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Sunday, November 6, 2011

The weak 2B Free Agent Class

It is the off-season and clubs are looking to upgrade. One area that is going to be hard to upgrade is 2B, as there are not a lot of options out there. These 6 clubs can benefit the most from an upgrade at 2B that received less than 1 WAR production from that position during 2011:

The Indians have rookie Jason Kipnis (.272/.333/.507) at 2B, but after acquiring Derek Lowe, they probably want to upgrade on defense. The Rockies have Jonathan Herrera (.242/.313/.299) at 2B after letting Mark Ellis leave via Free Agency, so they are in need of an upgrade. The Blue Jays currently have no one occupying 2B after letting Kelly Johnson go on the Free Agent market. The Giants suffered by losing Freddy Sanchez from a dislocated shoulder, but he hopes to be ready by the beginning of next year, so they probably will not upgrade any more than with a utility guy.

Gordon Beckham (.230/.296/.337) had a disappointing year with the White Sox, but he has produced in the past, so it is questionable if they want to replace him. The Royals used a combination of Chris Getz and rookie Johnny Giavotella (.247/.273.,376). Getz left the Free Agency way, so it might be wise for the Royals to sign someone to at least back-up Giavotella.

Other teams that might be looking for a new second basemen because their’s left for Free Agency are the Diamondbacks (Aaron Hill), the Cardinals (Nick Punto), the Dodgers (Jamey Carroll) and the Tigers (Ramon Santiago). The Twins, Astros, Orioles and Athletics also do not have strength at 2B.

Here are the top 10 Free Agent players in 2011 based on FanGraphs’ WAR that have recent experience at 2B:

To reduce any flukiness, here are the top Free Agent, potential 2B players’ last 3 years numbers:

The only difference is Aaron Miles in the first list and Felipe Lopez in the 2nd. Also, Clint Barmes played all last year at SS, so he might be better off marketing himself as a shortstop (as a cheaper alternative to Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins). It would also not be surprising to see Craig Counsell retire. Now, a lot of these players have only been utility guys for most of their careers, so this is a great opportunity for them to get fulltime roles as there is a noticeable drop-off after these players.

On the trade market, Atlanta has announced that Martin Prado is available. He would instantly be one of the top guys if he was a Free Agent.

By WAR, he’d be 4th on the first list and #1 on the 2nd list. Even though he had a disappointing season, Atlanta is picking the perfect time to try to trade him as multiple clubs can use him and might overpay to get him.

Tigers’ general manager Dave Dombrowksi has expressed that he wanted Ramon Santiago back, but not as a fulltime player. Unless Dombrowski has a trick up his sleeve, like acquiring Prado or grabbing one of the top guys (Kelly Johnson or Jamey Carroll), the Tigers are likely to downgrade at the position. Not a smart thing to do when you’re trying to compete.

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