Trying Lopez out for 2009 first baseman
Over at the Times, the news that Lopez will play first tonight as the Mariners kick around the idea of playing him there next year.
Jose’s had an offensive bounce this year, hitting over his career average, and yet:
Jose this year: .292/.318/.431
AL first basement this year: .265/.345/.440
As a general comparison, he’d be a little worse offensively than Casey Kotchman. The average first baseman is… James Loney (90% of Loney?). He’d be better than throwing a total random cheap player out there, but not all that much. To get him up to being an average first baseman, Lopez would need to be ten runs better defensively than a Loney.
And that’s possible, but his play at second’s been bad this year (well, pick your metric). The difference between second to first gets him some of that back, but how much? Five runs? Ten?
The other issue is that it’s a lot easier to find a first baseman than a competent second baseman. If they move Lopez to first, where he’s average, that’s an improvement over what they had there this year, but then they’re either going to be paying for a free agent second baseman, trading for someone, or they’ll end up playing a scrub or organizational player like Tug — and if you’re lucky, we end up with an all-glove no-bat player, picked my an organization that’s done a really bad job over the last five years evaluating defense as a team much less for individuals.
If Lopez can play first, though, it certainly gives the team more options this off-season, and I’m all for that.