So the Mets have reportedly asked Jordany Valdespin to go play second base this winter.
At first glance, this doesn’t make sense for a team with an incumbent second baseman in Daniel Murphy, and essentially no reasonable alternatives to play regularly in the outfield in 2013 currently under team control for next year.
But there are a pair of likely scenarios in which Valdespin plays second base regularly for the Mets. One is if they deal Murphy for outfield help to a team who sees him fitting at third base, his natural position. The other, alas, is if the Mets cannot extend David Wright, deal him, and move Murphy to third base.
In either case, the Mets will need a second baseman, and the yawning chasm that is their alternatives there, which led to giving Murphy a chance in the first place, could open the door for Valdespin.
The problem is that the case for Jordany Valdespin, second baseman, seems to be equal to that of Lucas Duda, outfielder: it would be awfully convenient if it could be so.
I’m not a fan of old-school defensive stats for many reasons. But man, Valdespin’s 36 errors in 229 career minor league games at second base doesn’t leave me optimistic that he’s a good idea at the position. Nor is his time at shortstop any more reassuring: 49 (!) errors in 146 games.
The reasons Daniel Murphy made some sense at second base were twofold. One, Murphy’s defensive abilities at first base and third base made a decent argument for him as a credible second baseman, if he could learn the position. Valdespin has none of that on his resume. Even so, Murphy’s defense, per Fangraphs, was worth -9 runs this season, at a rate that put him 20th among 22 qualifying second basemen.
Two, Murphy’s bat was proven, and an obvious plus at the position. That did bear out, with Murphy’s OPS+ of 104 ranking sixth among 29 second basemen with at least 100 games played in 2012. Had he simply hit at his career OPS+ level entering the season of 115, he’d have been third in the league.
But Jordany Valdespin, hitting-wise, is no Daniel Murphy. His OPS+ in 2012 is 94. Most of that production came in the first half, before the league adjusted to him: he’s put up a .648 OPS since the break. He can’t hit lefties, with a .573 mark against them, while Murphy is sound against both lefties and righties.
So while Valdespin’s bat is far less certain than Murphy’s was, and his defense is a lot more suspect, he does have one thing going for him: he’s not arbitration-eligible, like Murphy is. And he’s not about to earn a rich free agent contract, like Wright is.
These days in Flushing, that’s the most impressive thing anyone can have on a resume.