At 5’8″, both Aaron Miles and Mike Fontenot are five inches under the average Major League height. But their stats are both average to above average: both have career .290 averages (.289 Miles, .290 Fontenot) and OBP over .325 (.329 Miles, .369 Fontenot).
With two nearly identical players, who is going to come out on top? And who will get the short (no pun intended) end of the stick? The winner gets the everyday position at 2nd base. The loser will platoon and watch the action from the bench.
Round One: Offense – The Cubs signed Miles after his career year in 2008, when he batted .317. Not to be outdone, Fontenot also had a career year, batting .305. Fontenot is having a torrid spring (.367 average). Miles (.222 this spring) praised Fontenot’s performance, telling the Chicago Tribune that “he’s a great guy and he’s hitting the ball better than I am right now, that’s for sure”.
Round Two: Versatility – The Cubs signed Miles as, ostensibly, a replacement for the dearly departed Mark DeRosa. “Another left-handed bat in the line-up.” While Fontenot is also a left-handed hitter, Miles can also bat right-handed. And Miles has more versatility on defense: He can also play second-base.
Expect to see Fontenot as an everyday player in Lou’s line-up, thanks to his bat. Miles’s 2008 performance looks more likely to be a fluke when compared to his career average. Plus, he will be more valuable coming off of the bench since he is a switch-hitter and utility man.