 .322 .401 .315 0.0 -0.7 1.5 1.1
Ryan Lavarnway 64 .246 .316 .402 .311 -0.2 -0.1 -0.6 0.3
Total 640 .235 .305 .418 .313 -0.9 -1.2 -0.6 3.3

At this point, it seems like we have a pretty good understanding of what Jarrod Saltalamacchia is as a catcher. We also have a pretty good understanding of what David Ross is as a catcher, and Ross is perhaps the league’s best backup, with terrific power and exceptional framing skills. These are two catchers who are going to strike out, and that’s going to be the source of some consistent frustration. But they could combine for 30 home runs, and Ross could really help the pitching staff generate a few extra outs. Ryan Lavarnway could develop, but with the guys ahead of him on the depth chart, the Red Sox don’t need him to rush.

#18 Nationals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kurt Suzuki 371 .253 .304 .383 .298 -5.1 -0.4 2.3 1.7
Wilson Ramos 230 .260 .320 .412 .313 -0.3 -0.3 1.5 1.4
Jhonatan Solano 19 .243 .285 .360 .280 -0.5 0.0 0.1 0.1
Sandy Leon 19 .237 .299 .330 .278 -0.6 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 640 .255 .309 .391 .302 -6.5 -0.8 4.0 3.2

The idea, I believe, is that Kurt Suzuki will open the season as the starter, but as Wilson Ramos works his way back from injury, he’ll play more and more often. So, come the end of the summer, the responsibilities could be flipped, which could be good news for Washington given Ramos’ certain upside. Ramos is the more exciting of the two catchers, and Suzuki’s strikeouts are going in the wrong direction. Suzuki is perfectly safe, and we can’t take Ramos’ return for granted, but the sooner Ramos can get back to full strength, the better the Nationals’ situation looks.

#19 White Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tyler Flowers 448 .216 .317 .400 .315 -0.2 -0.6 0.0 2.4
Hector Gimenez 160 .237 .295 .388 .297 -2.3 -0.2 0.4 0.7
Josh Phegley 32 .246 .288 .363 .284 -0.8 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 640 .223 .310 .395 .309 -3.3 -0.8 0.6 3.2

There’s not much to say about Hector Gimenez or Josh Phegley. Certainly not that you’d find worth reading. Tyler Flowers is the player of intrigue, being not old and possessing a .484 minor-league slugging percentage. Flowers swings hard and misses a lot, and that’s not a characteristic that’s going to be ironed out over time. That’s going to stick with Flowers for as long as he plays. But his power is real and it should look even better in Chicago half the time. In limited big-league trials Flowers has posted a .183 ISO. He doesn’t seem to be a defensive liability. If Flowers can keep his strikeouts even somewhat in control, he should give the White Sox some stability at the position. He won’t be great and his backups will be worse, but the White Sox could get enough production to be satisfied.

#20 Angels


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Chris Iannetta 384 .226 .338 .388 .319 1.2 -0.9 1.0 2.3
Hank Conger 192 .250 .315 .387 .304 -1.7 0.0 -1.0 0.8
John Hester 64 .228 .292 .343 .277 -2.0 0.0 -0.4 0.1
Total 640 .234 .327 .383 .310 -2.5 -0.9 -0.5 3.1

Chris Iannetta is a perfectly serviceable bat and a perfectly serviceable defender. If there’s something exciting about him, please inform me in the comments below this post. Hank Conger has a better minor-league track record than major-league track record, but then Conger has done a lot of his damage with triple-A Salt Lake, which should be taken with several grains of…yeah. If Conger were to develop, he’d be a perfectly serviceable bat and a perfectly serviceable defender. John Hester is a player in the Angels organization. The Angels’ roster has a lot of sex appeal. This isn’t where you’re going to find it. The hope is that these guys do enough to not be a problem.

#21 Blue Jays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
J.P. Arencibia 448 .230 .285 .444 .311 -1.3 -0.7 0.4 2.3
Henry Blanco 128 .238 .302 .373 .293 -2.3 -0.2 1.2 0.6
Josh Thole 64 .259 .329 .342 .293 -1.2 -0.1 -0.4 0.2
Total 640 .234 .293 .420 .306 -4.8 -0.9 1.2 3.1

J.P. Arencibia has plenty of power, and he still has youth on his side, but he owns the same career OBP as Miguel Olivo. He strikes out too often for someone who doesn’t walk, and there’s no reason to believe that’s about to change. He’s not exceptional elsewhere in his game, so basically, Arencibia is fine when he’s collecting extra-base hits, and when he isn’t, he’s an exploitable liability. Henry Blanco is 41 years old. While the Blue Jays would love it if Arencibia took a step forward, as with the Angels, the real hope is for the catchers to just not be a weakness.

#22 Padres


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Yasmani Grandal 320 .258 .355 .409 .335 5.0 -0.3 -0.4 2.2
Nick Hundley 192 .225 .293 .356 .280 -5.4 -0.4 2.0 0.7
John Baker 128 .235 .316 .311 .277 -3.9 -0.2 -1.4 0.1
Total 640 .243 .328 .373 .307 -4.2 -0.9 0.1 3.0

Wow, Yasmani Grandal put up a 144 wRC+ while playing half the time in Petco! Wow, Yasmani Grandal got busted for PEDs! Grandal is facing a lengthy suspension, and as another consequence, we don’t know what to do with his numbers. What the suspension does is give Nick Hundley an opportunity, because while Hundley was dreadful in 2012, he played most of that time through a knee injury that eventually brought him down. There’s reason to believe Hundley could put himself back on the map, and two years ago he was an offensive threat. He’s not a great defender. If Hundley hits and Grandal doesn’t crater upon his return, this position could be an actual strength. But we can’t assume a Hundley bounceback, and Grandal will have to prove himself all over again. Maybe it isn’t fair, but neither is cheating.

#23 Pirates


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Russell Martin 416 .238 .330 .372 .309 -1.9 -0.1 1.1 2.2
Michael McKenry 192 .229 .305 .364 .293 -3.5 -0.3 -0.2 0.7
Tony Sanchez 32 .231 .307 .344 .289 -0.7 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 640 .235 .322 .368 .303 -6.0 -0.3 1.0 3.0

For the Pirates, this is less about having Russell Martin, and more about having Russell Martin instead of Rod Barajas. Martin comes with very little performance upside, given his age and past workload, but he provides a stable presence and he’s considered to be a good handler of pitchers. He has the statistical track record of a good pitch-framer, which is something the Pirates have sorely lacked in recent seasons. McKenry’s still around as a half-decent backup, but with Martin, this position shouldn’t be an embarrassment. That’s a step up, even if the end result isn’t magnificent.

#24 Cubs


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Welington Castillo 410 .243 .314 .408 .313 -0.8 -0.4 -0.5 2.1
Dioner Navarro 179 .248 .311 .376 .298 -2.5 -0.3 0.1 0.7
Steve Clevenger 51 .257 .314 .354 .294 -0.9 -0.1 -0.4 0.1
Total 640 .246 .313 .394 .307 -4.2 -0.8 -0.7 3.0

This is not a high-upside position. Steve Clevenger has very limited upside, Dioner Navarro has even more limited upside, and though Welington Castillo is still a kid at 25, he’s been only adequate in the minors, and his approach in the majors suggests he won’t maintain a high OBP. That he’s slugged .488 in triple-A is of some significance, given the relative difficulty of hitting for power in Iowa, but the projections agree that Castillo is something like a league-average bat with perhaps roughly league-average defense. That doesn’t make him a problem, but that doesn’t make the position a strength.

#25 Mets


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
John Buck 384 .225 .306 .386 .301 -4.3 -0.3 -0.5 1.6
Anthony Recker 192 .233 .306 .391 .308 -1.1 0.1 -0.6 0.9
Travis D’Arnaud 64 .256 .305 .422 .312 -0.1 0.0 -0.2 0.3
Total 640 .231 .306 .392 .304 -5.6 -0.3 -1.3 2.8

Maybe you think Travis d’Arnaud is going to play a lot more than this in the bigs in 2013. Maybe you’re right; there’s not much standing in his way. But if you swap his playing time with Anthony Recker’s, nothing changes in terms of projected WAR. Here, we have Recker getting three times the plate appearances and accumulating three times the WAR. The starter out of the gate will be John Buck, and John Buck is John Buck, exactly as you know him. He’ll post a low OBP and he’ll hit some dingers. Recker is just a guy, and d’Arnaud is clearly the future. The future should and will arrive this season, barring further injury, so while the Mets deserve this low ranking at least they can see the upside coming. That the Mets don’t look good at catcher in 2013 doesn’t mean the Mets won’t look good at catcher in 2014.

#26 Mariners


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jesus Montero 416 .264 .318 .422 .317 0.6 -0.8 -3.7 1.9
Kelly Shoppach 160 .199 .289 .353 .283 -4.1 -0.1 0.4 0.5
Ronny Paulino 32 .248 .296 .333 .273 -1.1 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Michael Zunino 32 .242 .304 .371 .293 -0.6 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 640 .247 .309 .398 .305 -5.2 -1.1 -3.4 2.5

Just when it seemed like the Mariners were prepared to shift Jesus Montero away from catcher, they went the opposite direction, installing him as the 2013 regular backstop. He’s really only keeping the position warm for Mike Zunino, but Zunino still needs at least a few more months of seasoning, since his professional experience is limited. Montero, in 2012, lost some of his shine, as he didn’t hit like the masher he was billed as when a prospect. There are legitimate concerns with his approach, and he’s unlikely to ever post a high OBP, even if he starts hitting for more power. In the immediate, Montero looks like a potentially average bat with more weaknesses than strengths in the field. Kelly Shoppach is a power-hitting backup with some modest defensive ability. There’s no denying Montero’s offensive ceiling, but odds are he’s not about to approach it.

#27 Astros


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jason Castro 448 .243 .323 .363 .302 -4.5 -0.6 -1.1 1.8
Carlos Corporan 160 .235 .295 .368 .286 -3.7 -0.5 -0.6 0.4
Jason Jaramillo 32 .225 .292 .306 .266 -1.2 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 640 .240 .314 .361 .297 -9.5 -1.1 -1.8 2.2

Jason Castro, just a few years ago, was the tenth overall pick, and fewer years ago, he was Baseball America’s #41 overall prospect. He does have offensive potential, and he says his knee problems are behind him, but he’s limited by mediocre power and mediocre defense, and the guys behind him aren’t anything. Carlos Corporan is a journeyman in training, and Jason Jaramillo already is a journeyman, at 30 years old. The Astros might be better than this if Castro hits like he did in 2012, and it’s within the realm of possibility that Castro could even exceed that. But based on the projections, the Astros are here near the bottom, and you should get used to seeing that. This series is just beginning.

#28 Rays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jose Molina 256 .230 .292 .346 .282 -6.7 -0.7 1.4 0.8
Jose Lobaton 224 .223 .308 .330 .283 -5.7 -0.3 -0.4 0.6
Chris Gimenez 96 .238 .310 .342 .286 -2.2 -0.2 -0.3 0.2
Robinson Chirinos 64 .237 .308 .360 .295 -1.0 -0.1 0.2 0.3
Total 640 .229 .302 .341 .285 -15.7 -1.3 0.9 1.9

I know, I know. Among those of you who put stock in pitch-framing research, this ranking is criminal. That’s because Molina is probably the best framer in the league, and the Rays think he saves them tens of runs with his glovework. I agree that there’s something there, and I agree that the Rays don’t belong in 28th on this list, but for whatever it’s worth, Molina won’t catch that many innings, and he really isn’t a hitter. In early June, he’s going to turn 38. Jose Lobaton doesn’t make for an outstanding backup. Jose Molina is amazing at framing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Rays have a good catching situation; it just means they have a better catching situation than the other numbers might suggest. I’ll note that, of the three catchers who mainly caught Rays pitchers in 2012, Molina had the highest OPS against.

#29 Yankees


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Chris Stewart 320 .235 .302 .329 .279 -9.3 0.1 0.7 0.9
Francisco Cervelli 288 .236 .314 .332 .289 -5.9 0.0 -0.9 0.9
Austin Romine 32 .248 .302 .363 .290 -0.6 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .236 .308 .332 .284 -15.8 0.1 -0.3 1.9

The team that couldn’t afford to re-sign the perfectly decent Russell Martin is left choosing between Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli. Austin Romine has already been sent to the minors. Stewart is 31 and he isn’t going to hit. Cervelli might hit a little, but he isn’t going to hit much. Stewart has going in his favor a positive defensive reputation, and the numbers like his framing. The smaller-sample numbers also like Cervelli’s framing, to a lesser extent, so this situation isn’t hopeless. First and foremost, the Yankees just want these guys to be good to the pitching staff. They should be able to manage that; they probably won’t be able to manage much else.

#30 Marlins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Rob Brantly 416 .259 .305 .373 .296 -6.5 -0.6 -0.7 1.5
Jeff Mathis 128 .211 .257 .322 .250 -6.7 -0.2 0.6 0.0
Kyle Skipworth 64 .210 .265 .331 .258 -2.9 -0.1 -0.3 0.0
Jacob Realmuto 32 .233 .282 .309 .259 -1.4 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 640 .243 .290 .356 .281 -17.5 -0.9 -0.3 1.6

You’re forgiven if you confused Rob Brantly with Rob Bowen. Brantly went over from the Tigers in the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade, and he hit well in limited time. But those numbers are unsupported by Brantly’s minor-league track record, and of course, behind him, once he’s recovered from an injury, will be Jeff Mathis. Kyle Skipworth has been a prospect, but he’s been a prospect who doesn’t get on base. Brantly isn’t a hopeless case, and at 23 with an even swing, he could show up as a reasonably productive bat. He still qualifies as a prospect. But he’s a low-ceiling prospect, and the Marlins get no help at this position from their depth. Somebody has to finish last, and just because a situation isn’t hopeless doesn’t mean it isn’t the most hopeless.



2013 Positional Power Rankings: First Base.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Is it me, or are there fewer superstar first basemen than there used to be? I did these same rankings last year, and the answer seems to be yes. I’m not sure why that is, though. Part of it is that Detroit is playing one of them at third base now, but that was true last year as well. I would also guess it is simply the current place of positional demographics: A lot of first basemen who were at the top of the rankings a couple of years ago are still primary starters, but they are in their decline phases. Some of the same names are on the top of the rankings, but not all are on the level they used to be. There are some younger players on the list who might have some potential for big leaps, though, and this list could look very different next year. So which teams project to have the biggest advantage at first base right now?


#1 Reds


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Joey Votto 630 .299 .422 .534 .404 45.2 -1.4 3.1 5.9
Todd Frazier 63 .247 .312 .442 .325 0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Jack Hannahan 7 .232 .307 .350 .292 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .293 .411 .523 .396 45.6 -1.4 3.0 6.1

Wanna know the secret to being ranked first in the first base positional power rankings? Have the best first baseman in baseball. Keep this top secret formula to yourself.

Joey Votto put the Reds on top of these rankings, just like he did last season. The guy played only 111 games, but he still managed to put up six wins. Sure, his 2012 BABIP was high (.404), even by his normally insane standards (.359 career), but keep in mind that his .404 projected wOBA would be his lowest since 2008. When will he pop up again? Votto had knee surgery last year, so the playing time might seem a bit rosy — but other than 2012, 630 plate appearances would be his lowest since 2009. If Votto does go down, Frazier at first and Hannahan at third is far from ideal, but teams could do a lot worse.

#2 Angels


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Albert Pujols 560 .293 .373 .539 .378 28.3 -0.5 2.7 4.1
Mark Trumbo 133 .261 .312 .476 .335 2.1 -0.2 -0.6 0.4
Howie Kendrick 7 .273 .318 .408 .314 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .286 .361 .525 .369 30.4 -0.7 2.1 4.5

The Angels managed to hold on to the second spot despite a disappointing 2012 performance from Albert Pujols. Pujols has apparently decided to age in the weirdest way possible: a declining walk rate. Given his contract, the future could get pretty ugly for the Angels, although they should be fine as long as Mike Trout keeps putting up 10 wins every year. Money aside, Pujols still projects to be a very good hitter, just not the utterly frightening one he was prior to 2011.

Despite a body that seems as if it might fly apart at any time, Pujols continues to be incredibly durable. The Angels will probably continue to give him breaks from the field and put him at designated hitter, but Mark Trumbo is fine as a fill-in at first on those days. Of course, if Pujols does go down and Trumbo becomes the first baseman, Kendrys Morales no longer is waiting in the wings. Then again, how many teams carry a backup DH? Angels fans are probably holding their collective breath with Pujols, but for now, he still projects as an excellent player.

#3 Tigers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Prince Fielder 630 .288 .404 .512 .386 35.9 -2.7 -3.1 4.2
Victor Martinez 70 .289 .351 .442 .340 1.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Total 700 .288 .398 .504 .381 37.4 -2.8 -3.0 4.4

Prince Fielder went from being Detroit’s big off-season signing to a player who, at least from my perspective, did not get as much credit as he deserved for an excellent 2012 season. Part of the reason for that was likely all of the attention (understandably) paid to his teammate Miguel Cabrera. Although Fielder’s power and walks decreased after his move from Milwaukee to Detroit, he also managed (against the usual expectations for a player of his type) to cut his strikeouts. Overall, it was a performance more in line with his traditionally outstanding odd years (2007, 2009 and 2011) than his average-to-above-average even years (2008 and 2010).

Fielder projects to continue his excellent plate discipline in terms of both walks and strikeouts, while hitting about 30 home runs. That is more than enough to make his less-than-awesome fielding and base running acceptable. While we are relatively conservative with playing-time projections, we could have gone higher with Prince Fielder, who is tied with Ichiro for the most games played in the past three seasons. As far as I can tell, Fielder has never been on the disabled list. That is an underrated facet of his value.

Fielder will probably get a little time at DH this year, and the returning Victor Martinez can always fill in decently at first if Fielder needs some time off. Cabrera could get some time at first, too, although we have not listed him here. In other words, the Tigers are probably OK for depth at this spot.



#4 Dodgers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adrian Gonzalez 630 .289 .366 .488 .360 22.8 -1.9 6.7 3.9
Jerry Hairston 35 .258 .329 .376 .311 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Juan Uribe 35 .230 .292 .378 .292 -0.7 0.0 0.3 0.0
Total 700 .285 .360 .477 .354 22.0 -2.0 7.0 4.0

Gonzalez had a disappointing 2012 both before and after being traded from Boston to Los Angeles. He no longer projects as a near-.400 wOBA hitter. But one year is still only one year. The primary issues for Gonzalez in 2012 were his walk rate and his power. As for his walk rate, there is at least some evidence that veterans with good walk rates tend to rebound after a one year dip. His power drop is more troubling, but given his past performance, it should rebound. Along with a good on-base percentage, he should be fine, if not quite the force of the past.

Gonzalez is another first baseman who has been extremely durable. He’s played at least 159 games every season since 2007. Even last year, his defense and durability enabled him to be worth more than three wins despite his troubles at the plate. Like Fielder, Gonzalez has never been on the disabled list, which is nice, because the Dodgers’ options after him are not appealing.

#5 Cubs


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Anthony Rizzo 630 .277 .349 .507 .365 25.2 -1.3 3.2 3.9
Brent Lillibridge 35 .220 .283 .336 .273 -1.2 0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Steve Clevenger 35 .257 .314 .354 .294 -0.6 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .273 .344 .491 .357 23.4 -1.3 2.9 3.8

Who had the Cubs fifth in the pool? Don’t lie. 23-year-old Anthony Rizzo is a young hitter who had a nice debut for Chicago last year, but it is a bit shocking to see the nearly universal jump in power projected by all the systems. They must be really impressed by his Triple-A numbers, which look pretty stunning when it comes to his power. Minor league translations are a tricky matter, so there’s a great deal of uncertainty in play. Rizzo needs his power to to be for real if he’s going to be a star, because so far, his walk and strikeout rates are not exceptionally impressive. Still, even if Rizzo only repeats his rates from 2012, the Cubs will have an above-average performer at first base who has room to improve. Bryan LaHair left for Japan in the off-season, so there is no safety net if Rizzo has an Eric Hosmer-esque sophomore season.

#6 Blue Jays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Edwin Encarnacion 560 .269 .359 .498 .364 22.0 -0.4 -1.1 3.1
Adam Lind 140 .262 .321 .449 .329 1.6 -0.2 -0.1 0.4
Total 700 .268 .352 .488 .357 23.7 -0.6 -1.2 3.4

Not everything has gone as brilliantly for Toronto on their way back to the brink of contention. But it’s rather stunning that the team managed to find another player who suddenly found his power stroke at the end of what’s a typical prime. Edwin Encarnacion’s 2012 was not quite as out-of-nowhere as Jose Bautista’s 2010, nor was it as impressive, but it certainly solidified his status as a very good hitter. Regression is to be expected, but big jumps in power and walks tend to regress less than other peripherals.

Projection systems see Encarnacion as a very good, if not great, hitter in 2013. And that’s enough to make him an above-average player overall. When Encarnacion has a day off from playing first, Adam Lind will probably fill in. Lind isn’t much of a hitter at this point (and as a DH. well…), but as a backup first baseman, he actually rates pretty well. If his plate-appearances against southpaws are strictly limited, he could be pretty effective.

#7 Diamondbacks


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Paul Goldschmidt 595 .268 .352 .484 .357 20.0 0.3 -0.5 3.0
Eric Hinske 70 .235 .316 .417 .315 0.0 -0.2 -0.1 0.1
Eric Chavez 35 .262 .328 .434 .326 0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .264 .347 .474 .351 20.3 0.1 -0.7 3.2

Given their proximity in the rankings, the Diamondbacks’ situational similarity to the Blue Jays is not all that surprising. Both teams have very good hitters as their starting first basemen, with players who are not good enough to start but are solid enough as backups behind them. After all, Eric Chavez, Eric Hinske and Adam Lind may not be all that exciting, but at least they aren’t Brent Lillibridge. There ‘s a fair amount of hype behind Goldschmidt, and understandably so. He has good power and he even threw in 18 steals last year.

Enthusiasm should probably be a bit tempered given Goldschmidt’s strikeout rate and his friendly home park. And while 25-years-old isn’t incredibly young, it’s on the good side of most aging curves. Goldschmidt may not be a future superstar, but he is a very good player — and Arizona is fortunate to have him.

#8 Giants


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brandon Belt 595 .268 .364 .441 .348 15.9 -0.4 0.2 2.6
Buster Posey 70 .302 .380 .489 .370 3.1 -0.1 0.8 0.5
Brett Pill 35 .263 .303 .420 .309 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .272 .363 .445 .349 18.9 -0.5 1.0 3.2

Brandon Belt finally got his chance (sort of) in 2012, and Aubrey Huff won’t be around in 2013 to steal playing time . Belt’s 2012 numbers were generally good, and he projects as an average or above-average player for 2013. There is some concern over his contact rate and unimpressive power so far in the majors — his .339 wOBA last year was propped up a fair bit by a .351 BABIP. Even after regression and other adjustments, though, the projection systems still see him hitting at least adequately for the position. There really isn’t anyone else in San Francisco who is likely to take playing time from him. Buster Posey might get some time at first base, but at the moment, he’s too valuable behind the plate to push his way to Belt’s turf too often.

#9 Cardinals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Allen Craig 560 .289 .346 .494 .359 19.9 -0.5 -1.3 2.8
Matt Carpenter 98 .264 .354 .395 .328 1.0 -0.1 -0.2 0.2
Ty Wigginton 35 .236 .308 .373 .297 -0.5 -0.1 -0.3 0.0
Yadier Molina 7 .288 .351 .430 .338 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .283 .346 .474 .352 20.6 -0.7 -1.7 3.0

The Cardinals would probably rank a few spots higher if Allen Craig had a better health record. Even 560 plate appearances seems optimistic, but I will leave that in the hands of our Cardinals experts. When he has played, Craig has pretty much smacked the ball around. He doesn’t walk much, and his strikeout rate isn’t that good (nor is it that bad). He just hits the ball hard, for both power and average. Matt Carpenter is currently battling for the starting spot at second base, but if/when Craig does go down, Carpenter could fill in ably at first. The Cardinals’ depth continues to be a real advantage.

#10 Yankees


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mark Teixeira 455 .258 .355 .481 .358 15.8 -0.8 3.6 2.7
Juan Rivera 126 .254 .310 .403 .307 -0.8 -0.4 -0.4 0.0
Dan Johnson 119 .235 .336 .393 .315 0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Total 700 .253 .344 .452 .342 15.0 -1.3 3.2 2.9

I have a hard time picturing the Yankees going into the season with some amalgam of Juan Rivera and Dan Johnson at first base, but here we are. One might think Kevin Youkilis should be penciled in here, too, but his services are needed at third base for an indefinite period of time.

Despite the mess to start the season, the Yankees still sit in the top third of the first base rankings. It’s hard to estimate how much Mark Teixeira will miss and whether the injury will affect his performance when he returns. While he was expected to decline during his contract, it has been more dramatic than anyone might have expected. Come think of it, his BABIP has suffered because he has become too pull-happy. Whatever the reason, the BABIP has been low for three straight seasons, and the projection systems cannot simply regress it all away.

Teixeira is no longer a superstar. He still projects as at a good hitter overall, though, due to good plate discipline and power. He has a nice glove, although that his hard to measure. Assuming he can come back in mid-May, this injury will not, in itself, kill the Yankees — even if they are stuck with Rivera and Johnson in the meantime.

#11 Braves


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Freddie Freeman 630 .273 .353 .474 .354 19.7 -1.1 -1.9 2.8
Juan Francisco 70 .255 .294 .452 .318 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .271 .347 .471 .350 19.9 -1.2 -1.9 2.9

Freddie Freeman is just 23, and is coming off of two good seasons. While he superficially had a worse season with the stick in 2012 than in 2011, his true talent may have actually improved. His 2011 performance rested a fair bit on a high BABIP (.339). In 2012, his BABIP regressed, but his walk rate, strikeout rate and isolated power all improved. Those skills all correlate better year-to-year than BABIP. Those improvements, combined with his age, are the reasons that pretty much every projection system seems him as being even better in 2013.

#12 White Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Paul Konerko 595 .281 .363 .483 .361 21.8 -2.7 -3.4 2.6
Adam Dunn 70 .209 .337 .440 .337 1.2 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Tyler Flowers 35 .216 .317 .400 .315 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .271 .358 .475 .356 23.0 -3.0 -3.4 2.9

Paul Konerko is finally starting to decline, but he’s still very good, at least with the bat. Even with his power dropping, his approach is still good enough that he manages to strike out at a remarkably low rate. Despite some injury issues last year, he managed nearly 600 plate appearances, so the playing time distribution is not all that crazy for him. Adam Dunn will probably have to see time at first at some point. After a nice start to 2012, Dunn tailed off, but can still deliver OK-ish production. I doubt Tyler Flowers will see much time at first base, but given Konerko’s age and Dunn’s “skills,” he is probably a fair approximation for whichever players the White Sox would have to put at first base in lieu of the other two.

#13 Red Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mike Napoli 525 .249 .350 .485 .358 18.3 -0.6 -1.4 2.6
Mike Carp 140 .243 .316 .402 .311 -0.4 -0.3 -0.7 0.1
Mauro Gomez 35 .263 .314 .426 .314 0.0 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .249 .341 .465 .347 17.8 -0.9 -2.2 2.7

While 525 plate appearances is far from a full season, for Mike Napoli that would be a higher number than in any other season of his career. But that figure isn’t totally far-fetched. After all, he won’t be catching any more, and the Red Sox don’t really have anyone else worth playing in his place. Napoli’s 2012 strikeout rate jumped to scary heights, but it was never that bad before, so projection systems do not think it is likely to repeat itself. Napoli’s .320 average in 2011 was pretty clearly a one-time thing, but he has enough power and takes enough walks to be an effective hitter. Napoli should be at least an average first baseman, but Red Sox fans are hoping Napoli’s hip holds up, because too much Mike Carp is not a good thing.

#14 Rockies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Todd Helton 455 .267 .363 .419 .341 9.5 -1.8 1.7 1.7
Michael Cuddyer 175 .280 .342 .487 .354 5.4 0.0 -2.0 0.6
Tyler Colvin 70 .259 .304 .482 .333 1.0 0.0 -0.1 0.2
Total 700 .269 .352 .443 .343 15.9 -1.8 -0.4 2.6

The Rockies’ first base situation pretty much sums up the organization as a whole: not terrible, not great and not young or good enough to be going anywhere. Todd Helton is a shadow of his former self, but his recent numbers and current projections show that if you have good plate discipline, you can hang around as an adequate hitter, even at first base, for a long time. Still, at this point, a .341 wOBA in Colorado does not cut it at first base. Helton missed a lot of time last year, and he hasn’t had at least 500 plate appearances in a season since 2009. That means Michael Cuddyer and others will probably see time at first base. Cuddyer’s bat is better than Helton’s, probably, but not really what you want for a first baseman (or even a corner outfielder) in Coors Field.

#15 Mets


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ike Davis 630 .250 .337 .464 .343 14.4 -1.1 1.0 2.5
Lucas Duda 70 .249 .335 .419 .327 0.7 -0.1 -1.2 0.0
Total 700 .250 .337 .460 .342 15.1 -1.2 -0.2 2.6

The Mets’ hopes at first base in 2013 rest on the shoulders of Ike Davis, despite some fan enthusiasm for Lucas Duda. Our Mets’ depth chart experts seem to have faith in Davis’ ability to get more than 600 plate appearances, so I’m not here to doubt them. Davis doesn’t have much competition for playing time. He had a relatively disappointing 2012 season compared to 2010 and 2011, and his problems with contact are a concern. He has a big platoon split, although that is hardly unusual for a player Davis. Still, the power is impressive, and he can take a walk. His BABIP should regress to something more respectable after the .246 he put up in 2012, assuming he can cut down a bit on the pop-ups. Davis is 26 this season, so it is not as if he offers tons of upside. But power is power, and Davis should be at least an average overall first baseman (if not much more) for the Mets, who have bigger problems elsewhere.

#16 Nationals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adam LaRoche 630 .253 .334 .454 .337 11.0 -2.0 4.4 2.4
Tyler Moore 35 .238 .289 .443 .313 0.0 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Chad Tracy 35 .257 .320 .391 .303 -0.3 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .253 .331 .450 .334 10.6 -2.1 4.2 2.5

Adam LaRoche does not project to repeat his 2012 power surge, but his bat should be adequate. Combined with good defense, he should be about average. Assuming he can stay healthy, LaRoche should be able to carry his part of the load while the Nationals’ big guns elsewhere on the field — and in the rotation — do their thing.

#17 Twins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Justin Morneau 490 .265 .342 .447 .337 8.6 -1.1 0.6 1.6
Joe Mauer 140 .299 .390 .431 .355 4.5 -0.1 -0.3 0.7
Chris Parmelee 70 .255 .332 .407 .321 0.4 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .271 .351 .440 .339 13.5 -1.3 0.3 2.4

I’m kind of surprised that the Twins would rank this high anywhere other than at catcher. And I guess even ranking this high is because a catcher is likely to get playing time at first base. Justin Morneau, the slated starter, actually got 570 plate appearances last season. A .337 wOBA barely cuts it as a starter at first base, but that would still be better than Morneau did in either 2011 or 2012 — when he logged only 150 combined games. Morneau is signed through 2014, so the Twins need to hope that he is not only healthy, but that he hits well enough so some team will take the rest of his contract or a chunk of it, maybe even sending back some talent that might help them in their rebuilding project. However, as currently projected, no team it going to want him at $14 million a year.

Compared to some other first baseman on this list, Joe Mauer hits well enough, and he will be spending less time at catcher as time goes on. But this is not really where the Twins want him. After Mauer and Morneau, they have the likes of Chris Parmalee. Enough said.

#18 Indians


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nick Swisher 455 .255 .356 .441 .346 11.4 -1.0 0.9 1.9
Mark Reynolds 175 .219 .330 .435 .332 2.4 -0.3 -3.1 0.2
Carlos Santana 70 .249 .367 .442 .350 2.0 -0.2 -0.1 0.3
Total 700 .246 .350 .439 .343 15.8 -1.5 -2.3 2.4

Cleveland’s contract with Nick Swisher looked pretty good when he was slated to start in right field. At first base, he is not quite as exciting. On the other hand, as some friends reminded me, having Swisher at first enables them to use a defense-first outfield of Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs that would keep Mark Reynolds off the field. If one of the outfielders goes down or Stubbs does not hit, they can always move things around and put Swisher back out there. Assuming the outfield is really that great defensively, it makes sense.

If Swisher does have to go back to the outfield, Reynolds can at least swat some homers. It is too bad for Cleveland that Swisher playing first does not somehow move Ubaldo Jimenez out of the rotation.

#19 Royals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Eric Hosmer 630 .274 .342 .441 .337 11.0 0.8 -4.1 1.8
Billy Butler 70 .296 .369 .484 .363 2.7 -0.2 0.0 0.4
Total 700 .276 .345 .445 .339 13.7 0.6 -4.1 2.2

Remember last off-season when some anonymous, non-Royals team official said that the 10 years and $100 million dollars would be about right for a deal between Eric Hosmer and the Royals? That was awesome. I have to remember to get screenshots of these things. To put it mildly, Hosmer had a disappointing sophomore season. Although his plate discipline improved in some respects, his problems cannot just be put down to bad luck on balls in play. That might have played a part, but he seemed to want to pull everything — which resulted in a lot of seven-hoppers to second. His power also went into the tank.

While celebrations of Hosmer’s incipient greatness were a bit premature, he’s still just 23, and he had a very good 2011 season for a 21-year-old. He does not project as the “Next Joey Votto” just yet, but projection systems have him performing much closer to his 2011 season than his 2012. Scouts and defensive metrics disagree about his fielding, with the former seeing him as very good and the latter not so much. Hosmer does not project as a superstar right now, but he does project as about an average player, and given his age, the future is still bright. If he really bombs and needs to got down to Triple-A, Billy Butler’s bat can make up for his defensive issues, although that would leave the Royals’ DH spot empty. I guess they could play Wil Myers there. Sorry, too soon?

#20 Rangers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mitch Moreland 490 .265 .330 .443 .329 5.6 -0.6 0.4 1.4
Mike Olt 140 .244 .327 .424 .325 1.2 0.0 0.6 0.4
Lance Berkman 70 .268 .379 .479 .366 2.9 -0.1 0.0 0.4
Total 700 .261 .334 .443 .332 9.7 -0.7 1.0 2.2

Mitch Moreland projects, at best, as an adequate stopgap first baseman, especially with a team with its eyes on the playoffs. It beats rushing Mike Olt or risking injury to Lance Berkman by playing him at first too much, though. The Rangers have to hope they have enough firepower in the rest of the lineup to make up for Moreland’s bat.

#21 Orioles


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Chris Davis 595 .259 .318 .473 .336 10.2 -0.8 -2.1 1.7
Wilson Betemit 35 .248 .320 .423 .321 0.2 -0.1 -0.4 0.0
Russ Canzler 70 .238 .302 .407 .307 -0.5 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .256 .316 .464 .333 9.9 -1.0 -2.6 1.8

Chris Davis’ unexpectedly effective bat was one of the big reasons the Orioles made the playoffs last year. Most projection systems expect regression, but they vary on how much there will be. Davis did have a high BABIP at .335, but he also had exellent power (.231 ISO). The power seems to be mostly for real, and while the BABIP is not terribly high, it is high. Of more concern are his career 6.5% walk rate and 30% strikeout rate in the majors. Overall, the power seems to be enough to make him an adequate, lower-division stopgap starter as a first baseman. Davis will likely see some time elsewhere on the field and at DH, with Wilson Betemit filling in at times, and quad-A-classic Russ Canzler possibly also getting some plate appearances.

#22 Brewers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Corey Hart 455 .262 .330 .472 .343 10.3 -0.3 -1.1 1.7
Taylor Green 140 .252 .317 .401 .311 -0.5 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Alex Gonzalez 105 .244 .286 .380 .286 -2.4 -0.2 0.0 -0.1
Total 700 .257 .321 .444 .328 7.3 -0.5 -1.0 1.7

Sign that the upcoming season may not go well: A season-ending Mat Gamel injury throws a wrench into the gears. OK, that is not quite right, it was Corey Hart getting hurt that set this into motion. Still, Mat “Am I Still A Prospect?” Gamel looks pretty good compared to the other options available to Milwaukee until Hart returns sometime in this spring (hopefully for the Brewers).

When I saw that Alex Gonzalez was projected to get playing time at first, I checked with our Brewers experts to make sure it was not a mistake. They assured me it was not, although the playing time situation is in flux. Yeah, the Brewers might end up envying the Yankees over the first six weeks of the season. I guess Taylor Green might hit better than Alex Gonzalez, but.…

While the situation is bad, as with the Yankees and Teixeira, losing Hart for six weeks-or-whatever is not devastating. That assumes, of course, that it does not drag out for much longer and Hart comes back ready to hit. Hart is not a great hitter, but he is pretty good. His walk rate fluctuates around average and his contact skills are getting worse, but he manages to put up decent numbers simply by hitting the ball hard and for power. For a right fielder, he is above-average. At first, he is closer to average. It may only cost them a win, but for the first part of the season, average will probably be a sweet dream for the Brewers.

#23 Pirates


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Garrett Jones 525 .258 .320 .457 .332 7.1 -1.0 -2.5 1.2
Gaby Sanchez 175 .257 .333 .410 .323 1.1 -0.1 0.6 0.4
Total 700 .257 .324 .446 .330 8.3 -1.1 -2.0 1.7

The first base situation does not look pretty, but without running through all of the math, this could actually work pretty well if the Pirates consistently platooned Jones and Sanchez at first. By himself, Jones has a somewhat adequate bat for first. In 2012 he overachieved as sort of a poor man’s Corey Hart: low walk rate, more strikeouts than you would like to see, but plenty of power. Sanchez hit well for the Marlins in 2010 and 2011, then came crashing back to earth in 2012. I doubt Sanchez is really a .272 wOBA hitter, although he probably doesn’t hit well enough to start at first base. Lefties have been Jones’ kryptonite, and if Sanchez were to get those plate appearances, the Pirates could earn themselves a few more runs — and maybe an additional win.

#24 Phillies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ryan Howard 595 .246 .333 .468 .338 11.0 -2.2 -4.4 1.4
Darin Ruf 56 .258 .324 .426 .323 0.4 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
John Mayberry 49 .250 .309 .422 .316 0.0 0.0 -0.2 0.1
Total 700 .247 .331 .461 .335 11.4 -2.3 -4.6 1.6

For all the mockery of the Ryan Howard contract, I really didn’t think we’d already be at the point where the Phillies’ first basemen collectively are ranked below a potential Garrett Jones/Gaby Sanchez platoon. To be fair, if Howard hits as projected — and is average in the field and on the bases — he could be about an average player. But how is assuming Ryan Howard could be average in the field and on the bases be fair? The Phillies had such a fun infield a few years ago. Now it just makes me sad, and no amount of snark makes up for that. That won’t stop jerks like me from trying, though.

#25 Marlins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Logan Morrison 420 .257 .347 .442 .340 8.6 -0.5 -1.3 1.4
Casey Kotchman 210 .262 .327 .389 .311 -0.7 -0.5 0.1 0.2
Joe Mahoney 70 .253 .304 .377 .294 -1.2 0.0 -0.3 0.0
Total 700 .258 .336 .419 .327 6.7 -1.0 -1.4 1.6

In 2012, Logan Morrison played poorly and got hurt. Before that, he looked very promising. While some of the shine is off, he still has upside. He’s projected to hit decently even with a low BABIP — if not as low as last season — and there is reason to think his power is still there. Again, he needs to stay healthy. Of course, no one is exactly going to be crying for the poor ol’ Marlins if they end up with an unhealthy dose of Casey Kotchman.

#26 Athletics


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brandon Moss 525 .241 .313 .437 .323 3.4 -1.1 0.0 1.1
Daric Barton 140 .236 .359 .361 .322 0.8 -0.1 0.6 0.4
Total 665 .240 .322 .422 .323 4.2 -1.1 0.5 1.5

One might think that the A’s are going to do some more of the smart platooning that worked so well for them in 2012, but no, both Moss and Barton are left-handed hitters. The offensive projection for Moss may seem unfair, given that he hit .291/.358/.596 (.402 wOBA!) in 2012 — but that was over 296 plate appearances, versus a longer history of poor hitting. Even after last season, his career line is just .251/.317/.442 (.328 wOBA), and he is 29. The A’s are projecting something more from him than Steamer and ZiPS, one would think. Or maybe they just don’t have better options. Barton probably is not that better option. While Moss has poor plate discipline and good power, Barton has good plate discipline and very little power.



#27 Padres


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Yonder Alonso 630 .262 .338 .399 .319 2.1 -0.9 -0.3 1.1
Jesus Guzman 35 .263 .328 .407 .319 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1
Kyle Blanks 35 .234 .317 .414 .317 0.1 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .261 .337 .400 .319 2.3 -0.9 -0.5 1.2

Yes, he plays his home games in San Diego, but Yonder Alonso seemingly modelling his game after Daric Barton is not what Padres fans were hoping for. Basically, walking and striking out at a slightly-better-than-average rate was the only part of Alonso’s offensive game that went well last year. He is going to be 26 in April, so it is not as if he has plenty of time left on a typical developmental curve. To top it off, he’s a lousy base runner. Even for his home park, those projected numbers are ugly for a first baseman. The Padres need to give him the full season and try to live up to his projected potential pre-2012, though, because no one else offers that much hope, either.

#28 Astros


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brett Wallace 560 .251 .320 .409 .317 0.8 -0.8 -1.7 0.7
Carlos Pena 70 .212 .340 .418 .330 0.9 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Chris Carter 70 .242 .330 .460 .340 1.4 -0.1 -0.4 0.2
Total 700 .246 .323 .415 .320 3.0 -1.1 -2.1 1.1

It’s something of an achievement for the Astros to not be in dead last in these rankings. At the moment, it looks like Brett Wallace is going to get most of the playing time at first base. The Wallace jokes have pretty much all been made, but at this point, with the Astros playing for nothing (a.k.a., “pride”), it looks like he’s going to get a final chance to show whether he has anything to contribute. So far the answer has been pretty a pretty clear “no,” but the Astros don’t have better options.

Pena is slated to be the Astros’ primary DH, but he can play first if needed. Chris Carter, who came over in a trade with Oakland, has some offensive potential, and might end up being the long-term solution. For now, Carter is will play the outfield with a bunch of other players. If something goes drastically wrong with Wallace this year, it would not surprise me if Carter ended up getting most of the time at first base. Carter’s glove is best suited for DH, but his power is pretty exciting, regardless of his defensive limitations.

#29 Mariners


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Justin Smoak 560 .231 .322 .385 .309 -2.7 -1.4 0.1 0.5
Kendrys Morales 105 .263 .323 .455 .333 1.5 -0.4 0.0 0.3
Michael Morse 35 .263 .319 .442 .328 0.4 -0.1 -0.2 0.1
Total 700 .237 .322 .399 .314 -0.8 -1.9 0.0 0.8

I would imagine that if, prior to the 2012 season, you had told Mariners fans that Justin Smoak would have a better wRC+ than Eric Hosmer during the upcoming season, they would have been thrilled. Yeah, about that…. Does anyone outside of the Seattle front office believe in Smoak? He doesn’t even have the numbers to project as an adequate half of a platoon. I guess the Mariners are not ready to give up on the prime piece from the team’s Cliff Lee trade.

If the Mariners were willing to cut bait on Smoak, they could improve their offense and defense by moving Morales (currently set to be the primary DH) to first and move Morse from left field to DH (leaving aside the issues of whether they should have made the trade for Morse). Of course, that would also potentially mean a two-headed Jason Bay/Raul Ibanez monster in left field.

#30 Rays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
James Loney 490 .262 .322 .384 .305 -4.1 -0.7 2.8 0.6
Sean Rodriguez 105 .232 .310 .380 .303 -1.0 0.0 0.5 0.1
Shelley Duncan 70 .226 .312 .400 .311 -0.2 0.0 -0.4 0.0
Luke Scott 35 .239 .313 .436 .321 0.2 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .253 .319 .387 .306 -5.2 -0.7 2.8 0.8

This ranking calls into question two bits of what might (unfairly) be called current sabermetric dogma. No. 1: “It is easy to find a decent first baseman.” And No. 2: “The Rays’ front office can do no wrong.” I put the parenthetical “unfairly” in there because if any saberists actually hold either anything like these, they do so with numerous qualifications. For example, it is only easy to find a decent first baseman relative to other positions, or the Rays are just way smarter than just about every other front office. Even then, these positions seem a bit silly.

Nonetheless, for the sake of this blurb, let us imagine a stereotypical saberist who holds these as articles of faith. It seems like said saberist’s faith would be shaken by the depth chart above, doesn’t it? I mean, either it is really difficult to find a somewhat average first baseman or the Rays just — well, I don’t know. What is going on here? I guess one could imagine that if James Loney is the best-fielding first baseman in the majors, he could be decent in a platoon with Shelley Duncan or someone else. Even Luke Scott, whose brief encounters with the first base glove have not been stellar, would not be great. There are only so many epicycles our imaginary, stereotypically dogmatic and non-existent saberist could spin.

But, hey, at least they didn’t trade Cliff Lee for any of those guys.



Positional Power Rankings: Second Base.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The second base position across the major leagues is in a bit of disarray. Second basemen (.718 OPS) were outhit by catchers (.701 OPS) in 2012, the first time that had happened since 2006. Sure, there have been a bevy of young, talented catchers joining the league in the last few years, but no position is selected less for their offensive skills than the catcher — second basemen should outhit them every year.

So it seems fair to call it a down era for second basemen, at least at the plate. As such, there is a good amount of clustering in these rankings. 12 teams fall between 2.0 and 3.0 projected WAR per 700 plate appearances. If a team finds a breakout second baseman this year, it is an asset to be treasured. If a team already has a star at the position, it gives them a big advantage over the rest of the league.

To the rankings!


#1 Yankees



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Robinson Cano 665 .297 .358 .506 .366 27.1 -0.5 1.9 5.6
Corban Joseph 35 .250 .321 .380 .304 -0.3 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .295 .356 .500 .363 26.8 -0.6 1.8 5.6

The ineffable Robinson Cano makes the Yankees a clear choice atop these rankings. Cano’s combination of contact and power skills is simply unmatched at the position. Observe:


Above, the 201 qualifying second base seasons from 2003 through 2012 are plotted, with strikeout rate on the horizontal axis and isolated power on the vertical axis. The giant navy blue stars are Robinson Cano’s seasons. The green dots are everybody else’s. Cano dominates the upper left corner, where the best contact hitters and power hitters lie.

On 41 occasions has a second baseman recorded an above-average strikeout rate and an above average ISO for the position. Seven of those 41 (17 percent) have come from Robinson Cano’s eight qualifying seasons as a major leaguer.

The power/contact combination is the most potent a hitter can offer. The power hitter with contact abilities gets more chances to use his home run power in practice. Cano puts the ball in play often, and he puts it in play with vigor. He may not be the best glove at second base — that allows players like Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley to approach his level — but Cano’s bat is untouchable among second basemen at this point in his career.

#2 Red Sox



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Dustin Pedroia 630 .289 .364 .456 .354 19.7 0.2 7.2 5.3
Pedro Ciriaco 70 .263 .284 .358 .277 -2.1 0.1 0.2 0.1
Total 700 .286 .356 .445 .346 17.5 0.3 7.3 5.3

Somehow, Pedroia is just 29 years old, and as such, his dropoff 2012 season shouldn’t be much of a concern. He still hit .290/.347/.449 (113 wRC+), still brought an above-average contact-power combination, and still played solid defense. But it was a definitive step down — Pedroia posted wRC+ marks of 132 and 128 in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

But that just means Pedroia was merely an All-Star quality player instead of an MVP quality player. Pedroia only walked 7.7 percent of the time in 2012, a four percent drop from 2011. His plate discipline statistics don’t show any glaring warning signs, though — he didn’t start swinging at extra pitches out of the strike zone and he didn’t start swinging more often.

With the disaster of 2012 behind Pedroia and the Red Sox, there’s little reason to doubt a bounceback year from Pedroia. He has been one of the league’s best second basemen since he broke through in 2007, and there’s little reason to expect that to change at age 29.

#3 Rangers



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ian Kinsler 595 .265 .348 .443 .344 13.7 1.6 2.1 4.1
Jurickson Profar 70 .255 .326 .397 .314 -0.1 0.0 0.2 0.3
Leury Garcia 35 .255 .296 .349 .281 -0.9 0.1 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .263 .343 .433 .338 12.7 1.8 2.4 4.5

Ian Kinsler’s days at second base could be numbered. Jurickson Profar’s play and pedigree are demanding playing time, and fast. Even in a down year last season, Kinsler hit .256/.326/.423 (99 wRC+), still league average and therefore well above the second base position average. He still sported decent patience (8.2 percent walk rate) and contact (12.3 percent strikeout rate) skills; the problem was a mere .270 BABIP. After a .243 BABIP in 2011 (offset by a .223 ISO), there may be some worry that Kinsler, now 31, is losing his singles stroke. A 14.2 percent infield fly rate (per fly ball) is a bit concerning.

However, Kinsler has always hit a few more infield flies than the league average. He still hit for good power in 2012 (.166 ISO, a touch under his .188 career mark, particularly when we account for the decrease in leaguewide offense since 2006). Kinsler posted wRC+ marks of 105, 114 and 122 in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively, and that’s enough of a track record to expect a bounceback in 2013.

#4 Phillies



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Chase Utley 420 .263 .363 .438 .347 10.7 1.3 3.9 3.3
Freddy Galvis 175 .253 .290 .370 .289 -3.7 -0.3 1.6 0.4
Kevin Frandsen 105 .276 .318 .377 .302 -1.1 -0.3 0.0 0.3
Total 700 .263 .338 .411 .326 6.0 0.8 5.4 4.0

Chase Utley is healthy in camp for the first time in three years. If he stays healthy, it’s huge for the Phillies. Utley projects just a hair behind Cano and Pedroia and better than Kinsler on a per-plate appearance basis, so even if he plays in just 60% of the Phillies games — roughly what he’s done the past two seasons, the Phillies still project as a top-4 team at the position.

Even in injury-limited seasons, Utley has shown the patience, contact and power skills necessary to keep up his performance. Neither his raw power nor speed are at their peak levels, but Utley has so far to fall stepping down a couple of rungs still leaves him near the elite.

Having two semi-competent backups helps. Galvis is a question mark coming off a PED suspension, but he isn’t expected to hit, merely to play solid defense. Frandsen, meanwhile, was shockingly good last season — a 127 wRC+ in 210 plate appearances — and if he maintains even a fraction of his improved production, he’ll bring value off the bench.

#5 Reds



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brandon Phillips 630 .278 .329 .427 .327 5.9 0.3 4.1 3.5
Jason Donald 70 .240 .308 .352 .292 -1.3 0.0 -0.3 0.1
Total 700 .274 .327 .420 .323 4.6 0.3 3.8 3.6

The drop-off from Utley to Phillips is the first clear line of demarcation among second basemen. Although Phillips is clearly an excellent fielder — a +4 run projection likely shortchanges his abilities — his .327 projected wOBA is less impressive given the inflating effects of Great American Ball Park.

Still, above average hitters at second base are hard to find these days. Despite a lack of patience at the plate — Phillips walked in just 4.5 percent of plate appearances last year — he remains productive by putting the ball in play. Phillips struck out in under 13 percent of plate appearances last year, making him one of just eight players to do so (and qualify for the batting title) in each of the past four seasons.

#6 Diamondbacks



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Aaron Hill 630 .269 .328 .443 .332 8.4 -0.3 1.9 3.5
John McDonald 49 .248 .294 .385 .293 -0.9 -0.1 0.2 0.1
Willie Bloomquist 21 .264 .304 .350 .286 -0.5 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .268 .325 .436 .328 7.0 -0.5 1.9 3.6

Aaron Hill was ruined for a couple years in Toronto after he hit 36 home runs in 2009 — he managed just a 77 wRC+ in both 2010 and 2011. But throughout that period, Hill continued to make contact — his career-worst strikeout rate is a still sharp 15.5 percent. As such, it was possible to envision a resurgence if only Hill could fix what had turned from a fly ball swing into a pop-up swing.

Hill couldn’t hit the high pitch for power in 2011 — he hit 100 fly balls off pitches in the upper third of the zone or higher and managed just two home runs, two doubles and three triples. In 2009, 2010 and 2012, Hill posted at least a 12.0 percent HR/FB on such pitches. If he can keep making powerful contact in the upper third of the strike zone, he should be able to maintain his resurgence.

#7 Rockies



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Josh Rutledge 490 .287 .326 .458 .336 8.4 0.6 0.0 2.8
Reid Brignac 70 .238 .297 .337 .277 -2.1 0.0 0.2 0.1
Eric Young 70 .267 .343 .380 .318 0.2 0.4 0.2 0.4
DJ LeMahieu 70 .292 .330 .377 .307 -0.4 -0.1 0.2 0.2
Total 700 .281 .325 .431 .326 6.1 1.0 0.6 3.5

A .336 wOBA may sound high for Rutledge, 24-year-old who skipped Triple-A and has just 73 major league games under his belt. It may seem especially high when he posted just a 3.1 percent walk rate last season, with much of his value coming from the most unstable parts of offense, power (.195 ISO) and BABIP (.315).

But consider Rutledge destroyed the High-A California league as a 22-year-old (.346/.412/.513, 139 wRC+) and the Double-A Texas League (.306/.338/.508, 132 wRC+) as a 23-year-old. And also consider Rutledge’s .332 wOBA translates to just a 94 wRC+ thanks to Colorado’s thin air and massive outfield.

Perhaps it’s a touch optimistic to think Rutledge can be a near league average hitter this season, but there’s also plenty of room for optimism above league average. There’s a lot of volatility in this projection, but given the state of second basemen in the league right now, volatility with upside ranks pretty highly.

#8 Rays



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ben Zobrist 350 .260 .363 .442 .349 9.4 0.0 1.6 2.5
Kelly Johnson 175 .226 .313 .376 .303 -1.7 -0.1 -0.5 0.4
Ryan Roberts 105 .232 .311 .365 .297 -1.5 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Sean Rodriguez 70 .232 .310 .380 .303 -0.7 0.0 0.4 0.2
Total 700 .244 .337 .407 .325 5.5 -0.2 1.5 3.4

In 2010, 28-year-old Kelly Johnson hit .284/.370/.496 with 26 home runs, good for a 129 wRC+ and 5.8 WAR. I was excited. He combined patience and power in a way we almost never see from middle infielders (at least, outside of Robinson Cano/Dustin Pedroia/Chase Utley types). His peak was still in front of him. It was easy to see a couple of All-Star appearances in his future.

Whoops.

Johnson lost the ability to make contact in 2011 and 2012 as strikeout rates exceeding 25 percent led to wRC+ marks of 92 and 86 respectively. He still has power — he’s hit 37 home runs over the past two years, seventh among second basemen — and he can still draw a walk. If he can improve his contact rate at all, the 31-year-old can make a pretty nifty left side of a platoon.

Johnson will likely share the platoon with Ryan Roberts. Roberts struggled mightily in 2012 but owns a .259/.341/.434 (105 wRC+) line against left-handed pitching and should hit for a bit more power this year.

The Johnson/Roberts pair will open the season at second base, most likely, with Ben Zobrist manning right field until Wil Myers is ready (read: his service time clock is held back enough) for the majors. Zobrist, of course, is a known commodity. He hits, he fields, and he runs. With the second base crop in a relatively weak state, half a season of Zobrist and half a season of the Johnson/Roberts platoon looks like one of the better second base units in the league.

#9 Pirates



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Neil Walker 665 .272 .337 .431 .332 8.8 -0.5 -1.2 3.3
Josh Harrison 35 .262 .303 .380 .298 -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .271 .336 .428 .330 8.4 -0.5 -1.3 3.4

One can be forgiven for finding Neil Walker a boring, if consistent presence. Pittsburgh will take it. Observe, seasons by a Pirates second baseman over the past 25 seasons (minimum 400 PA) by wRC+:


And by WAR:


Neil Walker just keeps chugging along. Just three years — and 8.1 WAR — into his career, it’s clear he’s the best second baseman to suit up in Pittsburgh since Johnny Ray held the keystone in the early 1980s.

#10 Brewers



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Rickie Weeks 560 .247 .342 .431 .337 10.1 0.4 -4.8 2.8
Taylor Green 105 .252 .317 .401 .311 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.4
Alex Gonzalez 35 .244 .286 .380 .286 -0.8 -0.1 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .248 .335 .424 .331 8.9 0.3 -4.7 3.2

The devastating ankle injury Weeks suffered in 2011 seemed to linger. Between his return for the 2011 playoffs and the first half of 2012, Weeks hit a brutal .197/.314/.347 from Sept. 10, 2011 through the 2012 All-Star Break.

But after the break, Weeks was more or less the same hitter he was in 2010 and before the injury in 2011 (his only All-Star campaign to date). Weeks hit .261./.343/.457 (118 wRC+) in the second half, just a tick under his 127 and 125 wRC+ marks from 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Weeks has one of the best bats at the position, and although a good chunk of his value is offset by a poor glove, he still ranks as one of the better players when healthy. And perhaps even his brittleness is a bit overstated — he’s played in at least 118 games in five of the last six seasons.

#11 Indians



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jason Kipnis 630 .258 .331 .404 .321 3.0 0.7 -0.5 2.8
Mike Aviles 70 .260 .296 .392 .299 -0.9 0.0 0.3 0.2
Total 700 .258 .328 .403 .319 2.1 0.8 -0.2 3.0

Like Weeks, Kipnis’s season was a tale of two halves. He burst onto the scene in the first half as he hit .277/.345/.419 (113 wRC+) with 11 home runs and a tremendous 20 steals in 21 attempts. Neither the power nor the speed held up into the dog days. Kipnis mustered just a .233/.322/.328 (86 wRC+) line in the second half and was caught in six of his 17 stolen base attempts.

The question, then, is which Kipnis to believe in for 2013. Was Kipnis merely exhausted by the rigors of his first full major league season? Did pitchers adjust in the second half? Can he adjust back?

Regardless, Kipnis showed enough in his excellent first half and over his minor league tenure to put him in the league’s upper third of a weak second base class. He put up a 130 wRC+ at five different minor league levels and in a 36-game stint in the majors in 2011 before last season, and that’s a track record worth believing in.

#12 Nationals



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Danny Espinosa 630 .237 .311 .402 .310 -2.6 0.0 4.7 2.7
Steve Lombardozzi 70 .266 .318 .371 .302 -0.7 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Total 700 .240 .312 .399 .309 -3.3 0.0 4.8 2.9

In truth, Danny Espinosa is a shortstop playing second base. At second base, he’s one of the best fielders around. His strong arm combined with vast range leads to multiple plays like the one above.

Espinosa has a major flaw: his inability to make contact. He swung and missed at 15.2 percent of the pitches he faced in 2012, a new career high, and he set a career high with a 28.7 percent strikeout rate as well. As such, he needed a .333 BABIP just to hit .247, and as such his offensive ceiling is limited despite average patience and good power.

But Espinosa has hit for enough power (.172 ISO) to be roughly average at the plate — 94 wRC+ last year, 98 career. And so between his semi-competent bat and shortstop-quality glove, the Nationals have themselves a solid, if occasionally frustrating, option at the keystone.

#13 Angels



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Howie Kendrick 637 .273 .318 .408 .314 -0.4 0.3 2.6 2.7
Andrew Romine 42 .244 .302 .319 .276 -1.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Bill Hall 21 .206 .269 .341 .265 -0.8 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .269 .316 .401 .311 -2.5 0.3 2.3 2.7

Kendrick produced an exciting 2011. As a 27-year-old, he hit a sharp .285/.338/.464 (123 wRC+), and the future looked bright with his first All-Star game appearance in tow.

Prior to 2011, Kendrick was a solid if unremarkable second baseman for Anaheim, hitting for a mostly-empty batting average but knocking enough singles to outpace the majority of the second base crop. When the bottom fell out of the power behind his 2011 season, he reverted to the slightly above-average player he’s been for the bulk of his career.

It wouldn’t be shocking if we saw Kendrick regain some of his lost power as a 29-year-old, but given his 8.9 percent HR/FB both over his career and in 2012 alone, it seems unlikely he’ll ever show the 20-homer ability he flashed in 2011.

#14 Astros



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jose Altuve 630 .287 .333 .408 .323 4.2 0.8 -4.4 2.5
Tyler Greene 35 .237 .307 .392 .303 -0.3 0.1 -0.2 0.1
Jake Elmore 35 .256 .338 .331 .299 -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .283 .332 .404 .321 3.4 0.9 -4.7 2.7

The Little Hit Tool That Could proved it last season. Altuve posted a sharp .290/.340/.399 (104 wRC+) with 33 SB (11 CS). He probably won’t ever become a star — at 5-foot-5 and a dense 170 pounds, it’s hard to imagine him putting up too many double-digit home run seasons. Still, he’ll make enough contact to bang out singles, get on base, and use his speed to wreak havoc on opposing batteries.

The bigger question might be his defense. Both DRS and UZR hated his range in 2012, and defense was one of the sticking points for scouts slow to jump on the bandwagon.

The answer to the defense question is the difference between Altuve being an above-average second baseman and a fringe All-Star type. Not a bad place to start for Houston on the long climb back to respectability.

#15 Braves



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Dan Uggla 595 .238 .338 .421 .331 7.8 -0.9 -4.9 2.5
Paul Janish 70 .231 .301 .320 .277 -2.2 0.0 0.4 0.1
Ramiro Pena 35 .238 .296 .310 .268 -1.3 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .237 .332 .405 .323 4.3 -0.9 -4.5 2.6

Dan Uggla has been good for a roughly half-season long slump each of the past two seasons. It’s all in the BABIP:


Last year, his power fell off a bit as well, as he hit under 20 home runs (under 27, for accuracy’s sake) for the first time in his career. Uggla’s patience and still-good power — particularly for a middle infielder — allowed him to remain a viable option, even if his strikeout (26.7 percent) and popup (16.9 percent of fly balls) heavy ways were infuriating.

Expect more of the same, except with a few more fly balls sneaking over the fence — Uggla is too strong to post an 11.4 percent HR/FB (his career low mark from 2012) again. Even with his myriad fielding issues (Remember the 2008 All-Star Game? It hasn’t gotten much better.), he should provide league-average or better production for Atlanta.

And he might be their worst position player. A scary thought for National League pitchers.

#16 Padres



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jedd Gyorko 525 .261 .319 .418 .319 1.9 -0.4 -0.5 2.1
Logan Forsythe 175 .242 .330 .355 .304 -1.5 0.1 -1.3 0.4
Total 700 .257 .322 .403 .316 0.4 -0.2 -1.8 2.5

Logan Forsythe was a sharp stopgap second baseman last year. As a 25-year-old, he hit .273/.343/.390, good for a sharp 110 wRC+ thanks to Petco Park. He doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, but he was effectively average (or slightly above) in the four key hitting rates (K%, BB%, ISO and BABIP).

But it looks more and more like the Padres’ second base job will go to converted third base prospect Jedd Gyorko. Forsythe, as such, will be relegated to a utility role — a role in which he should be very efffective.

Gyorko hit well in Double-A and absolutely mashed (.328/.380/.588, 24 2B, 24 HR) in 92 games at Triple-A Tucson. He’ll find a chance in San Diego at some point this season. He has good patience and has shown solid power for a middle infielder in the minors. Will it translate to Petco Park? Will his rather average contact rates hold up in the majors? Those are the questions he’ll have to ask, but he’s an exciting prospect, and as such the Padres have more upside at 2B than their ranking suggests.

#17 Tigers



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Omar Infante 595 .280 .316 .397 .309 -2.8 -0.2 2.7 2.3
Ramon Santiago 105 .249 .316 .347 .292 -2.0 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Total 700 .275 .316 .390 .307 -4.7 -0.4 2.7 2.5

Omar Infante was the less-heralded part of the Tigers’ trade to bring in Anibal Sanchez, but one could argue he was more important to the squad. The Tigers had absolutely nothing going at second base last season — non-Infante Tigers second basemen combined for -2.3 WAR in 604 PA.

Infante was actually pretty terrible at the plate himself — he hit .257/.283/.385 (78 wRC+), but that was still easily better than Ramon Santiago (53 wRC+ in 259 PA) and Ryan Raburn (28 wRC+ in 222 PA), and Infante appears to be a superior fielder to both players as well.

Infante just couldn’t get singles to drop in as a Tiger — he recorded a .269 BABIP in his post-trade at-bats — but his overall season line — .274/.300/.419 — gives a good idea of his general quality. He makes a ton of contact, rarely walks, and will occasionally pop a home run. Infante is noothing special, but after enduring a practical black hole in the lineup at the position the Tigers will happily trot him out at second base every day this season.

#18 Mariners



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Dustin Ackley 595 .246 .326 .374 .307 -4.0 0.2 3.4 2.3
Robert Andino 70 .230 .295 .322 .275 -2.2 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Kyle Seager 35 .263 .324 .400 .316 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .246 .323 .370 .304 -6.2 0.2 3.1 2.4

Dustin Ackley‘s 2012 was a disaster. He hit .226/.294/.328 (75 wRC+) and in just one month (May) did he produce an above-average wRC+. He didn’t hit for power (12 HR in 668 PA; .102 ISO) and he didn’t hit for average (18.6 K%, .265 BABIP).

Projections for Ackley are a bit depressing compared to where we thought he’d be last season, but there’s still room for hope. Ackley flashed the leather last season well enough to save him from complete uselessness. More importantly, he was sharp with the bat for 90 games in 2011 and has a solid minor league track record and pedigree to build on.

With the fences coming in at SafeCo Field this season and Ackley entering his age 25 season, excuses will be running out quickly.

#19 Cubs



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Darwin Barney 630 .269 .313 .363 .296 -9.6 0.8 7.8 2.3
Brent Lillibridge 56 .220 .283 .336 .273 -1.9 0.1 -0.1 0.0
Luis Valbuena 14 .246 .322 .381 .308 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .265 .311 .361 .294 -11.6 0.9 7.7 2.4

“There are so many things that could have gone wrong on this play, and he makes it look routine!” Cubs color announcer Bob Brently hits the nail on the head here. This play is so illustrative of the value Barney brings in the field; it shows both his excellent range and strong arm.

Barney isn’t much of a hitter. Although he makes loads of contact — he struck out in 9.9 percent of plate appearances last season — Barney can’t do much with it. He lacks power and has a tendency towards ground balls. His best hope is probably an empty batting average in the .270s or .280s — see his .276/.313/.353 (80 wRC+) line from 2011.

Still, if Barney really is the elite defender he looked like last season — +13 UZR, an absurd +28 DRS, and loads of plays like the one above — he’s well worth a starting job in the major leagues.

#20 White Sox



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Gordon Beckham 560 .251 .317 .397 .313 -1.1 -0.6 -0.1 2.0
Jeff Keppinger 35 .285 .338 .399 .321 0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Angel Sanchez 70 .261 .324 .344 .295 -1.1 -0.1 -0.3 0.1
Carlos Sanchez 35 .259 .314 .343 .290 -0.7 -0.1 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .254 .319 .389 .310 -2.7 -0.8 -0.2 2.3

In 2009, just one year after the White Sox selected him with the eigth pick of the 2008 draft, Gordon Beckham came up and hit .270/.347/.460 (109 wRC+) with 14 home runs in just 103 games. In the three years since, the White Sox have been waiting for that Gordon Beckham to show up again.

In the three years since, Beckham has posted wRC+ marks of 86, 71 and 79. The power he flashed has never materialized; his .137 ISO in 2012 was his highest since his .190 rookie mark.

Beckham did take one definitive step forward in 2012, though, as he set a career best with an 8.3 percent swinging strike rate. He struck out in just 15.3 percnt of plate appearances, in line with his 2009 rate. A .254 BABIP prevented it from translating into better results, but this improved contact is the basis behind his projected .251 average (and the improved on-base and slugging the extra singles provide). It isn’t what was hoped for when Beckham first broke into the majors, but if Beckham can keep making contact, he’ll be semi-useful for the White Sox this year.

#21 Mets



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Daniel Murphy 525 .284 .332 .405 .319 1.5 -0.4 -4.7 1.7
Justin Turner 140 .260 .323 .382 .310 -0.5 -0.1 -0.9 0.4
Jordany Valdespin 35 .253 .291 .386 .293 -0.6 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .277 .328 .400 .316 0.4 -0.6 -5.8 2.1

Murphy owns a typical middle infielder skillset at the plate, based on lost of contact and little else. Murphy struck out in 13.4 percent of plate appearances last year, still a good total despite marking his worst mark since he became a major league regular in 2009.

Murphy hits enough line drives to be an effective bat up the middle. He doesn’t field well enough or hit for enough power to be anything more than average. He is the proverbial second-division starter. Similarly, Justin Turner is the proverbial second division backup. Jordany Valdespin merely hopes his genitals won’t be making any more news for the rest of the year.

#22 Cardinals



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Daniel Descalso 420 .253 .324 .360 .298 -5.8 0.0 -1.6 0.8
Matt Carpenter 245 .264 .354 .395 .328 2.6 -0.2 -0.5 1.1
Ronny Cedeno 35 .241 .295 .355 .282 -0.9 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .256 .333 .372 .308 -4.1 -0.2 -2.1 2.0

Second base is one of the few question marks for the Cardinals. Long-term, it’s Kolten Wong‘s position. For now, it looks like a mix of Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter, depending on how Carpenter’s work at the position has gone over the offseason.

Descalso is the typical glove-first utility man. Over 302 career games, he owns an 80 wRC+, and his major asset is an ability to play third base and shortstop as well as second base. If he ends up playing the majority of the games at second base, he’ll be a hole in the Cardinals’ lineup, but one the rest of the big boppers can mask.

Carpenter, however, is intriguing. He has a good minor league track record and hit a sharp .294/.365/.463 (125 wRC+) in 114 games last season. But he has just 18 innings under his belt at second base between majors and minors (where he was almost exclusively a third baseman). If he can make the transition, his bat will play extremely well at second base. It’s just too early too say right now if his glove will allow the Cardinals to use him there full time, though.

#23 Giants



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Marco Scutaro 560 .277 .333 .377 .311 -1.9 -0.7 -0.7 1.8
Joaquin Arias 105 .259 .294 .360 .282 -2.8 0.1 -0.3 0.1
Tony Abreu 35 .255 .289 .373 .289 -0.7 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .273 .325 .374 .305 -5.4 -0.8 -1.0 2.0

If ranking the Giants — and therefore, Marco Scutaro — 23rd seems harsh, consider teams 11 through 23 on this list all fall between 2.0 and 3.0 projected WAR. If Scutaro (or, it should follow, anybody else near him on this list) outperforms his projections by just a little bit, he could easily be in the top half of the position.

Scutaro’s schtick is well known at this point: when he swings, he makes contact. Only Juan Pierre has a lower strikeout rate (min. 1000 PA) than Scutaro’s 7.5 percent over the past two seasons. He doesn’t have much power — especially not built for cavernous AT&T Park — and he isn’t overly patient. But he’ll hit enough singles and make enough plays to give the Giants plenty of stability at second base.

#24 Athletics



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Scott Sizemore 455 .239 .324 .370 .308 -2.7 -0.3 -2.2 1.2
Jemile Weeks 175 .253 .322 .352 .298 -2.4 0.0 -1.1 0.3
Jed Lowrie 70 .250 .330 .418 .325 0.6 -0.1 -0.2 0.3
Total 700 .244 .324 .370 .307 -4.5 -0.3 -3.5 1.8

The story for Oakland at second base is less about Scott Sizemore winning the job but more about the fall of Jemile Weeks. Weeks hit an atrocious .221/.305/.304 (73 wRC+) in 2012 and may open the season in the minors. It’s a stark drop for Weeks, who burst onto the scene in 2011 with a .303/.340/.421 line (110 wRC+) in 97 games as a 24-year-old.

Sizemore likely would have had a starting spot in Oakland last year — at third base — but he missed the entire season with an ACL tear. If he is back at 100 percent this year, he should bring a stable if unimpressive bat to the Athletics lineup. His patience (39.5 percent swing rate in 2011) leads to high walk and strikeout rates, with enough power to make him a roughly league-average bat.

Second base is Sizemore’s natural position, but he isn’t a highly regarded defender. Put it all together, and you get a slightly below average, if playable option.

#25 Blue Jays



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Maicer Izturis 350 .266 .330 .368 .307 -2.3 0.3 -1.0 1.0
Emilio Bonifacio 350 .257 .322 .338 .292 -6.5 2.1 -2.0 0.7
Total 700 .262 .326 .353 .299 -8.9 2.4 -3.1 1.7

It still isn’t clear who will get the bulk of the second base playing time in Toronto between Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio. Bonficacio is certainly the more exciting player — he has 70 stolen bases over the past two seasons despite playing just 216 games — but his only above-average hitting season needed a .372 BABIP. Izturis, meanwhile, is more of the boring utility infielder type. As with many of the players on this list, Izturis makes a ton of contact but doesn’t add much power or patience.

Neither is likely to hit much. Both are exceptionally versatile and add value to a bench. Both are switch-hitters. The decision, realistically, shouldn’t make much of a difference in the Blue Jays’ fate. If one of them jumps out to a hot start in April, he’ll probably win the job long-term.

#26 Dodgers



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mark Ellis 455 .250 .310 .350 .292 -8.5 -0.3 4.2 1.3
Skip Schumaker 175 .263 .325 .338 .292 -3.3 -0.2 -1.3 0.2
Nick Punto 70 .230 .323 .316 .288 -1.5 0.1 0.4 0.2
Total 700 .251 .315 .344 .291 -13.4 -0.5 3.3 1.6

For as much money as the Dodgers have spent, and for as many moves as the Dodgers have made, they still have holes. Second base is one of them. Mark Ellis‘s bat lacks punch. At 36 years old, it’s difficult to expect much out of him. He draws walks, but can he do enough to force pitchers to nibble? He’s had a good glove his whole career, but can his defense stay sharp through his late 30s?

Steamer and ZiPS both expect a bit of a drop-off from last year, when Ellis hit a respectable .258/.333/.364 (98 wRC+). It’s difficult to ignore Ellis’s 2011, when he hit .248/.288/.346 (68 wRC+) despite spending half of the season in Colorado.

Neither Skip Schumacher nor Nick Punto are exciting options off the bench. The Dodgers will need their trade hauls from other positions to cover this hole.

#27 Royals



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Chris Getz 315 .261 .317 .332 .289 -6.6 0.7 -0.5 0.5
Johnny Giavotella 315 .272 .326 .374 .306 -2.3 0.2 -1.5 0.8
Miguel Tejada 35 .255 .292 .336 .269 -1.3 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Irving Falu 35 .266 .309 .351 .289 -0.7 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .266 .319 .352 .296 -11.0 0.7 -2.0 1.4

The Royals hope this can be Johnny Giavotella‘s year. It was supposed be 2012, but Giavotella tanked during spring training and hit a putrid .238/.270/.304 (55 wRC+) when he got a chance at the majors later in the year. He was productive at Triple-A (.323/.404/.472, 130 wRC+) in 89 games, so he should have another shot at it this year.

If not, the Royals are stuck with Chris Getz. Although Getz has major league ability — he has great contact skills, as he struck out in just 8.1 percent of his 210 plate, and he can run — he’s limited to the point where he’s best suited as a utility player, not a starter. He simply doesn’t have any power — he hasn’t homered since 2009 as a member of the White Sox.

#28 Orioles



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brian Roberts 280 .249 .318 .378 .306 -2.0 0.2 -2.5 0.6
Alexi Casilla 280 .250 .306 .341 .284 -7.0 0.9 -0.7 0.4
Ryan Flaherty 140 .232 .286 .380 .291 -2.7 -0.3 0.2 0.2
Total 700 .246 .307 .364 .294 -11.6 0.8 -3.0 1.3

There are two problems with the Orioles at second base: we don’t know if Brian Roberts will stay healthy, and we don’t know if he’s still any good. Roberts has taken just 513 plate appearances over the past three seasons and he has hit just .244/.308/.340 (78 OPS+).

The three years prior, Roberts hit .290/.370/.444 (114 OPS+), so it’s understandable for there to be some excitement in Baltimore surrounding his return to the opening day lineup. However, at age 35 and with a three-year history of injuries and ineffectiveness, it seems overly optimistic to expect much out of Roberts.

Twins castoff Alexi Casilla and second-year player Ryan Flaherty don’t add much off the bench. The pair combined for a .268 wOBA last year, although Casilla at least brings a quality glove to the equation.

#29 Twins



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brian Dozier 420 .249 .299 .353 .286 -9.9 -0.2 -0.8 0.5
Jamey Carroll 245 .268 .342 .329 .300 -2.9 -0.2 0.5 0.7
Eduardo Escobar 35 .242 .285 .331 .270 -1.3 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .255 .313 .344 .290 -14.1 -0.5 -0.3 1.1

Brian Dozier struggled in his debut season last year, and the result appears to be a shift from shortstop to second base. If he’s going to stick at second base, he’ll need to improve drastically with the bat. He was below average in three of the four major hitting rates (BB%, ISO and BABIP) and scarcely above average in the fourth (K%). He’ll need to find his form from Double-A in 2011, his best professional stint — in 78 games (351 PA), he hit .318/.384/.502 (145 wRC+).

Jamey Carroll is expected to bounce between shortstop and second base this year. He doesn’t have the bat for second base — he hit just .268/.343/.317 last year, the sixth straight season his OBP has outpaced his SLG — but he makes contact and will play solid defense when given the chance.

#30 Marlins



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Donovan Solano 490 .258 .304 .341 .283 -12.5 0.3 1.3 0.8
Chone Figgins 175 .242 .320 .322 .288 -3.8 -0.1 -0.2 0.2
Nick Green 35 .238 .290 .357 .280 -1.0 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .253 .307 .338 .284 -17.3 0.2 0.8 1.0

You could do worse than Donovan Solano in 2012. He hit .295/.342/.375, stole seven bases without a failure, and played a competent second base. But looking at his peripheral numbers, it’s hard to see a repeat. He didn’t show patience (6.6 percent walk rate), exceptional contact skills (18.4 percent strikeout rate) nor power (.081 ISO). His year was propped up by a .357 BABIP, and that’s where our pessimistic projection is derived.

If it’s not Solano, it’s Chone Figgins. Maybe a change of scenery was necessary for Figgins after an utter and complete failure in Seattle, but it’s hard to see him doing much of use in Miami.



2013 Positional Power Rankings: Third Base.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Third base is a little deeper than it used to be, and only a handful of teams have little to no hope of being productive at the position. The devil is in the details at the hot corner, as there has been very little turnover among the top 20 teams here. Teams that have quality reserves or prospects coming up the pipeline see a bump here, as we’re looking holistically at the position and not just at the nominal starter. This is an important consideration across the diamond, but particularly so at third given how physically demanding the position is. Only six third basemen suited up in 150 or more games last year. Compare that to 13 at second base and 11 at first base and shortstop, and it becomes clear that depth is important at third base. Unfortunately, most teams don’t have adequate depth, hence the bump for the teams that do.

Let’s get on to the rankings!


#1 Tigers



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Miguel Cabrera 630 .317 .403 .568 .405 45.5 -1.2 -5.4 6.5
Ramon Santiago 35 .249 .316 .347 .292 -0.7 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Danny Worth 35 .233 .300 .349 .286 -0.8 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .309 .393 .546 .393 44.1 -1.2 -5.3 6.6

What, you were expecting someone else?

At 6.5 WAR, he’s more than a full win ahead of the primary player on the second-place team (Beltre), and nearly two wins ahead of everyone else in the game. He doesn’t even have the worst defensive projections this year (Michael Young and Trevor Plouffe, come on down!) He is projected to have a slight drop off from the past two years, but it’s unlikely that anyone in Detroit is going to complain.

When the team needs extra support defensively, they will turn to Santiago or Worth, but don’t expect too much of that — he was only removed from 11 games last season. He wasn’t taken out of a game that he started until the second half. Two of the games that he was removed from were the last two games of the season, and another was for the ninth inning of the first leg of a Sept. 23 doubleheader that Detroit was trailing 10-2. In other words, expect to see Cabrera on the field.

#2 Rangers



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adrian Beltre 609 .296 .340 .516 .362 23.0 -0.9 7.0 5.4
Mike Olt 91 .244 .327 .424 .325 0.7 0.0 0.4 0.5
Total 700 .289 .339 .505 .357 23.7 -0.9 7.3 5.9

Beltre is enjoying quite the career renaissance. Though he’s been a full-time player since 1999, three of his four best seasons have come in the last three years. From age 31-33, the only third basemen since 1947 who posted more WAR than Beltre were Mike Schmidt, Alex Rodriguez, Graig Nettles and Harmon Killebrew. When he inevitably misses a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury or what not, prospect Mike Olt is going to get a shot, and he projects to be one of the better backups in the game this year, which only bolsters Texas’ standing.

#3 Rays



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Evan Longoria 546 .270 .366 .508 .370 24.3 0.0 5.3 5.2
Sean Rodriguez 98 .232 .310 .380 .303 -1.0 0.0 0.5 0.3
Chris Gimenez 42 .238 .310 .342 .286 -1.0 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Ryan Roberts 14 .232 .311 .365 .297 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .262 .354 .477 .354 22.2 -0.1 5.7 5.6

This one suffers a little bit because Longoria’s playing time isn’t what you would expect from a star-level player. And that might not be fair, considering the fact that Longoria will only be 27 years of age this season. On the other hand, in the past two seasons Longoria suited up for less than 65% of Tampa Bay’s games. So while he may not be as brittle going forward, it’s OK to be a little conservative. When he’s not in the lineup, manager Joe Maddon is going to mix and match. Aside from Longoria, Maddon started seven other players at third last season, so while our depth chart has four names — more than every other team besides Anaheim — any non-Longoria playing time may end up even more chopped up than that. But predicting what Maddon will do is near impossible, so we’ll just stick with these four.

#4 Mets



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
David Wright 630 .279 .367 .458 .352 18.9 -0.7 1.0 4.4
Justin Turner 70 .260 .323 .382 .310 -0.3 -0.1 -0.4 0.2
Total 700 .277 .363 .450 .348 18.6 -0.8 0.6 4.6

Neither Steamer nor ZiPS is real bullish on Wright duplicating his 2012 performance. While a .352 wOBA would be a career year for many players listed in this post, it would be the second-worst of Wright’s career. Some regression is certainly to be expected for Wright, who just had the second-best season of his career in terms of WAR. Still, even if he does come back to the pack a little bit, he still is well above average for the position. His backup, Turner, is good enough to not embarrass himself, as he can be counted on for league average offense and passable defense. You could do worse from your backup — especially when said backup is not going to log much third-base time in a perfect situation.

#5 Nationals



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ryan Zimmerman 595 .281 .355 .474 .354 18.6 -0.2 0.1 4.2
Steve Lombardozzi 70 .266 .318 .371 .302 -0.7 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Anthony Rendon 35 .243 .318 .385 .309 -0.2 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .277 .349 .459 .347 17.7 -0.3 0.3 4.6

Now locked into his long-term contract, Zimmerman doesn’t need to sweat too much in what would have been his contract year this season. But while he can feel secure in his deal, he still has something to prove. Last season, his walk rate was its lowest in the past four campaigns, and his strikeout rate was a full-season career worst as well. His offense was still well above average for his position, but in the past two seasons, he’s been a lot more Dr. Donald Blake than he has Thor Odinson with the leather. It’s not just the advanced metrics either — his rating in the Fans’ Scouting Report has dropped in each of the past two seasons as well.

Backing him up is Lombardozzi, who is a decent hitter against right-handed pitching, but at least last year could not handle lefties at all — albeit in a small sample. Finally, we’re projecting that super prospect Rendon gets his first cup of coffee. That might be aggressive for Marc Hulet’s 39th-best prospect given that he only has 160 professional plate appearances, but he has already graduated to Double-A and has made a favorable impression early in camp. If he can stay healthy, we could see the beginnings of a position crunch in Washington. Good thing that third year on Adam LaRoche’s deal isn’t guaranteed.

#6 Blue Jays



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brett Lawrie 581 .275 .334 .455 .341 11.9 0.2 6.7 4.2
Maicer Izturis 84 .266 .330 .368 .307 -0.6 0.1 -0.3 0.2
Mark DeRosa 35 .235 .316 .305 .278 -1.0 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .272 .332 .437 .333 10.3 0.2 6.2 4.5

Is this the year? Is the time right for Lawrie to breakout this year? Blue Jays fans certainly hope so, because no matter how many new faces this team has, they are still going to need Lawrie to produce like the All-Star everyone believes he will eventually be. Fortunately, in Izturis they have a little buffer should Lawrie fall into a funk. Hopefully new/old manager John Gibbons resists the veteranness charms of DeRosa, but then again, he will only fall for them if Lawrie stays hurt (he is hurt right now, but is expected to be ready for opening day) or falls off a cliff. If the latter, Toronto fans could be forgiven for throwing his clothes out the windows. But if he becomes the player everyone expects him to be — despite his disappointing 2012 campaign, Keith Law still ranked him as the 11th best player under the age of 25 this offseason — they will undoubtedly be hoping that they die together.

#7 Brewers



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Aramis Ramirez 630 .278 .340 .486 .352 18.7 -2.0 -1.2 4.1
Taylor Green 70 .252 .317 .401 .311 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.2
Total 700 .275 .337 .478 .348 18.5 -2.0 -1.1 4.3

People like to talk about how you can’t kill Paul Konerko or Mariano Rivera, but what about Ramirez? Following 82 and 124 game-seasons in his age-31 and 32 seasons, the undertaker was getting the nails ready for Ramirez’s coffin. But in the two seasons since, he’s only missed 26 total games, and only Cabrera, Beltre and Chase Headley posted more WAR. Last season was, in fact, the best season of his long career. His 2012 season is probably not repeatable from both an offensive and defensive perspective — last season was the first season since 2007 in which he posted a positive DRS or UZR — but that Ramirez is still going to be hard to kill. As an added bonus, Green wouldn’t be a total disaster as a backup if some malady does befall Ramirez — ZiPS sees him being worth 1.5 WAR with a whole season’s worth of playing time. Obviously that doesn’t shine through here, as he is slated for just 35 plate appearances as a third baseman here, but he has a decent batting eye and decent pop for a backup.

#8 Giants



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Pablo Sandoval 560 .291 .351 .486 .354 17.5 -1.2 2.4 4.1
Joaquin Arias 105 .259 .294 .360 .282 -2.8 0.1 -0.3 0.1
Tony Abreu 35 .255 .289 .373 .289 -0.7 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .284 .340 .461 .340 14.0 -1.2 2.1 4.3

There is little concern about Sandoval producing in the batter’s box. Through age 25, only 15 third basemen since 1947 have a better wRC+ than Panda’s 126 mark. That’s a mark that places Sandoval ahead of where Scott Rolen, George Brett, Ron Santo and Paul Molitor were through that point in their careers, to name just a few. But will he stay on the field? He has failed to make it to 500 plate appearances in each of the past two seasons, and the Giants don’t really have any depth at the position — Arias and Abreu are borderline major leaguers. If Sandoval can stay on the field all year, San Francisco probably winds up in the top five here, but there’s no guarantee that he will — even our projection of his playing time could be seen as optimistic given the past two seasons.

#9 Diamondbacks



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Martin Prado 595 .293 .347 .439 .339 11.6 -0.3 2.7 3.8
Eric Chavez 105 .262 .328 .434 .326 1.0 -0.1 -0.2 0.5
Total 700 .289 .344 .438 .337 12.5 -0.4 2.5 4.2

Given the fact that he helps the Dbacks place ninth here, Prado clearly isn’t chopped liver. But if Arizona misses the postseason, and this is all the team gets from Prado, the 37 people who root for the Dbacks are probably going to be pretty upset with the Justin Upton trade. Possibly cutting into Prado’s value is that the team also signed Chavez, and you don’t give Chavez $3 million guaranteed for 10-15 games. He’s going to play, and while he will probably see some time at first base and DH, his natural position is third base. All of this is probably going to conspire to keep prospect Matt Davidson on the farm all season, which is why we didn’t list him here.

#10 Padres



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Chase Headley 665 .267 .353 .424 .338 12.2 0.1 1.9 4.1
Logan Forsythe 35 .242 .330 .355 .304 -0.3 0.0 -0.3 0.1
Total 700 .265 .352 .421 .336 12.0 0.1 1.6 4.1

The Padres moved the fences this year, but Steamer and ZiPS don’t know that, so this could end up being a conservative projection. Headley should of course be expected to slip back from his career year, but he is still going to be very good. Also of note here is that if they are judicious with how they use Forsythe, they should get much better production than the .304 wOBA listed here. Forsythe has shown in his short time in the majors to be a lefty killer. Headley hits lefties just fine too, but if he needs a day off here and there, it should come against lefties in order to maximize value for both players.

#11 Yankees



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kevin Youkilis 525 .255 .361 .457 .354 16.5 -0.8 -2.8 3.4
Eduardo Nunez 140 .266 .309 .366 .294 -2.4 0.4 -1.1 0.2
Alex Rodriguez 35 .254 .338 .421 .331 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.2
Total 700 .258 .349 .436 .341 14.5 -0.4 -3.9 3.8

The reports circulated by Bobby Valentine regarding Youkilis’ demise were greatly exaggerated. With that said, Youkilis is no longer an everyday player. The last time he posted 600 plate appearances in a season was 2008, and he has missed at least a quarter of each of the past three seasons. For the Yankees, that is sort of the brittle replacing the brittle. In that sense, we are definitely taking the conservative approach to Rodriguez’s playing time. Quibble with that if you like, but at this point it seem highly unlikely that Rodriguez is going to be a major contributor to the 2013 Yankees. That leaves most of the burden on filling in around the edges to Nunez. Nunez has yet to play even average defense at third, and he hasn’t been an average at all. So yeah, New York fans should cling to the hope that Youkilis can stay healthy.

#12 Cardinals



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
David Freese 560 .277 .350 .434 .341 11.6 -1.4 -0.2 3.2
Ty Wigginton 105 .236 .308 .373 .297 -1.5 -0.2 -0.8 0.1
Matt Carpenter 35 .264 .354 .395 .328 0.4 0.0 -0.1 0.2
Total 700 .270 .344 .423 .334 10.5 -1.6 -1.1 3.5

Last season, Freese rewarded the Cardinals with not only his healthiest season but also his best season, even from a rate perspective. His presence as a three-four win player makes third base that much deeper, as before last year Freese had never played 100 games in a major league season. Despite the breakthrough, there are reasons to think that the peak will be short-lived. For one thing, he’s going to be 30 this year. In addition, his swinging strike percentage jumped from 9.0% to 11.3% last year. He should still be a good player, but another All-Star campaign should not be expected.

Behind him it’s trick or treat, as Wigginton just won’t go away despite the fact that he’s been awful at everything for the last four years. Any game he plays is a negative, but he found his way to start 21 games for the Phillies last season at third, and something similar may happen again this season. Carpenter would be the treat side of this equation, but with him expected to get time at second base and probably in the corner outfield spots as well, his time at third may be limited.

#13 Red Sox



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Will Middlebrooks 616 .263 .306 .452 .326 5.3 0.0 2.3 3.2
Pedro Ciriaco 70 .263 .284 .358 .277 -2.1 0.1 0.2 0.1
Brock Holt 14 .272 .329 .375 .311 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .263 .305 .441 .321 3.1 0.1 2.5 3.3

Middlebrooks may have the highest error bars of any third baseman among the top 15 teams listed here. On the one hand, his 2012 campaign was felled by a broken wrist, and he already had a wrist scare once this spring. On the other hand, he was worth 2.1 WAR in just 75 games/286 PA last season, so should be healthy all season, he could blow well past the projected 3.2 WAR here. Or that projection could of course prove to be deathly accurate. After all, Lawrie didn’t have a six-win 2012 after posting 2.7 WAR in his abbreviated — more abbreviated than Middlebrooks’ too — campaign in 2011. It’s just not that simple. But Middlebrooks may prove a dangerous player. As I mentioned in my FanGraphs+ profile for him (what, you haven’t purchase FG+ yet? You better get on that cousin), his low walk rate isn’t indicative of a lack of patience. The Sox have to hope that Middlebrooks does stay healthy, because if he doesn’t, no one is going to want firsts, let alone seconds, of the Ciriaco-Holt pu pu platter.

#14 Royals



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mike Moustakas 630 .261 .315 .437 .323 4.0 -0.7 4.4 3.2
Elliot Johnson 35 .246 .303 .366 .294 -0.6 0.0 -0.2 0.1
Miguel Tejada 35 .255 .292 .336 .269 -1.3 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .260 .313 .429 .319 2.1 -0.8 4.2 3.3

Who’s that on the loose? It’s not a moose, it’s the Moose! OK, so Moustakas hasn’t come anywhere near the .347/.413/.687 line he posted in Double-A in 2010 offensively, but he was the best third-base defender last season. In fact, his 16.8 UZR was the 13th-best mark for a third baseman in the UZR era. The offense was a different story though. The only qualified third baseman who swung at a higher percentage pitches out of the strike zone last season was Beltre. But whereas Beltre hit 36 taters, the Moose only hit 20. Perhaps more concerning than that though is that Moustakas’ offensive performance declined sharply as the season progressed — from a 120 wRC+ in the first half to just 57 in the second. Scrolling through his Rotoworld page, one finds both knee and groin injuries in the second half, so perhaps that is partially to blame, but it is worth watching nonetheless. Behind him is a mystery. Tejada may make the team, and Johnson’s playing time at third would seem to be directly tied to that decision. Either way, nothing good is going to be happening there on days Moustakas isn’t in the lineup.

#15 Pirates



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Pedro Alvarez 630 .240 .320 .452 .331 7.9 -0.5 -3.7 2.8
Brandon Inge 35 .222 .292 .359 .286 -0.8 -0.1 0.2 0.1
Josh Harrison 35 .262 .303 .380 .298 -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .240 .318 .444 .327 6.6 -0.6 -3.5 3.0

Something funny happened when we were filling up our tattoo needle to imprint “BUST” in olde English across Alvarez’s forehead — he went out and hit 30 homers. That may not sound incredibly impressive, but keep in mind that only 26 of 143 qualified hitters reached that plateau last season. Yes, Alvarez still struck out a lot, but you can’t have everything, you know? It’s unlikely that Alvarez ever becomes the star you would hope that the second overall pick in the draft becomes, but last season put him on the trajectory to have a solid career. After all, he’ll still be just in his age-26 campaign in 2013. Behind Alvarez are two flavors of “no thank you” in Inge and Harrison, though they both at least carry good defensive reputations.

#16 Reds



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Todd Frazier 560 .247 .312 .442 .325 4.3 0.1 -0.6 2.6
Jack Hannahan 140 .232 .307 .350 .292 -2.6 -0.2 0.4 0.3
Total 700 .244 .311 .424 .318 1.7 -0.1 -0.2 2.9

Thanks to Scott Rolen’s presence and Reds manager Dusty Baker’s love for veterans, Frazier spent at least part of the past four seasons toiling in Triple-A. Assuming good health, he should break free of that pattern this year. Frazier should be a very solid option, but since he did play 128 games in the majors last year and is already in his age-27 season this year, it’s unlikely that he ever blossoms into a star. Also potentially dangerous for his playing time is Hannahan. Even though the right-handed hitting Frazier has a superior wRC+ to Hannahan versus right-handed pitching — 108 to 87 — Frazier does in fact hit right-handed, while Hannahan hits left-handed. Hannahan also generally flashes some mighty leather (though he didn’t last year), so expect Baker to tout platoon advantage and sneak Hannahan into the lineup against right-handed pitchers because a) the defensive thing and b) Hannahan is six years older than Frazier, which to Baker makes him way better.

#17 Athletics



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Josh Donaldson 385 .243 .308 .402 .309 -1.8 -0.1 2.0 1.5
Jed Lowrie 280 .250 .330 .418 .325 2.3 -0.3 -1.0 1.2
Eric Sogard 35 .261 .331 .378 .312 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .247 .318 .407 .316 0.4 -0.3 1.0 2.8

We have our first mystery position. Donaldson is theoretically the starter here, but teams don’t generally trade for a guy like Lowrie in February when they think that their infield situation is just fine and dandy like sour candy. So it stands to reason that Jed Lowwwrie is going to see plenty of action at third. Maybe it ends up in an equal job share, maybe Donaldson ends up playing more because Lowrie is needed elsewhere in the infield, we can’t really say for sure — the future has not been written. One thing that we can be confident in, however, is that no matter how the playing time shakes out between Donaldson, Lowrie, Sogard and company, is that it’s unlikely that the end combination results in a star performance.

#18 Orioles



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Manny Machado 595 .252 .312 .416 .315 -0.1 -0.4 3.1 2.6
Wilson Betemit 49 .248 .320 .423 .321 0.2 -0.1 -0.6 0.1
Ryan Flaherty 56 .232 .286 .380 .291 -1.1 -0.1 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .250 .310 .414 .313 -0.9 -0.6 2.6 2.8

In a perfect world, the Orioles would have traded J.J. Hardy to the Cardinals like I told them to do. Baltimore wasn’t listening though, and so not only will we have to watch Ronny Cedeno a lot this year, Machado will start his first full season in the majors at a position where he is not able to accrue as much value as he should. Machado’s bat profiles just fine at shortstop, but at third base — at least presently — it is below average. If Machado does find his way to shortstop every now and then, or just needs a day off, Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter will have the option to play an offense-only option in Wilson Betemit or a defense-only option in Ryan Flaherty.

#19 Rockies



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Chris Nelson 280 .274 .322 .436 .325 2.3 -0.2 -3.5 0.9
Jordan Pacheco 210 .284 .332 .398 .318 0.5 -0.3 -1.6 0.7
Nolan Arenado 210 .277 .321 .436 .323 1.4 -0.1 0.0 0.9
Total 700 .278 .324 .425 .322 4.2 -0.6 -5.1 2.6

The Rockies are our second choose your own adventure club. I did the entire Rockies’ depth chart, and they just have far too many moving parts to speak confidently about how this season will play out. And that’s before taking into account the team’s dangerously unqualified first-year manager, about whom we have no objective data to help determine how playing time will shake out. For now, we have the 40/30/30 breakdown, which assumes that Arenado doesn’t see the majors until at least June, and then even when he does he doesn’t start every day.

I also will confess to being a big believer in Nelson, and that may color my breakdown here. Nelson doesn’t get high marks for defense, and his history of fragility is a mark against him. He also tallied a .374 BABIP last season, but I remain a believer. Feel free to remind me of this at the end of the season if his performance goes south. I am not a believer in Pacheco, however, and I am skeptical of Arenado, whose reputation soared after an unsustainable and league-aided 122 RBI performance in the California League. But whether or not he is the real deal, he’s likely to graduate to the majors this season.

#20 Indians



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Lonnie Chisenhall 490 .256 .310 .415 .314 -0.4 -0.4 0.3 1.8
Mike Aviles 140 .260 .296 .392 .299 -1.8 0.0 0.5 0.4
Ryan Raburn 70 .238 .294 .393 .298 -0.9 0.0 -0.3 0.1
Total 700 .255 .306 .408 .309 -3.2 -0.4 0.5 2.4

It seems like just yesterday Chisenhall was a top-25 prospect, but the bar has been lowered significantly after a 2012 season that saw him lose a spring training battle to Hannahan. The Chiz Kid didn’t see the majors until the end of May, and he performed admirably in his 151 PA, but he missed the bulk of the second half after fracturing his right ulna bone. If he wrestles 600 of the 700 PA away from Aviles and Raburn, he stands a chance at being a three-win player, but that pair figures to work their way into playing time somewhere, and Chisenhall is now low man on the totem pole, so his playing time is going to be the one that takes a hit.

#21 Braves



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Juan Francisco 490 .255 .294 .452 .318 1.1 -0.5 -0.1 1.9
Chris Johnson 210 .259 .306 .415 .310 -0.9 -0.2 -2.7 0.4
Total 700 .256 .298 .441 .315 0.1 -0.7 -2.9 2.3

Dave Cameron is not enamored by Juan Francisco. Carson Cistulli is. Need I say more? Probably not, but what the heck? Francisco and Johnson are going to have people begging for Chipper Jones to come out of retirement. Expect to read the sentence, “even Chipper at 50% effectiveness would be better than these guys!” quite a bit on the particular corners of the interwebs devoted to the Braves this season.

#22 Angels



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alberto Callaspo 560 .265 .336 .380 .314 -0.6 -0.6 3.0 2.4
Andrew Romine 70 .244 .302 .319 .276 -2.2 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Bill Hall 56 .206 .269 .341 .265 -2.2 -0.1 -0.6 -0.1
Brendan Harris 14 .238 .298 .363 .292 -0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .257 .327 .371 .306 -5.2 -0.7 2.3 2.3

Callaspo is sort of the poor-man’s version of Moustakas in that he plays excellent defense, but not excellent enough to make him an All-Star talent. Unlike Moustakas though, Callaspo will be 30 this year, so there really isn’t any hope that he suddenly finds his stroke offensively. Behind him, Romine is interesting in the sense that he is a product of a near-barren Angels’ farm system, but not really for any reasons beyond that. The only thing you should do if Hall or Harris see significant playing time is shudder.

#23 White Sox



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jeff Keppinger 525 .285 .338 .399 .321 2.6 -1.0 -0.1 2.2
Conor Gillaspie 105 .261 .324 .381 .308 -0.6 -0.1 0.0 0.3
Brent Morel 35 .242 .287 .351 .279 -1.0 0.0 0.1 0.0
Carlos Sanchez 35 .172 .214 .226 .197 -3.3 -0.1 0.0 -0.2
Total 700 .274 .327 .385 .311 -2.3 -1.3 0.0 2.3

If you’re a White Sox fan and you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Gee, I guess that Keppinger acquisition didn’t really improve our standing at third base all that much,’ keep in mind that last season Chicago was one of four teams that posted a negative WAR at third base. So, you know, it could be worse. Keppinger is no one’s idea of a star, and 2012 was almost assuredly the best season he will have in his baseball career, but fortunately Brent Morel set the bar really, really low last season. Speaking of Morel, he appears to be on the outs, as Gillaspie has seemingly leapfrogged him on the depth chart.

#24 Mariners



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kyle Seager 595 .263 .324 .400 .316 0.4 -0.6 -0.7 2.2
Robert Andino 105 .230 .295 .322 .275 -3.4 -0.1 -0.4 0.0
Total 700 .258 .319 .389 .310 -3.0 -0.6 -1.0 2.2

Seager was one of the pleasant surprises not just for the Mariners but across the game last season. He was just one of four 20-10 players at the position (Hanley Ramirez, Headley and Wright being the others). But Steamer and ZiPS see his 2012 line as where he plateaus rather than where he grows from, at least at this juncture. The Fans are much more optimistic, and the nice guy in me wants to agree with them more than the cold, unfeeling computer programs, but the cold, unfeeling computer programs are probably correct. With his opportunity to murder the Red Sox reduced from 19 times to just seven, Andino loses most of what little value that he had.

#25 Dodgers



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Luis Cruz 525 .259 .289 .382 .290 -10.5 -0.5 6.2 1.5
Hanley Ramirez 70 .268 .342 .443 .337 1.2 0.1 -0.8 0.3
Jerry Hairston 70 .258 .329 .376 .311 -0.2 -0.2 -0.1 0.2
Nick Punto 35 .230 .323 .316 .288 -0.8 0.0 0.2 0.1
Total 700 .259 .300 .385 .297 -10.3 -0.6 5.6 2.2

If there was one guy whose 2012 performance absolutely screams mirage, it’s Cruz’s, as he failed to draw a walk in any of his final 119 PAs last season. Ignorance was bliss this offseason though, and they made no effort to upgrade the position over the winter. With Ramirez playing shortstop the majority of the time, the left side of the Dodgers infield defense has an opportunity to be a complete sieve this season. Cruz is at best Los Angeles’ third-best option at the position. Ramirez should really be manning the hot corner, but with him committed at shortstop, the next-best internal option would be Hairston. Alas, neither he nor Punto figure to see much time unless/until Cruz falls on his face in the early going.

#26 Astros



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Matt Dominguez 595 .253 .304 .393 .302 -6.3 -1.2 2.4 1.8
Brett Wallace 70 .251 .320 .409 .317 0.1 -0.1 -0.2 0.2
Jake Elmore 35 .256 .338 .331 .299 -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .253 .307 .391 .303 -6.6 -1.3 2.1 2.1

Before the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Dominguez was a top-100 prospect pretty much across the board, but even after he graduated to Triple-A in ’11 the Marlins wouldn’t give him serious consideration on the big league roster. That was partially due to his paltry offense, and partially due to the fact that the Marlins were “going for it” last year. One wonders if things would have played out differently for Dominguez if he hadn’t been dealt three weeks before Miami gave up on the season and dealt Ramirez. Certainly the players who manned third after Ramirez was traded were not worth playing over Dominguez. With the Astros most definitely not going for it this season, Dominguez will get the chance to see if his bat can be major league quality, or if not if his defense is good enough to overcome his lackadaisical lumber.

#27 Phillies



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Michael Young 560 .284 .329 .413 .320 2.1 -0.7 -5.8 1.7
Kevin Frandsen 105 .276 .318 .377 .302 -1.1 -0.3 0.0 0.3
Freddy Galvis 35 .253 .290 .370 .289 -0.7 -0.1 0.3 0.1
Total 700 .281 .325 .406 .316 0.3 -1.0 -5.5 2.1

Remember, when you read about the Phillies’ continued fall from relevancy this fall that they voluntarily traded for Young. The classiest player of all-time should actually some mild positive regression offensively, but that’s only because he was so awful last season. His backups, Frandsen and Galvis, don’t offer much in the way of offense either, unless you are buying Frandsen’s BABIP-fueled 2012 campaign (hint — you shouldn’t).

#28 Twins



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Trevor Plouffe 630 .240 .304 .429 .317 1.2 -1.6 -6.3 1.7
Jamey Carroll 70 .268 .342 .329 .300 -0.8 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Total 700 .243 .308 .419 .316 0.3 -1.6 -6.2 1.9

In 2012, Plouffe hit 24 taters, making him the first Twins’ third baseman to be able to make that claim since Corey Koskie in 2004. Unfortunately, that is really the extent of the positive news. Plouffe’s hands can be best described as rock-like, and he isn’t exactly swift on his feet either. And with an outsized 16.7% HR/FB that he will most likely not repeat this season, Plouffe may do as much to hurt the Twins’ already-slim chances as he does help them. Carroll will do yeoman’s work as always as his backup, but for the most part he is needed elsewhere on the diamond.

#29 Cubs



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Luis Valbuena 280 .246 .322 .381 .308 -1.6 -0.5 -0.9 0.8
Ian Stewart 245 .223 .311 .401 .307 -1.5 -0.4 -0.2 0.7
Josh Vitters 175 .257 .304 .396 .301 -1.9 -0.5 -0.9 0.3
Total 700 .241 .314 .392 .306 -5.1 -1.5 -2.0 1.8

The entire 2013 season may turn into one long glance to the minors, where Christian Villanueva will try to become the next Cubs’ third baseman of the future. Certainly, the options at the major league level leave a lot to be desired. It doesn’t speak highly of Vitters that a team which is nominally rebuilding isn’t — publicly at least — committing to a full season of him at the hot corner.

#30 Marlins



Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Placido Polanco 420 .267 .320 .340 .291 -8.0 -0.5 3.8 1.1
Chone Figgins 175 .242 .320 .322 .288 -3.8 -0.1 -0.2 0.2
Greg Dobbs 105 .254 .296 .374 .288 -2.2 -0.2 -1.5 0.0
Total 700 .259 .317 .341 .290 -14.1 -0.7 2.1 1.4

Looking at these three retreads, it’s fair to wonder if the Marlins are even trying to compete anymore. But of course, we already know the answer to that.


post #10112 of 77481
The Dominican is as good or better than us at baseball, no matter who is or isn't playing. Get over it.

And ease up on the Zobrist slander. No need to mention him in the same breath as Victorino.
post #10113 of 77481
Slander=Oral
Libel=Written.

I could jot stop laughing when I heard Zobrist was going to be on this team.
post #10114 of 77481
Thread Starter 
Zobrist is one of the better players in baseball though. Plays second, short and OF really well. You need those kinds of players.
post #10115 of 77481
The U.S. apologists are complaining about having Zobrist on the team, when the left fielder for the DR in this tournament has been Ricardo Nanita, who's not even in the majors and is already in his 30's. laugh.gif
post #10116 of 77481
They also have Alejandro De Aza in centerfield lol while they sent out a minor leaguer yesterday they're not exactly sending they're best in pitching and LF /CF the USA certainly has better team overall.

Dr is a good team though even with poor outfield and pitchers
post #10117 of 77481
Quote:
Originally Posted by kb8 3qwick View Post

The U.S. apologists are complaining about having Zobrist on the team, when the left fielder for the DR in this tournament has been Ricardo Nanita, who's not even in the majors and is already in his 30's. laugh.gif

 

 

Not gonna lie, I felt bad for him yesterday when they pulled him out in the 9th laugh.gifmean.gif.  Dude thought he was gonna get a chance at a big at-bat, but he had that Paul Pierce reaction when they called him back...

 

 

crybaby.gif
SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
Reply
SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
Reply
post #10118 of 77481
Nelson Figueroa, though.
post #10119 of 77481
And that might just have done it. mean.gif
New York Yankees | New York Jets
Reply
New York Yankees | New York Jets
Reply
post #10120 of 77481
Lol PR beating USA all time mets great Nelson Figueroa
post #10121 of 77481
:lolTorre is trolling. As if it weren't already common knowledge that he is a below-average manager.

This solidifies it.
post #10122 of 77481

Joe Torre's old dusty @@@   mean.gif

 

Maddux squatting with a "this tired @@@ ******" smirk on his face.

post #10123 of 77481
You gotta be kidding me. ******g USA, smh...
SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
Reply
SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
Reply
post #10124 of 77481
Umpires have been horrible
post #10125 of 77481
The Yadier Molina Effect.
post #10126 of 77481
I'm curious how this effects Attendence for Final Round in SF. They were not selling well before the US got eliminated
post #10127 of 77481
puerto rico smokin.gif
Yanks Knicks Jets
Reply
Yanks Knicks Jets
Reply
post #10128 of 77481
aint PR part of the US? time to take their spot, regardless laugh.gif

i think the ticket sales would be fine. it's only a handful of gms, and i think fans from other countries will travel well
post #10129 of 77481
The ONLY way I see the WBC final coming close to selling out now is if it's Japan Vs DR. I had completely forgotten the US were even playing today, and sadly, so did they....
post #10130 of 77481

Weeepaaaa

post #10131 of 77481
mean.gif basketball the only international team sport we can dominate ...feels bad
post #10132 of 77481
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

mean.gif basketball the only international team sport we can dominate ...feels bad

women's soccer laugh.gif
post #10133 of 77481
The entire US team should be embarrassed, played like crap the entire tournament. Didn't deserve to win, and they never looked like they wanted to. For how annoying the DR was with their celebrations at least they showed up with passion and fire every single game. mean.gif I'm actually pretty upset we lost, for what's supposed to be an "All Star" squad...the only All Star play we got was out of Wright and Mauer.

At least my Nats showed out though smokin.gif 9 innings, 8 K's, and no runs allowed from Gio and Ross.
post #10134 of 77481
I wonder how long it's gonna take for the USA gear to go on-sale. I still want to pick up that windbreaker...
SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
Reply
SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
Reply
post #10135 of 77481
Quote:
Originally Posted by Degenerate423 View Post

I wonder how long it's gonna take for the USA gear to go on-sale. I still want to pick up that windbreaker...
That's what I'm waiting for. But I'm sure it'll be 20, then 30, then 40%. By 50% I doubt there will be much left. I don't think they mass produced like they did in 09, cuz that stuff stayed on shelves out here forever
post #10136 of 77481

Yasel Puig nerd.gif

 

LET UM FIGHT!!! (C) BABS

post #10137 of 77481
BOOOORRRRIIIIICCCCUUUUAAAAA
post #10138 of 77481
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ballerific703 View Post

BOOOORRRRIIIIICCCCUUUUAAAAA

MAGIC PATS REDSOX GATORS

<Formally Sensaciondelbloque>

Reply

MAGIC PATS REDSOX GATORS

<Formally Sensaciondelbloque>

Reply
post #10139 of 77481
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChildishLatino View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ballerific703 View Post

BOOOORRRRIIIIICCCCUUUUAAAAA

glasses.gif
post #10140 of 77481
I hope it's PR vs DR. That would be a good game
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