Ah, second base. The Newman of the Cubs' cast. If Cubs players were beers, Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot would be Milwaukee's Best and Natural Ice. Can Lou bat them 10th in the lineup?
Okay, perhaps I'm being a bit harsh. But I'm not very optimistic about the Cubs' pansy platoon at second. One can hope that before too long, Starlin Castro will be at short and Ryan Theriot will be at second base.
After batting an impressive .305 in 119 games in 2008, Fontenot looked completely overwhelmed last season. He batted just .236 and had a pathetic .301 OBP. His power numbers were nearly identical each of the last two years: 9 HR both years and 40 and 43 RBI, respectively.
It's too early to say exactly how this platoon will operate (or if the platoon will even happen--perhaps one of the two players will vastly outperform the other in spring training and get the lion's share of the playing time), but one would think Baker will at least play against lefties. After all, Fontenot hit just .212 against southpaws last year. Baker, on the other hand, has hit .288 against lefties over the last three seasons (.254 against righties).
While Baker was a nice mid-season pick-up for the Cubs last year, batting .305 with a solid .362 OBP in 69 games, those numbers are outliers when compared against the rest of his career. In the only two seasons in which he played 85 games or more (2007 and 2008), he batted .222 and .268, respectively, and had a TOTAL of 16 HR and 60 RBI.
Here's another way to look at the potential production of the Cubs' pair of subpar second basemen: you have to scroll pretty far down ESPN's second base fantasy rankings before you find a Cub--Baker is 39th, Fontenot 41st.
My true prediction is that Starlin Castro does in fact find his way to the big leagues this summer, which will significantly reduce the playing time of both Baker and Fontenot. But assuming they play a full season in a platoon fashion, I'm going to go with:
Baker: 85 games, .265 avg, 7 HR, 33 RBI
Fontenot: 95 games, .251 avg, 5 HR, 35 RBI
But what do you think?