Let’s Talk About Second Base, AgainBy: Brendan Bilko
Due to a bone bruise in his left foot, Mets second baseman Luis Castillo is currently listed as day to day. Castillo, to date, has looked pretty poor in the early season. His wOBA of .315 is largely a product of his high walk totals (BB/K of 4.67). Though he has run into some bad luck on balls in play (BABIP of .265), he’s looking like 2008 Luis. Combine his poor play at the plate with his atrocious fielding, and this little Luis break could be a good thing. Key word here though is “could.”
It appears as though in his absence Alex Cora will get the majority of the starting time at second base. In his limited playing time (today will be his twelfth start), he has produced a horrific wOBA of .262. To be fair, BABIP has been extremely unkind to him as well, racking up a cool .179 over his 47 plate appearances. Cora is bad, but he isn’t this bad at the plate.
Defensively, Cora will actually be an upgrade over Castillo. Over the past 3 seasons (averaging about 80 games a season), Cora has produced UZR rates of 2.5, -2.1, -2.1, which when compared with Castillo’s .5, -4.8, -11.2 is an improvement. Here is how they have fared across Dewan’s +/- system at second in particular:
To be fair the sample size for Castillo is far larger (so we’re positive he sucks in the field). While Cora’s range doesn’t generally translate well at middle infield positions any longer, it’s an upgrade from where we are at the moment. I don’t wish injury on anyone, however in an ideal world, Castillo hits the DL and Ruben Tejada is given another shot being as his service clock has already started. Given where we’re at though, and the teams apparent determination to have Cora’s option vest (just 68 starts away after today!), Alex starting the next few games might not be the worst thing in the world. Now if only someone would just tell Jerry that second basemen don’t need to bat second as well.