Weak-Hitting Positions For NL Contenders

Even contenders have their flaws.  Defining contenders as any team Clay Davenport gives at least a five percent chance of reaching the playoffs and using weighted on-base average, let's identify the weakest offensive production by position in the NL.

  • Catcher: Reds (.263), Diamondbacks (.265).  For the Reds, giving Devin Mesoraco the clear starting catcher role over Ryan Hanigan would boost their offensive production out of the position, but of course this position is about a lot more than hitting.  The D'Backs are in a tough spot.  They have a major commitment to Miguel Montero, and he's been brutal so far this season.  They probably just have to hope he pulls out of it.
  • First base: Rockies (.289), Phillies (.317).  The Rockies have used Jordan Pacheco, Todd Helton, and a little bit of Michael Cuddyer at first base this year.  In theory, the Rockies could go with Cuddyer at first and someone like Tyler Colvin in right field.  The trade market is bleak at the position, as Justin Morneau and Carlos Pena would not be clear upgrades for Colorado.  Corey Hart could be an interesting option, once he comes off the DL.  The Phillies owe Ryan Howard roughly $98MM through 2016, so they'll just have to hope he can start drawing some more walks and begin to add positive value.
  • Second base: Nationals (.227), Diamondbacks (.284).  Second base has been a black hole for the Nats, with Danny Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi struggling.  Fans are calling for the return of 2011 first-round pick Anthony Rendon, but he probably needs to gain more experience at second base first.  The D'Backs have used Martin Prado at second baes a decent amount in Aaron Hill's absence.  Should Hill require surgery on his hand fracture, perhaps the D'Backs will look into an acquisition.  Maybe third base prospect Matt Davidson, hitting .311/.342/.544 at Triple-A this month, could help the situation.
  • Shortstop: Dodgers (.219), Pirates (.248).  Hanley Ramirez should return from a hamstring injury next week, providing a lift to the Dodgers' abysmal offensive production at shortstop.  The Pirates signed Clint Barmes in the 2011-12 offseason for his defense, but it barely makes up for the automatic outs at the plate.  Jordy Mercer, John McDonald, and Chase D'Arnaud aren't much better, and highly regarded prospect Alen Hanson is still at High A.  Good luck finding a decent-hitting shortstop on the trade market, though.  The White Sox, should they drop out of contention, could offer up Alexei Ramirez at a premium.
  • Third base: Pirates (.259), Rockies (.280), Dodgers (.288).  It's been a power-only show for the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez at the hot corner, as he's striking out a ton and owns the fifth-worst qualified OBP in the NL (.257).  Aramis Ramirez would be a fun pick-up, though intra-divisional trades can be tricky.  Chase Headley would be a huge addition, but only if the Padres are willing to listen.  The Rockies will give rookie Nolan Arenado some time to find his footing.  Less Luis Cruz should be enough to give the Dodgers a lift.
  • Left field: Diamondbacks (.300), Reds (.300), Giants (.302).  The D'Backs have used six different left fielders, and figure to stick with Jason Kubel and Cody Ross.  With Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey on the DL, the Reds have been employing Xavier Paul of late, and he's been solid overall.  The Giants' combo of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres was never meant to be offense-first, and Torres has heated up in May anyway.  Should one of these teams turn to the trade market, Josh Willingham, Carlos Quentin, Michael Morse, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, Melky Cabrera, and Alfonso Soriano are some candidates.  Several of those players don't work for the Giants, however.
  • Center field: Dodgers (.278), Braves (.278), Phillies (.288).  Center field is not an offense-first position, but in general these teams just need to get more out of their incumbents.  Matt Kemp might miss some time with a hamstring strain, which could allow for Joc Pederson to get a look with the Dodgers.  It seems crazy for the Braves to push B.J. Upton into a full-blown platoon with Jordan Schafer months after committing $75.25MM over five years, but that could be an option at some point.  The Phillies were looking mostly for defense from Ben Revere, but .263/.302/.294 is still tough to stomach.  John Mayberry Jr. can pitch in a bit.  As for the trade market, Peter Bourjos, and Franklin Gutierrez could become available when healthy.  David DeJesus, Chris Coghlan, and Alejandro De Aza could also be options.
  • Right field: Phillies (.294), Braves (.313).  Delmon Young hasn't done much for the Phillies in right so far.  The Braves' Jason Heyward has been terrible, and we'll see how long they can wait that slump out.  Trade options could include Giancarlo Stanton, Alex Rios, Andre Ethier, Nate Schierholtz, Chris Denorfia, Morse, and Hart.

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