Yesterday, we examined the battle for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, but today we will take a look at perhaps the most up for grabs starting spot for the Baltimore Orioles heading into spring training: second base.
Let's take a look at who will be competing for the spot and lay down a couple facts. If Brian Roberts is healthy, it is safe to assume that he would be the starting second baseman, but I am looking at this battle with the vision that Roberts will not be healthy. Thus, Ryan Flaherty, Alexi Casilla and Yamaico Navarro will be competing for the second base spot.
Although none of these guys have that much major league experience, they all have enough to believe that the experience issue should not be a factor, so let's examine these three statistically. I will mention that we will look at their career hitting stats as a whole, but will only look at their career fielding percentages at second base.
- Ryan Flaherty – Last season was Flaherty's first in the big leagues and got 77 games under his belt. He hit .216 with six homers, 19 RBI and a .258 OBP.
- Alexi Casilla – Casilla has played at least nine games in the big leagues in each of the last seven years and has amassed 515 career games in the Majors. Casilla has a career average of .250 with 11 homers, 147 RBI, 71 stolen bases and a .305 OBP.
- Yamaico Navarro – Navarro has played in the big leagues with three different teams, but has only gotten 71 career games under his belt. He has a career average of .191 with two homers, 18 RBI and a .244 OBP.
Offensively-speaking, this decision seems to be a no brainer; Casilla is obviously the best option with the bat, but the argument can be made that Casilla is the only player in this battle that has ever received regular at bats. Let's go ahead and eliminate Navarro from this conversation as he seems to need a couple years in the AAA level to get some at bats under his belt.
Flaherty, as aforementioned, only has the year 2012 as big league experience, but he showed that he does have some power hitting capabilities, which Casilla does not bring to the table. Defensively, Flaherty had a .989 fielding percentage last year when playing second base as he only made one error in 93 chances, but also showed that he is the true definition of a utility player as he played six different positions defensively last season. Casilla's biggest attribute is his ability to play well defensively and his range is fantastic. Alexi has a career .976 fielding percentage, but that is over the course of just under 2,000 chances, so do not let that number lead you to believe that Flaherty is the better defensive player.
Laying out all of the facts, if Roberts is not healthy (which is the likely case) Casilla should be the starting second baseman for the Orioles in 2013. He is a switch hitter, is a fast base runner, and is the better defensive option. Flaherty should still most likely make the 25-man roster because of his ability to play all over the field and the potential power he showed last season. A guy that can literally play all eight defensive positions, including catcher, Flaherty is too valuable not to keep on your roster. Baltimore does now have options for Flaherty if they wish to send him to AAA to give him some consistent at bats, but since he is such a good utility player, Buck Showalter will probably want to keep him on the big league roster.
Who do you think should get the nod at second base if Roberts isn't healthy? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment.
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