Monday, January 9, 2017

Power up the middle

A noteworthy piece for Baseball America on the increasing importance of power in baseball.

According to Matt Eddy, the league-average shortstop hits 13 homers in the current game. That certainly wasn't the case back in my early fandom, when teams -- even good to great teams -- routinely sported punchless shortstops and second basemen whose primary purpose was to keep the starting pitcher in the game.

The demand for power is, by the charts included with Eddy's piece, most pronounced in the middle infield.

Power is such an important component of today’s game that a scout recently told Baseball America that he hesitates to recommend any player for whom he cannot project at least fringe-average power. That’s a 45 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and it translates to roughly 10 to 12 home runs per season.
Consider the Twins projected lineup. We should expect a default outfield of Eddie Rosario (10 homers in 2016), Byron Buxton (10 homers) and Max Kepler (17), those HRs coming in partial seasons. The infield, with Brian Dozier untraded, would be Joe Mauer (11), Dozier (42), Miguel Sano (25) and unknown at short. Last year the position was essentially split three ways, and Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez and Jorge Polanco combined for 22 homers, 12 of them from the departed Nunez. Jason Castro (11 homers) figures to be the primary catcher.

There's not a position at which the Twins don't have that minimum 45 power from their projected starter. Of course, there are positions at which the Twins don't have a projected 45 fielding from their projected regular either.

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