Second Base Analysis

If Jeff Kent is doing nothing else since he joined the Dodgers, he certainly is enhancing his chances of getting into the Hall of Fame someday. In the meantime, he's left no room for anyone else at second base. Not that there's any lack of candidates although right now it's somewhat in a state of flux.

One has just arrived from the minors -- Antonio Perez, although he seems likely to be spending most of his time at third because that's where the need is. He wasn't exactly ripping the Pacific Coast League apart while rehabbing (.232) but the Dodgers became sold on his abilities when he hit .292-26-88 at Las Vegas last year. He was playing shortstop then, though the feeling among most observers is that second is his natural spot.

Meanwhile, among those left behind at Vegas is Joe Thurston, who seems to have been playing in that city almost as long as Wayne Newton. Right now, though, Joey Ballgame isn't hitting much (.221) so Willie Aybar has been seeing the most action there. Willie certainly is hitting (.348) and learned to play second last year at Jacksonville. He had previously been moved off third when Perez was honing his skills there. Nor is he needed there at the moment because Nori Nakamura has come back to play that position. So, Willie's a second baseman for the time being. Who knows where he'll be in the future?

At Jacksonville, there's Delwyn Young, who is hitting well (.273-5-14). However, there are mixed opinions on his future at that position as well for scouts note a certain upper body stiffness that causes some to feel he'd be better off somewhere else -- in the outfield, say.

Tony Abreu is the every day man at that post in Vero Beach. Unlike Young and Aybar, who are middle of the order hitters, he's a leadoff man albeit one who doesn't walk much (just five bases on balls so far) and who right now isn't hitting so much, either (.243-1-11). That combination leaves him with a† meager .272 on-base percentage. They're hoping for a return to the promise he showed last year at Columbus (.302-8-54).

His successor at Columbus is Travis Denker, who had a flurry of home runs early but who has cooled of late. Currently, he's .256-5-16. Like Aybar and Young, he's more of an offensive second baseman. But, then, the glove types who used to occupy that post are almost archaic, now. Otherwise, Alex Cora would still be there in L.A., rather than Kent. Great fielder, Alex, but no one's mentioning his name for the Hall of Fame down the road.

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