A three year Indians review: Third Base
This is the fourth part in this series and this time we delve into third base to finish off the infield. This is a position that has been in flux since Casey Blake was traded in July of 2008 as the Indians have tired vets like Jack Hannahan and top prospects like AndyMarte, and neither have worked out.
The Indians now hope that Lonnie Chisenhall will be the answer at third base since they have literally no options in Double-A or Triple-A (sorry,Giovanny Urshela is Hannahan part two at best to me). Chisenhall will be given every chance to show that he can play third base for the Indians.
For this grouping I am going with Chisenhall at third base over Reynolds, and having Reynolds as the DH in a later piece. What makes third base different from the earlier positions is that it is the first time where the starter is undefined. The previous positions it was easy to point out who the starter was while third base the last two years has had a few players in the mix as the starter.
2011 - Jack Hannahan .222/.312/.348 263 PA
2012 - Jack Hannahan .245/.318/.355 174 PA
2013 - Lonnie Chisenhall .237/.283/.408 180 PA
These stats show below average production based on stats alone as the Indians have not had a third baseman post a .700 OPS over the last three years. Chisenhall gets on base less than Hannahan but has more pop, so it becomes a question of preference. It's not been pretty and that is why multiple players have been given a chance to play third. In the end they are close offensively so it's a bit of a push when it comes to slash lines.
For this stat remember that anything below 0 is below replacement level, 2+ is a starter, 5+ an All Star:
2011 - Jack Hannahan 1.2
2012 - Jack Hannahan 0
2013 - Lonnie Chisenhall .5
WAR is the only stat I have listed which also includes defense, which is why Hannahan had a WAR over one in his first year. His defense dipped a bit last year which is why in spite of better offensive numbers his WAR dropped, along with playing in fewer games. Chisenhall is a below average defender but his power is why he is a plus WAR player. Yet, again, it is a coin flip. Do you want defense or some power and upside? In a one year vacuum I might take the defense, but again it's a push to me.
For this remember 100 is average and 120 is great as it means the player produces 20% runs more than your average starter:
2011 - Jack Hannahan 88
2012 - Jack Hannahan 91
2013 - Lonnie Chisenhall 96
Lonnie is again the best offensive player the Indians have had at third base, but not by much and he is still below average. The hope and what Indians fans have seen since his recall is that he will continue to improve with experience. If he becomes an above average hitter for the position then you can deal with the subpar defense, but until then I think one can argue that a contending team might have been better with Hannahan than Chisenhall but either way its frankly a coin flip at third base.
I am calling this one a tie since it is too close to really make a decision on whether the Indians have improved this season at the position. So now we are four positions in and the Indians are up 2-1-1 in position improvements. Next up will be catcher, where the criminally underrated Carlos Santana will get his due.
Also here is the compiled WAR and wRC+ for this team vs. 2011 and 2013:
2011 vs. 2013: WAR +2.8, wRC+ +74
2012 vs. 2013: WAR + 1.5, wRC+ +37
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Urshela hit 14 last year.
Hannhan hit .239, ,257 & .273 in three yrs. of AA ball.
Jack was 22, 23, 24.
Urshela is only 21 and hitting .269 at AA with 7 HR's.
He hit 14 last year.
Jack Hannahan is a good ballplayer, but Urshela may become a better one.