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Defensive Shifts Newsbeat

Monday, January 23, 2023

Second basemen have been the face of an evolving game. Will MLB’s infield shift limits transform the position again?

In the meantime, younger players with stellar bats and questionable fielding range emerged into full-time roles either as starting second basemen or utility types with frequent stops there, Brandon Lowe and Luis Arraez among them. Arraez, whom the Minnesota Twins traded to the Miami Marlins on Friday, could well be changing teams because his limited fielding abilities no longer fit as well on the Twins with Carlos Correa, Jorge Polanco and prospect Royce Lewis all locked into or jockeying for playing time.

The result, combined with MLB’s growing preference for defensive flexibility, is an upward trend of better-than-average hitters who play at least some second base.

Recently, though, the gap between second basemen and the average MLB hitter has been shrinking….

With infielders required to start each pitch on the dirt and the extreme shift that brought the shortstop across second now banned, second basemen will undeniably have more ground to cover.

Teams employing second basemen whom they’ve papered over defensively will now face the challenge of either shuffling their roster to move those players off second base or locating the best way to cover for them within the new rules. Take the Rays and Lowe. They have a stockpile of middle infielders, most of whom are vastly better defenders than Lowe, but they could really use the thump in his bat and that of a DH in the lineup after finishing 25th in MLB in slugging last year. The Dodgers, on the other hand, could try to use their roster to keep Muncy away from second even more.

At first blush, it would seem that the offense emanating from second basemen, long on the rise, is about to take a tumble. But the ultimate fate of the trendlines isn’t destiny. It’s a product of choices.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 23, 2023 at 10:25 AM | 10 comment(s)
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