Joe Mahoney, first baseman

Can he be a major-league player?

The good news about Joe Mahoney’s 2012 season at Norfolk is that he stayed healthy the whole season and that he made his major-league debut. The bad news is that his 2012 season at Norfolk was disappointing, .265/.319/.389. For a first baseman, that’s inadequate.

In fairness, Norfolk’s Harbor Park may have been the worst park for Mahoney. Although he’s a left-handed power hitter, he wasn’t a dead-pull hitter who could take advantage of the short right-field party deck fence. He was more of a gap-to-gap hitter, and Harbor Park’s huge power alleys and center field sapped his power. He did produce .300/.356/.518 in 564 AA plate appearances.

Mahoney looked like a good first baseman, but it’s unclear whether that’s because he truly was a good first baseman or his predecessors at Norfolk were poor. He has the arm to play corner outfield — he was a pitcher as an amateur — but leg injuries have prevented him from getting a good look. He probably wouldn’t be a good defensive outfielder because of his lack of range.

All told, Mahoney is probably limited to a left-handed platoon first-base/DH role or to a left-handed bench bat. He reminds me of Sid Bream, the Pirates/Braves first baseman of the late 1980’s / early 1990’s. He was claimed by the Marlins on waivers, where he may have a better chance to make the big-league team. At the very least, if he’s assigned to AAA, he’ll get to hit in Albuquerque, as extreme a hitter’s park as Norfolk is a pitcher’s park.

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