Somebody had to say it. So SI’s Albert Chen said it. And what he said was, “it’s time to bench Craig Biggio” — or something to that effect.
From SI’s “Fungoes” blog:
Biggio is Houston’s leadoff hitter and everyday second baseman, and he is hitting .237 with a .284 on-base percentage. This is not simply the case of a slow start; last year, the 41-year-old hit .264/.325/.468, and only .178/.253/.388 on the road. His speed is fading, and his defense is now subpar. The time has come: On the cusp of the 3,000 hits, Craig Biggio must sit. Biggio should no longer be an everyday player. The punchless Astros rank 22nd in the majors in runs scored and have scored two runs or fewer in five of their first 19 games, and Biggio isn’t helping.
What do you think? Is it time for Biggio to pass the torch? Chen says Astros prospect Hunter Pence is more than ready to take Biggio’s spot in the Astros’ lineup. And if Pence’s stats are to be believed, Chen is right.
But Pence is not the next Biggio. Pence plays center field (he would bump Chris Burke to second). The next Biggio is already here. But he doesn’t play for the Astros. He plays for the Phillies. And his name is Chase Utley.
Consider this: Both Utley and Biggio play second base (though Biggio started his career at catcher and briefly attempted to play the outfield). Going into last night’s games, Utley led the NL in being hit by pitches. Biggio has the all-time record. Going into last night’s game, Utley led the NL in doubles (he hit two more last night). Biggio was only the second player to hit 50 doubles and steal 50 bases in a season. Both are speedy guys who bring an unprecedented level of focus and hustle. Both like to get dirty. Both lead by example.
I mean, I’m sure they’ve got their differences (one’s a little more country, one’s a little more rock and roll), but the similarities are remarkable. And considering how hard it’s going to be to say goodbye to Biggio, it’s nice to know that there’s somebody else already in the league who’s bringing it Biggio-style every night.