Sep 1, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Nick Castellanos (30) makes a catch of a fly ball hit by Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (not pictured) in the eighth inning at Comerica Park. Cleveland won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
2014: Jose Iglesias
2013: Jose Iglesias
A full year of Jose Iglesias is different than two-thirds of a year of Jhonny Peralta and one-third of a year of Iglesias, but Iglesias was the man at shortstop down the stretch (and in eight of the eleven playoff games). I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we wanted to consider this an upgrade, because if Peralta had returned this year, it probably wouldn’t have been as the shortstop.
2014: Nick Castellanos
2013: Miguel Cabrera
Third base is where the rubber hits the road for the Tigers and their alleged speed and defense campaign. He hasn’t played third base regularly for a season and a half, and he’s no one’s idea of a burner, but he might represent an upgrade over Cabrera in both defense and base running.
We don’t have any data on Castellanos as a base runner or as a defender at third, but we can guess and see where that gets us.
I don’t think we know that Castellanos is an upgrade defensively over Miggy. He might be – and I think he probably is – but Miggy was a -13 defender over the last two seasons (per 1250 innings) which made him the worst third baseman in the league over that time, but not really that much worse than the other terrible ones. Trevor Plouffe’s UZR (per 1250 innings) comes out very nearly the same, and Chris Johnson and David Freese were only a handful of runs better. Castellanos could very easily end up being one of those guys in 2014. We’re guessing here.
I don’t think we should give too much credit to the unknown, especially since reports all along on Castellanos were that a day may come when he was maybe average at the position. But it is not this day.
Verdict: +5 runs of defense, +1 run of base running.
Note: the +5 on defense could just as easily be +10 or +0. This is important to keep in mind.
2014: Victor Martinez
2013: Victor Martinez
Victor Martinez is the poster child for being bad on the bases. He’s absolutely awful. But he shouldn’t be a much different level of awful than he was in 2014, so the Tigers aren’t any worse off here than they were.