2014 Spring Training Preview: Second Base

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Age BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
Alexander Guerrero  27 ’14 ZiPS .252 .324 .386 .313 n/a 2.5
’14 Steamer .266 .330 .437 .335 n/a 2.5
Dee Gordon 25 2013 .234 .314 .298 .273 73 0.0
’14 ZiPS .251 .303 .315 .281 n/a 0.9
’14 Steamer .245 .305 .315 .278 77 0.1
Justin Turner 29 2013 (Mets) .280 .319 .385 .309 98 0.5
Chone Figgins 36 2013 (DNP)
Brendan Harris 33 2013 (Angels) .206 .252 .355 .268 69 -0.6
Miguel Rojas 24 2013 (AA) .233 .303 .307 .289 80 n/a

 

I’m doing the second base spring training preview, and in the next few days, Daniel will have shortstop and Chad third base. I’m purposely trying not to look at their posts before I do this, because I know that they’re going to have to talk about Justin Turner and Chone Figgins and Brendan Harris too. Why? Because the depth throughout the infield is so thin right now that it’s all the team can do to throw assorted NRIs and Cubans at the problem in hopes of finding something, anything, that sticks. Come back, Mark Ellis and Nick Punto. We miss you. (Not you, Skip Schumaker. You know what you did.)

So… second base has the potential to be a complete mess, unless it’s not. If that’s intentionally vague, that’s because no one knows with any sort of certainty what to make of Alexander Guerrero. I say that even though both ZiPS and Steamer look at him as a 2.5 win player, and I think if we get something like that we’ll all be thrilled. Of course, those projection systems are not only dealing with imperfect Cuban translations, they’re not aware of the massive questions around his glove.

The Dodgers have certainly done well in international signings over the last two years, so I think there ought to be some benefit of the doubt given, but the truth is that we won’t know until we know. No one seems particularly worried about his offense, and that’s promising, yet we’ve heard pretty endlessly this winter about his rough transition to second on defense. I’d like to think we can chalk that up to the limited amount of time he managed to get in during winter ball, and that six weeks of spring reps can help with that. He doesn’t need to be a plus-plus fielder, anyway; if he can merely be average, with an average to slightly-above average bat, that’s a player worth having. We’ll find out soon enough; at the moment, I’ll say 70/30 that he breaks camp with the team.

Beyond Guerrero, well… look, you know how we feel about Gordon by now. The fact that he’s apparently taken to learning second with enthusiasm is encouraging, and I’m dying to see what he looks like at 173 rather than 144, but the simple fact is that he’s shown little indication that he can hit or field at a competent big league level, and I hold out little hope that has changed. If we’re proven wrong, I think we’ll all be thrilled. I’m not holding my breath.

Behind Gordon, there’s the usual detritus. Figgins hasn’t been anything other than awful or unemployed since 2010, and now he’s 36 and with questions about his effort level; I still hope Emilio Bonifacio arrives to take away any role Figgins might ever have had. Harris is your typical over-30 NRI who can’t really field and absolutely can’t hit. The fact that Rojas is even in this conversation is hilarious, since, as we’ve said so many times before, no amount of glove makes a line of .234/.302/.287 in eight minor league seasons (almost entirely below Triple-A) okay. Ned Colletti can talk about him all he wants, but there’s just no way.

The only semi-interesting name there is Turner, who can at least play all four positions with varying levels of skill, and is at least not-atrocious at the plate. I give him the best shot of making this team as a backup infielder, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he does. It would be the worst thing in the world if he’s starting every day, so while it’s completely unfair of us to put this kind of pressure on a man who has been in the country for about 10 minutes… please do well, Alexander. Please.

Next up: Shortstop

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.