With the dawn of any new season, there are always a number of (seemingly) pressing stories heading into spring training. Hopefully Coleman and Smoking Loon will take my cue here and allow us at DTW to focus on them one by one.
I’d like to start at third base.
(note, all stats below are from FanGraphs, they could vary slightly at BR)
According to FanGraphs, Miguel Cabrera had the 2nd highest 3B WAR in all of MLB last year at 7.6. Josh Donaldson, and his 12.1 Def rating snuck ahead of Cabrera at 7.7
Cabrera’s -14.6 def rating at 3B was just a shade behind David Freese for the worst 3B Def rating in all of baseball, and was the 6th worst defensive player rating in all of baseball. (Prince Fielder, who managed a -16.5 at 1B, was the 3rd worst according to FanGraphs). The effect of poor corner d in the D has been well documented for the last two years, and was definitely a factor in the Fielder for Kinsler swap last November.
With Cabrera returning to 1B, this shores up 1B, and opens up a spot in the field for Nick Castellanos.
Castellanos, who is by all accounts an average fielding 3B, should still be a noticeable improvement in terms of range on the left side of the infield. Playing next to Iglesias will help significantly. Offensively, Castellenos is expected to hit around .270 with 10-15 home runs, but we’ve got some time to let the kid grow. If he can manage to play average baseball and mature at the big league level, we’ll be alright. He’s been the Tigers top prospect for two years now, so I’m as excited as anyone to see what he can do.
The question for you today is what happens if Castellanos gets injured or isn’t quite yet ready (or insists on playing left field)?. There isn’t another true 3B on the roster and Lombardozzi (picked up from Was for Fister, remember?) and Kelly would have to fill in. Yikes. I can’t imagine that Lombardozzi and Kelly are expected to log a high number of at bats at 3B. I’m guessing that Castellanos will get his shot early, but if things don’t pan out, DD will bring someone else in.
In other news…
Kinsler’s #5 is retired – Hank Greenberg. So he’s gonna wear #3 in the hopes of renewing a little #1 to #3 magic.
This got me thinking of those mid 80’s Tigers teams…not a HoFer on them. And we’ve got two first ballot guys right now.