Making the Grade: Ranking Third Basemen in the AL Central

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No. 2: Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland Indians

Apr 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (8) hits a home run against the Houston Astros in the fifth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Despite all the clamoring for Terry Francona to replace Lonnie Chisenhall at the hot corner, the four-year pro turned in arguably the best season in the division in 2014. 

In his first full season as a starter, Chisenhall put together an incredibly impressive first half of the season. He was widely considered a snub in the All-Star voting, as he turned in a ridiculous slash line of .332/.396/.519. He hit nine home runs and drove home 41 RBIs – all while playing slightly limited time, as Francona protected him against dominant left-handed starters.

Unfortunately, though, his second half was equally bad. Chisenhall hit a dreadful .218/.277/.315 after the break, clubbing just four home runs and 18 RBIs. He hit below .250 in all three months after the All-Star Game, reverting back to the same player who hit .225 and .268 in part-time roles the previous two seasons.

The inconsistency at the plate would be forgivable if Chisenhall was productive in the field. He had 18 errors in 108 starts and the No. 19-ranked range factor (2.21) among qualified third basemen. Worse, he turned in -1.5 defensive wins above replacement (dWAR), good for second-to-last in the league.

Given his defensive inefficiencies, if Chisenhall struggles at the dish, he could find himself without a full-time gig quickly. Utility man Mike Aviles is available off the bench while prospect Giovanny Urshela preps for his debut in Columbus. While Katrina Putnam of Wahoo’s on First argues Chisenhall should get a lengthy look before decisions are made, the reality remains Chisenhall’s seat is scorching hot.

If he doesn’t perform, Francona will find the next man up at third base.

Next: No. 1