Third Basemen of the AL Central
By Editorial Staff
The first word that comes to mind when discussing the AL central’s crop of third basemen to start the 2011 season: anemic. Looking far and wide through baseball’s most wide open division, there was barely a major leaguer in the bunch. Luckily, some help is on the way, although these five teams better hope it’s sooner rather than later.
Throughout baseball, third base has been a problem for teams. As a whole, the position is hitting for a .685 OPS this year vs. last year’s .742. Even with the league-wide decline in OPS from .728 last year to .709 this year, the 60 point drop is staggering. Team by team, there are question marks at the hot corner. (Teams mentioned in order of ranking in MLB position and OPS)
KCR (11th, .720): Kansas city has the only OPS over league average in the division for the position, thanks to a hot start by recently benched Wilson Betemit, and his .287/.344/.410. Mike Moustakas, super prospect, has taken over for Betemit in the last couple of weeks. He’s acclimating nicely to the majors, and has a .250/.364/.357 slash. Look for that to rise as he continues to develop into his power. Moustakas’ prospect status makes Betemit expendible, and it’d be surprising to see him in a KC uniform after the trade deadline.
MIN (17th, .664) Fueled by a .345 BABIP last year, Danny Valencia managed to put up a nice OPS, around .800. However, after watching his BABIP dip to .233 this year, Valencia has seen his batting average drop 100 points as well, causing his OPS to plummet to .630. Can Valencia be a useful player going forward for the twins? That remains to be seen. They have possible help in Miguel Sano, one of their top five prospects, but that is a couple years away. He’s only 18, yet he’s hitting .344/.463/.547 at rookie ball, albeit helped by a .422 BABIP.
CLE (18th, .662): Jack Hannahan is sporting a .224/.315/.352, while Adam Everett has his usual .550 OPS. Enough said. Lonnie Chisenhall should be manning the position soon, thankfully for Indian fans.
CHW (tie for 26th, .573): Brent Morel’s .248/.262/.315 slash line is putrid. Did I mention he’s walked one time in 169 PA? Omar Vizquel is hitting for his usual .660 OPS, and Mark Teahen’s .606 isn’t far behind. Unfortunately for the Sox, Dayan Viciedo had to make the transition off the hot corner due to his fielding. Going forward, they do not have a quality solution at 3B, however, I’d imagine that’s something they will address in trade or free agency. Morel’s five walks and four homers in 239 career PA just isn’t going to cut it for Ozzie and the gang.
DET: (tie for 26th, .573): I put us last because truthfully, we deserve it. Brandon Inge looks like his best days are behind him, and right now, we’re running Don Kelly and Danny Worth out there. This rendition of third baseman makes me wish for Travis Fryman every day. Brandon has mono, some bum knees, and if he check swings at strike 3 again… well, we know that will happen. Inge has mustered all of a .211/.279/.286 this season, with Don Kelly putting up a .630 OPS for the season, on par with his career average. Worth has shown a couple flashes, but he’s not the answer either. He simply doesn’t hit enough to play a corner position. All in all, the Tigers are in limbo right now. It’ll be two years at least until Francisco Martinez or Nick Castellanos is ready. What do they do for the time being? Get someone like Adam Kennedy, Jeff Keppinger, aforementioned Wilson Betemit? I vote any of the three.
Hopefully the help listed above gets here fast, because the crop of Wilson Betemit, Jack Hannahan, Brett Morel, Brandon Inge, and Danny Valencia to start the season is nothing to be proud of for AL central GM’s.
All stats from baseball reference.