Miami Marlins Position Review: Second Base Grades

Sep 26, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano (17) a catches Washington Nationals left fielder Scott Hairston (not pictured) fly ball in the sixth inning in game two of a baseball doubleheader at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Solano – D-

I am trying to avoid handing out F’s, but Donovan’s performance was really begging for one this year. At the start of the season, Solano was a utility infielder, someone capable of filling in at second base and shortstop when needed. The Marlins had signed Rafael Furcal (more on him in a minute) to play second base, but due to injury, Solano became the main second baseman.

Solano played in 111 games and managed 340 at-bats. He slashed .252/.300/.323 on the season with 3 home runs, 26 runs, and 28 RBI’s. If it seems like Solano was constantly hitting ground balls at the second baseman, its because he was. He had more ground balls (125) than he had line drives and fly balls put together (121). Solano doesn’t provide much in terms of speed on the base paths with only 1 stolen base on the year, a bit of a surprise considering he looks pretty quick and seems to run the bases pretty well.

Inexplicably, Solano routinely hit in the number 2 spot, despite having one of the Marlins worst OBP’s. He had 212 plate appearances 2nd in the lineup, fulfilling Mike Redmond‘s dream of his second baseman always hitting second. In terms of WAR, Solano was 38th at the second base position with a 0.4 WAR. With only 30 teams, he was outpaced by some that didn’t spend their entire season at 2B.

Solano does a good job of not striking out, but a terrible job at earning walks. He is a pure contact hitter, without enough power to do any real damage. Out of his 78 hits, 63 were singles. Defensively, he is above average. He shows good quickness and decent range, particularly to his glove side. His arm leaves a little to be desired, particularly on the pivot if he is unable to get his feet planted.

The truth is, Solano is below average utility player, but the Marlins didn’t have a lot of choices at second base when Furcal went down, and stayed down. Solano did his best, but a starting second base job is likely to be too much for the young player to handle at this stage of his career.

Rafael Furcal – What Did You Think Was Going To Happen?

Furcal receives the “What did you think was going to happen?” grade, because that is what I would want to ask the Marlins front office when they are reviewing their season. I understand that they didn’t spend a ton of money on Furcal, but giving any money to a guy that hasn’t been able to play more than 125 games in 5 years, seriously 5 years, was a grave error in judgement.

Furcal managed to play 9 total games for the Fish this year logging more strained hamstrings (2) than he did extra base hits (1). Hopefully the Furcal experiment is over after this year, but you never know what the front office is thinking.

May 31, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich (32) connects for an RBI triple during the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Dietrich – C-

I don’t know Derek personally, but if I were to judge him based on the Marlins (read Jeffrey Loria’s) treatment of him, I would say he must be a jerk. The Marlins consistently make head scratching decisions with Dietrich’s future, rumored to be based on their dislike of him. Dietrich is one of the better young, left-handed, power hitters on the team. I have him listed at second baseman for this review, but the Marlins have had him shift from shortstop, to second base, and now are rumored to be working with him at third base.

It is difficult for any young player to undergo a single position change, let alone multiple ones. That being said, I like Dietrich’s future as a corner infielder. After taking an unfortunate bounce in spring training which resulted in a broken nose, He seemed a little gun-shy during the season. One thought is that his defense led to him being demoted back down to AAA. That is certainly a possibility. He would have less time to react at third base, hopefully resulting in fewer opportunities to flinch at the baseball.

Defensive woes aside, Dietrich provides left-handed power on a team that desperately needs it. Derek hit 5 home runs in 183 plate appearances, helping to offset his below average slash line of .228/.326/.386. It is cliché to claim small sample size, but if you take a look at what he did during his time in AAA (.317/391/.610!) I think it is safe to say that his numbers could be expected to rise a bit. At the very least, he was 0.1 WAR behind Solano in half the time (0.4 WAR), and he is a better player moving forward.

Dietrich is another player that could use to increase his walk rate (7.1%), but don’t mistake him for a contact hitter. Of his 36 base hits, 13 went for extra bases. He was also hit an alarmingly high number of times (10), so his defensive tics didn’t translate into a fear of the baseball while batting.

As long as Derek doesn’t anger anyone else in the front office, I am predicting that he will break camp in 2015 with the big league club, unless they make some significant additions during free agency. I believe that Dietrich has what it takes to be above replacement level.

What do you think about the grades? Let us know in the comments below what grades you would have give Marlins’ second basemen on the season!