We saw some change within the division at the Winter Meetings with the Marlins making a significant upgrade at second and appearing to be serious this offseason about a wild card run in 2015, much to the Mets’ chagrin. It’s also looking more and more like Murphy will continue to be our starter and as far as I’m concerned, the Mets are in pretty good shape at the position There may still be some additional flux at the position within the division before opening day, but for the time being – here’s how I’m ranking the starters within the National League East.
1. Chase Utley (Phillies) – It kills me to say this, but Utley is still the best second baseman in the National League East. He’ll be 36 on opening day and is no longer the same player he was from 2005-2009, but he’s still a solid producer. He made 147 starts at second base in 2014 after averaging 108 games played the previous four seasons. In 2014, he hit .270 with 11 HR, 36 doubles, 78 RBI and a .339 on-base. That’s solid production from a second baseman. Gotta give credit where credit is due – he’s top dog until Father Time catches up with him for good, or he is traded, or one of guys below leapfrogs him.
Steamer: .258 – 14 HR – 63 RBI – 66 R – 7 SB – 3.1 WAR
2. Daniel Murphy (Mets) – Is he going to win a golden glove? No. Does he occasionally have a brain fart that makes you wonder if Little Baby Murphy kept him up all night? Yes. Is he a good ball player? Yes. Murphy isn’t part of the problem, he’s part of the solution and I’m hoping he remains on the team. You know what you’re going to get with Murph – over the last three years, he’s averaged 153 games played, 175 hits, 78 runs scored, 38 doubles, 9 HR, 67 RBI, 15 SB and a slash line of .288/.327/.407. He is a doubles hitting machine who is one of the better offensive second basemen in the game. He wasn’t our only All Star in 2014 because of his good looks, folks. He’s not a superstar, but he’s a really good player and the second best second baseman in the division.
Steamer: .277 – 9 HR – 56 RBI – 68 R – 11 SB – 1.5 WAR
3. Dee Gordon (Marlins) – The Marlins certainly upgraded their second base situation during the winter meetings and are showing they’re serious about making a run at the playoffs in 2015 (at least at the moment because we’ve heard this story before). Ranking Gordon as the #3 second baseman in the division isn’t a knock against Dee one bit – the division is now the home of all three of the 2014 National League All-Star Second Basemen and if Murphy wasn’t already on our own roster, I would have been miffed it the Mets hadn’t tried to acquire the speedy Gordon to sit atop the lineup. The speedster had a breakout season in 2014 at the age of 26, leading the National League in triples with 12, steals with 64, while scoring 92 runs for the Dodgers. While Gordon struggled with his throwing as a shortstop, he is a much better defender at second. One could make a valid argument for ranking any of these top three in any order and while Utley, Murphy, and Gordon are three very different types of players with different weapons – you’re not getting hurt by having any of them in your starting lineup.
Steamer: .261 – 3 HR – 43 RBI – 74 R – 55 SB – 1.2 WAR
4. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) – There’s a big drop off after the top three. Espinosa hit a combined 38 home runs in 2011-2012 while hitting ,242 and averaging 178 strikeouts and playing in 318 games. However in the last two seasons, he’s averaged 79 games played, has hit .200 and averaged 6 HR and 20 RBI. Will he be the starter come opening day? Maybe. Maybe not. Nothing exciting here, folks.
Steamer: .221 – 13 HR – 55 RBI – 53 R – 9 SB – 0.8 WAR
5. Alberto Callaspo (Braves) – With a gaping hole at second base, the Braves signed the Venezuelan free agent to a one year deal for $3 million on December 15th. Last season with the A’s, Callaspo hit .223 with 4 HR and 39 RBI while making 41 starts at second, 17 at second, and 16 at third base. While Callaspo is presently listed at the top of the depth chart, the starter may end up being 24 year old former first rounder Jace Peterson, whom the Braves just acquired from San Diego in the Justin Upton trade. In 2014, Peterson hit .307 with a .402 OBP between AA and AAA.
Steamer: .251 – 9 HR – 51 RBI – 51 R – 3 SB – 0.8 WAR