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Season in review: Middle infielders

Alcides Escobar, Omar Infante, Christian Colon, Pedro Ciriaco, Jayson Nix, Johnny Giavotella, Danny Valencia, and Jimmy Paredes all logged time in the middle infield in 2014.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Alcides Escobar, Omar Infante, Christian Colon, Pedro Ciriaco, Jayson Nix, Johnny Giavotella, Danny Valencia, and Jimmy Paredes.

I just re-read that list of names above. There is a ton of terribad in that group. There was only a little bit of good. There's really not a ton to say about this group of players, so I'll try to keep this fairly brief.

Alcides Escobar

We know that Escobar is a good defender. Our eyes tell us this. The larger sample size of defensive metrics tell us this. Well, not really. The defensive metrics don't think Escobar was a good defender in 2014. He had a -4 DRS and only a 1.6 UZR. Over the past 3 years, Escobar is a -2 DRS guy and a -1 UZR guy. It doesn't seem like it's the difficult plays that hurt Escobar. He makes some difficult plays look routine. It's the routine stuff that he sometimes makes look difficult.

Inside Edge tracks defensive plays and rates them on a scale from "Impossible" to "Routine". On the routine plays, Escobar's percentage of converting those plays ranked 17th of 22 "qualified" shortstops in 2014. For someone that many consider second only to Andrelton Simmons in terms of defensive prowess, it seems like Escobar should be better at the routine stuff.

Despite the apparent lackluster defensive statistical season, Escobar wound up with 3.4 fWAR, which was the highest in his career. This is Escobar's ceiling. Escobar relies on BABIP due to his poor walk rate and powerless nature, and the BABIP fairy treated him well in 2014. Escobar runs the bases well, but he needs BABIP to get on base to start. Because BABIP worked out for him, Escobar was able to accrue a lot of value on the bases. Escobar ranked 13th in FanGraphs' baserunning value right below Billy Hamilton. Additionally, his Def value was positive, which it wasn't during his other positive offensive campaign in 2012. This is what happens when the offense and sort of defense align.

Grade: A-

Omar Infante

After a 3.1 fWAR season in 2013, many of us expected a decline in performance due to a high BABIP and aging. I was in this camp. I didn't expect what actually happened in 2014. Infante's BABIP sunk to its lowest level since 2005. His ISO was at its lowest since 2009. Unfortunately, that added up to a paltry .252/.295/.337 line and 0.5 fWAR.

I'll be honest. I don't remember anything specific about Infante's defense. DRS had him at 1. UZR had him at -2.4. He didn't make any of the difficult plays. He made some of the middle-ish plays. He made most of the routine plays. That's about what I'd expect. I think I'll take it.

He's not Chris Getz. He's not Elliot Johnson. He's not Miguel Tejada or Yuniesky Betancourt. Assuming injuries played a part in his poor performance, Infante should rebound in 2015. That doesn't help his 2014 grade.

Grade: D

Christian Colon

Colon got more fWAR in 49 PA than Infante did in 575. He knocked in Hosmer to tie the Wild Card game in the 12th, stole 2nd, and scored the winning run on Salvador Perez' hit.

That's not to say that his true talent level was perennial All-Star and such. Those things happened, though.

Grade: A+

Pedro Ciriaco

Ciriaco had the same amount of time that Colon did, roughly. 49 plate appearances. He did considerably worse. 0 fWAR. 32 wRC+.

Grade: F

Jayson Nix

He didn't get a hit during his time with the Royals. He didn't get a walk. I'm fairly sure he never set foot on a base. He logged time in the playoffs (Wild Card and World Series), which was just awful.

Grade: F

Johnny Giavotella

Gio once again didn't perform well in his very limited time. He has now moved on. So ends this saga.

Grade: D

Danny Valencia

The guy acquired to be Moustakas' platoon partner was eventually pushed out by his platoon partner, whose season was also terrible. Valencia actually had a 101 wRC+ in his 119 PA with the team, but he didn't perform well on defense. The Royals played him at second base a few times, which is why he's on this list. He made 7 of 9 plays at second base according to Inside Edge. Unfortunately, his defensive contributions canceled out his offensive contributions, and he was worth 0 fWAR with the Royals. Given the small sample size of his defense compared to his offense, and maybe my own inconsistent method of thinking, Valencia was acceptable while he was with the Royals.

Grade: C

Jimmy Paredes

The guy barely played, but at least he got a hit.

Grade: Incomplete