We wrap up the infield position in New York and Chicago by looking at the players who will be manning the hot corner for the 2015 season. Let’s start in New York with this position.
The New York Yankees signed Chase Headley to a four year $52 million dollar deal to come back and play 3rd base for them. Even with Alex Rodriquez done with his suspension Headley is the Yankees everyday 3rd baseman. Headley was traded by the San Diego Padres with cash to the New York Yankees for Rafael De Paula (minors) and Yangervis Solarte in July of last season. Headley played in 58 games for the Yankees and hit.262 with 6 home runs. I don;t think Headley will get back to his 2012 power numbers when he hit 31 home runs and drove in 115 runs, but if he can get back into the 20’s with homers and maybe 80 plus RBI’s. I’m sure the Yankees would take that. Headley is a very solid defender and actually leads all active players with the highest fielding percentage at 3rd base with .967 over his eight year career.
For the Mets it’s David Wright at 3rd base; who else would it be. Wright is entering his 12th season with the Mets, but is coming off his lowest career home run total of eight. Wright has battled some injuries which helped his numbers drop, but the Mets are looking for a bounce back season from the player they call “Captain America”. Even Wright’s defense struggled last season; he did commit just 15 errors last season, but his fielding percentage was .954 his lowest fielding percentage number since 2011. Wright has won two Gold Gloves at 3rd base and a return to that defensive form would help the Mets playoff chances quite a bit. Wright’s streak of seven consecutive All-Star appearances ended last season. Wright hit .269 in 2014 which is a down season for him, but Wright ranks 15th among all active players in batting average at .298.
Both New York teams have veteran 3rd baseman, but as always I have to try to settle on just one. I think I’m more of a believer in Wright having a bounce back 2015 season; so I’ll go with him.
I’m not sure how many people know this, but Conor Gillaspie is starting his 3rd season as the White Sox full-time 3rd baseman. He played 113 games at 3rd base in 2013 and then 127 games last season. After being traded by the San Francisco Giants to the White Sox for Jeff Soptic in February of 2013 Gillaspie has filled a void for them. His batting average improved to .282 last season, but he’ll never be a power hitter with just seven home runs last season; he did hit 13 hoe runs in 2013. Gillaspie 16 errors where the lowest among American League 3rd baseman in 2013 and his total was down last season when he committed just 12 errors in a 127 games at 3rd base. Gillaspie had a fielding percentage of .961 and was involved in 26 double plays last season. The question will always be can Gillaspie provide enough offense for a championship team.
The question with the Chicago Cubs is who is the opening day 3rd baseman. The player who should be at the position (Kris Bryant) will open the season at Triple A Iowa; so the Cubs can have one more year of team control with him. It’s actually a huge joke as in reality Bryant should’ve been the Cubs 3rd baseman last season, but the stupidity of the Cubs front office has cost Bryant pretty much two major league seasons. So don’t be surprised if when Bryant gets to free agency in his career he leaves the Cubs very quickly. Bryant would be the runaway winner at 3rd base and might even be one of the top 3rd baseman in baseball if he had been given the chance. Wait until to see Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer give the interview where they have to tell you that Bryant is headed back to Triple A to work on his defense. I guess “I don’t know on 3rd” thank you Abbott and Costello. Anyway the depth chart I saw has Mike Olt listed as the starting 3rd baseman; so let’s run with that. Olt was a top prospect for many years in the Texas Rangers organization, but was blocked at the major league level by Adrian Beltre. The Cubs got Olt a player to be named later; who turned out to be Neil Ramirez, C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm while the Rangers got Matt Garza. Olt played 89 games for the Cubs last season and hit .160, but did show power hitting 12 home runs. Olt is another high strike out guy on the Cubs as he averages one strike out every 2.25 at bats. Olt had an eye issue that slowed down his progress to the majors, but hopefully that’s behind him. Olt played 52 games at 3rd base last season where he committed seven errors and posted a fielding percentage of .929. Is Olt just a two week position holder until the Cubs are smart enough to call Bryant up or will he have to man 3rd base longer than that?
Again if Bryant was in the running to be picked he would be a slam dunk choice, but since he’s not I’m take Gillaspie over Olt. Gillaspie is a better average hitter and fielder; so I’ll give up a little bit of power for that right now.
The Vs. Series is off again tomorrow (Saturday) as the usual How was your Week blog will appear, but the Vs. Series will be back on Sunday as we move to left field for our four teams.
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