Those are just some adjectives that describe Phillies second baseman, Placido Polanco. After coming over from St. Louis in last season's Scott Rolen trade, Polanco has exceeded expectations, and has become a staple in the Phillies lineup. If the Phils hope to make a run at the playoffs this year, Polanco needs to come up big; not that he hasn't done so already. Going in to Saturday's game against the Mets, Polanco was hitting .279 with 7 homeruns and 32 RBI. Those may not seem like mind-boggling numbers, but it seems as though all of Polanco's hits come in the clutch at just the right time, and without him this year, the Phils win total would look much different.
Polanco is on pace to break his previous season hit total of 149 with St. Louis, as he has 80 now as we near the All-Star Break. Polanco has never been much of a homerun threat, however, he's on a pace to shatter his previous career mark of 9. While he may not have the power of Jim Thome or the all-around ability of Bobby Abreu, he provides plenty of base hits and doubles, putting himself fourth on the Phillies in hits and tied for the team lead in doubles. He also ranks third on the team in total bases, behind only Thome, Lieberthal, and Abreu. Those stats alone prove that Polanco is a valuable asset to the Phillies offense. When the offense clicks, Polanco is usually in the middle of things.
If offense isn't enough, Polanco has made all of the plays defensively as well. With a .989 fielding percentage at second base this year, Polanco can be counted on to get an out if the ball is anywhere in his vicinity. He has made just four errors, and rarely makes a mistake in the field. With David Bell banged up, Polanco could be valuable in other ways as well. Polanco could easily slide back to third base and also played at shortstop with the Cardinals before being shipped to Philly last summer.
Polanco gives Larry Bowa a luxury that a lot of managers would love to have, since he is willing to hit anywhere in the lineup and can be effective from almost any spot in the order. Factor in Polanco's defensive flexibility and it's easy to see why Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa raved about Polanco.
In the final year of his contract, Placido is playing his heart out, though it remains to be seen whether he will be re-signed with emerging prospect Chase Utley seeming ready to break through. Whether or not he is re-signed is ultimately decided by management, however, with the performance he is putting on this year, there aren't many players who would contribute on a whole to this team as well as Polanco has. Now, if only some other Phillie's players – with much bigger contracts – could produce as much.