The American League East has made the most appearances in the playoffs since the inception of the wildcard. The Yankees and Red Sox account for 25; more than any other entire division. 2nd place? The National League Central with 23 (tied with the NL West). Today’s ranks, 2nd Base
2012 2nd Base Rankings
Beginning with the 2006 season Rickie Weeks and Brandon Phillips have been mainstays at the second base position for their teams. No player has started more than 30 games at second base in a season for Cincinnati besides Phillips. Weeks has missed some time due to injury and has earned a reputation for being injured in Milwaukee but still only four players have started more than 30 for the Brewers in the last six years.
The Cubs have started 11 different second basemen more than 30 games in that same timeframe while the Cardinals (8), Astros (7), and the Pirates (6) have also failed to find a long term answer as well.
Weeks and Phillips will be back this year and are expected to be two of the best at their position in all of baseball (insert “when healthy for Weeks) brining over 1800 games of Major League experience.
The projected starters for the other four teams: 675.
1. Brandon Phillips
Phillips gets the nod here and it comes down to durability. He has averaged 151 games per season since taking over full time in 2006. With the exception of Chase Utley, Phillips has been the best 2nd Baseman in the National League the last six years and with Utley showing a significant drop off the last three years, Phillips had his best year since 2007 last season batting .300 with 18 HRs and had the highest on-base percentage of his career.
He will set the table for big boppers Jay Bruce and Joey Votto again this season and will be looking to score over 100 runs as he did in 2007 and 2010 before “settling” for 94 last season. Weeks took the All Star spot last season and Phillips will be hungry to take it back.
Phillips didn’t sulk about his All Star snub; instead he went out and won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards at second. Best Hitter. Best Defender. Case Closed.
2. Rickie Weeks
Coming off a 2010 season when he finally stayed healthy for an entire season, Weeks came out in the first half of 2011 and looked like he was about to realize all the potential and go from “pretty good but…” to the best offensive player at his position. The Brewers had taken a risk signing Weeks to a long term contract in the off season and it looked like it was going to pay off.
Then in July while lunging for the busting it down the line attempting to beat out a throw he gruesomely twisted his ankle and would miss two months of the season. He would not be the same player he was earlier in the year when he returned. It was the 5th time in 6 years he would miss at least 30 games. Early spring reports have indicate that Weeks still does not appear to be 100%.
The other knock on Weeks is that he is not very good defensively. The numbers would seem to bear that out as in 2011 he led the NL in errors by a second baseman and his .969 fielding percentage was the lowest of all starters at the position. It was the fourth time in his career to lead the position in errors.
What those numbers won’t tell you is who was at first base and shortstop. As bad as Weeks might be, the rest of his infield mates last season were even worse. Weeks has gotten much better over the years at routine plays focusing on concentration and footwork. He also makes highlight level plays on a regular basis. His power and speed could help the Green Bay Packers at rush end and he sometimes gets to balls others don’t – and then sometimes makes an error.
Could 2012 be the year he finally puts it all together? He has potential to be in the MVP discussion if he ever does (especially since defense is largely irrelevant in such voting).
3. Neil Walker
Drafted as a catcher to be converted to a third baseman, Walker was given a try by the Pirates at second base when Akinori Iwamura was struggling in 2010. Walker performed adequately in the field and wound up batting .296 with 12 HRs and 66 RBI, 54 of those coming after the All Start Break good for third in the NL.
He played in 159 games in 2011 and hit a respectable .273 with 12HRs and 83 RBI. He doesn’t have the power of Phillips or Weeks but he should put up numbers that keep him around the bottom of the top 10 at the position.
4. Jose Altuve
Altuve was called up to the majors last season as the Astros marched towards 106 losses and unloaded any contract they could. He showed he could handle himself and has the potential to be a good major league hitter and his speed could lead to some decent stolen base numbers.
He had a lifetime minor league batting average of over .320 and he skipped Triple A and got straight to the big leagues. A player to be watched in the future; he will turn just 22 this season. He probably won’t hit double digit HR’s but he could be a bright spot in what appears to be another dark season in Houston.
5. Daniel Descalso
Descalso has primarily played third base for the Cardinals but will be given a chance this spring to take the second base job in St. Louis with David Freese playing third. Descalso was a perfect example of why the Cardinals sent Tony LaRussa off with a championship last season.
Offering little power or speed, he played great defense down the stretch and joined the rest of the squad by coming up with key hits in big moments during their magical run.
He probably won’t hit much more than .280 and has no power but his steady defense and toughness will probably mesh well with new manager Mike Matheny.
6. Darwin Barney
Barney was drafted by the Cubs in 2007 and made his first appearance with the team in 2010 to play out the end of the season after some trades. In 30 games he hit just .241 but strong spring training in 2011 earned him the job and he had a huge month of April for the Cubs hitting .326 and driving in 14 runs.
He cooled as the season wore on and ended up hitting .276 for the season. He provides little power or speed and may find himself in some type of platoon depending on how this season plays out on the north side of Chicago.