Saturday, April 03, 2010

AL East - The Best Division for Second Base Men

The American League East is already considered to have three of the best teams in baseball with the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Bay Rays. And each team has talent all over the field. Each team has at least one or two advantages at a position over the other. But one position seems to be a draw: Second base. In fact, the AL East probably has the best division in baseball for guys who play second: Cano, Pedroia, Hill, Zobrist, Roberts. Wow. That's a lot of talent this side of Chase Utley. Let's take a look at each of them.

Robinson Cano:
Age - 28
Lifetime Batting Average - .306
Lifetime OPS+ - 113
RF/9 - 5.04
Lifetime Fielding Perc. - .982
2009 RTOT - 9.5
2009 OPS+ - 129

Comments: Cano really improved last year in his concentration and fielding. He's quick on the double play and he hasn't yet put it all together at the plate. He hit .322 last year and many feel he should win a batting title. This could be the year. He needs to walk more. But won't.

Dustin Pedroia:
Age - 27
Lifetime Batting Average - .307
Lifetime OPS+ - 111
RF/9 - 4.73
Lifetime Fielding Perc. - .990
2009 RTOT - 9.8
2009 OPS+ - 111

Comments: Plays all out all the time. Hardly ever makes an error. One of the hardest swingers per pound in the game.

Aaron Hill:
Age - 28
Lifetime Batting Average - .285
Lifetime OPS+ - 102
RF/9 - 5.09
Lifetime Fielding Perc. - .988
2009 RTOT - 9.6
2009 OPS+ - 117

Comments: A bit of a late bloomer, but boy did he bloom. With 72 extra base hits, Hill came out of nowhere to ring up 36 homers. And the way he is hitting this spring, it wasn't a fluke.

Brian Roberts:
Age - 33
Lifetime Batting Average - .284
Lifetime OPS+ - 105
RF/9 - 4.77
Lifetime Fielding Perc. - .987
2009 RTOT - -14.2
2009 OPS+ - 111

Comments: On the downward slope of his career, or at least he should be. Lifetime OPS+ suffers in comparison due to late blooming. But he has averaged an OPS+ of 115 over the last five years. Range has dwindled. Good fielding percentage but rated far behind the others in the fielding category.

Ben Zobrist:
Age - 28
Lifetime Batting Average - .260
Lifetime OPS - 109
RF/9 - 4.64 (at second) He's played a lot of positions.
Lifetime Fielding Perc. - .990
2009 RTOT - 5.8
2009 OPS+ - 146

Comments: Easily had the best year at the plate of the group. Was in the top ten in OPS/SLG/OBP. More versatile than the others in that he can play other positions but second seems to be where he fields the best. The Fan was surprised at his age. He will be 29 in May.

Here are their projected WARP (wins over replacement player) for 2010 according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus:

Cano - 4.8
Pedroia - 5.9
Hill - 4.0
Roberts - 3.3
Zobrist - 4.0

So, according to Baseball Prospectus, the value goes by rank: Pedroia, Cano, Hill/Zobrist, Roberts. Sounds about right. Though Hill and Zobrist certainly can finish higher than their projections.

Roberts has had a great five year run and has been a perennial All Star. Due to his fielding, he might be a tad overrated. But he's a solid player and if he is the poorest of the AL East at his position, that's a pretty strong division. Zobrist faded a bit in the second half last year but he had never played in so many games. But it's hard to argue with his final results. Pedroia was the AL MVP and followed it up with a good season. He will be good for quite some time yet. Cano is getting better and better and we haven't seen the best of him. And Aaron Hill has become the star of his team and is no slouch compared to the other four.

The AL East has a lot of riches in talent, but no more so than at second base.


eyebleaf said...

I'm scared about the season Cano is going to have. I think he's going to be a force, and I believe he's been moved up in the lineup. Yeah, a bit worried.

Josh Borenstein said...

Cano will definitely hit better with RISP this year. If I had to rate the 2B in the AL East, I'd also go with Pedroia as number one. But not by much. Even without much plate discipline, Cano is still the best offensive 2B in the game right now, IMO. Pedroia is a grinder and makes the most of his talent while Cano still has untapped potential.

Pedroia is an excellent fielder, and Cano is no slouch himself (I don't put much stock in UZR). But Pedroia makes all the routine plays while Cano has brain farts sometimes.

Josh Borenstein said...

Apparently, I also sometimes have brain farts.

Completely forgot about Chase Utley.