The Cardinals have had many problems this season, ranging from bullpen issues to the plethora of injuries. One of the biggest holes is at second base.
Coming into the season, this was a known issue, but the team decided to have a competition between former first round pick Tyler Greene and utility man Dan Descalso. Neither player appeased most of the fans (granted, there was the contingent, me included, that believed that Greene could handle an everyday role with the team if given a fair shot).
We are now 2 months into the season and neither player has won that competition. Both players see time at the position, along with Skip Schumaker when healthy.
It begs the questions: Which player is doing better?
We’ll start with Greene, who has more plate appearances. His current slash line is .217/.284/.395; he’s hit 4 homers and has stolen 7 bases in 8 chances. He’s a natural shortstop, so he can handle the position defensively. There is make up questions, as he tends to have mental breakdowns when things aren’t going right. He’s got the best natural speed on the team, which he doesn’t get a chance to flash often. He’s also the type of player who plays better when he’s in the line up everyday.
Descalso has a slash line of .230/.319/.377; he’s hit 3 homers and is 2 out of 3 in stolen bases. He’s a natural second baseman, so he knows the position very well; he’s also proven he can handle third and play short in a pinch. His biggest question mark is his bat. Descalso doesn’t run as well as Greene does, and he never profiled as a prospect like Greene did.
Neither has set themself from the other. Looking at some Sabremetrics, you get the same results.
Greene has a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .286, which is in line with his career numbers; granted, his career numbers are in part-time play. His isolated power (ISO – measure of raw power) is .178; per Fan Graphs, that puts him at the high-end of average power (above average is .180). Fan Graphs also has Greene’s WAR at 0.2 and he’s worth $1MM.
Descalso’s BABIP is higher at .301; that’s .017 points lower than his career BABIP. His ISO is not as good though, as he’s only at .148, or average power. Descalso also has a small lead in WAR at 0.6 and is worth $2.5MM.
Really, neither is all that inspiring.
The best internal option for the Cardinals could be Allen Craig, if the pitchers don’t mind sub-par defense. Craig is killing the ball this season and Mike Matheny is having trouble getting him in the line up. Craig has played second in the past and could be a Dan Uggla like player at the position – all bat and no defense. With a ground ball pitching staff, that could hurt the team as much as the lack of bat from the position.
The other option would be to trade for a second baseman. Aaron Hill could be available if the Diamondbacks continue to struggle; he wouldn’t be too expensive to get in a deal. The Rockies could be moving Marco Scutaro, but I don’t think he’d be much of an upgrade; he’s not hitting in Colorado, so the move to Busch III wouldn’t help him. Kelly Johnson would be a good target, but he’ll cost more than Hill or Scutaro.