Chicago Cubs 25 Man Roster: Infield Grades

The Chicago Cubs 2011 season is well underway now, so why not take a gander down the roster and see how er'body is performing?

1B Carlos Pena: .188/.322/.208 (.261 wOBA)

Not a pretty start to Pena's season. I spake before about Pena, excited to see how his power could play in Wrigley Field and in the weaker NL Central, but this is not really what I had in mind. He has no home runs this season, and his on-base percentage (OBP) is .322 despite rather solid luck from his batting average on balls in play (BABIP).

Pena is striking out like crazy — which is not a good sign, given that it seems to be a growing trend for him — but I still feel like his power could be waiting in the wings and he could still hit close to 30 home runs this year. Defensively, he has been good, making all the routine plays and scooping like scoops.

2B Darwin Barney: .309/.350/.400 (.323 wOBA)

Barney has a strong batting average and a good OBP, but his power leaves a lot to be desired. As such, his weighted on base average (wOBA) which puts all these things together, reports to us: Below league average hitter. Also, his relatively high BABIP (.333) may settle a little lower, meaning he could possibly be even worse than he is now.
Yeah, he's not in there for his bat — he's reportedly a defensive maven, though UZR and my own impressions say he's thus far been close to average — but since manager Mike Quade elects him to bat him second (one of the most important places in the lineup), it would be nice to have a little more production there.

(We'll address Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt later.)

SS Starlin Castro: .375/.398/.513 (.405 wOBA)

Say wut?! A .400 wOBA from a shortstop? Even Derek Jeter has only managed that once in his career (1999; a .428 wOBA)! Castro has been on fire offensively, and part of it has definitely been luck — his .392 BABIP is straight unsustainable. Still, it's great to see him hot out of the gates. He's also been much better defensively this year, and in general becoming an well-rounded shortstop, which is both a rarity and a prize to covet.

3B Aramis Ramirez: .324/.403/.441 (.374 wOBA)

Ol' Aram-Ram has started the season just fine. Last year, he started colder than cold (Ice cold!), but finished the season strong like his usual self. We do have to anticipate some declination in his performance — dude can't stay young forevz — but in general his bat should continue to make us giddy with pride and excitement.

His defense, however, may not make us terribly happy. He's been good thus far, but he's in general a clever-toting butcher out at third base. He makes decent plays on just about everything he can catch, but he's got the range of a broken Hoveround. His job is to hit majestic home runs, not win gold gloves or steal bases.

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