When Juan Uribe was signed to his now infamous 3 year, $21 million contract to play second base, I wasn’t thrilled. When he hit .210/.254/.355 in 16 games there, I was embarrassed. He actually played most of his games at third, which will be discussed in the next installment. Uribe’s defense at second wasn’t great either, as he provided just a 1.0 UZR per 150, meaning his defensive value, prorated to 150 games, would have saved a single run. It’s bad enough that he didn’t hit, but he was supposed to provide good defense up the middle and that didn’t happen either.
After Juan moved to third to fill in for injured Casey Blake, the starting second base job was handed to Jamey Carroll, who was also surprisingly ineffective with the glove, posting a -3.2 UZR in 549.1 innings. At least he was less of an offensively liability, batting .276/.355/.336 in 217 at bats. His real value came when he moved to short after Rafael Furcal went down with an injury but, again, that’s another discussion.
Then there was Aaron Miles, who also received more than 500 innings in the field and produced a whopping 0.1 UZR. He received the most at bats at second, hitting .268/.302/.362 with just 5 walks in 72 games. He did manage 11 doubles and a homer, but his lack of power was overshadowed by his woeful lack of walks. A .302 OBP is just horrid. That’s what made Miles’ batting average so empty and the claims of his production gross exaggerations.
Four other players accounted for the other playing time. Ivan De Jesus, once seen as the heir apparent at the position, batted just .200 and was treated brutally by UZR, assigning him a -2.5 value in just 62.2 innings. Justin Sellers, coming off another productive season with Albuquerque, ended up hitting just .132 in 38 at bats at second. Juan Castro received just 10 at bats, collecting 4 hits and played below average defense. And then there’s the curious case of Eugenio Velez and the mystery of why he kept getting at bats even though he couldn’t hit. On his way to an 0fer season, he went hitless in 19 at bats at second, but did play quality defense.
Those seven combined for a .627 OPS, ranked 28th in MLB and last in the NL. The average OPS for NL second basemen was .698 and for MLB it was .708. They also accounted for the 23rd ranked UZR at -5.6. Uribe was supposed to provide pop and D up the middle. Instead, the Dodgers settled for a stable of underperformers who provided no offense or defense. Hopefully that changes in 2012.