The Kansas City Royals have been slightly active again this week. They have signed all of their arbitration eligible players except for Alex Gordon. It will be interesting to see if the Royals are able to sign to a long term contract. There have been rumors of this in the media, but only time will tell. This week, will start our look at the American League Central infielders by reviewing the shortstops of each team. The following statistics will give us a view of each player’s 2011 season.
The Chicago White Sox will start one of the more proven commodities at shortstop. Alexei Ramirez in his four full seasons with the White Sox has been a consistent performer on offense. Ramirez has a career .279 batting average. Alexei has always had a consistent power stroke averaging 19 home runs, 26 doubles a season. Alexei will provide the White Sox a solid offensive contribution and will play a solid short stop. The White Sox know what they are getting from Ramirez and should be excited.
The Cleveland Indians will be starting Asdrubal Cabrera. 2011 was the best all around offensive year of Cabrera’s career. Cabrera has hit for a solid average in each of his first five seasons, a .281 career average. Asdrubal has always had the ability to hit for some power as he has average 36 doubles a season. He had never found that home run stroke until last year when he hit 25 home runs. His previous career high had been 6. Did Cabrera finally develop some home run power? This season should be interesting. If Cabrera can hit like he did last season and add a injury free season from Sizemore and Hafner, the Indians could once again be a surprise team in the central.
The Detroit Tigers will start Jhonny Peralta at shortstop. Last season Peralta had one of his best offensive seasons. In nine seasons Peralata had a career .268 batting average. Last season his average jumped thirty points higher than his career average as Peralta hit .299. Peralata has always had good power for a shortstop. Peralta averages 34 doubles, 19 home runs, and 83 rbi’s a season. With all the power bats in the Tigers lineup, Peralta will slide into the 6 or 7 slot and continue to produce as he has throughout his career.
The Kansas City Royals will start Alcides Escobar. In his second full big league season, Escobar showed signs of greatness with his glove. His bat on the other hand showed signs of Tony Pena Jr. At times Escobar showed signs that his bat could provide a spark when he gets hot. Escobar’s biggest issue at the plate is his patience. With an average of .254 and an OBP of only .290, obviously Escobar needs to improve this number. If Escobar is able to hit .260 and have an OBP in the .330 neighborhood and continue to play what I thought was Gold Glove caliber defense, he will be an asset to the Kansas City Royals.
The Minnesota Twins will begin the season with Jamey Carroll at shortstop. Carroll is an aging shortstop who has always been a decent hitter for average. In his 10 major league seasons, Carroll has hit for an average of .278. In his last two seasons with Dodgers in 2010 and 2011, Carroll posted a .291 and .290 average. Carroll has never shown any power. His career high in doubles is 23 in 2006. His career high in home runs is 5 also in 2006. Since then Carroll has not even come close to those numbers. Carroll will definitely struggle hitting in Minnesota and as he has aged his first step is slowing and he is trending downwards.
Now that all shortstops have briefly been discussed, I will rank them from 1 to 5 in my point of view as to how their overall production for the 2012 season will stack up.
- Alexei Ramirez
- Asdrubal Cabrera
- Jhonny Peralta
- Alcides Escobar
- Jamey Carroll
From my point of view, Alexei Ramirez will continue to produce the way he has his entire major league career and provide a solid bat in the White Sox line up. If Asdrubal can show his power stroke was not a fluke, he could definitely be the #1 shortstop by a long shot. Was last season a fluke? This season could answer a lot of questions with the Indians. Jhonny Peralta will be Jhonny Peralta, a decent average, but a player who will be helped a ton by the bats around him. As for Escobar, his offense shows room for improvement, but he will play a gold glove caliber shortstop. If he can improve his plate discipline Escobar could also move up this list. As for Jamey Caroll, what is there to get excited about?