Season Review: Infielders


June 24, 2010- Milwaukee, WI. Miller Park..Minnesota Twins Justin Morneau breaks for third base..Milwaukee Brewers won over the Minnesota Twins 5-0, the Brewers swept the Twins in the 3 game series at Miller Park..Mike McGinnis / CSM.

Look at that running form!

We’ve already covered the catchers, so it only makes sense to do the infielders next. And if I’m about anything, it’s making sense.

Justin Morneau

Despite being lost for the season in July, Morneau managed to still lead the team in fWAR. Now, it was just .2 ahead of Joe Mauer and neither WAR is a precise instrument, and it presupposes that Morneau is a +20ish fielder. Morneau has really improved his glove – to the point where he is one of the top 5 or so guys out there, but he is not at all a +20ish fielder. Still, his bat provided 35 runs, and that led the team. It was also 3rd in the league amongst 1B. For a half season. I used to think Justin Morneau was the most overrated player in baseball, but it appears he is making the leap.

Orlando Hudson

Erin already covered it, so hooray for plagiarism:

Hudson batted .268/.338/.372 and provided excellent defense, with a league-leading 9.8 UZR at second base, and saving 17 runs for the Twins this season (he also finished second in voting for the Fielding Bible Awards). O-Dog will probably seek a multi-year deal, something the Twins should be hesitant to hand out given his age and declining on-base percentage

The Twins likely won’t offer him a contract, which is fine given their budget constraints, but Hudson did everything asked of him in 2010.

Alexi Casilla

The man inheriting Hudson’s 2B position seems like a  youngster, but he will actually be 27 next year. Casilla pretty much is what he is at this point: an “eh” hitter and a very good fielder. UZR doesn’t like his glove much but that’s its fault, not Casilla’s. Another thing I’ve always liked about Casilla is his ability to have good at bats. He has no power, but he still has the ability to lengthen ABs by fouling pitches off. Oddly enough his walk rates have never been very high, though I am hoping that irregular playing time has to do with that somewhat.

JJ Hardy

Hardy appears to be a non-tender candidate, but if the Twins have playoff aspirations next year, they need to bring him back. He wasn’t phenomenal this year, with a bit below average bat (96 wRC+), but he would easily be the best free agent shortstop around, and even if you pencil him in for 2 fWAR next year (he was at 2.4 this year), he would be worth the 5.5 million or so he would likely make in arbitration.

Danny Valencia

Is it possible I was wrong about Valencia? Perhaps, though I do think it is extremely likely that 2010 will be the best year of his career. He had a .351 wOBA built largely on a BABIP driven .311 batting average. He had a good linedrive rate, but his offensive numbers are always going to be driven by BABIP given his relative lack of power. He actually had a nice power spike at the end of the year and ended up with 7 homers in 322 PA, but he will always be more of a singles hitter. Defensively, Valencia was a +6 with the glove, which may be correct, but we will have to wait and see in that regard. His range doesn’t strike me as phenomenal, but his great arm allows him to play deeper than most ML third basemen.

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