Earlier this weekend I was chatting with my friend the Rotoprofessor and he made an off the cuff remark that caught me by surprise. Basically, he said that if the Mets look at second base as primarily an offensive position, then of the options that the club has at second base, that Jordany Valdespin had the most upside.

Now, it should be noted he’s not a Daniel Murphy at second base fan. So I took that comment to mean that among Reese Havens, Ruben Tejada, Justin Turner and Valdespin that he thinks Valdespin has the best offensive profile. That really made me do a double-take and I thought we should investigate the issue further. Let’s start by seeing what prospect maven John Sickels had to say about each coming into the 2011 season:

Havens – I like him enough to give him something as high as Grade B but his health problems have to be factored in. Grade C+; though that could rise if his body lets him play.

Tejada – no longer a rookie so he was not in the 2011 Prospect Book. Here’s what Sickels said in 2010: If his bat takes another step forward, he’ll project as a regular middle infielder. If his bat stays where it currently is, he’ll still be useful in a utility role. Grace C+ but I like him.

Turner – I don’t see any reason why he can’t hang around the majors for several years as a useful role player, if he gets off to a hot start and has a bit of luck. Grade C.

Valdespin – Not one of the 39 players in the Mets farm system to get a write-up. Nor did he get one in 2010.

Now, here are their slash lines in 2011 and leagues they played:

Havens – .289/.372/.455 in 242 PA at Double-A
Tejada – .284/.360/.335 in 376 PA in the majors
Turner – .260/.334/.356 in 487 PA in the majors
Valdespin – .297/.341/.483 in 441 PA at Double-A and .280/.304/.411 in 113 PA at Triple-A

After the season, Sickels did a chat and was asked about Valdespin being a starter. Here’s his response: “I could see it at second base, providing some speed and pop although I wouldn’t expect a great OBP out of him and he would not be a star.”

And to me that’s why I don’t see Valdespin being the choice at second base – his OBP is not high enough to satisfy Sandy Alderson and the people who currently make up the team’s front office. Look at the isolated OBP (OBP-AVG) of our contestants last year and here’s what you see:

Havens – .083
Tejada – .076
Turner – .074
Valdespin – .044 and .024

True, Valdespin showed some pop last year with 17 HR which should not be completely ignored. But how much of that should we attribute to the favorable HR park of Binghamton? Turns out that he hit 9 HR in BNG and 6 in road parks while he was in Double-A, which is not a huge split. And he did hit 2 HR in 107 ABs for Buffalo.

You can certainly make a strong case that he has the most power potential of the four challengers listed for second base. But can that advantage make up for the 50+ points of OBP he’s likely to trail the others?

I like Valdespin and I am glad he is in the organization and one of the people fighting for playing time in the middle infield. If the power is real, he certainly will be a factor somewhere. His 17 HR last year was a professional-best, as was his 554 PA. In 2010 he had 6 HR and 405 PA.

In 2010, Valdespin had a late-season promotion to Double-A and looked overmatched in 117 PA, posting a .547 OPS. He returned to Binghamton last year and put up a very nice season. Instead of being under consideration for playing time at 2B for the Mets in 2012, Valdespin should be in Triple-A, trying to do the same thing at Buffalo as he did at Binghamton last year.

Perhaps Valdespin’s best shot is if he can cut it at shortstop in the majors. Last year he played three times as many games at SS (98) as he did at 2B (32). The most-likely scenario right now is that Valdespin opens the year as the starting SS at Buffalo, with Havens as his double-play partner over at 2B.

Regardless of how things shake out for the Mets in the infield, one thing is very clear – they are assembling some nice depth up the middle. We have Murphy, Tejada and Turner already in the majors, Havens, Valdespin and Josh Satin knocking at the door and 2011 over-slot pick Phillip Evans leading a host of younger players at the lower levels.

Even if Valdespin does not reach the upside that the Rotoprofessor predicts for him, the Mets should be in good shape up the middle. At the very least, they should not have to suffer through the double-play combo of Doug Flynn (.539 OPS) and Frank Taveras (.559 OPS) that the 1981 Mets did.

5 comments on “Does Jordany Valdespin offer the most upside at 2B?

  • AJ

    Aren’t there some behavioral issues with Valdespin, or have I got him confused with someone else?

    • Brian Joura

      Back in 2009 he had some disciplinary problems but from what I can tell there have been no repeat issues the past two seasons.

  • CatchDog

    In the lower levels, don’t forget the Brooklyn Cyclone’s Shortstop Danny Muno, who led the league in hitting with a .346 AVE and some stellar defense. Both Muno & Evans could very well be on the radar after 2012.

    • Brian Joura

      Muno is definitely a guy to keep an eye on. One thing to remember is that he was a touch older than most people in the NYP. He was drafted as a college senior while most college draftees are juniors. When Spring Training starts he’ll be 23, so there’s not a lot of time for struggles – especially given the number of people ahead of him with legitimate MLB aspirations.

  • Metsense

    Valdespin is improving each year and it will be interesting to see what his ceiling is. If Wright regresses further or has similar #’s of 2011 will the new frugal Mets pick up his 2013 option? Especially if Valdespin, Havens, Lutz, or Satin improve? (moving Murphy to 3b if needed in 2013). Wright needs a bounce back year equaling his salary value in 2012.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: