Sizing Up the Market: Second Base

In 2013, Yankees second basemen - which may be more accurately referred to as "Robinson Cano & Friends" - batted .318/.385/.521, with 43 2B, 27 HR, and a 154 sOPS+ (meaning that the team's production at the position was roughly 54% better than the average). For comparison's sake, the average second baseman hit .263/.323/.387 in 2013 and, yes, that includes Cano's robust production. This past season, the much less catchy "Brian Roberts & the Infinite Sadness" combined for a slash line of .246/.303/.390, with 34 2B, 13 HR, and a 101 sOPS+. All things considered, that isn't too shabby when compared to the MLB-average of .256/.313/.373. Of course, that line is probably a bit skewed by Martin Prado slashing .403/.413/.661 in 63 PA as the second baseman - but, on the whole, the disappointing production at the position may well have been a result of Cano's offensive dominance of the position for the previous half decade or so. The defense of Messrs Roberts and Kelly Johnson is a story for another day.

With all that in mind, second base will be a position that is wholly different from the vast majority of the 2014 season. Let's look into the most obvious solution first - the aforementioned Martin Prado.

Prado was the Yankees best hitter after being acquired from the Diamondbacks, batting .316/.336/.541 with 9 2B and 7 HR in just 37 games (good for a 146 wRC+). That production is uncharacteristic for Prado, who is generally right around average in terms of power numbers (his ISO has been just below or just above-average for his entire career). What is characteristic of Prado, however, is steady, league-average-ish offense and a good glove at the keystone. He has a 108 wRC+ for his career, and a 108 wRC+ over the last three seasons. He makes a great deal of contact, doesn't walk or strikeout all that much, and is a safe bet to knock out between 10 and 15 home runs. In short, he is a safe bet to be a solid everyday player at the position.

Also within the fold are prospects Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder. A great deal has been written about both this season - you can read up on Pirela here, Refsnyder here, or, for efficiency's sake, both here. Both have done more than enough to earn an extended look with the Yankees, at the very least. And it must be noted that both have experience at other positions, not unlike Mr. Prado.

The solutions from outside of the organization are far less enthusing. As per MLBTR, this year's second base crop is Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Ellis, Rafael Furcal, Brandon Hicks, Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts, Ramon Santiago, Rickie Weeks, Josh Wilson, and, potentially Ben Zobrist, (assuming the Rays have lost their mind and don't pick up his $7.5 MM club option). The best option among the group that does not require a general manager to suffer a bout of temporary insanity may be Weeks, who posted a 127 wRC+ ... in 286 PA ... most of which were against LHP ... and whose shambling zombie range at second makes Brian Roberts look like Ozzie Smith. No thank you.

There are also players like Asdrubal Cabrera and Alberto Callaspo on the market, who have some experience at second but generally ply their trade elsewhere. And it is elsewhere that I will look into those gentlemen, as I feel that they are likely to seek a job at another position (and land one, to boot).

In a vacuum, and avoiding the pratfalls of trade conjecture, it is difficult to see any solution better than kicking off the season with Martin Prado playing second. His versatility certainly has a great deal of value.  One could easily seem him in a Zobrist-esque role, playing plenty of innings at 2B, 3B, and in the outfield).  Pirela and Refsnyder have probably earned a shot, but the Yankees have question marks throughout the lineup and in the field, and the certainty that Prado provides at an up the middle position seems too safe to pass up.