This week, I am beginning a new series that looks at a) current position holders and b) top prospects at the same position. In this first article, I will grade each team for their corner infielders going in to the second half, and for the future at the same position.
Heading to fantasy baseball drafts in 2013 and in the near future, several factors should be noted. I want to review a couple items of importance from my scouting perspective:
Power hitters are becoming much more scarce at the major league level. Not all teams have a fence busting, game breaking power hitter. As recently as five years ago (and maybe even more recently) that was not the case. Every team had a muscle man. The question? Where did the muscle come from? I don't think we have to re-hash that. If you have a chance to grab some power, I say take it.
First base and third base are becoming scarce positions. It is difficult for teams to find combination offense first/defensive players for the infield corners. When a power hitter emerges at an infield corner, if possible, teams tend to keep them and not trade them away.
I think it's interesting to look at the first and third base depth charts for each major league club as they enter the second half. For me, the lack of power or in some cases minimal offensive threat is astonishing. These results come after teams scout, pay for and develop countless players over such a long time. You can draw your own conclusions: This is how I see the team's beginning the second half.
I am placing a grade next to the team name for the current player at the position and the future projection for that position (starting in late 2013 or early 2014 and beyond.)
All grades for the current situation (the guy that will start the second half) and the future do not take into account any trade or player movement.
1B A/A (this is Goldschmidt - with no future change)
3B D/C- current Roberts and future Davidson
1B - Paul Goldschmidt - Set for a number of years with 30-HR potential
3B - Ryan Roberts - No chance team continues with him in 2013.
1B prospect - Ryan Wheeler (below ML average skills) 2014
3B prospect - Matt Davidson (tad above average) = 2013
1B B+/B+ (this is Freeman with no future change)
3B C/D - current Jones and future Salcedo
1B - Freddie Freeman - Could be a .270/20/100 guy. Solid.
3B - Chipper Jones - retiring
1B prospect = Joe Terdoslavich (average) could be buried 2014
3B prospect = Edward Salcedo (tad above average) 2014
1B - Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis, Mark Reynolds
3B - Robert Andino, Wilson Betemit, Mark Reynolds
1B prospect = Joe Mahoney (average) big, thin, has possibilities - 2012
3B prospect = Nick Delmonico (tad above average) 2015
BOSTON RED SOX
1B A-/A- (this is Gonzalez with no future change)
3B A-/A- (this is Middlebrooks with no future change)
1B - Adrian Gonzalez - Not busting down the fences yet this year.
3B - Will Middlebrooks - Has to stay healthy but he can rake.
1B prospect = Miles Head (below average) 2014 late
3B prospect = Xander Bogaerts (above average but at SS) 2014
1B B-/B- (this is Rizzo with no future change)
1B - Anthony Rizzo - swing looks better, still learning. Has power.
3B - Luis Valbuena - This is a travesty .
1B prospect = Dan Vogelbach (average, at best) 2015, if ever.
3B prospect = Josh Vitters (average) Can't get an opportunity. 2012?
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
1B - Paul Konerko - won't be there forever. But still a thumper.
3B - Kevin Youkilis - How much is in the tank? Injuries?
1B prospect = Andy Wilkins (below average to average, at best)
3B prospect = Juan Silverio (average) 2015, if ever
1B A/A (this is Votto with no future change)
1B - Joey Votto - a fixture there for a long time.
3B - Scott Rolen and Todd Frazier
1B prospect = Neftali Soto (average) 2013 as backup
3B prospect = Todd Frazier (average) 2012 waiting for Rolen to retire.
3B D/B- (with Chisenhall)
1B - Casey Kotchman - Search continues for power hitting first baseman.
3B - Jack Hannahan - 4-A player at best. No bat. Good glove.
1B prospect = Jesus Aguilar (average w/power) 2014
3B prospect = Jordan Smith (tad below average) 2015
Lonnie Chisenhall can no longer be termed a prospect.
1B - Todd Helton, Jason Giambi and a rocking chair
3B - Jordan Pacheco (could be moved to 1B after Helton leaves)
1B prospect = Ben Paulsen (below average) 2013, if ever.
3B prospect = Nolan Arenado (above average) A real stud! 2012
1B A/A (this is Fielder with no future change)
3B A/A (this is Cabrera with no future change)
1B - Prince Fielder - I'm very, very concerned about his weight.
3B - Miguel Cabrera - Showing adequate defense so far. Wear down?
1B prospect = Aaron Westlake - (average) 2014
3B prospect = Nick Castellanos - (above average) Solid.
1B - Scott Moore + Chris Johnson - Carlos Lee is gone.
3B - Scott Moore + Chris Johnson
1B prospect = Jonathan Singleton (above average) raw power. Star.
3B prospect = Matt Dominguez (below average) bat doesn't play.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
1B B/B (this is Hosmer with no future change)
1B - Eric Hosmer - Should come around in 2nd half. Too good to flop.
3B - Mike Moustakas - Still waiting, but getting a bit better.
1B prospect = Clint Robinson (below average) Buried.
3B prospect = Cheslor Cuthbert (above average) Watch out, Moose. 2014
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
1B A/B (this is Pujols with no future change)
1B - Albert Pujols - I'm very concerned about Pujols pulling off pitches.
3B - Alberto Callaspo/Maicer Izturis
1B prospect = C.J. Cron - (tad above average) where will he play?
3B prospect = Kaleb Cowart - (above average) Probably 2015
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
1B - James Loney- could be gone by trading deadline.
3B - Juan Uribe- is there a worse corner-infield combination?
1B prospect = Angelo Songo (below average with power) 2014
3B prospect = Alex Santana (average) 2015
1B - Carlos Lee - How long will that last?
3B - Hanley Ramirez
1B prospect = Mark Canha - (below average) maybe never
3B prospect =Ryan Fisher - (average) 2014
1B B with Hart only/C-
1B - Corey Hart, Travis Ishikawa, Taylor Green (position unsettled)
3B - Aramis Ramirez-until he goes on the DL sooner than later.
1B prospect = Hunter Morris (below average with power) 2014
3B prospect = Taylor Green (average) may play some at first base now.
1B - Justin Morneau, Chris Parmelee
3B - Trevor Plouffe - pleasant power supplier
1B prospect = Travis Harrison (tad above average) 2015
3B prospect = Miguel Sano (very high prospect) big power upside 2014
NEW YORK METS
1B - Ike Davis - has a .201 batting average.
3B - David Wright - team has to re-sign him.
1B prospect = Aderlin Rodriguez (average with some power) 2013
3B prospect = Wilmer Flores (average) 2014
NEW YORK YANKEES
1B - Mark Teixeira
3B - Alex Rodriguez - power is declining rapidly
1B prospect = Tyler Austin (average) 2014
3B prospect = Dante Bichette, Jr. (above average with power) 2014
1B - Brandon Moss, Chris Carter - both adjusting to quality pitching
3B - Brandon Inge - Nobody else can play
1B prospect = Carter (already assigned to Oakland)
3B prospect = B.A. Vollmuth - (average with some power) 2013
1B - Ryan Howard
3B - Placido Polanco - if he can stay healthy
1B prospect = None
3B prospect = Maikel Franco - (tad above average) 2015
1B - Garrett Jones
3B - Pedro Alvarez - now showing the power he projected.
1B prospect = Alex Dickerson (average) 2014
3B prospect = None
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
1B - Allen Craig
3B - David Freese
1B prospect = Matt Adams (average) stocky with power. 2012
3B prospect = Zack Cox (a tad above average) a lighter Matt Adams 2012
SAN DIEGO PADRES
1B - Yonder Alonso - power drained in San Diego
3B - Chase Headley - a good trade candidate
1B prospect = Edinson Rincon (average) 2013
3B prospect = Jedd Gyorko - could be top player 2012 late
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
1B B-/B- (this is Belt with no future change)
3B A/A- (this assumes Sandoval with no future change)
1B - Brandon Belt
3B - Pablo Sandoval -has to watch his weight and stay healthy
1B prospect = Brett Pill - (average) gets more chances. 2012
3B prospect = Conor Gillaspie (average) 2012
1B - Justin Smoak - is now hitting .203
3B - Kyle Seager - beginning to cool off
1B prospect = Rich Poythress (below average) 2013 if ever
3B prospect = Francisco Martinez (tad above average) 2013
TAMPA BAY RAYS
3B C/C *B/B if Longoria comes back healthy and stays
1B - Carlos Pena - power with no batting average continues
3B - Sean Rodriguez - Until (if) Longoria returns
1B prospect = Jeff Malm (below average) 2015 if ever
3B prospect = Tim Beckham - not a shortstop anymore
1B - Mike Napoli/Brandon Snyder
3B - Adrian Beltre
1B prospect = Mike Olt (above average with power) 2013
3B - Ronald Guzman (tad above average) 2013
*3B prospect= Mike Olt (above average with power) 2013
*Olt now playing OF, 3B, 1B
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
1B - Adam Lind - the same one sent down earlier in season
3B - Brett Lawrie - the “phenom” hasn't been one
1B prospect = David Cooper (average) 2012
3B prospect = Matt Dean (tad above average) 2016
1B - Adam LaRoche
3B - Ryan Zimmerman
1B prospect = Chris Marrero (average) - if he can stay healthy 2013
3B prospect = Anthony Rendon-(above average-star) if he can stay healthy 2014
Here are my conclusions:
There are teams with major holes to fill at one or both corner-infield positions either right now or in the very near future. These are power positions. The lack of power at those spots will put more pressure on the pitching and the outfielders.
The lack of corner infielders will cost the club money in either shoring up the pitching or the outfield. Money will have to be spent compensating for the position weakness at the infield corners or money will have to be spent buying the corners.
Scarcity at corner infield positions will continue. Drafts have not produced first-base prospects (see my draft analysis series.)
Corner infielders are less prolific than shortstops, second basemen or outfielders.
I think these are the teams in the deepest trouble regarding corner infielders. These teams will suffer in the future unless they trade or sign players to fill corner spots.
Arizona - 3B
Atlanta - 3B
Baltimore - 3B or 1B they interchange the position
Chicago Cubs - 3B
Chicago White Sox - 1B, 3B
Cincinnati Reds - 3B
Cleveland Indians - 1B, 3B
Houston Astros - 3B
Colorado Rockies - 1B
Miami Marlins - 1B
Kansas City Royals - potentially 3B
Minnesota Twins - 3B
Los Angeles Angels - 3B unless they transition Mark Trumbo
New York Mets - 1B, 3B
Los Angeles Dodgers - 1B, 3B
New York Yankees - 3B
Oakland Athletics - 1B, 3B
Philadelphia Phillies - 3B
Pittsburgh Pirates - 1B
San Diego Padres - 3B
Tampa Bay Rays - 1B
Seattle Mariners - 1B
Toronto Blue Jays - 1B
Texas Rangers - 1B
Washington Nationals - 1B
Now - go at it. I invite your disagreements. This is a staggering number of teams that I believe need corner infield help. The game is changing.
Frankly, I could have added more, but I was generous.
We used to want our kids to throw left-handed. We have lots of left-handed pitcher now. We need our kids to eat healthy and gain strength. There is a tremendous power gap and it's getting worse.
Next Week: the outfield.
Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and on MLB.com in the Voices section.