Lonnie Chisenhall. - Rob Carr
Next up is Lonnie Chisenhall, who will be for the first time an everyday player at the major-league level. Will he run with this opportunity? Or crash and burn?
A quick reminder:
- If you haven't done so, please feel free to post your projection for the first six players in this series; I won't compile the results until after we've gone through all the starting positions. So you have until the end of this week (the 24th) to post your entry.
- There's a couple easy ways to get to those projections: first you can click on the link in the sidebar above, or you can click on the red Community Projections button at the top of this post.
2008 was Brad Grant's first draft as Director of Amateur Scouting, and Lonnie Chisenhall was his first draft pick. Grant was promoted because the Indians' last decade of drafts had been virtually barren, especially in the top-end talent, the type of the players that turn into good everyday regulars, core players, or even franchise players. Because the Indians had won 96 games the season before, they were selected 29th in the first round, so Grant would have his work cut out for him; usually by the time the first is half-over the high-end talent is gone.
In the years before Grant took over, the Indians had drafted a string of college pitchers and position players, the least risky way of ensuring that the picks would reach the majors (and most of them did), but the upside wasn't very high. With his first pick, Grant didn't select a player out of high school, but he didn't select a college junior, either, and the player he selected came with other risks as well.
Lonnie Chisenhall was a top prospect coming out of high school, but opted to go to South Carolina instead. He was kicked off the team after he and a teammate stole TV/computer equipment from a dorm room and a large amount of money from an assistant coach's locker. He pleaded guilty to both offenses, and received probation. Meanwhile he enrolled at a community college in North Carolina, and quickly popped back up on the draft prospect radar screen thanks to a great season. So a year after graduation from high school, he was eligible for the draft again as a 19-year-old, and the Indians took a chance on him.
Draft as a shortstop, Chisenhall was quickly moved to third base in his first full season in pro baseball (2009). He was able to handle third base, all the while showcasing his sweet left-handed swing. Before the 2010 season, he was rated #31 in Baseball America's overall prospect list, and #25 before the 2011 season. He made his major-league debut that year, and wasn't overwhelmed, hitting .255/.284/.415 in 223 Plate Appearances with the Indians. He appeared in less games with the Indians in 2012 thanks to a broken arm; because of the injury, he missed a golden opportunity to get major-league at-bats, but the Indians liked what they saw to the point where they non-tendered Jack Hannahan after the season and didn't bring in a major-league third baseman to challenge him. Third base is Lonnie's, and although he may sit some against left-handers, he's going get the vast majority of playing time there.
Chisenhall has already shown that he can hit for power at the major-league level, hitting 12 home runs and 19 doubles in his brief major-league career (374 PA). However, my concern is that he isn't walking much; he's walked only 16 times between 2011 and 2012, and has struck out 76 times. If you break things down further, you'll see that against right-handers, those SO/BB numbers don't look that bad, but against left-handers, they're downright horrible:
|vs RHP as LHB||104||283||72||15||1||7||14||53||.271||.309||.414||.722||110||.314||103|
|vs LHP as LHB||57||91||20||4||0||5||2||23||.227||.253||.443||.696||39||.250||91|
|vs LH Starter||27||73||19||4||0||3||5||16||.279||.329||.471||.799||32||.327||123|
|vs RH Starter||82||301||73||15||1||9||11||60||.255||.287||.409||.696||117||.294||94|
This is a small sample, so it may correct itself as Chisenhall gets more at-bats, but it's something to keep an eye on.
|162 Game Avg.||162||556||137||28||1||18||4||1||24||113||.260||.295||.421||.716||100|
Chisenhall has the least major-league experience of any player in the Opening Day lineup, so projections are likely to vary widely depending on what you want to believe. Here's ZiPS:
This projection envisions a low-OBP, medium-power season for Chisenhall, which I can see happening. Especially if he struggles against left-handers.
Cairo predicts this for Chisenhall in 2013:
Even less playing time, and lower batting average and power.
Here's my projections:
I'm not counting on much from Chisenhall in his first full major-league season, other than some power. I think he'll continue to struggle against left-handers, lowering his BA/OBP and ultimately limiting his playing time.
What are your thoughts?