2012 projections: top 10 second basemen

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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).

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.