Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Infield Preview

I’ll take this one around the horn…

1st Base- Paul Konerko

Offensively he’s a top five first basemen. I’d put Pujols, Teixeria, Helton, and maybe D-Lee ahead of him (D-Lee if he proves last year isn’t a fluke). Leadership-wise he’s top of the list. Paulie should have another monster year with Thome hitting in front of him, as long as he doesn’t let the pressures of his contract get to him I reckon he’ll hit around .280 with 40+ homers and 100+ RBI’s.

2nd Base – Tadahito Iguchi

Last year Tadahito was really up and down. He’d either be hitting ‘round .300 or striking out repetitively. I think Tadahito will do better after having a full year in the majors under his belt. I don’t think his Spring Training troubles are anything to really write home about; I think now that he’s back at home in the 2-spot he’ll be fine. I think Tadahito will take his place among the elite second basemen, somewhere toward the bottom of the top ten this year, while maintaining his solid, if not spectacular defense. .280, 20 HR, 80 RBI’s would be reeeeeal nice.

Shortstop – Juan Uribe

Juan is no Miguel Tejada, but he is a slick fielder (anyone who disagrees go see the last inning of the World Series, two magnificent plays). Juan doesn’t hit for that high of an average, but he’s pretty dependable at the bottom of the order for 15 HR and 65 RBI. Juan is one of the players who frustrates me the most. I love him at times but every time he drops down on one knee, flailing at a curveball I get ready to yell. Look for Alex Cintron to spell Juanny if he gets hurt or if he starts to slump a bit.

3rd Base – Joe Crede

It seems every year, around this time, people are forecasting a break out year for Crede. So this year, I’m going to predict a somewhat break out year. I think power numbers will stay consistent, somewhere in the 25 HR range; RBI will increase a little, toward the 75 region; but I think he’ll show the biggest signs of growth in AVG and BB’s. Last year he batted .252 with a paltry 25 walks. I think he can budge that up to the .270 range with 35-40 walks.

Catcher – AJ Pierzynski.

AJ put up some pretty good numbers, but I wonder if this is a result of playing at the Cell or true growth. When looking at his splits he hit twice as many dingers at home (12:6), but he struck out nearly twice as much and his AVG was 13 points lower at home. So maybe, AJ swings for the fences on purpose while at home. I dunno, but I foresee a .260 AVG with a similar number of homers, 10-15, while continutally calling great games behing the plate.

4 days 'til Opening Day

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