Cleveland Indians All-Decade Team Studs and Duds: The Infield

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Indians
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First Base

First base turned out to be a rather easy position for “stud” of the decade. After beginning the decade behind the plate, and even seeing time at third base and the outfield, Carlos Santana eventually found a home at first base and was by far the best of the bunch, though part of that is he’s the only guy to really last there. In fact, per Fangraphs, Russell Branyan accrued the second-most WAR at the position, posting a 1.7 fWAR… Santana posted a 19.1 fWAR! Guys like Mike Napoli played better than their WAR would indicate, but even Napoli only posted a 111 wRC+ in his one season with the club (Santana was well over 120 for the decade).

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For “dud” there were a few choices including most notably failed free-agent acquisition Nick Swisher.  However, at least he had one great year (2013) that helped propel the Tribe to the playoffs. Even Yonder Alonso could get some consideration here, but the dud of the decade award ultimately goes to Casey Kotchman.

Signed the year before Swisher, Kotchman was brought in to be a stabilizing presence in the Tribe’s lineup in 2012. Viewed as a good defender and high on-base guy, Kotchman was coming off a season in which he posted a .378 OBP and a 2.3 fWAR. However, things went south in a hurry for him with the Tribe. He posted a -1.4 fWAR and had a .280 OBP, about 50 points lower than his career average.

Defensively he wasn’t horrible (-1 DRS, -0.1 UZR) but he came in with a career +45 DRS and never showed anything close to that. Kotchman appeared in just six games with the Mariners in 2013 and that was the end of his major league career. Kotchman was ultimately one of the worst free-agent signings of the decade and one of the worst players at any position for the Tribe.

Stud: Carlos Santana
Dud: Casey Kotchman