The 2012 second base crop isn’t awe inspiring in the least. While Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson could very well bounce back in 2012, neither is a sure thing. The bottom of the pile features a collection of aging veterans that may or may not even find a place to play next season
1. Aaron Hill (30) – A change of scenery did the trick for Hill, who hit .315/.386/.492 with two home runs and five stolen bases in a very small sample of 142 plate appearances after joining the D-Backs. That was a very good impression to make, as Arizona is interested in bringing Hill back. However, it is highly unlikely that they will exercise his $8M 2012 club option. Given his good contact skills and power/speed combo, there should be some decent demand for his services in this year’s second base free agent crop.
Possible destinations: Diamondbacks, Cubs, Mets, Rockies, Tigers, Twins
2. Kelly Johnson (30) – Johnson still hit for power (21 HR) and stole a few bases (16), but strikeouts became a big problem and aided his huge regression in AVG and OBP. Like Hill, Johnson saw better results after changing teams and leagues, hitting .270/.364/.417 with three home runs and three stolen bases in 132 plate appearances. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has always liked Johnson, which is one of the reasons he made the deal. Look for AA to try and bring Johnson back to Toronto in 2012.
Possible destinations: Blue Jays, Cubs, Mets, Rockies, Tigers, Twins
3. Clint Barmes (33) - Barmes may be the overlooked asset of this group. Those who focus on his AVG will miss the fact that he is an excellent defender with some pop in his bat. While Barmes may never be a great OBP guy, he still has the upside to be at least league average in that category.
Possible destinations: Astros, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Giants, Mets, Tigers, Twins
4. Ramon Santiago (32) – Santiago brings versatility to the field, though his arm strength doesn’t play as well at third or short. Offensively, he handles the bat well and has some pop. He’s the type of utility infielder that teams are always looking for.
Possible destinations: Tigers, Brewers, Mets, Rockies, Twins
5. Mark Ellis (35) – Injuries have kept Ellis suppressed for years now, but when he has been on the field, he’s been an asset, especially in the field. While he’s well past his prime at this point, he can still pop a few balls out of the yard while providing solid defense, though he probably won’t hold up over 130 or so games.
Possible destinations: Rockies, Cubs, Mets, Tigers, Twins
6. Jerry Hairston Jr. (36) – If the Jack of all trades, master of none cliché is to be bestowed upon any one of the free agent middle infielders, Hairston Jr. is the guy. His postseason performance with the Brewers (.385/.422/.538) might help add to the perception of him as one of the better super subs around.
Possible destinations: Brewers, Nationals, Reds, Rockies, Tigers, Twins
7. Jamey Carroll (37) – It could be easy to get lost between the short, singles hitting Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles, but Carroll is far superior when it comes to plate discipline and defense.
8. Drew Sutton (29) – The skills are there to succeed, but Sutton hasn’t been able to put it all together yet. He has hit for power and shownstolen base potential in the past. He know’s how to draw a walk (.378 career minor league OBP) and has played al over the field. Look for him to catch on somewhere on a minor league deal. There's potential for Sutton to, with a healthy season, provide valuable production off the bench and in a spot start role.
9. Adam Kennedy (36) – Another of the many past-their-prime middle infield veterans looking for a job. Kennedy still has a little pop and speed, but he really shouldn’t play anywhere but second base due to a weak arm.
10. Aaron Miles (35) – Miles will still slap singles around the yard a bit, but his skills as a utility infielder are futile at best. He has compiles a –28.5 ultimate zone rating over his nine year career.