The first installment of our evaluation of Tampa Bay Rays position players relative to the rest of the American League East in 2020. Today we focus on second base.
The Tampa Bay Rays are in a great spot at second base with Brandon Lowe making the All-Star team in his rookie campaign. On the farm, the Rays boast top prospects like Vidal Brujan and Xavier Edwards.
Not every team in the AL East has had such recent prosperity at second base. So, come along as we preview the keystone for each team in the division beginning with the Baltimore Orioles.
Other AL East 2B Team Previews:
Baltimore Orioles Fangraphs 2020 Projected WAR: 1.3
The Baltimore Orioles received quality production from their second basemen last season. The Orioles finished tied with the Tampa Bay Rays at 1.3 Wins Above Average (Baseball-Reference) at the keystone which was good for seventh highest in the league.
Jonathan Villar played 111 games at second for Baltimore last season and was worth four wins above replacement as he slashed .274/.339/.453 with 24 homers, 73 RBI and 40 steals. At the end of the year, the Orioles decided that Villar was ultimately too good of a player to be on the team in 2020. He was rewarded for his production by being designated for assignment prior to the 40-man roster deadline.
With Villar now a Marlin the Orioles are left with Hanser Alberto as the primary second baseman. Alberto spent time all over the field in 2019 and even pitched an inning. However, he really stood out at second base. He made 90 appearances at the keystone and in 612.1 innings he made only three errors.
Alberto impressed with the bat last season putting up a .305 average and a respectable .422 slugging percentage. He came into the season with zero career major-league homers but he managed to blast 12 balls out of the park in 2019. Alberto struck out just 50 times in 550 plate appearances.
Hanser is entering his fifth major-league season at 27-years-old. With the departure of Jonathan Villar, the Baltimore Orioles are likely looking at regression in production from the second base position in 2020.