When Willie Bloomquist began having back issues near the end of July, it ended what was looking to be one of Bloomquist’s most productive seasons. Bloomquist finished his season hitting .302 with an on base percentage of .325 while adding 21 doubles in his 324 at bats.
Playing in only three games after July 29th, the Arizona State standout added nothing in the way of power but did record 30 multi-hit games out of his 80 played in 2012. Just as impressive was his defense, combined with sure handed John McDonald, who filled in on Bloomquists’ off days. The two provided the D’backs with the best defensive shortstop combo in the National League posting a .985 fielding percentage, committing just 10 errors all year.
So what can we expect from newly acquired shortstop Cliff Pennington, as he appears to be slated as the everyday shortstop? Well, if history has anything to say about it, not a whole lot. Sure, we can look past his career lows in 2012, where he batted just .215 with an on-base percentage of .278. Many excuse Pennington somewhat for these numbers, as the 28 year-old did miss time in both July and the beginning of August. But, even in his first two full seasons playing shortstop for the A’s in 2010 and 2011, the switch hitter posted a .250 and .264 average respectively. His OBP during those years was considerably higher than 2012 as well, coming in at .319 each season.
What’s that? Maybe he’s a defensive wizard? I was hoping for that just as much as you. In 2010 he recorded 25 errors (.966 %) and in 2011 he misplayed 22 balls for a .964 fielding percentage. Neither one are really horrible, but they also aren’t making up for his shortcomings at the plate either. In 2012, he was better (.979% in 93 G) and did spend some time at second base as well. His defensive diversity may prove valuable if Aaron Hill needs some time off. As a reference, Stephen Drew never committed more than 17 errors in his six seasons with the D’Backs and had just 21 in 2009 and 2010 combined (Drew’s last two full seasons).
I know it probably sounds like I’m dogging on our new guy and perhaps I should be more optimistic at the prospect of Pennington being our answer at shortstop. I’m just hesitant to expect much more than Pennington being band-aid for the 2013 season. I’m all about good bench/utility guys that can help a club grind it out over the long major league season. Pennington can be just that and does offer an advantage being able to hit from both sides of the plate. I guess I was just hoping for something a little more productive to take the reins after Stephen Drew did a fair- if not above average- job over the previous five and a half years.
So can we expect somewhere in the ballpark of 23 doubles, 6 homeruns, 50 RBI’s and 55 runs with an average hovering .260 from Pennington in 2013- numbers he has been at or near over the previous three years? Or better yet, can the D’Backs win with their shortstop producing such mediocre numbers?
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