Chicago Cubs: Who Should Fill the Void at Third Base?
After Mark Reynolds was non-tendered yesterday by Baltimore, a few teams were mentioned as a possible landing destination for the former Oriole’s third/first baseman.
One of the possible teams mentioned was the Cubs. But why?
After last season’s performances by their third basemen, the Cubs cannot go into the 2013 season with Luis Valbuena or Josh Vitters as the starter. The club’s only option is to bring in a player from outside the organization to man the hot corner for the next four seasons—give or take a season—until Javier Baez makes it to the majors.
Which brings me back to my original question: Why Mark Reynolds?
He has decent power, granted, and his career average OPS is not bad either. But a batting average of .221 in 2011 and 2012 to go along with a .198 BA in 2010 compounds his lack of plate discipline with 204, 223, 211, and 196 strikeouts in the seasons of 2008 to 2011, respectively.
Is this really the guy the Cubs should be looking at to “upgrade” their current predicament at third base?
He would be an upgrade in the power department, but not so much in standard hitting statistics. The Cubs need a player that has more to offer the club than home runs if they want to cure the team’s batting woes.
Overall the Cubs have the 25th ranked batting average in the MLB at .240, but their BA against lefties is even worse. Against south-paw pitchers, the Cubs hit a mere .230—good enough for 28th—in 2012, with a .292 OBP and .346 SLG both second-to-last in the MLB.
A better available option to fill the role as starting third baseman is Jeff Keppinger. Last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, Jeff Keppinger had an overall line of .325/.367/.469.
But against lefties he had a line of .376/.402/.521 in 2012, and has a career line of .333/.376/.487 against south-paw pitchers.
And while he may be lacking in traditional power categories, his value to the team in overall batting statistics and against left-handers along with his ability to play multiple positions much like Mark DeRosa did in his two seasons with the Cubs, should propel the Cubs to zero-in on him as their bridge between the present and the future at third base.
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