Good and Bad Tyler Greene and the Cardinals' second basemen

If the Cardinals have to go into the 2012 season with two unproven former borderline-prospects at second base, they could certainly have done worse than Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene. Descalso, whose defense I will not even try to judge at this point, got 375 plate appearances as the infielder-of-last-resort and looks like a second baseman, even though he only made nine starts there last year; he didn't show any power, but after looking like he couldn't even see a major league fastball in April he adjusted enough to post a .334 OBP on the season, which has value in a year where NL 2Bs had an OBP of .319.

ZiPS has him set to post another position-average offensive season in 2012, which means that, if his defense isn't terrible and he's platooned judiciously, the Cardinals should be able to get away with their usual under-investment at the position much better than they usually do.

Meanwhile, Tyler Greene (obligatory Tyler Greene Fan Club link), who's projected to hit just .233/.309/.364, will stick around as the designated high-upside excitement option for the fourth straight year since he began showing signs of life in the high minors.

Greene is yet another great Davenport Translations candidate. In Memphis, since 2009, adjusted for league: .274/.339/.431; .267/.325/.399; .295/.371/.481. In St. Louis, since 2009: .222/.267/.324; .221/.328/.327; .212/.322/.288.

Every time Greene has hit the major leagues he's shown off his talents—great speed, fine walk rate, surprising power—and a shocking inability to make contact. A combination of a low-but-not-that-low-unfortunately BAbip and an extremely high strikeout rate have given him a career batting average of .218 in 316 at-bats.

          AAA     DT     MLB    
K%       23.6   24.6    24.2
BAbip    .368   .350    .284

Here's one additional way to look at the DTs—most of the difference in performance is that the DTs don't ding Greene very much for his absurdly high BAbip in Memphis (which they probably should), while once he gets to St. Louis Greene goes from a player in the Ichiro/Derek Jeter/Matt Kemp class with a BAbip near .350 to one of the dog-slow players (inordinately third baseman, weirdly enough) on this Dan Johnson/Robin Ventura/Einar Diaz list.

There but for the grace of continued ball-in-play glory goes David Freese, another minor league slugger with a high AAA BAbip who was old for his league.

Now that he's finally got a clear shot at a full season of service time we'll likely have significantly more evidence in either direction a year from now. But here's one reason to be optimistic about Greene eventually having the kind of season predicted by his minor league performance: He might not be Ichiro, but I don't think there's anything suggesting he's not Nyjer Morgan (.342), or Emilio Bonifacio (.339), or Fred Lewis (.339) or, if you like your example players with more strikeouts, Jose Hernandez (.334). He better resembles those guys than, say, John Mabry, who's on that second list with a BAbip of .283.

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