Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Around The Diamond: Second Base

Second base according to Bill James is the 3rd hardest position to field after catcher and shortstop. You could say that second basemen are shortstops except with lesser arms(range,strength). Since second base commands more on defense second basemen aren't expected to hit as well as other players, like a 3rd basemen or a leftfielder.

Now, I believe a new breed of second basemen have been born. These guys hit extremely well but don't play any position well enough and don't have enough power to be first basemen. I don't know what used to happen to these guys, but now they're all playing second base. Guys like Chase Utley, Dan Uggla and top minor league prospects Adrian Cardenas for the Phillies and Matt Antonelli of the Padres form the top echelon of this new breed. Utley was a 3rd basemen in high school and Uggla a first basemen while Antonelli played 3rd base and catcher in college and Cardenas played short up until this season. These guys for some reason are all being shifted over to second base because of either not having a good enough arm(Chase Utley), not playing well on defense(Adrian Cardenas, Matt Antonelli) or not hitting for enough power(Dan Uggla). But since 2nd base is a tougher position to play than 3rd base I don't fully understand why guys like Utley and Antonelli get shifted over to 2nd. It has to be that they can't make the throw from 3rd at all, otherwise the move is senseless.

Second base is now in a transition stage switching from speedsters and good defenders to guys who can hit homers or just can flat out hit. This means instead of having a Luis Castillo(hint, hint) type player, teams are starting to get guys like Ian Kinsler(Omar make the call) a guy who has an okay glove but hits well and gets 20 homers a year(that's as much as Delgado). What this means is that teams are starting to realize that runs are too precious for one guy in the lineup not to be able drive them in and also realizing that the home run is the best play in baseball.