Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Contemplating Brian Dinkelman

Brian Dinkleman's major league average after Monday's
game was more than 140 points higher than his Triple A
average for the season.

Brian Dinkleman has nine hits in the Twins' last three games — 9-for-13, which is a fairly decent batting average. In his exceedingly brief time in the majors, he's hitting .386.

Even Ty Cobb wouldn't sneer at that batting average. Of course, it's only 44 at-bats. And .386 is also Dinkleman's slugging percentage. And he has just two walks to his credit, and they were both intentional.

We need not wonder if the 27-year-old is a legit .380 hitter. Nobody is. The real question is: Is he good enough to help a major league team?

I doubt it. His slash line in Triple A —pretty much two full seasons — is .255/.327/.353. Even maintaining those numbers in the major leagues would only work with high-caliber defense at a middle infield spot. Dinkleman does play second base — it was his initial position in the minors, and he's been seeing time there in the past week with the Twins — but if he were really a plus defender there the Twins wouldn't have made him primarily an outfielder at the higher levels.

He doesn't field well enough to play second in the majors. He doesn't hit enough to play a corner outfield in the majors. He's no shortstop, which detracts from his value as a utility infielder.

He's one of those guys — left-handed stick, makes contact — who'd have a better chance if teams still carried just 10 pitchers and there was no DH rule. I could see him carving out a career as a pinch-hitter/sixth infielder under those circumstances, especially if he finishes this season with a 353 average or something like that.

But those aren't the circumstances. Right or wrong, 21st Century managers prefer to have an extra arm to mop up waste innings than a pinch-hit option.

That's bad for a Brian Dinkelman, good for a Phil Dumatrait.

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