Early Ruminations on Third Base

I’ll be the third base guy throughout the season, and today I want to highlight a few situations worth monitoring at the hot corner.

Pablo Sandoval

It’s probably a good thing that Sandoval is off to a solid start, because there were some people mumbling “platoon” in the Bay Area, evidenced by his hitting 8th in the order versus one lefty and sitting against another.  Against righties this year, he has hit 4th, 5th, and 6th, so Bruce Bochy is still trying to iron out exactly what he wants to do with him. That Bochy would put him down in front of the pitchers spot in the order when lefties are on the mound is a little bit odd as his career splits aren’t eye-popping in terms of production:

Yes, he hits better versus righties, but his numbers versus lefties doesn’t really profile as a #8 hitter. As long as he continues to hit, he should dodge the pine, but where he hits in the order is something certainly to monitor as the season wears on. Of course, as of Friday afternoon, Sandoval has 9 hits and 8 of them are singles, so he’s not blistering the ball just yet but for the newly svelte Panda, perhaps there’s just less weight to get behind that swing.

Danny Valencia

There were some vultures overhead as Valencia was looking pretty lost at the plate early on. With Ron Gardenhire trying to find space for Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, and Jason Kubel, some Minnesota faithful were thinking Cuddyer at third base wasn’t a terrible idea. But with Tsuyoshi Nikshioka breaking his leg, it appears Valencia’s leash just got a lot longer, so if you’re an owner, you can try and ride out his current struggles. Valencia is too talented a hitter to go like this for long.

Felipe Lopez

Yes, Felipe Lopez. With Manny Ramirez‘s unceremonious exit, Evan Longoria‘s fill-in might be auditioning for an expanded role with the club. It wasn’t too long ago that Lopez was a pretty useful player in fantasy baseball and if given regular playing time, he could be good for low teens HR and SB to go with a middling batting average. His versatility might be the best part about him as he may qualify at 2b, SS, and 3b in your league.

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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

15 Responses to “Early Ruminations on Third Base”

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  1. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Today should be a pretty good bellweather of what Bochy intends to do with his lineup against LHP’s as the Giants face a tough one in Jaime Garcia. Rowand has been red hot off the bench and Torres is not nearly as good from the right side while DeRosa has been having trouble getting into games and is an option at 3B.

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  2. Ballens says:

    Speaking of needing a Longoria replacements (and now Manny), I wonder if a trade for Mark DeRosa would make some sense for the Rays. He doesn’t have much usefulness to the Giants at the moment.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      I think a Derosa for Rays prospect trade makes a lot of sense for both teams.

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      • Travis says:

        Why would the Rays trade a prospect for a player that will hold the fort for a non-playoff team? They have Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist to hold out around the field until Longoria returns.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Maybe because Derosa is a better hitter than either Zobrist or Rodriguez and because they don’t consider themselves a non-playoff team?

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      • nolan says:

        Um, sorry, but no. Mark DeRosa is not a better hitter than Ben Zobrist. Rodriguez is the Rays’ utility player so I would hope DeRosa is a better hitter. Not sure that this makes sense for the Rays as they already have plenty of mediocre left-handed bats.

        Don’t they already have a slightly better version of DeRosa in Matt Joyce?

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      • Table says:

        Don’t you mean a much better version of Derosa in Matt Joyce? No need to kiss up to the Giants fan

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Joyce is strictly an OF. Zobrist has played a total of 4 games at 3B in his career vs 312 for DeRosa.

        DeRosa’s Career Line: .272/.341/.419
        Zobrist’s Career Line: .251/.345/.419

        For an equal OPS, you should prefer the hitter with the better BA. Also, Zobrist’s line is helped a lot by his single outlier year in 2009.

        Conclusion: If Longoria is going to be out for an extended period of time, DeRosa could help the Rays at 3B.

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      • Jason B says:

        If Longoria is out for an extended period of time, the Rays aren’t anything resembling a playoff contender in any conceivable way. No sense in giving up anything of value for a way-overpriced placeholder.

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      • Aaron says:

        The Rays could be kicking the tires on Chris Davis. He’s probably cheap and maybe a change of scenery/coaching could turn him around.

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      • ToddM says:

        Dr. B,

        You’ve got that wrong. With a similar OPS, you prefer the hitter with the LOWER average. Batting average fluctuates and is less controllable, while a similar OPS with a BA indicates (in a general sense) greater power and more walks, stats a batter seems to have better control of.

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  3. Josh says:

    DeRosa is 36 years old. it’s not really reasonable to quote his career line. that he can’t find ABs despite all the mediocrity in the Giants OF (Pat Burrell has been the everyday LF!) says a lot.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      The proposed trade is designed to help the Rays in the short term, right? DeRosa missed last year with wrist surgery. He’s healthy now. Look up his stat from 2009 and before.

      I also disagree with the premise that the Giants OF is mediocre. Burrell has been a reliable source of HR’s since the Giants acquired him. Torres put up 6 WAR last year. Huff is a terrible fielder, but I don’t think you would play either DeRosa or Matt Joyce ahead of him.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      Addendum: Burrell has hit HR’s at a rate of 30 per 600 PA’s since his arrival in SF. Combine that with a .350 OBP and I don’t think you would call that mediocre.

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    • Ree says:

      Maybe mediocre in name value (previous to this last year at least with the exception of Pat Burrell), but they also have put up some of the best OF UZRs over the past couple years. They’ve been solid defensively even if not all that noteworthy offensively.

      Underrated imho.

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