First base isn’t the only position where there is a discrepancy between NL and AL offenses. Far from it.
Albeit, most of the standout second basemen in the AL are homegrown. The star-studded array of AL talent, from Dustin Pedroia, to Robinson Cano, to Ian Kinsler, is fairly awe inspiring. Meanwhile, the Brewers’ Rickie Weeks – pictured on this month’s Baseball America cover to promo the magazine’s story about the offensive insurgence of modern-day major league second baseman – enters into play today hitting .174 in the NL.
Still, Weeks is one of many familiar names on the NL ballot sure to garner plenty of votes. The eighth-year big leaguer will likely be in the mix with Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips (hitting .229 with paltry peripheries), Phili’s Chase Utley (on the disabled list and having yet to play in ‘12), and Atlanta’s Dan Uggla (hitting .261 with 17 RBIs).
But, don’t overlook two guys flying low under the marquee radar. Houston’s youngster Jose Altuve is blazing a trail as the NL’s top hitter at second base, entering play today with a .351 average. He also owns an eye-popping .523 slugging percentage – especially considering Altuve, at 5-foot-5, is the smallest player in the big leagues.
However, currently more deserving of the NL nod at second is Miami’s Omar Infante. As if the irony of his being acquired from the Braves for Uggla two years ago isn’t intriguing enough. In a Marlins lineup packed with plenty of All-Star-caliber talent in Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes, the team’s best hitter thus far in 2012 has been their unheralded second baseman.
Infante has stood out across the board in his second year with the Marlins, leading the team with a .311 average, a .622 slugging percentage, and a .966 OPS. With the Marlins’ perfect 7-0 run thus far in May, Infante has played every inning, and went 5 for 11 with three doubles in a sweep in San Diego at one of the toughest hitters’ parks in baseball.
Another person of interest at second is Daniel Murphy, currently hitting .313 for the Mets. However, as a newly converted second baseman, Murphy has been, at best, defensively serviceable. Likewise, Altuve has natural range, but has already made four errors this year. Meanwhile, Infante has been outstanding with the leather, committing just one error while sporting a +5.5 range factor.