Second to none: Bellhorn or Crespo?

Now that Nomar Garciaparra is out until the early beginnings of May, Pokey Reese will be shifting over to shortstop. Nobody questions Reese’s ability to defensively star. However, comparing Reese to Nomar offensively is a laugh. So clearly, where we need to try to make up for this offense is second base. But who can best give us this offense? Is it Mark Bellhorn or Cesar Crespo?
Let’s start with Bellhorn. In 2002, with the Chicago Cubs, he hit 27 HRs in 445 ABs, posting a .258 batting average and getting on base at a .374 clip. He also had a VORP (Value Over Replacement Player – number of runs contributed over what a replacement level player would contribute in place of aforemented player) of 42.1. That means, over the course of the season, he was 42.1 runs better than a replacement player. For comparison, Barry Bonds’ 2002 VORP was 146.6, while John Valentin was 5.4, playing for the Mets.
Moving onto 2003: Bellhorn enters as the incumbent Cubs starter, and has 139 at bats for them, batting .209/.341 with 2 HR. He is traded to the Colorado Rockies, where he has 110 at-bats, hitting .232/.368 with … zero home runs. His VORP for 2003 was -4.9. Therefore, he was worse than John Valentin was in 2002. For example, the Red Sox had Damian Jackson as a super-utility player last year. His VORP was -3.5. So we have someone who was worse than Jackson starting at second. Why didn’t we keep Jackson, hmm? I’ll tell you why. That 2002 season that came out of nowhere and is not likely to come back.
Why? Take a look at his career stats, INCLUDING his career year. 1017 AB, 36 HR, .230/.345 in six seasons. His career average for a season comes out to 444 at-bats, with a .230/.345, 16 HR. And this is with his career year. Without this career year, Mark Bellhorn is hands down worse than Damian Jackson. The last two years of his six year career show a marked improvement in plate disclipline. Other than that, Bellhorn is horrible. So it’s like a lottery. Bellhorn has six total seasons in MLB. One of those seasons he was a solid starter. In two of those seasons he had OBPs above .324. So we’re trying to strike gold, pretty much, in asking him to hit, oh say … .250/.350.
Especially with his Spring Training stats…having a worse average and OBP than Pokey Reese. (.180/.200 to .219/.438.)
Then we have someone on fire in spring training, hitting .349/.492, who has 182 total at bats in the major leagues and is 24. His career MLB stats bode out to a .202/.310. That’s not far behind Bellhorn, even though Bellhorn is much better when it comes to HRs as Crespo has 4. But keep in mind, Crespo has a total of 182 bats in the majors, while Bellhorn has 1017 AB. So, by using simple math, if Crespo had 1017 AB, he would have 22 HRs. And that doesn’t even factor in the maturity factor, because Crespo is 24 compared to Bellhorn’s 29.
Last year for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Crespo hit .267/.323 with 9 HR. He is considered a super-utility player, and can play everywhere: the infield, the outfield. So obviously he has good defensive skills. Bellhorn? He has a career fielding percentage of .966 at almost every single position (mainly third and second), while the lgFP (league Fielding Percentage) is .973. His Range Factor is 2.86 compared to an lgRF of 4.09. Crespo’s time in the majors come out to a 2.38 RF with a lgRF of 3.70.
Crespo seems to be a better defensive player, with better hitting skills than Mark Bellhorn. Bellhorn has a slight edge in HRs – but not by much, and only greatly benefits with his skill in OBP – which I may add, has only been shown in the last two years. This year, Bellhorn has a .180 average and .200 OBP in spring training, so his eye may have left him and been transferred to Crespo.
Any way you cut it, Crespo should be the second baseman until Theo can find a suitable replacement.

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