It is no secret that the Cleveland Indians (and not to mention the Indians fans) have suffered through some certainly inept third base play over the last couple seasons.
We needn't not be reminded...but here it goes anyway: Andy Marte, Jayson Nix, Luis Valbuena and Jhonny Peralta.
Opening the 2011 season, the hot corner was one of the club's biggest question marks; who would fill the gap while Lonnie Chisenhall matured and put his time in the minors?
On December 3, 2010, the Indians signed Jack Hannahan, a 30-year old (at that time) veteran who since debuting in 2006 had less than 900 career at-bats. There was virtually no fanfare surrounding the signing. Why would there be? He hadn't seen time with a Major League team since 2009, and was a career .224 hitter entering this season. Additionally, he was only signed to a minor league contract. With just a spring training invitation, there was absolutely no guarantee that he be on the big league club.
Only after Jason Donald was injured, and Jayson Nix was dealt to Hannahan's former team, the Seattle Mariners, paired with the fact that he hit .340 in spring training while committing no errors in 88.1 innings did he get the nod to be the Opening Day third basemen.
I am sure at this point I was not unlike many Tribe fans, believing that Hannahan got the job completely by default and due to the lack of options the club seemed to have. Sure he did have a good spring training...so do a lot of folks.
What ensued next would certainly raise some eyebrows. Through the first six games of the young season, Hannahan was hitting .333 and playing some of the best third base the Indians had seen in a couple seasons.
Hannahan had joined the hodge-podge group of promising youngsters, "wash-ups," cast-offs, surprises and Shin-Soo Choo (who doesn't seem to fit any of these) who have propelled the Cleveland Indians to their best start in years.
More recently, Hannhan is currently riding a six-game hitting streak, including a three-for-four performance last night against the Kansas City Royals, which included two solo home runs in a 9-4 winning effort by the Tribe.
His defense has not come in question either; he has only committed one error in 56 total chances. He has a number of stellar defensive plays to compliment his .982 fielding percentage.
Through 18 games worth of action, Hannahan is hitting a respectable .286. His four home runs are tied for the team lead, and his 11 RBI are tied for third on the team.
While Hannhan's future is Cleveland is somewhat uncertain, it seems like a formula at this point: Hold down a position until a prospect is ready or the regular returns from injury. The savvy veteran will continue to hold down the third base duties, and I must say it has been a pleasure thus far.