COMMENTARY: After looking at the starting second basemen of the National League last time, today we move onto the second basemen. While most of the formula in this selection process is based on numbers from 2013, a few may remain slightly higher if there is reasonable expectation for them to return to form in 2014.
15. Casey McGehee/Miami Marlins-After spending 2013 in Japan to regain his form, he came back to the MLB for another go with the Marlins in 2014. The Marlins are hoping for something closer to his 2010 breakout season with the Milwaukee Brewers when he hit 23 homers and drove in 104 runs with 38 doubles.
14. Cody Asche/Philadelphia Phillies-He only got 50 games or so with the Phils and hit decently with five homers and 22 RBI, but at AAA Lehigh Valley, he was stroking the ball with 15HR and 68 RBI, along with 24 doubles before his call-up. Expect him to be a nice fixture at the hot corner for a while as I expect him to move up the chart for 2015.
13. Luis Valbuena/Chicago Cubs-His name popped up every so often as he hit 12 homers, but most of those were solo shots as he only drove in 37 runs while hitting .218. His seven errors mean that his defense wasn’t atrocious, but there are better options in the minors, including their top draft choice in 2013 with the second pick overall in Kris Bryant.
12. Juan Uribe/Los Angeles Dodgers- Uribe had a decent season with 12 homers and 50 runs driven in while hitting .278, but the Dodgers were hoping more for the season he had in 2010 with the Giants. That season, he hit 24 bombs and knocked in 85 runs.
11. Nolan Arenado/Colorado Rockies- Arenado showed a lot of doubles power last season with 29 with ten more homers while hitting .267. His 11 errors were about league average, but the Rockies are probably hoping for a little more pop like he had at High A Modesto as he blasted 22 homers and drove in 122 runs while hitting .298.
10. Martin Prado/Arizona Diamondbacks- Prado was the big chip in the trade for Justin Upton over the 2012-13 offseason and he provided a decent season with 82 runs batted in while hitting .282. He also supplied solid defense with only six errors in 155 games. That was the least for anyone with more than 135 games.
9. Chris Johnson/Atlanta Braves- My own personal preference of liking Chris Johnson back in the days of being a Houston Astro couldn’t get him any higher in the rankings. While CJ made great strides playing in 142 games last season and flirting with the National League batting lead for a good part of the summer, his 14 errors (which were 4th most overall for 3B) hurt the good he did in hitting 12 homers and driving in 68 runs while hitting 34 doubles.
8. Todd Frazier/Cincinnati Reds- After finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2012, he also duplicated his numbers in 2013 with 19 homers and 73 RBI, but his average dropped off almost forty points (.273 to .234). His errors also went up dramatically from two in 2012 to 10 last season. That’s still better than half of the NL’s third basemen defensively.
7. Pablo Sandoval/San Francisco Giants- The Kung Fu Panda had a decent season putting what is becoming his average numbers with 14 homers and 79 RBI with 27 doubles while hitting .278. The problem is becoming his defense as he had a career-high 18 errors at third in 2013.
6. Aramis Ramirez/Milwaukee Brewers- The Ram only played in 92 games in 2013, but still put up decent numbers hitting .283 while bashing 12 bombs and driving in 49 runs. The Brewers are hoping for the norm of the two seasons before. In 2012, he led the National League in doubles with 50 and also drove in 105 runs while bashing 27 homers.
5. Chase Headley/San Diego Padres- The MLB Network has made much over his great second half of 2012, but Headley came back to Earth in 2013 with pedestrian third base numbers. He is in a contract year in 2014 and the Friars have to be hoping for more than 13 homers and a .250 batting average. They also need him to strike out less than once a game. He struck out 142 times in 141 games.
4. Matt Carpenter/St. Louis Cardinals- Carpenter’s 2013 says “Star in the making.” He led the National League in hits (199), runs scored (126) and doubles (55) while finishing fourth in the National League MVP voting. His 11 homers and 78 RBI may be average for a third baseman, but most aren’t hitting .318. He will have to adjust to third base after playing second for most of the 2013 season. He did play enough to make three errors at third, while only adding nine more at second base.
3. Pedro Alvarez/Pittsburgh Pirates- El Toro became the first Pirate to lead the league in homers since Hall of Famer Willie Stargell did so in 1973. His 36 homers and 100 runs batted in were a major plus to a Pirate team making the playoffs for the first time since 1992. However, what kills Pedro is leading the league in strikeouts (186) and errors with 27. He also has to hit better than .233.
2. Ryan Zimmerman/Washington Nationals- Zimmerman was second in most errors for third basemen with 21, but also hit better than Alvarez (.275) and struck out 53 times less (133). He hit 26 homers and drove in 79 runs were both second best for the hot corner position in the NL as well.
1. David Wright/New York Mets- Wright missed 50 games in 2013, but still hit 18 homers and drove in 58 runs while hitting .307. He is the face of the Mets and is the only third baseman that has an active career batting average of over .300 (.3012). Only Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers has played anywhere close to the number of games at 3B, but he is moving to first in 2014.
Now that we’ve looked at the hot corner for the National League, next time we’ll look at the NL shortstops.
Statistics gathered from Baseball Reference.