To continue around the diamond, up today is 2B. Earlier this year I ranked the NL East 2B as follows:Today we continue around the diamond and take a peak at 2B.What was once a runaway is no longer an open and shut case.5th: Daniel Murphy.... look you guys know I can be a homer and I love Daniel Murphy and I think offensively he is a professional hitter. However, he should have spent a little more time in the field growing up instead of focusing on hitting. He's gonna be a defensively challenged 2B but we know he is a hard worker and will do what the coaches ask him to do. I think eventually if he can stay away from getting injured again he will turn into at least an Uggla level 2B. What is interesting is if I was picking a fantasy league 2B, Murphy's .809 OPS last season and 125 OPS+ would be at the top of the list in the NL East. Yet until he proves he can play an adequate 2B for an entire season, he gets the bottom.#4: Omar Infante: I guess the Marlins are not doing to well in my rankings so far... don't worry there is still plenty of positions left Marlin fans. I could have put Infante anywhere from 4th to 1st depending on which Omar you get. Last year he was awful and saw almost a 100 point drop in his OPS. If he was able to reproduce his previous year's slash line he would have had the 2nd highest OPS only below Murphy. So at 29 years old and playing the most games he has played since 2004 (148) was he just exposed? If Hanley struggles at 3B you could see a situation where Infante goes back to the utility role and Reyes and Hanley play rock paper scissors for 2B.#3 Danny Espinosa: Kid gets a little lucky here. The 24 year old has got some pop, 21 HR in his first full year but man does he like to swing (166K's, 57 BB). He has got to improve on his .236 BA but also standing out is that he was HBP 19 times. Pitchers are going to make adjustments to his stance for sure. That being said if he can ward off a sophomore slump he could be in line for a better offensive year if he develops some plate discipline. Couple his offensive potential with his solid but not spectacular defense and I can't see him finishing below 3rd.#2 Chase Utley: The Phillies 2B got old and quick like many middle IF in baseball history. Will he be able to recover and put up a few more full seasons? Possible but the deck is stacked against him for sure. Chase has missed 106 games over the last 2 seasons and when on the field has not been the same guy. Last year the once mighty slugger hit .259 with his lowest OBP and SLG numbers since he became a full-time player. Not only that but his August and September numbers were even more paltry boasting .662 and .632 OPS in those months. Want a good reason why the Phillies offense is struggling? Utley is leading the list.#1 Dan Uggla: By default. I really thought 2B was a position of strength in the NL East, I think I might have over-estimated that. Dan also experienced career lows in BA, OBP, SLG, OPS but he was very good at hitting solo HR. (36 HR, 82 RBI do you have to try to do that?). We know that Uggla is defensively challenged, in fact he is often the measuring stick for hitters that can't field: " if they can play defense as well as Uggla then they will be passable." The Braves are hoping that the first half of the season had much more to do with being in a new environment playing games that matter (keep in mind this fact all you Marlins junkies). So why does Uggla get the #1 spot? His 2nd half. In 69 games Uggla had 21 HR, 48 RBI, .296, .379, .569, .948 when his team needed his offense the most. Unfortunately for the Braves it was too little too late.So where are we today?
So in my opinion I didn't miss this one by much. The position of 2B is not a strength in the NL East at all. The fact that what used to be viewed as an offensive position in the NL East now has no one with an OPS over .800 shows that. If I had to do the ranking today:#1 Danny Espinosa: Pretty easy, as his WAR indicates (although I am not a huge fan) , he is the closest thing to a complete package of offense and defense. That may not be saying much. The fact that he is the youngest of the group adds promise to this selection.#2 Dan Uggla: I guess? He still hits his HR but that's about it. Call him the Adam Dunn of 2B?#3
Man I keep having to do that with the Marlins. Who is there 2B again? Really who cares?#4 Chase Utley: Man it's hard to put him there but a broken Chase Utley can still get the important hit and turn the easy plays. While I wish injury on no one, lets hope that his days of playing 162 effective games are over. Otherwise by default he may push right back up to the top of the list.#5 Dan Murphy: I still love me some Murphy and his defense has been MUCH better than expected. Obviously credit the Mets playing him in RF, which has it's occasional drawback but certainly better than seeing him attack everything recklessly from the normal 2B slot. The biggest issue that he has had is not that his defense can't work at 2B, it's that his offense hasn't outweighed his defense. He is the classic #2 hitter but unfortunately his SLG% looks more like the classic version of Luis Castillo... without the speed. What happened to that 10-15 HR pop? If the Mets re-sign Wright I expect Murphy's days at 2B to be numbered.