2013 Expectations: 2nd Base

Last offseason I did a 15 part preview of the Pirates upcoming seasons focusing on what I expected to see out of various positions at the major league levels, the minor levels, the coaching staff and the front office. The series went over fairly well with my readers so I have decided to bring it back for a second year. I’m not sure how many parts this year’s series will include but I will do my best to cover every key player I can think of.

Neil Walker

Walker gives the Pirates one of their most stable positions. Assuming he is healthy he is a good bet to start at least 140 games and likely more. Last season Walker put up numbers relatively similar to the two years before; he hasn’t been able to regain the slugging percentage he had in his rookie campaign but the rest of his numbers have remained relatively close. For that reason Walker is becoming a known commodity and there is a level of production that we should all be able to reasonably expect from him. Defensively Walker has been steadily improving and as of now is probably around a league average defender and that is a pretty safe estimate of what he will likely be in 2013. For his overall game Walker has the look of a very solid secondary piece who will usually post a 3-3.5 WAR. His offensive numbers suggest something around .275/.340/.420 can be reasonably expected. There have been no indications that Walker is ready to take a step back from this production nor does he appear to be a candidate to move to the next level of production so for 2013 I am expecting Walker to continue to be an above average second baseman.

Ivan De Jesus

The only other player I feel worth discussing who I consider his primary position to be second base is the newly acquired Ivan De Jesus. De Jesus will have a chance to make the major league squad but right now I have him on the outside looking in so he will more than likely begin the season at AAA. I expect him to at some point this season get a chance at a bench role with the Pirates and I am actually expecting him to handle it quite well. I see De Jesus as a slightly better version of Josh Harrison. He has shown a willingness to at least occasionally take a walk, has put up some decent offensive numbers in AAA and is from all reports a sound defender capable of handling shortstop for a limited amount of time. It would not surprise me one bit to see De Jesus get a chance with the big league team and stick as a utility infielder. As for an upside higher than that, I just don’t see it. He has no aspect of his game that particularly stands out. I’m not expecting to see much of De Jesus in 2013 but I do expect him to hold his own and be a decent bench option in the limited opportunities he does get.


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