Posts in this series:
|Catcher||First Base||Second Base|
|Shortstop||Third Base||Designated Hitter|
|Left Field||Center Field||Right Field|
|Starting Pitching||Relief Pitching|
Part I: Review
Jhonny Peralta manned third base up until his trade to Detroit in July. After that, there was a vacuum at the position, with three players (Jayson Nix, Luis Valbuena, and Andy Marte) getting playing time. Jayson Nix ended the season as more or less the everyday player, though he struggled to play the position. Nix, Valbuena, and Marte are all currently on the roster.
Third base was a major problem defensively. According to UZR, the problem was range with Peralta, and errors with everyone else.
The leader in UZR of this group is Andy Marte with 0. Jhonny Peralta caught the balls he got to (ErrR) but didn't get to very many (RngR). Jayson Nix had ok range, but made a lot of errors. Andy Marte had good range and stone hands. These numbers mesh with the what my impressions were of these players. Marte looked a lot smoother at the position than Nix, but Marte's been a third baseman his whole career, while Nix has mainly been a second baseman.
When I first saw these offensive splits, I had thought I made a mistake. Keep in mind, these are the offensive numbers at third base only.
Apparently, Marte really likes playing at third, and really hates playing anywhere else:
|as PH for DH||3||3||3||0||0||0||0||2||.000||.000||.000||.000||.000||-100||-100|
And Jayson Nix likes playing second base a lot better than third:
Since Nix essentially stopped playing second after Peralta was traded, this weird split could just be due to timing, though you can't dismiss it out of hand. I think it's more likely that the offensive dropoff was due to pitchers making adjustments towards the end of the season, though, since the major offensive slump didn't occur until September, more than a month after he started to play third full-time.
I can't explain Marte's splits, though. His career splits at first and third are pretty even. His very high BABIP while playing third suggests that those numbers can't be used for predictive purposes.
Here's now Indians third basemen as a group compared to the rest of the AL:
I was prepared for a much worse showing, but again, the offense was way down across the board. Two clubs (SEA and LAA) had their third basemen as group post an OPS+ under 60(!), and only three clubs had a positional OPS+ over 110. Third base is traditionally an offensive position, but at least this year it wasn't.
Part II: Looking Towards 2011
Not Coming Back
Jhonny Peralta (Traded, 7-28-10)
Peralta was dealt because the Indians weren't going to pick up his 2011 option, and wanted to see if anyone else on the roster could be an everyday third baseman. After going to Detroit, Peralta moved back to shortstop, and may be brought back by the Tigers.
Jayson Nix (Pre-Arbitration) - No Option Years Remaining
Luis Valbuena (Pre-Arbitration) - 1 Option Year Remaining
Both of these guys are really second basemen, and need to improve their defense at third to get playing time here next season. Nix at the very least will be a utility player next year, and if the Indians don't go get a free agent, would be the default starter. Valbuena is likely ticketed to Columbus, and needs to get his offensive game back on track.
To Be Determined
Andy Marte (1st Year Arbitration) - No Option Years Remaining
I think it's time for the Indians and Marte to part ways. He's not going to make much even being arbitration eligible, but the Indians obviously didn't think enough of him to give him a real shot after trading Peralta, so why continue the farce?
In the Minors
Jared Goedert (Not on 40-Man Roster)
Cord Phelps (Not on 40-Man Roster)
Lonnie Chisenhall (Not on 40-Man Roster)
Goedert is the most likely to see playing time in the majors next season, but Phelps and Chisenhall are the better prospects. Phelps will be learning to play third base this winter, so he'll need some time in Columbus to determine if the position change will work. Chisenhall is probably a year away, but might get a late-season callup if/when the Indians are out of it.
The Indians are also likely to bring in a free agent or trade for a major-leaguer to start at third base. Whoever they bring in has to be a major defensive upgrade over Nix and Valbuena.