Dodgers 2014 profile: Alex Guerrero, a first at second

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There is no bigger question for the Dodgers this spring than can Alex Guerrero play second base for them. If he does become a regular this season, Guerrero will be doing something not done before by any Los Angeles Dodger position player in their history.

In his Dodger career, Alex Guerrero has had a handful of winter ball games and about a week of Spring training. He works out at second base and takes swings in the cage every day.

Guerrero spoke about his transition to second base on a stop of last month's Dodger caravan tour as reported by MLB.com reporter Ken Gurnick:

"The positioning, the ball off the bat, the movement -- it's all reversed." "But anybody that plays shortstop can play any position in the infield."

Next week, he will start playing in games knowing that in less than a month, the season opener gets ever closer.

Alex Guerrero is trying to do something never done in LA Dodger history, become a regular in his first MLB season without a game in the minors.

Now, for the purposes of this article, I am using the lowest of the projected total number of plate appearances in the three projections listed below under "Stats." I rounded it down to 400 plate appearances.

400+ Plate Appearances in first MLB season
Name PA 2B HR BA/OBP/SLG
Jim Lefebvre 631 21 12 .250/.337/.369
Ted Sizemore 650 20 4 .271/.328/.342
Mariano Duncan 620 24 6 .244/.293/.340
Russell Martin 468 23 10 .282/.355/.436
Andre Ethier 441 24 11 .308/.365/.477
Blake DeWitt 432 22 9 .264/.344/.383
Yasiel Puig 421 22 19 .319/.391/.584


The fewest number of minor league games played prior to beginning his first MLB season was Yasiel Puig's 63 games in two seasons.

Fellow countryman, Yoenis Céspedes signed a major league contract with the Oakland A's in February 2012 and made his MLB debut (in Tokyo) in March. Céspedes has played 6 minor league games, each as 3 game rehab assignments.

But outside of Céspedes and players from Asia, few position players in the last 10 years have made their American professional debut without benefit of minor league play.

When you add Guerrero's age (27), then the only players in those last ten years that started their MLB careers at that age are players from Japan or long-time minor league players.

And there will also be Guerrero's adjustment to his new country, to his teammates and to the daily pace of games to play.

Mattingly mentioned yesterday that he might consider a platoon at second base but that there was still time to consider all the possibilities at second base.

In the end, baseball will be the easiest part for Guerrero, I expect him to adjust to playing second. As far as hitting, I'd like to wait and see how he does in games, not so much the raw numbers but looking at how comfortable he is at the plate and where he hits the ball when he makes contact.

With a lineup consisting of Hanley Ramirez, an outfielder threesome between Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, plus Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis, Alex Guerrero shouldn't have to hit like he did in Cuba right away.

But the money being paid to him seems to signal that the Dodgers expect that bat from Cuba eventually even if the glove is being manufactured in Glendale, Arizona.

Trivia

Alex Guerrero, Yasiel Puig and Onelki Garcia can become the first trio of Cuban born players that have played for the Dodgers in one season.

Contract status

Guerrero received a $10 million signing bonus and will make $4 million in 2014 in the first year of his 4-year deal. Guerrero can earn an additional $1 million in bonuses for between 500-600 plate appearances.

Stats

2014 projections - Age 27 season
Source PA 2B HR BA/OBP/SLG wOBA
PECOTA 512 23 17 .240/.298/.405 ---
Steamer 439 20 14 .256/.317/.415 .321
ZiPS 665 21 18 .259/.324/.386 .313


2014 outlook

If I dared to throw a dart at my computer, I'd make a better guess. Since I won't do that, I am going with the Steamer projection as my numbers. Feel free to top those or lower those. What's your guess?

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