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Utility Infielders Newsbeat

Monday, March 29, 2021

Versatile Infielders Are Baseball’s Secret Weapon

Cronenworth posted a slash line of .285/.354/.477 in 2020, good for an OPS+ of 130, while playing primarily second base for San Diego, along with some fill-in at shortstop, first base and third base. But with those positions occupied by Fernando Tatís Jr., Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado, respectively, second base looked like the primary landing spot for Cronenworth in 2021. So it might have been a surprise when the Padres spent significantly this offseason to add Kim Ha-seong, a South Korean infielder who tore up the KBO last season and who is likely to play second base in San Diego. Cronenworth will likely continue to cover several positions — and he seems to revel in it…..

This plan isn’t specific to San Diego. MLB teams are increasingly using their best offensive players all over the diamond, even at critical middle infield positions. No fewer than 34 players got at least 100 regular-season plate appearances while logging time at both second base and shortstop in the 60-game 2020 season. To put that in perspective, back in 1990, just 20 players collected 300 plate appearances over a full season while playing at both second and short.

But this, too, understates how often the players most likely to provide key offensive contributions, rather than a defensive security blanket, are used in this role by major league teams now. Of those 34 players in 2020, 13 had an OPS+ north of 100, while those just below that line, Ketel Marte of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tommy Edman of the St. Louis Cardinals, are central to the plans of their teams in 2021. Marte is likely to get regular work in center field as well, while Edman becomes the primary option at second for St. Louis after Kolten Wong left as a free agent.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 29, 2021 at 04:36 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: utility infielders

 

 

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