2010 in Review: First 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

The Indians brought in Russell Branyan to play first base, as Matt LaPorta was coming off two off-season surgeries. But Matt started the season anyways, as Branyan missed most of Spring Training with a back injury. Those two would share the position through the end of June, when the Indians dealt Branyan to Seattle to give LaPorta more playing time. Matt would hold down the position through the end of the season. Three other Indians (Andy Marte, Shelley Duncan, Jordan Brown) would make starts at the position.

Defense

2010 was Branyan's second straight season as a full-time first baseman, and he was decent according to UZR. I thought he looked wooden out there, and should have turned more throwing errors into outs. Matt LaPorta looked better around the bag than Branyan, but he does need to expand his range. Matt is still learning the position, and the two surgeries had to have affected his range in 2010, so I'm less concerned with his defense than the other infielders. In fact, I was actually encouraged how well he took to the position. Now only if his offense was as encouraging.

 

Name Pos Inn DPR RngR ErrR UZR UZR/150
Matt LaPorta 1B 791 -0.2 -4.2 1 -3.4 -5.7
Russell Branyan 1B 383 -0.1 4.1 -1.4 2.7 6.1
Andy Marte 1B 168 -0.1 -4.2 0.1 -4.3 -22.3
Jordan Brown 1B 73 0.3 0.3 0.6 11.8
Shelley Duncan 1B 17 -1.1 0.1 -1 -75.5

Offense

But at first base, defense takes a back seat to offense. How did the Tribe first basemen do at the plate?

Because LaPorta got more at-bats than Branyan, the Indians finished towards the bottom of the league in hitting. In most years, having your first basemen post a 70 OPS+ would place you last in the league with room to spare. But not this season, thanks to Seattle, Baltimore, and the post-Teixeira Texas Rangers.

Rk

H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
1 DET 193 45 1 41 88 109 .317 .401 .596 .997 .325 163 146
2 CHW 183 34 2 38 70 113 .301 .374 .551 .925 .314 144 129
3 MIN 195 48 4 25 79 111 .313 .391 .523 .915 .347 139 127
4 BOS 168 36 6 24 84 108 .279 .371 .478 .849 .300 115 112
5 KCR 187 45 1 20 70 89 .303 .373 .476 .849 .323 132 112
6 NYY 155 37 0 32 100 121 .249 .361 .462 .823 .259 109 105
7 OAK 160 35 6 12 114 109 .273 .391 .414 .805 .314 130 103
8 LAA 152 27 0 29 44 125 .253 .313 .443 .755 .273 114 87
9 TOR 140 41 2 23 67 147 .239 .319 .433 .752 .279 98 87
10 TBR 109 19 0 31 109 173 .194 .329 .393 .721 .214 96 81
11 CLE 131 28 0 21 66 137 .222 .302 .377 .678 .253 94 70
12 TEX 121 26 0 16 80 143 .214 .310 .345 .654 .255 74 65
13 SEA 135 25 1 17 55 114 .227 .293 .357 .651 .251 104 63
14 BAL 138 32 1 11 53 128 .226 .289 .336 .625 .266 78 57
TOT 2167 478 24 340 1079 1727 .259 .345 .443 .788 .286 114 97
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/31/2010.

I wasn't able to access the team splits in a table format, so instead, here's the individual lines:



Matt LaPorta

Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
as 1B 93 368 325 36 73 15 0 11 37 40 72 .225 .310 .372 .682 .254 104 71
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/31/2010.

Russell Branyan


Split G PA AB 2B 3B HR RBI SB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
as 1B 50 197 178 9 0 10 27 0 50 .270 .332 .489 .820 .319 103 103
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/31/2010.

 

It was a good thing the Indians did bring Branyan in, for if not for him the Indians might have finished last in the league. But Branyan will not be returning, so let's concentrate on the player the Indians are counting on to be a major offensive contributor.

I think it's very probable that the two surgeries had a major affect on LaPorta's offensive game. Not only did he start the season playing with a gimpy hip, he wasn't able to come into the regular season having gotten his normal reps. He also had to deal with a new position and pitchers who now knew his flaws. Because of all these factors, the Indians are giving LaPorta a mulligan for 2010, and hoping that after a normal off-season, Matt will be that promising power hitter in 2011. But there also needs to be a backup plan.

Part II: Looking Towards 2011

Not Coming Back

Russell Branyan (Traded, 6-26-2010)

Branyan was dealt to give Matt LaPorta unfettered at-bats, but he more than served his purpose with the Indians.

Coming Back

Matt LaPorta (Pre-Arbitration) - 1 Option Year Remaining

Matt is going to be the first baseman in 2011, and the training wheels are going to be off. The Indians really need a right-handed power threat, and have envisioned LaPorta as that guy since trading CC Sabathia for him in 2008. He has the ability to hit 25+ home runs a season, but he's going to have to get better with his plate discipline so that he gets opportunities to use that power.

Jordan Brown (Pre-Arbitration) - 2 Option Years Remaining

Brown had a decent season in Columbus, but with his age (26) and place on the defensive spectrum (LF/1B), he needs to be obliterating minor-league pitching to open eyes. Brown could find his way on the roster as a backup first baseman and fifth outfielder, but it's more likely he goes back to Columbus again.

Shelley Duncan (Pre-Arbitration) - No Option Years Remaining

Duncan has played some first base in the majors, but on the Indians, he's a much better fit backing up a left-handed outfield. So I'll cover his 2011 outlook when I get to the outfielders.

Up in the Air

Andy Marte (Arbitration) - No Option Years Remaining

If by some masochistic miracle Marte is on this team next season, he would probably be the primary backup to LaPorta. But that's not happening...right?

 


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