It might be the most fascinating phenomenon in baseball this spring: three teams turning outfielders and third basemen into second basemen. The Cardinals are doing it with Skip Schumaker, the Royals are doing it with Mark Teahen, and the Rockies are doing it with Ian Stewart.
Crazy? When it's one team you might think so, but when it's three teams you have wonder if maybe they've figured out something that everyone else hasn't.
That's Dave Cameron's take, I'm guessing ...
- Over the winter, I did a series of posts on position adjustments and put forward the idea that second base is an overrated defensive position. It is lumped into the "up the middle" spots with catcher, shortstop, and center field, but is not actually that much more difficult to play than third base. I also mentioned that there's been something of a height bias, where tall infielders are shifted to third and short infielders are shifted to second, even if the tall guy is a better defender than the short guy.
You can imagine, then, that I'm thrilled to see three teams experimenting with non-traditional second baseman this year.
Three franchises, all with off-season decisions to make about how to fill a hole at second base, decided to fill the position with players from the corners. Schumaker, Teahen, and Stewart are not traditional keystone defenders in any way, shape, or form, but all three organizations have decided to go make some defensive sacrifices at the position in order to improve their offense.
It's interesting to me that we've seen three franchises go away from the traditional second base model in the same winter that outfield defense seemed to increase significantly in value in the marketplace. As the newer defensive metrics gain credibility, we saw an increase in the premium for defense at positions where defense hasn't historically been valued and a corresponding decrease at a position that has been genuinely considered a premium glove spot.
I don't think that's a coincidence. I'd bet that going forward, second base is going to look a lot more like third base.
What if the game suddenly changed in a dramatic and fundamental way, and we were around to see it?