Commentary

The price of moving to third

The Tigers, Marlins and Angels improved their lineups, but at what defensive cost?

Updated: February 6, 2012, 11:01 AM ET
By Dave Cameron | FanGraphs
Hanley RamirezSteve Mitchell/US PresswireThe Marlins hope Hanley Ramirez's bat outweighs a potential defensive hit at third base.

After getting mostly ignored by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Ron Santo was finally elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee this summer. Santo's enshrinement was a victory for those who had championed his case for years, and it suggested that perhaps even the folks in Cooperstown were coming around to the growing appreciation for the value of defense at the offensive-oriented corner positions.

Just a few months after his election, however, several clubs have apparently decided that quality defense at third base is a luxury item after all.

The Detroit Tigers have gotten the most coverage for their decision to move Miguel Cabrera back across the diamond to a position he was deemed too big to play back in 2008. However, the Los Angeles Angels are also toying with the idea of giving first baseman Mark Trumbo some playing time at the hot corner after he was displaced by the signing of Albert Pujols, and the Miami Marlins acquired Jose Reyes, which means that Hanley Ramirez -- never known for his defense to begin with -- will grudgingly move over to third base.

In all three cases, a team with hopes of contention in 2012 is showing some willingness to sacrifice glove work at third base in order to upgrade its offense. There's no doubt that Pujols, Fielder and Reyes will help their new teams win more games, but just how bad might we expect the new third basemen to be, and would these teams be better off just abandoning the experiment and finding another way to get those bats in the lineup?