Checking in on Carlos Guillen’s Move to Second Base

GuillenHead.jpgIt’s been two months since the Tigers announced that Carlos Guillen, not rookie Scott Sizemore, would be the Tigers’ second baseman in 2010.

Who at the time would’ve guessed that the brittle Guillen could stay healthy for two months and regain his status as a productive member of the Tigers’ lineup?

But let’s be honest: the concern wasn’t Guillen’s offense, it was the defense. How many ground balls would he, could he, get to…without pulling a hamstring? Could he turn the double play with Adam Everett (and now Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth)? The answer to all those appears to be yes.

Let’s see if the numbers bear it out.

In 39 games, Guillen’s committed just four errors and has a .977 fielding percentage — 24 points higher than Sizemore who had six errors in 30 games.

Guillen’s UZR of 5.267 would put him in eighth place overall if he had enough games played to qualify for league-leader status. (Chone Figgins leads the majors with a 6.129 UZR.) His 4.69 range factor would place him in the company of Aaron Hill, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia for 14th. (Robinson Cano and Chase Utley lead the way with a 5.26 RF.)

The verdict? Guillen has been about average in the field which, all things considered, isn’t horrible. That’s because everyone’s expectations at second base were lowered a notch when Placido Polanco departed for the Phillies. No one expected Sizemore to replicate Polanco’s steadiness, but they didn’t expect him to be as substandard as he was in April and May either. So the defensive bar for Guillen was set low — but not as low as it was for him in left field — and he’s managed to perform above it.

Offensively, he’s getting the job done and creeping closer to .300 — he finished the first half at .289. It would be nice to see his power return (he’s got five homers so far) but chances are that’s just wishful thinking.

Overall, Carlos Guillen seems like a happier player now that he’s back in the infield and not a part-time DH and left fielder. As we always have to say, when healthy he’s a vital piece of Jim Leyland‘s lineup.

So keep those fingers crossed.

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