Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five shortstops for 2012
With the second basemen out of the way, its time to continue moving around the infield, this time stopping at the other middle infield position — shortstop. Here is writer Brett Murdock has to say about the position that is quickly turning into a hot commodity.
Hard to argue with this one, as the Colorado Rockies star is probably the most complete at his position in the big leagues. A powerful offensive weapon, ‘Tulo’ hit .302 last season with 30 long balls and 105 runs batted in, a new career high. For the past three years, he has finished in the Top 10 of MVP voting, finishing fifth twice (2009 and 2010) and has cut down on his strikeout totals tremendously. Injuries have hampered him as he has never played a full 162 games, but nobody really does anymore anyway. Additionally, Tulowitzki is a back-to-back Gold Glove winner and should be a strong MVP candidate again this year.
The Miami Marlins big free agent splash this winter came in the form of the Dominican speedster. Reyes won the National League batting crown last year, topping off at .337 for the season, a full 45 points better than his career average. Never known as a power hitter, Reyes relies on his other weapons, mainly his speed to get by. Injuries have stalled him in recent years but when healthy, he is one of the best base runners in the game. His fielding percentage is lower than what some might expect and his 18 errors last season tied a career high. But, he is a team’s offensive ignition and should be a good fit for the Marlins in a competitive NL East.
Cabrera is known around the league for his defensive know-how, making difficult plays look easy and easy plays look even easier. However, his overall percentage is misleading from that statement and that is often attributed to him rushing his decisions in an attempt to help his team. Offensively, Cabrera broke out last year, hitting .273 with 25 dingers and 92 RBIs. Cabrera is entering the prime of his career and things can only go up for the shortstop.
Staying in the American League, flying under the radar is Escobar, whose play is often overlooked because he plays in Toronto. The 6-2, 205 pound product pounds the baseball and since coming over in a trade from the Atlanta Braves in mid-2010 has seen his numbers go up in the offensive league. His defensive numbers are deceitful but it’s the offense Escobar brings that should excite people. A .289 lifetime hitter, expect that number to rise on a time that should encourage more free swinging and offense.
The youngster will be entering his third full season with the Chicago Cubs and has been a pleasant addition the past two years. In 2011, Castro hit .307 with 10 home runs and 66 RBIs, solid production from a young kid. Those numbers earned him an All-Star nod and his defensive work is continuing to improve. He is still a relatively young player and should experience some growing pains, but the future is bright.
Homer Vote: Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks
Yeah, I know he hasn’t exactly lived up to his potential, but Drew is a machine in the field and a leader for a young Diamondbacks squad. At the plate, he has never really had a breakout season outside of 2008 (.291, 21 Hrs, 67 RBIs) but is a solid presence in the clubhouse and a great defensive player.