Second Is Just Fine

Quieter crop of second basemen headline returners in 2008


Dec. 20, 2007

By Douglas Kroll

CSTV.com

 



DOUG KROLL

Doug Kroll is an editor for CSTV.com, focusing on baseball.
E-mail here!

A second baseman is a shortstop's best friend, and when you think about some of the best middle infields in baseball history, it's the second baseman that can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of great tandems.

 

They usually aren't the most powerful or best hitter on the team, but they are usually that piece that every good team needs to win.

 

The best second basemen in the nation in 2008 are likely to be no different in that aspect. They are real good at what they do, but they just don't have the same type of flashy names that other players around the diamond may have.

 

But that doesn't mean we won't know who they are by the end of the year.

 

The ACC will be home to three of the best right sides of the infield in the entire nation. When Virginia plays North Carolina State in the first full weekend of March, the headline matchup of the weekend will not likely be David Adams vs. Dallas Poulk, even though it probably should be.

 

Here's a look at the best players returning to the college game in 2008, who will be plugging that hole up the middle on the right side.

 

1. David Adams, Virginia - It has to be a nice thing for Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor to have two veterans up the middle that are two of your best players. With David Adams returning at second base, and Greg Miclat coming back at shortstop after an injury that sidelined him last season, that's exactly what O'Connor's got. The junior was second only to Miclat with a .372 average last year, while hitting five home runs and driving in 43 runs. His fielding improved from his first to second season, as he made only seven errors in 2007. Adams is durable too, with the Florida native the only Cavalier to start all 60 games in 2007. A couple of early exits in the NCAA tournament in a row should have this Virginia team hungry, and with Adams and Miclat leading the charge at the plate and Jacob Thompson one of the best pitchers in the country, Virginia should have a chance to make up for a couple of disappointing endings in a row.

 

2. Brandon Turner, Mississippi State - In 2006, Brandon Turner redshirted for Ron Polk's Bulldogs. And in 2007, he helped lead Mississippi State on a surprising run to the College World Series by hitting .399, tops on the team. By far the best news for Polk is that one of his top returning players is only a sophomore in 2008. Turner is a prototypical second baseman. While he hit for a great average, he hit only three home runs, but did find a way to drive in 48 runs. Not bad at all. If there's one thing that needs to grow for Turner it's his performance in the field after seeing his fielding percentage dip to .937 in his first collegiate season. No shame at all in that figure, and we should likely see that grow in '08.

 

3. Aaron Luna, Rice - Rice head coach Wayne Graham probably said it best about Aaron Luna after fall practice in 2007: "At the end of fall practices, we still didn't know if Aaron was a second baseman or an outfielder. What we do know is with his power and average, Aaron should be one of the better hitters in college baseball this spring."

 

And after a season of playing a lot of DH, they still may not be too sure. Either way, Luna got some time at second base so we will stick him there for the time being. Luna doesn't fit the typical mold for the position since he hits for power (leading the Owls with 13 home runs and 66 RBI in 2007). As for his defense, his four errors doesn't tell the full story with the time he spent at designated hitter, but he did finish with a .976 fielding percentage. With Texas A&M transfer Jess Buenger getting some time at second last year, we'll wait and see where Luna fits in position-wise with the Owls in 2008. One thing's for sure, with what they lost, he's going to have to lead them at the plate.

 

4. Jemile Weeks, Miami - It's not that Miami's Jemile Weeks gets sick of hearing the comparisons to his brother Rickie Weeks (Milwaukee Brewers), but like with many sibling combinations in sports, he'd like to make his own footprint in baseball. Topping his brother's ridiculous stats at Southern may be tough, but as Weeks enters his junior season in Coral Gables, he hopes to put a tough, injury-plagued sophomore season behind him. After being named a freshman All-American in 2006, Weeks played in 50 of Miami's 61 games and hit .298, hit five home runs and knocked in only 27 RBI. Thanks to his leg injury, Weeks was forced to DH much of the season when he was able to play, but after taking the summer off, expect Weeks to be right back in his spot at second where he's one of the best defensive players in the country.

 

5. Alden Carrithers, UCLA - The hype around UCLA is something that the Bruins haven't dealt with in some time. And a lot of it has to do with the return of senior second baseman Alden Carrithers. A transfer from UCSB, Carrithers led the Bruins with a .352 average, 53 runs, 32 walks and a .445 on-base percentage. Talk about a pest in a lineup. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound native of Portland, Ore. was also second on the team with nine steals (in 10 attempts). The senior will be right back at the top of the Bruins' lineup after spending his summer in the Cape Cod League. Even though he hit just .198 in 30 games with the Orleans Cardinals, his 28 walks and three hit by pitches gave him a .371 on-base percentage, which was third on the team. That's all you need to know about the type of player Carrithers can be at the top of a lineup.

 

On The Radar: Zach Miller, Mississippi; Dallas Poulk, North Carolina State

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