Los Angeles Dodgers 2012 Season Preview: Second Base

35 in June. Hasn’t played more than 132 games since 2007. Absolutely abysmal with the bat. Ladies and gentlemen, your starting second baseman in 2012, Mark Ellis.

Signed to a ludicrous two-year deal for over $8 million in the offseason, Ellis comes to Los Angeles with the reputation of a good glove and “veteran bat”. The first of those things is quite true, as Ellis has posted a career UZR/150 of 8.2 in over 9000 innings at second, and Ellis’ last four years with the glove look like this: 20.6, 2.1, 12.7, and 6.7 (UZR/150). While that precipitous drop between 2010 and 2011 is concerning, Ellis should no doubt be solid in the field this season.

If only he could just play the field and never swing the lumber. The “veteran bat” Ned Colletti is so fond of put up a line last season of .248/.288/.346/.634 with a putrid .283 wOBA, and in over 4500 career plate appearances, Ellis has hit to the tune of a .266/.331/.397 slash line with a .321 wOBA.

Ellis’ walk rate has been all over the map, with two seasons above 10% and a career mark of just 7.8%. It is that career mark that is the most telling number, however, as Ellis’ last two campaigns have checked in at 8.1% and 4.2%, respectively. He doesn’t strike out an inordinate amount of the time (14.5% in 2011, 13.5% career), but the upward trend in his whiff rate in 2011 from 11.4% to 14.5%, combined with the decrease in walk rate and the mediocre power is certainly a troubling trend. His big (for a second baseman) power days are gone, and a move to Dodger Stadium is not going to help that downward spiral.

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Don Mattingly has already all but guaranteed Ellis will bat second behind Dee Gordon, so Matt Kemp will step to the dish a number of times this season with the bases empty.

But hey, you can’t put a price on that veteran experience.

About Greg Zakwin

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