In Some Depth takes on a different tact this week. Rather than just take a look at depth charts around the league, I decided to take a look at the worst positional situations in baseball, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Below are the teams that have put up the worst OPS marks by position. It should come as no surprise that the list includes a lot of Padres.
Many of these terrible situations were created by insufficient depth behind an ailing star, prospects who are still getting up to speed against MLB pitching, or a lack of effort in fielding a competent bat at the position. Some of these situations are ripe for change, while others may stay the status quo for a while.
Without any further ado...
C: Dodgers .183/.264/.243 in 130 plate appearances
In the mix: Miguel Olivo, Drew Butera
In the minors: Tim Federowicz
On the DL: A.J. Ellis
Miss A.J. Ellis much? The Dodgers lost Ellis to a knee injury after the first week of the season, and the cupboard is bare until he returns later in May. Ellis went 4-for-24 with no extra-base hits before his injury, but Tim Federowicz put up a -10 OPS+ in his 50 plate appearances before getting sent to the minors. The recently-recalled Miguel Olivo should enjoy a playing time edge over Drew Butera, but neither figures to do much once Ellis' rehab is over.
1B: Padres .160/.192/.218 in 125 plate appearances
Starter: Yonder Alonso
Next: Yasmani Grandal, Kyle Blanks
Alonso has yet to hit a home run this season, and he has just one hit over his last 31 at-bats. Worse, manager Bud Black has started to use the first base slot to start Yasmani Grandal when Rene Rivera or Nick Hundley is behind the plate. That trend could continue if Alonso continues to struggle, which would benefit both Grandal and Hundley. Kyle Blanks joined the Padres on Monday. While he is looking like a Quad-A player, he could provide some useful power, particularly on the Padres' road trips.
2B: Padres .159/.230/.248 in 126 plate appearances
Starter: Jedd Gyorko
Next: Alexi Amarista
At least Jedd Gyorko has hit two home runs, which is two more than their first basemen have collectively. It's worth noting Gyorko had neither a good OBP (.301) nor slugging percentage (.444) in his breakout 2013 season, so he will need those home runs to maintain offensive utility. Gyorko is BABIP'ing an incredibly small .205, and he should get the playing time to right the ship. Triple-A Tucson is full of middle infielders who have had limited success with the bat - Brooks Conrad, Tyler Greene and Alberto Gonzalez may all be names that come up if Gyorko receives an extended break.
3B: Padres .173/.235/.264 in 119 plate appearances
Starter: Jace Peterson
Next: Alexi Amarista
On the DL: Chase Headley
I'm starting to get the feeling that the Padres have a pretty bad infield outside of Everth Cabrera. Chase Headley hit 31 home runs and led the national league with 115 RBI in 2012. Since, he has slashed .242/.336/.390 with 15 home runs and a 24 percent strikeout rate. He has dealt with a few minor injuries in the early-goings of 2014, and he suffered a few more significant injuries (fractured thumb, torn meniscus) last season.
Is Jace Peterson the answer if Headley sustains further injury or gets traded? He showed good plate discipline and stole a ton of bases in the Padres' lower minors, but the regular third-base job is a big role for a guy who has fewer than 100 at-bats above High-A. He already has two errors through his first nine games with the Padres, and he has yet to pick up a walk in 23 plate appearances. That doesn't mean he won't turn it around, but he probably won't have a chance to before Headley returns.