The average MLB second baseman has a .254/.317/.380 batting line this year, so it's safe to say teams don't demand as much offense from the position as they once did. In 2000, for example, the average second baseman hit .278/.349/.404 and 18 teams got a .750 OPS or better from their second basemen. Now just six teams have a .750 OPS from second base, but you can’t expect to play regularly unless you provide at least some offense.
Alexi Casilla, the Twins’ starting second baseman, isn’t hitting at all this year and his poor offensive production could cost him his job this coming offseason. The switch-hitter has a .223/.259/.293 batting line in 234 plate appearances so far in 2012. Though 13 of his 14 stolen base attempts have been successful, he’s not providing value on offense.
Casilla is a decent defensive middle infielder best-suited for second base, according to a pre-season scouting report in The Fielding Bible: Volume III. The 28-year-old Proformance client has spent most of this season at second base, making a few appearances at third base and none at shortstop.
Unless the Twins believe Casilla’s defense makes up for his below-average bat, they’ll have to consider non-tendering him this offseason. He’s earning 1.38MM this year as a second-time arbitration eligible player and would be in line for a salary approaching $2MM if Minnesota tenders him a contract this offseason -- MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a salary of $1.8MM.
That may be more than the Twins are willing to commit to a player who isn’t hitting, especially since they have internal alternatives up the middle. Brian Dozier and Jamey Carroll will be back in 2013. And pre-arbitration eligible utility player Eduardo Escobar, who joined the Twins in the Francisco Liriano trade, provides Minnesota with another affordable infield option. Many more utility infield options will be available on minor league deals in a matter of months.
Casilla has added some value according to the versions of the wins above replacement metric at Baseball-Reference (0.9 WAR) and FanGraphs (0.4 WAR). But it’s hard to see Twins general manager Terry Ryan committing a roster spot and a couple million dollars to a player who contributes so little on offense. Instead, it looks as though Casilla will hit free agency a year early barring a late-season surge.