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The Second Base Quandary

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Mark Ellis, Keith Ginter and Marco Scutaro. All three are vying for the second baseman's position. Each with their own special set of strengths and weaknesses.

Keith Ginter, acquired from Milwaukee for Nelson Cruz and Justin Lehr, is the offensive one in the bunch. He's got a career .344 on-base percentage and had 19 bombs last year in only 113 games. Ellis has a career .331 on-base percentage. But Ginter's defense is, well, it isn't exactly Mark Ellis who can be gold glove quality, if he is healthy.

Ginter has a .792 career OPS while Ellis is an Ice Cube-like .711.

Ginter's OPS has risen the past two seasons, and while Ellis missed all last year, his OPS went down from 2002 to 2003. But one interesting thing to note about Ginter. While his OPS went up from 03 to 04, he had a lot more strikeouts in 04 compared to 03 (100 K's to 87 K's). This despite playing in 14 fewer games in 04 than in 03. So while Ginter added to his power numbers, it was at the cost of his OBP, which dropped in 04.

Ellis, meanwhile, has been very hot starting off this spring, despite missing so much time. The A's rave about Ellis's defensive abilities and to steal possible base hits away better than either Ginter or Scutaro. That's evidenced by Ellis's .889 zone rating in 2003 compared to Ginter's .819 zone rating at second base in 2004. Scutaro had a .799 zone rating at second base in 2004. The thing is, when Scutaro gets there, he always makes the play as evidenced by his .994 fielding percentage.

Scoot also spent the winter trying to develop more patience at the plate because he knows that's what Billy Beane and company are looking for. His .297 OBP in 04 was pretty much unacceptable.

So, to me (and probably to Macha to as he has barely let Scutaro see the field so far this spring), the race comes down to Ellis and Ginter. Thus far, because of his remarkable defensive skills and the fact that he's swinging the bat extremely well early, I give the early edge to Eddie Guardado's favorite player, Mark Ellis.

But the good news is that Ellis can also play shortstop, Ginter can also play third and Scutaro can also play second, short and third, so as Ken Macha has already stated, there's a chance all three could make the team.

If you'd asked me this a month ago, I wouldn't have believed Ellis has come out the way he has. For that, the guy deserves all the credit in the world. And the inside track.

Who do you think will wind up with the majority of the starts at second base this year? Click on entry link below to vote.