Where Will the Texas Rangers Play Hanser Alberto?
By Jason Burke
If you haven’t heard, the Texas Rangers recalled infielder Hanser Alberto from Triple-A Round Rock before last night’s game. The 22 year old has manned many positions in his time in the minors, leading Baseball Reference to list him as shortstop, third base and pitcher, but the majority of his time has been played at short. Funny enough, that’s where Elvis Andrus is stationed and over his past ten games Andrus has raised his batting average from .227 to .241, peaking at .247 before going hitless in each of the past two games.
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To make room for Alberto, the Texas Rangers optioned Phil Klein to Round Rock. In his own time with Round Rock, Alberto was batting .303 with a .321 on-base percentage and two home runs in 152 at bats. His strikeout rate isn’t terribly high at 9.86 percent, so there is reason to believe that he will not be overmatched by pitching at the big-league level.
That’s all great, but where will he play? Adrian Beltre has third base locked up, and Andrus sure as heck isn’t going anywhere. Well the obvious answer would be second base, where the Rangers have had some trouble this season, losing Jurickson Profar to injury and Rougned Odor vastly underperforming expectations, leading to his demotion. In the past year or so Alberto has totaled just eight games at second base, three this season with Round Rock and five in the Dominican Winter League. There may be a brief adjustment period, but if he can play an effective shortstop, second base should come relatively naturally to him.
Rangers’ second basemen this season are batting just .170, and while Odor has the bulk of the at bats (88) and hit just .136, the other options haven’t been a whole heck of a lot better. Thomas Field has two homers and five driven in in 39 at bats, but is hitting just .205, while fan favorite Adam Rosales also has two jacks with four rbi and is batting a slightly better .216. Needless to say, a replacement needs to be found.
This is Hanser Alberto‘s first time in the majors, and my guess is that he’ll get the nod at second in tonight’s game against 30 year old knuckleballer Steven Wright. According to his splits in the minors this season, Alberto has hit righties better in the minors batting .317 compared to .271 against southpaws. Yet, with a knuckleball pitcher on the mound, splits may not make much of a difference.
Again, this is just my assumption and it could be wrong since Odor is batting .294 with Round Rock and already has major league experience, which would make him a solid option for a call-up to man second base in his own right. Maybe Jon Daniels is just getting a look at what Alberto can do before making a bigger decision. For that we’ll just have to wait and see, but to find out where and how often Alberto will be playing, we should know within a couple of days.