Omar Infante – Among the Games Best?By
When you open the season with a roster featuring players of the caliber of Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Gaby Sanchez, Mark Buerhle, and Logan Morrison there is a reasonable expectation that one of those players would be the team’s best player.
Someone forgot to tell that to Omar Infante.
The ten year MLB vet has come into the season on fire leading the team in a multitude of categories including hits (33), doubles (10), batting average (.330), Slugging Percentage (.650), and is tied for the team lead in homeruns with 6, and 2nd in RBI’s with 17.
But, it’s not just his team that he leads. Entering play on May 12th Infante finds himself sitting with the elite second basemen of the MLB, and in many cases, in a league of his own. The numbers, in fact, are so good that putting Infante’s name among the elite is not only warranted but nearly a necessity.
Now, I’ll pause for a moment to say that personally, I’m not a fan of sabermetrics. Don’t get me wrong, I believe many of the statistical categories are eye opening, but conversely I also feel some of the categories don’t serve much a purpose in player evaluating.
That said, I did like Moneyball, so I feel obligated to Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill to give it a shot.
Looking at the numbers it becomes even more evident that Infante is putting himself in the discussion this season. The first one that popped out at me was the ISO (Isolated Power) where Infante is sitting at .320, which not only puts him nearly 80 points higher than any other second baseman but in the Top 10 of the entire Major Leagues. He’s 7th in BABIP, 1st in wOBA, 1st in wRC+, and is 2nd in WAR behind only Robinson Cano.
What does all of this mean?
It means the guy is good. Very good. And it’s time the man get his due.
Perhaps I’ve over exaggerated to start a debate. Perhaps in a league where names like Cano, Padroia, Kinsler, Uggla, Philips, and Zobrist can all be mentioned among 2B, Infante is an understandable afterthought and as the season goes on he may fall out of the discussion. Perhaps he falls back to his usual, average or slightly above standards and this article becomes one in a long line of ridiculous notions and analysis formed after only 30 or so games.
But, perhaps not.
The longer Infante plays at this level the more necessity there may be to have such a debate. And when you look and see that over the last four season’s Infante is been in the Top 15 in OBP, SLG, OPS, BABIP, wOBP, and WAR among 2B it becomes evident that the man deserves some recognition. He’s never been as good as he is now, and at age 30 he seems to be getting better.
The Venezuelan product is on pace for career highs in hits (186), HR’s (33), RBI’s (95), BA (.330), Slugging Percentage (.650), and doubles (56) as well as pretty much every Advanced Statistic I’ve mentioned.
He’s only had one All-Star appearance in his career (2010), but if he continues playing what has to be considered the best baseball of his career, I would be shocked to find him off the roster.
Not bad for an afterthought.