2010 in Review: Third Base

Posts in this series:

Team Offense Team Pitching
Team Defense
Catcher First Base Second Base
Shortstop Third Base Designated Hitter
Left Field Center Field Right Field
Starting Pitching Relief Pitching

 

 

Part I: Review

2010 Overview

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.

 

Defense

 

Name Pos Inn RngR ErrR UZR UZR/150
Jhonny Peralta 3B 780 -7.6 4.8 -2.6 -4.1
Jayson Nix 3B 321 1.3 -5.6 -4 -17.4
Andy Marte 3B 264 3.2 -3.7 0 0.3
Luis Valbuena 3B 66 0.2 -1 -0.8 -20.3
Anderson Hernandez 3B 1 0.1 0.1 0 24.6

 

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.

Offense

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.

Rk G GS PA ▾ AB 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
1 Jhonny Peralta 90 373 334 23 2 7 32 69 .246 .308 .389 .698 .284 98 88
2 Jayson Nix 40 153 141 7 0 4 7 40 .220 .275 .355 .629 .276 88 70
3 Andy Marte 32 107 98 4 2 4 8 19 .306 .355 .510 .865 .342 153 132
4 Luis Valbuena 9 29 27 0 0 0 1 7 .222 .276 .222 .498 .300 87 38
Team Total 162 662 600 34 4 15 48 135 .248 .307 .393 .700 .293 99 89
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/18/2010.

 

Apparently, Marte really likes playing at third, and really hates playing anywhere else:

Split G GS PA AB 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
as 1B 22 70 61 3 0 1 9 11 .148 .257 .246 .503 .163 51 28
as 3B 32 107 98 4 2 4 8 19 .306 .355 .510 .865 .342 153 132
as DH 3 5 5 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 -100
as PH 9 9 9 0 0 0 0 5 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 -100
as PH for DH 3 3 3 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 -100
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/18/2010.

 

And Jayson Nix likes playing second base a lot better than third:

Split G GS PA AB 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
as 2B 27 110 100 5 0 7 6 24 .250 .312 .510 .822 .261 140 126
as 3B 54 197 177 8 0 5 14 47 .209 .281 .339 .620 .254 86 68
as SS 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 1.000 508 481
as LF 2 8 8 0 0 0 0 1 .125 .125 .125 .250 .143 -24 -34
as RF 1 3 3 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 -100
as DH 9 37 35 2 0 2 0 12 .229 .222 .457 .679 .273 94 76
as PH 7 7 7 0 0 0 0 2 .286 .286 .286 .571 .400 74 80
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/18/2010.

 

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:

 

Rk PA AB 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS ▾ BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
1 BOS 695 641 52 2 31 42 89 .321 .364 .554 .918 .331 130 145
2 TBR 712 617 47 5 23 79 137 .285 .365 .489 .855 .327 131 130
3 TOR 630 562 33 3 38 55 111 .251 .321 .523 .844 .246 118 124
4 TEX 750 686 36 4 21 52 121 .284 .332 .440 .772 .314 103 108
5 NYY 698 619 27 3 27 62 114 .254 .319 .438 .757 .265 92 103
6 KCR 685 628 34 1 17 51 98 .283 .334 .422 .756 .310 107 104
7 CHW 646 575 29 1 11 58 105 .266 .333 .377 .711 .307 90 93
8 DET 673 602 30 5 18 59 155 .238 .308 .394 .701 .287 87 89
9 CLE 662 600 34 4 15 48 135 .248 .307 .393 .700 .293 99 89
10 MIN 630 569 28 5 9 47 106 .264 .318 .378 .696 .305 83 89
11 BAL 686 646 28 0 16 21 109 .260 .290 .378 .668 .287 90 80
12 OAK 674 630 34 1 17 32 120 .243 .285 .381 .666 .273 89 79
13 SEA 670 636 32 0 10 24 92 .226 .259 .324 .583 .250 82 57
14 LAA 646 600 26 0 8 33 79 .223 .266 .307 .573 .244 64 56
TOT 9457 8611 470 34 261 663 1571 .261 .315 .414 .729 .289 98 96
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/18/2010.

 

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.

Returning

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.

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