Well, the A’s twin curses combined this week when the injury jinx and the third base hex went to work on A’s starting third baseman Scott Sizemore, striking him down on the first day of spring workouts and ending his season before it could even begin. An MRI revealed a torn ACL in his left knee that will require season-ending surgery. As with everything in baseball though, one man’s misfortune could open the door to another man’s fortune. But who will the big winner be in the A’s game of third base roulette? And who should the winner be?
So far, it looks like the team’s favored candidate to get the first crack at the hot corner’s brass ring is minor league catcher Josh Donaldson, who got in 53 games at third base last season in Sacramento and also got in some reps at the position in the Dominican Republic this winter. The other candidates in the mix are infielders Adam Rosales and Eric Sogard, who were presumed to be competing for the A’s utility infielder role this spring, along with life-long minor league infielder and non-roster invitee Wes Timmons. Two of these four players are likely to make the major league roster, while two of the four are likely to start the season at Sacramento.
It’s also possible the team could try to deal for a third baseman, but there seems to be a real shortage of quality third baseman around the major leagues at the moment, which could make the A’s more likely to just try to go with what they’ve got. The Angels’ Alberto Callaspo has been mentioned as a potential trade target, and the team has shown interest in him in the past. But since the A’s are overloaded with outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter types, and so are the Angels, it might be tough to match up on a deal. And it’s hard to imagine what the A’s might be able to offer the Halos to convince them that it’d be a good idea to part with Callaspo.
It’s also interesting to note that if the A’s had any idea that they’d be without Sizemore a month ago, it’s highly unlikely they would have chosen to designate infielder Adrian Cardenas for assignment, as they did at the time. As things stand now though, as long as there’s no deal and Donaldson doesn’t totally disappoint in the spring, it looks as if he’s the most likely candidate to get the first shot at laying claim to the job to start the season. But what about the other candidates? Who has real experience at the hot corner? And who has actually shown the most offensive promise to this point? Let’s take a look at the candidates’ career major and minor league numbers, and let’s throw Cardenas in just for fun.
(Col #1 = mlb games at 3B / Col #2 = milb games at 3B / Col #3 = total games at 3B / Col #4 = mlb avg / Col #5 = mlb obp / Col #6 = mlb slg / Col #7 = mlb ops / Col #8 = milb avg / Col #9 = milb obp / Col #10 = milb slg / Col #11 = milb ops / BOLD = category leaders / Click each player’s name below for their complete stats page)
Player MaG MiG TG / avg - obp - slg - ops / avg - obp - slg - ops
Rosales 72 + 85 = 157 / 226 - 293 - 337 - 630 / 287 – 360 - 481 - 842
Sogard 10 + 15 = 25 / 221 – 277 - 338 - 615 / 295 - 380 – 413 – 793
Donaldson 0 + 53 = 53 / 156 – 206 – 281 – 487 / 268 – 360 – 455 – 815
Timmons 0 + 753 = 753 / 000 – 000 – 000 – 000 / 283 - 391 - 391 – 782
Cardenas 0 + 96 = 96 / 000 – 000 – 000 – 000 / 303 - 368 – 413 – 780
I know that many A’s fans are not particularly fond of Rosales after his extremely poor performance last year. It’s easy to forget though that he was attempting to come back from a significant injury that he obviously never fully recovered from. Nor should his dynamic performance from just a year earlier be forgotten either. Just looking at the numbers though, Rosales has played more major league games at third base than any of the others and tops the competition in major league BA, OBP and OPS and in minor league SLG and OPS. In fact, he tops the competition in all categories except major league SLG (Sogard edges him out by .001), minor league BA (Cardenas) and minor league OPS (Timmons).
So why isn’t Rosales considered the favorite to land the job at this point? Well, perhaps the team feels he still hasn’t recovered adequately from his injury and doesn’t have faith in his ability to replicate his performance level from 2010, or perhaps they just have a good feeling about Donaldson’s long-term potential. Regardless, it’ll be a position battle that’ll be a lot more interesting to watch than anyone anticipated heading into the spring. Let’s just hope that whoever wins it can keep the position from turning into the offensive black hole that it’s mostly been ever since we could last count on seeing Mr. Chavez’s name penciled into the lineup on a daily basis.