Reconciling Disappointment, Part 9

Position: Third Base

2011 Innings breakdown: Scott Rolen - 37%

                                            Miguel Cairo - 29%

                                            Todd Frazier - 14%

                                            Juan Francisco - 13%

                                            Paul Janish - 4%

                                            Chris Valaika - 2%

                                            Yonder Alonso - 1%       

2011 Composite batting line (over 650 PA):

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

599

76

150

35

5

18

82

5

3

33

104

.251

.299

.412

.711

BABIP

Contact Rate

Walk Rate

Batting Eye

SBO

RC/G

.278

82.7%

5.1%

0.32

6.2%

3.94

2011 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

588

68

151

32

2

13

70

7

3

49

107

.257

.317

.387

.705

BABIP

Contact Rate

Walk Rate

Batting Eye

SBO

RC/G

.295

81.8%

7.5%

0.46

7.0%

4.08

2012 Contract status:

Rolen - signed through 2012

Cairo - signed through 2012

Frazier - not yet arbitration eligible

Francisco - not yet arbitration eligible

Janish - arbitration eligible (1st arb year)

Valaika - not yet arbitration eligible

Alonso - not yet arbitration eligible

Advanced minor league depth:

Eric Campbell - age 25, 927 OPS at A+, AA

Mike Costanzo - age 27, 752 OPS at AA, AAA

Jake Kahaulelio - age 26, 639 OPS at A+, AA

Relative win increase, 2011 vs. 2010: -3

Brief summary of 2011: Well, at least we had an all-star at the position.  Rolen's injury-plagued and ineffective year was a severe reminder of how important a cog he is.  Particularly shocking is that OBP number above, as a player with a career BB% rate over 10% suddenly found himself below 4% in the metric.  Pitchers had little to fear, and they showed it.  The position also was constantly disjointed, as even without Rolen, there was not a primary backup.  Cairo played well, all things considered...and one of the pertinent considerations is that he's older and has historically been a marginal player.  Beyond that, the Reds failed to establish just who the third baseman of the future is.  Neither Frazier nor Francisco were particularly impressive, and neither are so particularly young anymore.   

Way too early knee-jerk outlook for 2012: All of the four primary recipients of 3B playing time in 2011 are candidates to receive significant playing time in 2012, but the one at the bottom of the pecking order (Cairo) is the one most likely to play worse next year, leading to a strange feeling of optimism for this spot.  Rolen has been too good for too long to not forecast some level of bounce back, although as always, the health is the key.  Both Frazier and Francisco remain enigmas, but are on the upward pointing side of the development curve.  If it were my club, I would pencil in Rolen and Francisco as a platoon of sorts, hope some hardcore discipline development kicks in for the Destroyer of Children, and groom Frazier to be the next second baseman.  At any rate, mark me down as saying this position can not possibly be worse next year.

Comparable industry: One of the more stable professions in this country is that of schoolteacher.  Between the inevitability of the human life cycle and the mandate that the young polliwogs actually learn something before we pay them, it's safe to say that 100 years from now, we will still extol the importance and necessity of schoolteachers.  The combined importance and ubiquity, then, serve to point out just how few good ones there really are.  Those who are good shine like brilliant stars, while raging against the destructive forces of culture, trumpeting a siren of vapidity and uselessness.  These supernovas give brief hope before flaring out; the fifth of bourbon stashed in his/her bottom desk drawer is a sign that things are not what they were, and go ahead and plan on the teacher taking quite a few "personal days" this schoolyear.

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