Before the season began, I took a look at a position by position “Prime 9” look at some guys that I thought could breakout in 2012. After giving them a month and a half, I wanted to check the progress of the players I chose, more for fun than anything.
Here we go…
Catcher- Ryan Lavarnway
Lavarnway still hasn’t made it to the majors at this point in the season. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia being pedestrian as usual, I still think we will see him playing for Boston at some point this season. I also didn’t have many other good candidates considering the position, and Salvador Perez‘ injury. I didn’t think it was fair to call Jesus Montero a catcher considering he is more of a DH.
First Base- Justin Smoak
Again, not a position where there was a lot of choices. Most 1B in the American League are pretty established, or in the case of Eric Hosmer, they kind of broke out already. Admittedly, I still believed that we would see from progress from the Mariners young first baseman. So far, Smoak has been terrible, and one of, if not the most unproductive 1B in all baseball with the bat in his hands. He is hitting just .214, with a terrible .261 wOBA. Smoak isn’t showing much power either with just 4 home runs and 12 RBI.
Second Base- Jason Kipnis
Had more guys to choose from here, and I am glad I went with Kipnis. I haven’t been a huge believer in Dustin Ackley, and Jemile Weeks has been terrible so far this season. Kipnis on the other hand, has looked pretty darn good. Kipnis is hitting .281 on the season so far with an OPS of .823. He is one of the better offensive 2B in the game right now, and has 20/20 potential this season.
Third Base- Mike Moustakas
So far, so good on this one. I have to brag a little here, as I suspect that many probably would’ve went with Brett Lawrie here. At this point in the season though, Moustakas leads all American League 3B in WAR. Moustakas could stand to be more patient at the plate, and has shown more doubles power than anything, but he is hitting over .300, has a wOBA of .380, and an OPS of .872. What has been really good for Moustakas is his glove work thus far, making all the plays at 3rd base, and showing some range not a lot of people thought he had.
Shortstop- Alcides Escobar
There wasn’t a lot of A.L. shortstops that weren’t established already, but I still will take some credit for this selection. Escobar has been one of the weakest hitting position players in baseball the past couple years, but I felt with his minor league pedigree, he could improve on that. He has thus far, and is currently sporting an OPS of .772. While I don’t necessarily expect that, as I said in the previous article, if he hits .270, his glove is so good, he will be one of the better shortstops in the game.
Outfield- Peter Bourjos
Swing and a miss here. Well, kind of. Bourjos has been abysmal at the dish. He is sub .200 with the batting average, and is posting a wOBA of .237. I could go through the terrible stats, but it’s really too long of a list, and he has already lost playing time to rookie Mike Trout. However, he is arguably the best defensive CF in the game. He still has generated 0.3 WAR so far on the season, and if he hit just .230, he would be a valuable asset.
Outfield- Josh Reddick
This choice I felt pretty good about. I don’t think many were looking at Josh Reddick as a breakout type guy. Quietly, because it is Oakland, Reddick is putting together a heck of a year. He is hitting .289, but has hit 9 homers on the season, as well as having 4 stolen bases. His OPS sits at .889, and has a tremendous arm in the outfield. He could stand to draw a few more walks, but it looks like Billy Beane might of actually gotten a trade right for a change. I think Boston would rather have Reddick than Bailey at this point.
Outfield- Desmond Jennings
Jennings currently resides on the bench with an injury to his knee, however, up until that point, he was having a pretty strong season. While he was hitting just .265, Jennings had 3 homers, 8 stolen bases, and was posting an OPS of .731. He also plays some quality defense in the outfield, and served as a catalyst at the top of the Rays order. If he can come back from injury, I expect he will continue to get even better.
Pitcher- Brandon Morrow
Since I was just picking one guy, I had to find someone with tremendous stuff, that just hasn’t had the results translate. Morrow is 4-2 on the season with an ERA of 2.22. It does look like he has pitched in some luck this season, but he does have some quality stuff where that will happen once in a while. While he is striking out less batters, he is walking fewer than he has before and generating more ground balls. Some other guys might be breaking out more, but Morrow is off to a strong start, so I can’t feel bad about this choice.