While A.J. Burnett’s fate as a Toronto Blue Jay garners the majority of the media hype, I think there’s another spot in the Jays’ lineup that deserves just as much attention with the trade deadline quickly approaching.
During the past few seasons, Aaron Hill and John McDonald have made numerous appearances on highlight reels with their defensive prowess up the middle for the Blue Jays. On most nights, it seems as though these guys could turn the most difficult double plays with their eyes closed.
However, with Hill on the disabled list, a number of other players have shown that they can perform just as well up the middle.
Up to this point in the season, the second base and shortstop duties have been shared primarily between five guys: the previously mentioned duo of Hill and McDonald, as well as David Eckstein, Marco Scutaro, and Joe Inglett.
If the Jays are to trade away one of these players, who will it be? Let’s see if the numbers can help us out.
Aaron Hill has played 55 games this season, and is batting .263, with two home runs (HR) and 20 runs batted in (RBI). On the defensive side of the ball, Hill carries a .996 fielding percentage (FPCT) and has been a part of 27 double plays.
In my opinion, Aaron is the cream of this crop.
He has shown in the past that he can hit for power, as well as consistency. His defense is impeccable, and I feel he would be one of the Jays’ most productive players if he hadn’t been struck by injury.
John McDonald may very well be one of my favorite players. How can you not like the guy? You can count on him to hoover up any balls hit near him and then proceed to make the unbelievable plays that make you smear your shorts.
The best part?
When he steps up to the plate and gets a hit, you’re even more excited because you’re usually expecting him to be an easy out. As for his stats, Johnny Mac is hitting .182, with two RBI in 25 games and he holds a .953 FPCT.
David Eckstein was one of the major additions made to the Jays’ lineup during the past offseason. He is batting .269 and is fourth on the team in doubles with 15. He holds a .958 FPCT and has contributed to 32 double plays. Ecky has definitely done his job this year. He has earned his playing time with solid defense and decent numbers at the plate.
Marco Scutaro (or Scoots, as he shall be known from now on) has come out of the woodwork this season to put up some impressive numbers. The utility man (he has played six different positions this season) is batting .261, with three HR and 31 RBI.
He has a combined FPCT of .979 at second base and shortstop, and has been a part of 21 double plays between the two positions. He has also played 83 games, 23 more than David Eckstein.
Joe Inglett has made his mark, filling in for Aaron Hill at second base. He is the only player on this list batting above .300, and he also has 18 RBI with five doubles and five triples. Inglett has a .979 FPCT and has been a part of nine double plays in only 23 games at second base.
The Jays really only need four of these guys, and in my opinion, they have to be Hill, Eckstein, Scutaro, and Inglett. As much as I love Johnny Mac, I think his time as a Blue Jay may be coming to an end.
He would be a valuable asset to any team looking to add some depth on defense, and bundled up with another player (Shannon Stewart, perhaps?) and a prospect, the Jays should be able to get something decent in return.
Only time will tell, but it’s apparent to me that the 2008 Toronto Blue Jays may be a little bit too deep up the middle.