Yuni Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez, first base, and other positional disasters

Stephen Dunn

I recently saw where the Miami Marlins' catchers this season had scored 12 runs all season. But that was a few days ago ... now they've scored 13! I also saw where Alex Rodriguez is doing baseball activities and other fun stuff, which made me wonder how bad the Yankees' third basemen have been this season in The Fabulous Centaur's absence. And then, boom like lightning it all came together in my mind ... What if (my mind thought) we made a list of the worst team-positions in the majors? Would the Marlins' catchers qualify? The Yankees' third basemen? The Astros' everythings?

So here you go, quick-and-dirty OPS's and everything ...

Catcher: Marlins - 559 OPS (-24 points)
Well, I was right about the Marlins' catchers anyway; they've been the worst. That number in parentheses? That's how many points of OPS the Marlins are worse than the next-worst team's catchers ... but considering that next-worst team is the Reds, if we consider park effects the Marlins are little worse than the Reds, if at all.

First Base: Brewers - 506 OPS (-46)
Here's how old I am: I actually remember when first base was where you put your good hitters, and it wasn't terribly difficult to find someone who could man the fort and hit pretty good. Kids these days ...

Seriously, I'm making this essay a no-cussing zone, because otherwise things might get out of hand ... but jumpin' jehosophat 506 is super-really-terrible. So a doff of the caps to Yuniesky Betancourt, Alex Gonzalez, and the management team that put them together while waiting for Corey Hart's skinned knee to heal up.

Second Base: Blue Jays - 578 OPS (-20)
Okay, so we'll take your pitchers, Miami Marlins. But do we really have to take your Emilio Bonifacios, too? Yeah? Okay, if you insist. Really, how bad could he be?

Shortstop: Mariners - 475 OPS (-63)
Still waiting for Brendan Ryan's hot streak. And yes, here's where the Yankees come in; they're 29th in the majors, and just can't get Derek Jeter back into the lineup soon enough.

Third Base: Indians - 594 OPS (-2)
There are a bunch of teams bunched up, with just a couple of good games capable of lifting Cleveland's third basemen above those of the White Sox, Royals, and Dodgers. The Yankees, meanwhile, rank 25th in the majors with a 639 OPS. Last season, even with Alex Rodriguez under the weather for much of the season, they finished eighth in the majors at third base. So yes, it's easy to understand why management does wish for a speedy recovery.

Left Field: Yankees - 624 OPS (-21)
Oh, so here are the Yankees. And it's mostly Vernon Wells, who's started 60 of the Yankees' 75 games in left field. Like Jeter and Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson just can't get back soon enough, because a Wells/Ichiro platoon in right field might be at least halfway decent. As opposed to both of them blowing three or four plate appearances every day. Apiece.

I've been focusing on the worst positions because you don't need me to tell you how good Miguel Cabrera is. But I'd like to mention the Rockies here, because they're absolutely destroying the rest of baseball in left field. Colorado's left fielders -- Carlos Gonzalez, almost exclusively -- have combined for a 986 OPS, or 121 points higher than No. 2 Philadelphia's left fielders. Granted, it's not been a great year for left fielders generally, but that 121-point edge is impressive, even considering Coors Field.

Center Field: Astros - 601 OPS (-4)
Okay, so we found a spot where the Astros are the worst. But hey, at least George Springer's just around the corner.

Right Field: Astros - 642 OPS (-4)
Oops, there they are again. What surprising, though, is the second-place team here: Pittsburgh. That's mostly Travis Snider, with smatterings of Jose Tabata and Garrett Jones. The odd thing is that Tabata and Jones have both been decent, generally. Not good, but not terrible. It just hasn't worked out in right field. And Snider's dragging down the whole position with his .238/.306/.356 line. Considering that Snider was roughly as bad last season, maybe it's time to pull the plug. Which is difficult, considering he's still only 25 and the Pirates don't have an obvious replacement for his left-handed bat. If they're active at the trade deadline (or sooner), this is the obvious spot for improvement.

Designated Hitter: Rays - 654 OPS (-2)
As much as the Rockies dominated the right-field rankings, the Red Sox (and David Ortiz, naturally) dominate here, with an OPS 150 points better than the next-best club (the Blue Jays, mostly Adam Lind). No surprise there, really.

But the Rays in last place? And the Tigers, just two points behind? I suppose it's easy to underestimate the difficulty of finding a guy who can hit but can't field, and you can't really blame the Tigers for giving Victor Martinez a shot, considering he was pretty good in 2011 and they're stuck paying him. Ultimately, though, the Rays need to get more from Luke Scott or get rid of him.

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