The Toronto Blue Jays were a bad baseball team in 2013. While they had a number of players, that had very good seasons, they also had a number of positions on the diamond that were black holes of production. Most notably, the Blue Jays got next to no value from J.P. Arencibia behind the plate, received virtually no contributions from a carousel of second baseman, and had a heck of a time getting anything out of left field (not to mention the awful starting pitching).
J.P. Arencibia is upsetting, and the thought of him coming back and starting for the Jays makes me a little sad, so I’m just going to ignore the existence of the catcher for a little while. In left field, I think the removal of a tumor from his spine will help Melky Cabrera once again regain the form that made him an All-Star in San Francisco.
That brings us to second base. Ryan Goins is not the answer, since he could barely hack it in Buffalo, and Maicer Izturis is nobody’s starting second baseman. If the Blue Jays are going to upgrade at second base, it’s going to come from outside the organization.
This led my friends over at Jays Journal to speculate that the player the Blue Jays should target to fill this gaping hole in the middle of the diamond is Omar Infante, formerly of the Detroit Tigers.
Why am I so against the Blue Jays signing a 2B that is coming off of a season in which he posted an fWar of 3.1 you might ask? Maicer Izturis, that’s why.
The signing of a solid albeit unspectacular 2B to a multiyear contract as he is headed into his age 32 season has never backfired on anyone right? Omar Infante is definitely way better than Maicer Izturis…right?
Infante is coming off of a season in which he hit .318/.345/.450, a line that is borderline elite among a very shallow talent base at 2B in the MLB. Despite his advancing age (and slowing legs) Infante was able to manage a BABIP of .333, 23 points above his career average of .310.
A BABIP aided career year coupled together with advancing age and a poor walk rate, makes Infante a prime candidate to be hit hard by a little thing called the aging curve. Second baseman are notorious for aging poorly, and I see no reason why Infante would be an exception ot the rule.
Justin Jay, my friend and a contributor over at Jays Journal whom wrote the piece advocating for Infante’s signing had this to say in response to my Izturis comparisons:
After stealing 17 bases in 2012, Infante managed just 5 in 2013, thanks in part to it being unnecessary while hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Another player that had 17 steals in 2012? You guessed it, Maicer Izturis, who dropped all the way down to 1 SB in his first season as Jay.
Both Infante and Izturis don’t strike out a lot. For their careers their K% is 13.6 % and 10.6% respectively (score 1 Izturis), and for last season it was 9.2% and 9.5% each. Izturis accompanies his low K% with a BB% of around 8% which is league average, while Infante comes in with a career BB% of just 5.4%.
There is a large difference in the GB/FB ratio of the two players, with Izturis putting the ball on the ground far more often. Logic would tell us that due to this, Izturis would have a better BABIP generally ground balls go for hits more often than fly balls (although they don’t result in extra base hits as often hence Infante’s superior power). In reality, despite a similar LD% and a far higher FB%, Infante had a BABIP 84 points higher than Izturis.
While I have nothing against Omar Infante personally, and think he had a fantastic season for the Detroit Tigers in 2013, he is the last thing that the Blue Jays need to contend in 2014. Second baseman age poorly, and Omar Infante is a second baseman that is getting old. The Blue Jays can and should find a better, younger, and cheaper option elsewhere.