Compare & Contrast: A superficial glance at Third Base

Position: Third Base

2010 Innings breakdown: Scott Rolen - 74%

                                            Miguel Cairo - 17%

                                            Juan Francisco - 5%

                                            Paul Janish - 4%

                                            Drew Sutton - 0%

2010 Composite batting line (over 650 PA):

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

573

78

163

39

3

21

95

3

3

58

103

.284

.354

.472

.827

BABIP

Contact Rate

Walk Rate

Batting Eye

SBO

RC/G

.315

82.1%

8.9%

0.56

3.6%

5.61

2010 Composite NL average third baseman batting line (over 650 PA):

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

582

75

154

31

2

17

80

5

2

55

124

.265

.331

.421

.752

BABIP

Contact Rate

Walk Rate

Batting Eye

SBO

RC/G

.311

78.7%

8.5%

0.44

4.4%

4.58

2011 Contract status:

Rolen - signed through 2012

Cairo - free agent

Francisco - not yet arbitration eligible

Janish - not yet arbitration eligible

Sutton - with Cleveland

Advanced minor league depth:

Juan Francisco - age 23, 890 OPS at AAA

Mike Costanzo - age 26, 799 OPS at AA, AAA

Jose Castro - age 23, 547 OPS at AA

Relative win increase, 2010 vs. 2009: +4

Brief summary of 2010: Well, that move worked.  I remember hearing some long-time manager or GM once theorizing that 3rd base was a top priority in constructing a team, because it was both an important defensive position while also historically being a spot to house a big bat.  Fill the role ably, and you're well on your way to making a winner.  While Scott Brosius would like to remind us that there's more than one way to skin a cat, the theory sounds plausible.  Times being what they are, plausibility can be legally defended as absolute truth, so we'll go with it.  To recap: Scott Rolen fell apart in the latter part of the season, and went AWOL in the playoffs.  He sat most Sundays to give way to Miguel Cairo, and had an express pass to the trainer's room.  All while representing a four win increase over the 2010 abomination, even though Rolen manned the position for roughly ¼ the year.  Thanks, Walt.

Way too early knee-jerk outlook for 2011: Over the final two months of the season, Rolen posted an OPS in the 710-715 ballpark.  Those numbers need to come with the caveat of Rolen's specific injury timeline, but at the very least, August and September provided one possible glimpse into the future.  Here's what we know: in 2010, Rolen played in more games, hit more home runs, drove in more runs, and took more free passes than he has in any season since 2006.  Defense tends not to slump, but it does correlate with a player's mobility...which might be an issue.  I'm expecting the third base output from Cincy to look much more like the league average line posted above, with quite a bit more of the production coming from NotRolen.

Bottom line: The Reds employ a hitting coach.  I have no idea who he is, but it's time for him to earn his paycheck, namely around the development of Juan Francisco and the wondrous art of pitch selection.  Similarly, the Reds also have a trainer.  Again, his name is but a mystery, but I suggest he stock up on cortisone and duct tape to see if we can't squeeze one more prime year out of Scott Rolen.  All signs point to no.   Sell, sell, sell.

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