Matsui positioned for redemption
Originally Published: March 4, 2005By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
What might we expect from Mets shortstop-turned-second baseman Kazuo Matsui in 2005? Matsui's making a fairly rare switch: from everyday shortstop to everyday second baseman, and with the same team.
This hasn't happened often since World War II, but with the help of the appendix in Rob Neyer's Gigantically Herculean Book of Baseball Lineups -- granted, a couple of other sources would have worked, too -- I identified a couple of dozen players who served as a club's regular shortstop one season and its regular second baseman the next. But some of those guys didn't actually play much, some played more than 70 games at shortstop in the second season, and some had a great deal of prior experience at second base. Eliminate all of them, and we're left with a dozen who: 1) played more than 100 games at shortstop in Season 1, and 2) played at least 85 games at second base in Season 2.
In Season 1, they played 1,422 games; in Season 2 they played 1,576 games.
In Year 1, they totaled 189 Win Shares and averaged 18 Win Shares per 150 games; in Season 2 they totaled 170 Win Shares and averaged 16 per 150 games.
You might think players switch because they're getting old, but none of these guys was old old; at 33, Jay Bell was the oldest in the group, and the average age of the switchers was 29 (all of them were in their late 20s or early 30s).
What do these dozen switchers tell us?