2012 Dodgers in Review #8: 2B Nick Punto

October 24, 2012 at 6:27 am | Posted in 2012 in Review | Leave a comment

(w/ LA) .286/.390/.314 43pa 0hr 0.4 fWAR (inc.)

2012 in brief: Fourth wheel in huge Adrian Gonzalez / Josh Beckett / Carl Crawford trade filled the injured Adam Kennedy‘s role and performed capably in an extremely limited sample size.

2013 status: Signed for $1.5m in final year of two-year deal; likely to return as utility infielder.

******

There’s perhaps nothing about the big Boston trade that entertained me more than the fact that Nick Punto was not only part of it, but that he acted like he mattered. When Gonzalez & Beckett were introduced to the media… Punto was there. When pictures surfaced of the three of them flying to Los Angeles, Punto was the one who put them out. The dichotomy was big enough that it actually spurred Mike Axisa to write about it on FanGraphs, because… Nick Punto.

Oh, sure, Punto played well enough in a few late-season starts at second base after coming over, though I’m hardly going to put any importance on 43 plate appearances after 187 plate appearances of .200/.301/.272 play for Boston. If Punto is remembered for anything this season – because I guarantee you, we’ll forget he was ever a part of that trade soon enough – it’ll be for popularizing the “beat a teammate to death and rip his jersey off after a walkoff hit” move that earned him his Twitter handle, @ShredderPunto. Well, that, and his absolute insistence on ignoring all accepted reason and continuing to slide into first:

Now 34, Punto has ingrained the head-first dive into his brain, to the point of it becoming a reflex whenever there’s a close play at first. Conventional wisdom holds that diving head-first only slows down a runner. Sprinters don’t dive at the finish line of a race, right?

Yeah, Punto’s heard that one.

“And I say that’s because there’s a hard court, a track, at the end of that finish line,” he said.

OK, but why expose yourself to injury, flinging your body fingers-first into a hard canvas base while a first baseman attempts to catch a baseball at the same time, in the same place?

“I’ve been injured running through the base,” Punto counters. “I pulled a hamstring. You can roll an ankle. There’s lots of things you can hurt running through the base as well.”

I assume his comment about the “hard court” at the end of the finish line is in comparison to the soft “fluffy kitten wrapped in bubble tape and packing peanuts” feel of the dirt beyond first base. So at least we have that to look forward to next year. Or at least I’m resigned to the fact that we do, because Ned Colletti loves having his gritty Kennedy / Aaron Miles type around, and Punto is under contract for 2013. Then again, with approximately 140 infielders under contract and the open question of whether next year’s shortstop is even on the roster right now, someone’s going to have to go, and Colletti so far has shown no inclination to cut loose Juan Uribe. Will Punto even be here?

Yes. Of course he will. Nick Punto moves for no man.

******

Next up! Oh, nothing about that went well for Dee Gordon, did it.

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