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2012 projections: top 10 second basemen

Feb 8, 2012, 12:17 AM EDT

Robinson Cano AP

The top 10 at second base is led by the one player at the position I have projected to hit .300 this year:

.882 – Robinson Cano (Yankees) – 638 AB – .882 in 2011
.859 – Ian Kinsler (Rangers) – 560 AB – .832 in 2011
.855 – Chase Utley (Phillies) – 532 AB – .769 in 2011
.836 – Rickie Weeks (Brewers) – 516 AB – .818 in 2011
.821 – Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox) – 598 AB – .861 in 2011
.810 – Dan Uggla (Braves) – 562 AB – .764 in 2011
.796 – Dustin Ackley (Mariners) – 581 AB – .766 in 2011
.795 – Daniel Murphy (Mets) – 438 AB – .809 in 2011
.792 – Howie Kendrick (Angels) – 559 AB – .802 in 2011
.786 – Jason Kipnis (Indians) – 534 AB – .841 in 2011

– Nope, no Ben Zobrist, though he is next on the list at .783. Of course, I’ve never had an accurate Zobrist projection, so this one could be just as far off as usual. I just don’t see him hitting for quite so much power this season.

– It wasn’t intentional that Cano got the same OPS here that he finished with last year, but that’s about what I think his talent is. I projected him for an .884 OPS last year, so I’m basically just duplicating that.

– The worst of the bunch: new Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis has the low projection for anyone with 400 at-bats (.670). For 200 at-bats, the lows are free agent Aaron Miles (.639) and his replacement on the Dodgers, Adam Kennedy (.647).

  1. muckthefets23 - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    It would be fantastic if Utley’s OPS jumped that much. The Phils are gonna need the production out of him and well, the rest of the team to compensate for all the lost RBI’s that Howard puts up til May. (Hopefully it realistically is only til then)

  2. brucewaynewins - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    No Brandon Phillips?

  3. muckthefets23 - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:12 AM

    Dude that’s a good question, BP not on the list is strange?

  4. muckthefets23 - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:13 AM

    Meant that last one as a statement not question.

  5. fuckingdontcare - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    No Brandon Phillips…..this hurts your credibility. Stop posting these if you are going to leave out a 3-time Gold Glove winner.

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:32 AM

      This is OPS, not fielding. Its not who’s the best 2nd baseman, its who’s going to have the best on base and slugging… not the same thing at all

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:32 AM

      From the 1B post:

      “Last night’s go at the catchers led to some hard feelings apparently, so let me make it clear, these are just OPS projections for 2012, they’re not meant for a hard statement on the game’s best at a position. ”

      Glove has nothing to do with these lists, though it would probably be useful if the post titles didn’t seem to indicate that they are lists of top players, rather than just top projected OPS.

      Now, if Phillips could stage a repeat of last season at the plate, he’d certainly be in the offensive running as well. However, if he should regress back towards his career norms, he’d be out of the top 10. I assume Matt has him regressing.

      • hammyofdoom - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:40 AM

        Exactly what I thought. Just being a casual observer of the Reds I was really surprised when I looked up Phillips’ career stats… I always thought he was more of an offensive guy than a career .756 OPS

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:39 AM

      A gold glove award is one heck of a stat to use to prove the voters like that particular player. But that’s not what this is about actually.

      • fuckingdontcare - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:26 AM

        Oh, then the title of the article should be Top 10 ____ by OPS. Schoenfield at ESPN had Phillips ranked higher than Weeks overall.

  6. hammyofdoom - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:18 AM

    I’m curious…why the drop for Pedroia? Through the 1st half of 2010 (until the broken foot) and all through 2011 his OPS was .860, BABIP average to slightly above average, only 28 years old. I expected Cano to be above him, perhaps Kinsler, but to see him drop like that I was really surprised

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:28 AM

      Dammit wish I could add on to my post without replying to myself like a douche. Also an .821 OPS would be his lowest ever in a full season

  7. hittfamily - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    Zobrist leads all of baseball in total WAR over the last 3 years. More than Pujols, or Ha;;aday, or Longoria. How is he not in the top 30% of 2nd baseman?

    Weak list.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      Someone double check my math, but you are completely wrong on this. Here’s what I found:

      Zobrist: 15.2 bWAR, 19.2 fWAR
      Pujols: 21.3 bWAR, 21.6 fWAR
      Halladay: 21.2 bWAR, 22.2 fWAR
      Longoria: 20.3 bWAR, 21.3 fWAR

      • spindervish - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:36 AM

        Mr. Hitt getting his stats wrong while defending a TB player? Gee, that’s never happened before…

      • hittfamily - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:28 PM

        I may have misremembered,but at 6:40 in the morning, I didn’t have time to do the research. The stats you provided prove me wrong, but they also prove Zobrist is an elite player. 6.6 fWAR. It’s the same as Dustin Pedroia’s MVP year. It’s the same as Adrian Gonzalez’s this year, when people were touting him as an MVP candidate. Dude is elite, not marginal.

        Weak list.

      • hittfamily - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        Alright. I did a little research. I was wrong, but I knew my memory wasn’t that bad: I used examples of players that he was better than, and I was wrong. I said he was higher than those 3 players, while I should have said “those are the ONLY 3 players better than him”.,d

        But yeah, not a top 10 2nd baseman.

        Weak list.

      • spindervish - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:45 PM

        Are you not aware that WAR takes into account defensive value? And that this is a list projecting the top 10 2nd basemen in 2012 by OPS, not a list of the best 2nd basemen in baseball?

        No one called Zobrist marginal. Seriously, people…

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:25 PM

        Dude is elite, not marginal.

        Zobrist is a tricky person to break down, because he derives so much of his value off defense; however, he isn’t strictly a one position person. So even with MGL’s guidance of 3 years of data to judge UZR, we still need to take Zobrist’s defensive ratings with a grain of salt. For instance:

        Prince Fielder has played almost every game of baseball last three years, and has logged roughly 4200 Innings at first. Here’s a breakdown of Zobrist’s top 3 positions played defensively since he came up in ’08:

        2b – 2185
        OF – 1651
        SS – 1020

        Only at 2b does he even have half the innings (roughly 1.5 years) of Fielder.

      • hittfamily - Feb 8, 2012 at 11:25 PM

        “Are you not aware that WAR takes into account defensive value? And that this is a list projecting the top 10 2nd basemen in 2012 by OPS, not a list of the best 2nd basemen in baseball?”

        Do the other 2nd baseman not get credit for their defense too?

        Pedroia, Kinsler, and Utley are all in the top 15 of defensive players according to that same list I provided. Much of their value comes from defense as well. Zobrist is still higher.

        I understand that he is solely basing this on OPS, but when you call the list “the best”, and you put Zobrist in the “average category”, I will protest. 30 second baseman. 10 elite, 10 marginal, 10 crappy. Zobrist isn’t marginal.

  8. dapperdan50 - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:19 AM


    To post a set of projections of any kind with no explanation of the rationale or system used to arrive at all or any of them does not improve our understanding one bit. It is worse than useless. It’s an insult to our intelligence and a waste of our time.

    Give us more of this and I will simply stop reading your posts.

  9. stex52 - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    I will make the point again. OPS is a pretty good way to judge the value of a first baseman or a left fielder. Less so for a third baseman, right fielder, or centerfielder. Not so good for a second baseman. And largely irrlevant for a short stop or catcher (most of the time).

    How about these great second baseman for 2012: Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Carlos Lee, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Lance Berkman?

    • hasbeen5 - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:45 AM

      I’m not sure what your point is here. The point of the game is to score runs. Guys with high OPS usually produce more runs than guys with low OPS. This is a position by position projection, comparing players with their peers.

      • stex52 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM

        Which is useful for judging the value of players in a Fantasy league. Not so much on the field. At least not in the important fielding positions.

      • hasbeen5 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:14 AM

        So runs are only valuable in fantasy baseball, not in actual baseball? Have you not been watching baseball for the last 25 years? Teams want offense wherever they can get it. There are not many catchers hitting .220 with 3 homers anymore. While defense is important, scoring runs is more so. Defenders have the inherent advantage that hitters fail at least 65% of the time.

      • stex52 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:26 AM

        I can’t wait to see the list of top pitchers by OPS. :-)

      • hasbeen5 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:40 AM

        Bad argument. When Ankiel was a pitcher that couldn’t throw strikes, his poor performance on the mound was much more than his offense could make up for. Jamey Carrol might get to 10 or 15 ground balls over the course of a year that Dan Uggla wouldn’t. However, those ground balls would all go for singles, and the Uggla’s decisive offensive advantage would more than make up for that.

      • stex52 - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:14 AM

        I actually am fine with Sabermetrics in general, but I have a strong feeling (hate that word, don’t you?) that the defensive metrics are undervaluing players at present. That’s why my point about WAR below, even though there is more than one way to calculate it.

        I’m not fully on board with your argument about ten or eleven singles a year. Give a team four outs in an inning and bad things are going to happen beyond just that hit.

        My point, of course, is similar to the one you made about Ankiel. There is a point beyond which OPS cannot carry you at certain positions. Pitcher is obvious. My position is that it matters a great deal for the center of the diamond also, especially catcher.

        But I’m not serious with this stuff. I understand the stats, but I don’t spend a lot of time with them and I definitely don’t calculate them myself. I may be proven wrong in the long run, but I think run prevention is undervalued at this point.

  10. Jonny 5 - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Well Matt. It looks like you’re going to need to explain this list is based on OPS only FOR EVERY SINGLE POSITION LIST from here on out.

    • stex52 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:02 AM

      C’mon. It’s Wednesday morning at work; I’m cranky. Let me complain.

      Might be interesting to see them listed by WAR, though.

  11. metalhead65 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    you make fun of me all the time for my lack of use for your saber metrics and say I need to join the now instead of living in the past. as long as you have a list of the 10 best second baseman and do not include Btandon Phillips on it I will stay happily living in the past thanks anyway. and please do not waste yours or my time putting out whatever crazy numbers you came up with to try and justify your list. I have eyes and watch him play and and despite your metrics I will take him as my second baseman any time. when hits the market next year I think more than a couple of teams will want him as theirs as well.

    • hasbeen5 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:44 AM

      Again, nowhere does he say these are the 10 best second baseman. This is his guess at who will have the highest OPS. How you value OPS is your own call. A lot of us do embrace sabermetrics though, so eliminating posts about said statistics would be ignoring a good chunk of his readership.

  12. dapperdan50 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    I have no problem examining various categories of position players based on OPS and leaving fielding and other metrics for another discussion.

    What I have a problem with is that these projected OPS’s appear to be pulled out of Matthew’s … … hat. There is no explanation of why you expect Player X to have a higher OPS than last year and Player Y to have a lower one. What the hell is the point?

  13. metalhead65 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    maybe he should have put that in the headline for people like me who could care less about the saber stuff then. I mean if you look at the headline it says projected top 10 second baseman not metric wise top 10 but top 10 so you could see wherethe confusion is. but since Phillips does not meet your projections isn’t that saying you do not believe he is one of the top second baseman?

  14. spindervish - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    One thing these OPS projection posts continue to prove is that people are idiots.

    However, I do agree with those complaining about the lack of explanation of the method or reasoning. For one thing, I would just find it interesting to learn something about how these projections are done…because it seems like it would be a pretty complicated process, unless it really is just educated guessing with no real math behind it.

    Also, re: the Pedroia projection – fuck the heck??

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      Fuck the heck may be one of my favorite phrases of the day

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:27 PM

        Here you go:

  15. seanthegreatest - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Ackley ahead of Kendrick? No chance. Howie will be hitting infront of Pujols and will see a lot of fastballs. I guarantee he ups his OPS this year. Unless Ackley set the MLB record for walks this is a pipe dream.

  16. kjkulsrud - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Whoa whoa whoa… why isn’t Alexi Casilla on this list?

    hahaha I kid, I kid.

    Oh, another good one… why isn’t Luis Rivas on this list?

    again, I kid, I kid.

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