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Brandon Inge, Third Baseman

After playing 58 games at catcher in 2008, Brandon Inge finally seems to have settled into a full time third base role. Before 2008, he had not played a game at catcher since 2004. Last year, as a full time third baseman, Inge hit .230/.314/.406. As for his platoon splits, he hit .243/.361/.493 against lefties, and .225/.298/.377 against righties. He also hit 27 homers, drove in 84 runs and scored 71 runs.

Inge started his 2009 season on a high note, hitting .268/.360/.515 before the All-Star break. However, knee issues bothered him and he hit only .186/.260/.281 in the second half of the year. 21 of his 27 homers came in the first half, when he had a .304 BABIP. His BABIP in the second half of the year was down to .247, likely due to his knee injury. He has had surgery this offseason that will repair his knees, and should be ready to go at the start of spring training.

The demands of playing catcher have never been good to Inge, and it is understandable. Crouching behind a plate during games and practices is not fun (my catching career only lasted a couple of games), and can affect your legs in ways you cannot imagine. As a third baseman, Inge has a .298 BABIP in 2553 plate appearances. As a catcher, his BABIP is only .240, in 1149 trips to the plate.

So, what do should you expect from Inge in 2010? The 24 fans that have taken the time to project Inge’s numbers think he will hit .237/.321/.400 with 20 homers. I am a bit more optimistic. I see a .250 average with 22 homers next season, with another 75+ RBI year. Because he didn’t play any catcher last year, odds are he isn’t going to be catcher eligible in your league. As a third baseman, his value is quite low (Eno doesn’t even have him ranked), so stay away on draft day.

Click here to make your own projection for Inge’s 2010 campaign.