Depth Chart, circa Spring 2011: Position Players

I've never quite understood the term "position player." "Pitcher" is also a position, isn't it? So I'm not sure what distinction this makes. I've been championing the term "no pitch 'ems" for years, but so far: no luck.

Here's volume two of my attempt to take a non-family-metaphor-based snapshot of the roster going into Spring Training 2011. I've based this primarily on the line of succession I think it in place and which will dictate how players are used this season. I'm anticipating that the team's new-found "win now" approach, designed to keep pace with St. Louis and Milwaukee, will give it a more aggressive outlook on the depth chart than in years past.

I've also included back-up/starter and playing time (%) columns for position players. These indicate whether a player is a potential regular at the position this year (which I've defined as getting at least 30% of starts) - even if as a result of injury or trade - and how much time they are projected to play at the start of the season. In some cases, "starters" will leapfrog "back-ups." For example: While Miguel Cairo is likely to spell Votto periodically at 1B, Yonder is the next fulltime 1B in the queue.

At the major league level, there isn't a whole lot of guesswork required with respect to positions and playing time. SS, as as it's been almost perennially in the post-Larkin age, and LF, are exceptions. And as soon as one of the stalwarts goes down, there could be much yelling and gnashing of lineup cards.

Charts after the jump ("chart" doesn't seem like a very apt term either).

The below only applies to player talent and usage entering 2011, without any regard for longer-term prospect ceilings or veteran player decline.

* indicates lefty batter, + indicates  switch

Catcher

After the awesome and horrifying two-headed catching tandem of Rymon Hernanigan, whose PT may prove to be roughly equivalent this season, things get a little murky. Mesoraco is knocking on the door if he continues to hit at AAA, but would he be called up to back-up or split time if one of those two heads were incapacitated? He's not on the 40-man at present - though, it should be noted, neither is Corky Miller.  Meanwhile, Yasmani Grandal, who is one of the 40, may start the year in low-A. The picture at catcher is very much a shot in time, with one of the most influential factors being Mesoraco's continued ascendancy. 

Rank
Name
Age (2011)
 40 man?
Zips Projected OPS+
S/BU? PT (%)
1
Ramon Hernandez 35 Y 92 S 55%
2
Ryan Hanigan 30 Y
95 S 45%
3
Corky Miller 35 N 72 BU -
4
Devin Mesoraco
23 N 103 S -
5
Chris Denove 27
N 71 BU -
6
Yasmani Grandal + 22 Y N/A S -


First base

Known within firstbaseman circles by its proper name: Joey Votto Chair for 1B Supremacy. Given Joey's invincibility and my belief in a just world, this is just a formality:

Rank
Name
Age (2011)
 40 man?
Zips Projected OPS+
S/BU? PT (%)
1
Joey Votto* 27 Y 151 S 95%
2
Miguel Cairo 37 Y
78 BU 5%
3
Yonder Alonso* 24 Y 102 S -
4
Daniel Dorn 26 N 107 S -
5
Todd Frazier 25 Y 94 BU -


Second base

Another one without much ambiguity at the top. Early word is that Renteria will see time at both center infield positions, possibly making making Cairo almost exclusively a corner IF back-up.

Rank
Name
Age (2011)
 40 man?
Zips Projected OPS+
S/BU? PT (%)
1
Brandon Phillips 30 Y 102 S 90%
2
Edgar Renteria 34 Y
82 S 10%
3
Miguel Cairo 37 Y 78 BU -
4
Chris Valaika 25 Y 82 S -
5
Todd Frazier 25 Y 94 BU -
6
Zach Cozart 25 Y 82 BU -


Short stop

Gets more interesting at short. While the party line is that Janish is the starter, Dusty & Co. have played it close to the vest as to what this means in practice. This is the position where Dusty's alleged veteran bias collides head-on his tendency to assign strict roles to starters, with less time-sharing, and to stick his man through extended slumps.

Rank
Name
Age (2011)
 40 man?
Zips Projected OPS+
S/BU? PT (%)
1
Paul Janish 28
Y 72 S 60%
2
Edgar Renteria 34
Y
82 S 40%
3
Zach Cozart 25
Y 82
S -
4
Kris Negron 25
Y 72
S -
5
Chris Valaika 25
Y 82
BU -


Third base

Just another Gold Glove/All Star at the top of the heap. Dusty had Scott Rolen on a rough schedule of at least once-weekly rest last season, which works out to missing a minimum of about 1/6 of games. Given how Rolen wore down as the season did, Baker may be even more cautious  in '11. By practicing preventative medicine, injury need not be an inevitability, but 130 GS is probably the ceiling.

Rank
Name
Age (2011)
 40 man?
Zips Projected OPS+
S/BU? PT (%)
1
Scott Rolen
36
Y 110 S 75%
2
Miguel Cairo
37
Y
78 BU 20%
3
Juan Francisco
24
Y 102
S 5%
4
Todd Frazier 25
Y 94
S -
5
Chris Valaika
25
Y 82
BU -


LF

Left field is probably the least predictable position for both playing time and rank order. Dusty has indicated, both in remarks to the press this offseason and his lineup cards last season, that Gomes is his primary LFer. But that doesn't really jive with a possible platoon involving Fred Lewis, wherein Gomes - the LHP specialist - gets about 30% of starts. Though if I were Fred Lewis, or a snot-nosed blogger, I would exercise caution in challenging a Jonny Gomes, backed by the full faith and credit of his manager.

Rank
Name
Age (2011)
 40 man?
Zips Projected OPS+
S/BU? PT (%)
1
Jonny Gomes
30
Y 100
S 50%
2
Fred Lewis* 30
Y
98
S 40%
3
Chris Heisey
26
Y 96
BU 10%
4
Jeremy Hermida
27
N 80
S -
5
Todd Frazier
25
Y 94
S -
6
Dave Sappelt
24
N 95
S -


CF

By all accounts, Drew Stubbs has this position on retainer, though he has to stay healthy and avoid the pitfalls of a sophomore slump. Depending on Stubbs performance and how LF playing time shakes out, Dusty may be tempted to force-fit Fred Lewis into CF for some starts based on his lead-off man capabilities, though Heisey is really the one who profiles as Stubbs' back-up. I hope this is the year Dusty's CF/leadoff conflation becomes a distant memory, but I'm not counting on it.

Rank
Name
Age (2011)
 40 man?
Zips Projected OPS+
S/BU? PT (%)
1
Drew Stubbs
26
Y 92 S 85%
2
Chris Heisey
26
Y
96 S 10%
3
Fred Lewis*
30
Y 98
BU 5%
4
Dave Sappelt
24
N 95
BU -


RF

Don't get injured. Same goes for all the other good players from before.

Rank
Name
Age (2011)
 40 man?
Zips Projected OPS+
S/BU? PT (%)
1
Jay Bruce*
24
Y 123 S 90%
2
Chris Heisey
26
Y
96 S 5%
3
Jonny Gomes
30
Y 100
BU 5%
4
Fred Lewis*
30
Y 98
BU -
X
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