AL East Position Matchup: Second Base

Another day and another position ranking, today I will look into second basemen. First, I analyzed catchers, with Baltimore’s Matt Weiters coming out on top. Next, I analyzed first base, with the Red Sox MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez filling out the top slot. The AL East’s star position has to be second basemen. It contains 3 of the top second basemen, and two legitimate MVP candidates, who are becoming the face of their respective franchises.

The rankings are as follows:

1. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
2. Robinson Cano, Yankees
3. Ben Zobrist, Rays
4. Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
5. Brian Roberts, Orioles

This has been by far the toughest decision to make in the position rankings. I know every Yankees fan will disagree, as any loyal fan would, but hear me out on this one. Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano have been very similar in terms of offensive impact in the past few years (barring Pedroia’s injury shortened season in 2010). While displaying virtually exact career AVG (Pedroia .305 vs Cano .308), Pedroia has consistently reached base at a higher rate (.373  Career OBP vs Cano’s .349). Cano may be able to put up more HR’s and RBI’s than Pedroia, but Pedey has consistently put up many more steals and runs. Cano’s extra RBI’s can mostly be contributed to his spot in the batting order. Last year, 94.9% of his at bats were taken from the 4 and 5 spots in the order, while 77.3% of Pedroia’s at bats were taken from the 2 spot in the order. Yes, Pedroia’s extra runs can be mostly contributed to his spot in the order, but his steals and baserunning are still much better than Cano’s. All offensive prowess aside, Pedroia definitely has an edge on the defensive side ( 2 Gold Gloves in four eligible seasons vs Cano’s single Gold Glove during his 7 seasons). Also, Pedroia has a better fielding percentage and zone rating. Perhaps the most telling fact is WAR (wins above replacement), in which Pedroia 8.0 2011 rating, clearly outshines Cano’s 5.6.

Despite this argument, it should be noted that if either team had the choice, they would not switch second baseman with the other team. Pedroia is a true Red Sox player, never afraid to get his jersey dirty, while Cano is a Bronx Bomber, provided unheard of power from second baseman position since the sloppy fielding former Yank Alfonso Soriano.

Next up is Ben Zobrist, who is a great player for the Rays, but overshadowed by Cano and Pedroia. Zobrist has the talent to fight for the top second basemen spot in any other division. He has the potential to contend with Cano and Pedroia, but his inconsistency gives him the third ranking. He displayed incredible numbers both last year and in 2009, but his steep dropoff in 2010 (.239 BA and a 63.0% HR decrease) leaves room for concern.

Filling out the fourth spot is Blue Jay second baseman Kelly Johnson. Kelly was acquired by the Jays from the Diamondbacks last year in a trade for Aaron Hill and John MacDonald. Johnson has been even more inconsistent than Zobrist, but should give the Jays a good option at second as long as his average stays up. I see him providing about a .275 average and 20-25 HR’s in his first full year at the Rogers Centre.

Lastly, the Orioles have the oft injured Brian Roberts slotted in as their starting second baseman. Although Roberts was once regarded as a top second baseman, those days are gone after only playing 98 games in the last two years combined. Whether he gets injured again and Robert Andino fills in for him remains the true question. Both will provide similar offensive output and show good speed on the basepaths. I don’t see the credentials to rate either one above any of the other second baseman in this stacked division though.

For Catcher rankings, click here.
For First Baseman rankings, click here.


16 thoughts on “AL East Position Matchup: Second Base

  1. You lose a lot of credibility with phrases like “here me out” and “can mostly be contributed to his spot in the batting order”. You need to work on your grasp of the English language if you want people to take you seriously as a blogger. Also, not sure how meaningful your poll is considering this a boston sports blog.

    • Thanks for the input Joe, I enjoy some constructive criticism and will try to do a better job on “grasping the English language” in my next blog and avoid typos. Maybe I should just entirely forget that sports, specifically baseball and the Red Sox, are what I write about, and I should look into a career as a creative writer, or maybe even a novelist.

      Analyze the stats Joe, not the English language.

      • dude. so sensitive. a simple “thanks for the input” would have sufficed, and made you seem classy while turning the other cheek about a non-issue comment. it is true that the poll is not scientific, and that, perhaps, it may be more persuasive to leave out the “hear me out” type of comments. I agree that cano’s rbi and hr total were affected by his spot in the order and his home ballpark. but then again so weren’t pedroia’s doubles, and runs scored by his respective ball park and spot in the order. I value stats as well as make-up, and i feel both players are tremendous. let your work do the talking and don’t worry about what some troll on the internet says. myself included. keep it up.

  2. Cano. No questions asked. One of the best, if not THE BEST, hitters in baseball. One of the purest swings I’ve seen from the left side of the plate since Ken Griffey Jr. was in Seattle. Pedroia is a very good player, don’t get me wrong. But, Cano is the better player– no questions asked.

    • Cano is not the clubhouse leader grinder type that Pedroia is. He has an MVP don’t forget when they put him in the cleanup spot he kills it. That’s why with the similar numbers between two outstanding players in Cano and Pedroia the EDGE goes to Pedroia. JD Drew had a “pretty swing” most experts and fans agree but that doesn’t carry much awit with me.

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    • I think “severely underrate” is a bit harsh here Daddy. I rated Zobrist third due to his inconsistency with his bat. All three top players are very good fielders, Zobrist included, but Zobrist has yet to display the offensive dominance as consistently as Cano and Pedroia, which is shown in his lower ranking. Although he didn’t get as many at bats as Cano or Pedroia, there is nothing to defend his dramatically lower AVG and OBP. Cano and Pedroia don’t have any chips in their armor like those mentioned about Zobrist. As I said in my article, I think Zobrist is a great second basemen and he could contend for the top spot in any other division besides the AL East.

      • It’s one thing to cghnae from the Giants to the Pats – they’re not even in the same conference. But from the Yankees to the Red Sox? Good Lord, man, what are you thinking? That’s high treason in some circles!(Just kidding – well, except about the treason part. Great blog, by the way.)

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