The Indians have not had a solid player at third base since Casey Blake. And of course, with all talent the Indians possess over the age of 25, he was traded. This trade was done to give International Leauge MVP Andy Marte time at third. That did not work out too well. The most at bats he ever had in a season was 235 which he had in 2008. He only played in 80 games and ended up with a .221 average. He finally ran out of options with the Indians and is now in Pittsburgh. If he ever becomes decent, the Pirates will surely trade him as they do with all of their talent.
The third base situation did not get any better last year. After the long awaited trade of Jhonny, time was split at third between Jayson Nix and Jason Donald with Nix seeing more time. Neither player did anything impressive enough to earn their spot at third.
Nix was notorious for his awful defense last year. He made 11 errors at third in only 40 games. That cannot happen this year if the Indians want any chance of turning around their misfortunes. Teams could start targeting Nix if he keeps making errors. He might encounter more bunts or even swinging bunts if he is struggling. The more errors he makes the lower his confidence will go.
Nix looks more natural at second base. In 25 games for the Indians at second, he made no errors and was part of 21 double plays. Him and Asdrubal can surely hold down the middle infield all year barring injuries. (Asdrubal should be fine considering Jhonny is not here anymore to slide right into Asdrubal and injure him). If Nix cannot perform at second, the highly rated prospect Jason Kipnis will surely see some time.
With Nix out of the equation at third, the position is Donald’s to lose. He is a much stronger defender than Nix, and showed some promise when he came up to the Show to replace Asdrubal. The only likely person to challenge him is Lonnie Chisenhall. He is scheduled to start the year in Akron but he will most likely be in Columbus early in the year. For him to come to the Indians, Donald would have to be doing very bad. I do not forsee that happening but as seen with Marte, anything can happen.
The season starts in 71 days, mark your calendars, and the Indians are Cleveland’s last hope for this sports season.