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Friday, January 25, 2013

HOW THE YANKEES STACK UP: THIRD BASE

So far we've examined how the Yankees stacked up in the positions of Catcher, First Base, Second Base and Shortstop.  Now, we look at Third Base.


Third Base

The last time he played in at least 150 games was 2007, and already we know that he will miss the majority of 2013 after undergoing another hip surgery.

Yet, we have him under contract through 2017, and he is due to make $28 million this season. 
Alex Rodriguez has become the unfortunate face of all the critics say is wrong with the New York Yankees.  To them as well as some fans of the “Bombers”, ARod represents foolish gluttony and the black hole in the Yankees budget.

Because of his hip issues, the Yankees have been forced to use an assortment of players at the hot corner.  Most recently, Eric Chavez (injury prone as well – signed with the Diamondbacks), Eduardo Nunez (nice bat, not-so-nice glove), and Jayson Nix (assigned to Triple A Scranton in December) did their best to provide solid play in Rodriguez’s absence. 

The latest selected to “hold down the fort while ARod recuperates” is former hated rival Kevin Youkilis. He comes off a season begun with the Red Sox and completed with the White Sox in which he hit a combined .235 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI. 

Not exactly statistics that will strike fear into opposing pitchers.

One could argue that last season was merely a “glitch” in Youkilis’ career as he had never hit below .258.  In the five seasons prior to 2012, “Youk” averaged 22 HR and 87 RBI while batting .294. There is one problem, however.  Kevin Youkilis has NEVER played 150 or more games.


With that in mind, the Yankees will look to seeing time from Eduardo Nunez and maybe even newly acquired Russ Canzler at third base.  Neither has flashed much glove at the spot, but both show good potential offensively – something the team sorely needs from that position.

So, how do we match up with the rest of the division?
Toronto Blue Jays:  The Blue Jays’ Brett Lawrie experienced a drop-off in 2012.  At the age of 21 in 2011, Lawrie hit .293 with 9 HR and 25 RBI in just 43 games.  Last season, the young third baseman fell to a .273 average with just 11 HR and 48 RBI in 125 games.  In the field, Lawrie is average at best – committing 17 errors and holding a .955 fielding percentage.  He will be backed up by Macier Izturis, a 36-year old infielder with a .947 career fielding percentage at third base and a lifetime .273 batting average.

Baltimore Orioles:  The Orioles are turning to youth to man the hot corner in 2013.  21-year old Manny Machado will be the primary third baseman for the O’s in the upcoming season.  In 51 games, he hit .262 with seven home runs and 26 RBI.  He will be backed up by journeyman Wilson Betemit.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays will finally have a healthy Evan Longoria back to start the season in 2013.  For opposing pitchers, it only means more sleepless nights.  Longoria is blessed with a great glove, great arm, and great bat.  He hits for both power (averaging 28 HR per season over the four years prior to 2012) and average (a solid .274 career average and hit .294 in 2010).  Sean Rodriguez will provide the backup for Longoria.

Boston Red Sox: Like the Orioles, the Red Sox are turning to youth to man third base.  Will Middlebrooks hit .288 with 15 HR and 54 RBI in 75 games last season, providing a bright spot in an otherwise very dark Boston summer.  At just 25-years old, Middlebrooks appears to have a promising career ahead of him for the BoSox and will be given the opportunity to build upon a splendid debut.

How third base stacks up in the AL East Division:

  1. Tampa Bay: Longoria’s back
  2. Boston:  Middlebrooks won’t have a sophomore slump in the “friendly confines”
  3. Toronto: Lawrie has another year under his belt and will rebound
  4. Yankees: Youkilis will help ease the pain of another season without a healthy ARod.
  5. Baltimore: Machado has a high ceiling, but still needs “seasoning”
Let us know what you think! Comment.


 
--Steve Skinner, BYB Guest Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1




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