08 January 2011
The middle infield was a high point for the Diamondbacks in the 2010 season, and it should be again in 2011. 2B Kelly Johnson was probably the Diamondbacks' best player last season, leading the team in AVG, OBP, and SLG, while SS Stephen Drew was second on the team in OPS at .810 while playing solid defense. Both Johnson and Drew are eligible for salary arbitration and should see raises this year, and will be key member of the 2011 team. Looking at the stat Wins Above Replacement from Baseball-Reference.com, Johnson finished first in the National League among 2B, while Drew was 4th among SS. Both should finish in the upper half of the league again in 2011.
|1||Kelly Johnson||4.7||Troy Tulowitzki||5.6|
|2||Chase Utley||4.2||Hanley Ramirez||3.5|
|3||Rickie Weeks||3.7||Rafael Furcal||3.4|
|4||Dan Uggla||3.7||Stephen Drew||3.3|
|5||Martin Prado||2.7||Jose Reyes||2.2|
|6||Jeff Keppinger||2.5||Juan Uribe||2.0|
|7||Brandon Phillips||2.3||Jimmy Rollins||1.7|
|8||Neil Walker||1.5||Brendan Ryan||0.9|
|9||Freddy Sanchez||1.5||Ian Desmond||0.6|
|10||David Eckstein||1.4||Orlando Cabrera||0.4|
Kelly Johnson, 2B (29) - LHB
Johnson bounced back from a poor 2009 to have the best season of his career in 2010. One of the most remarkable aspects of his 2010 season was his performance against left-handed pitching, where he went .310/.366/.587 with 12 HR in 184 ABs. This was the third consecutive year in which Johnson hit lefties better than righties, and brought his career stats against LHP to .302/.362/.488, while his hitting against RHP is only at .256/.349/.431.
Defensively, Johnson was OK, generally rated to be average by the fans as well as by various defensive statistics. He earned a salary of $2.35M in 2010 on a one-year contract last year, and is eligible for salary arbitration this year, where he will probably get between $4.5-5.0M for 2011.
Stephen Drew, SS (28) - LHB
Stephen Drew had a solid season in 2010, both offensively and defensively. On offense, he hit well against both lefties (.794 OPS) and righties (.817 OPS), and at home (.803 OPS) and away (.817). He has his best success while in the leadoff slot, posting a .310/.374/.538 line in 45 games, and that is where he will probably bat in 2010.
Defensively, the fans rated Drew as the Diamondbacks' best defensive player, while FanGraphs had him at +8.7 runs, second highest among NL shortstops. Other defensive stats, such as Total Zone at Baseball Reference, did not rate Drew as an elite defender, but still as a solid defensive player.
Tony Abreu, 2B/SS/3B (26) - SWITCH
2010 was a very disappointing offensive season for Abreu. Before last season, Abreu had a reputation as a line-drive, high batting average hitter who did not draw a lot of walks. But in 2010, the batting average disappeared, and the plate discipline became horribly bad. The .233 batting average may have been some bad luck, as his 20.9% line drive rate was actually the highest on the team. But the big problem was the 47/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Abreu has never walked much, but he also never struck out at such a high rate. Abreu will never hit many home runs, so he needs to maintain a high batting average to be useful.
Defensively, Abreu played much more SS than he had before. The various metrics, as well as the fans, all rated him below average defensively. Part of that may be due to his new position, as he had played well defensively in previous years, and had a good reputation as a second baseman.
2011 will be a key season for Abreu. He should be the primary backup SS, but probably will not get much playing time in the middle infield unless injuries strike Johnson or Drew. If his bat comes back, he could be in the mix for more time at 3B, battling with Melvin Mora and Geoff Blum.