Among other significant changes to the Detroit Tigers 2012 season is the reality that Miguel Cabrera will probably be moving to third base on a full time basis, something he hasn’t done full time since 2007. There are a lot of concerns, opinions, and criticisms out there, of course, but the reality of his experience at third base, based on his two full seasons with the Marlins back in ‘06 and ’07, is that he performed at a below average/nearly awful level.
This position, revisited, could have disastrous implications. What if Cabrera collapses? What if his offense is affected by his fielding concerns? Of course, this is pointless speculation and I should be slapped for worrying everyone so. I mean, consider the young third baseman the Tigers traded away last summer?
He certainly wasn’t very good in a half season over in Oakland, now was he? It seems even Cabrera was a better hot corner glove in his two years at the position.
Then, throw in the Tigers third basemen last year:
Thanks to Betemit, the numbers are skewed in an extreme negative slant, but moving Cabrera there and moving Inge away probably isn’t a difference of more than 10 runs, and given Miggy’s offensive output, he’d be the best “overall” third baseman in the league…if he can handle the transition.
|2011 team third base defense|
Each division has one horrible third base defense. Baltimore, Minnesota, and Oakland. The Tigers were the next worst and so, how much worse could Cabrera make them?
|top nine third basemen in 2011 by most games played|
Cabrera isn’t one of the best hitters in baseball because he’s simply talented. It’s because he strives to be the best, he works as hard as he possibly can during the season and makes the necessary adjustments when they’re needed. The same concept can be applied to third base. And the Tigers expect nothing less. Is he a natural? No, but he is a natural baseball player. Is he a great fielder? No, but he can certainly be adequate.
Then again, what if he can’t make it? The excellent Eno Sarris over at Fangraphs explored first baseman who transitioned back to third base after being away for more than a year:
So, basically, since 1980 there hasn’t been a poor defensive first baseman at least one year removed from playing third base, who went back to the position for more than one season. There is no comparison for this. It hasn’t been done.
So we leave with that. Cabrera is an unknown until we see him play for two months.
One last small thought:
If Brandon Inge, an adequate glove with a troubling bat is making $5.5MM in 2012, wouldn’t it be best to try him at second base if third is occupied rather than have him rot on the bench?