First Half Summary, Second Half Foretell: Third Baseman (Video w/ Article)
When discussing third baseman, you cannot start the conversation without 2012 Triple Crown Winner Miguel Cabrera, who has more runs (73-52), home runs (30-18), RBI (95-71) and a better average (.365-.324) when comparing this years first half stats to last years. The four-time Silver Slugger has two great qualities that any athlete would love to have– consistency and longevity. From 2004 to 2012, Cabrera missed only 33 games (averaging 158 games per season). He is also on pace for his10th consecutive season with 100 plus RBI. RBI career leader, Hank Aaron’s longest streak of 100 plus RBI was 5 seasons.
While Cabrera is playing in a league of his own, there are new faces at the hot corner that have turned some heads.
The A’s Josh Donaldson is the only third baseman other than Cabrera and Adrian Beltre to hit over .300 with 15 plus home runs. At the moment, the fourth-ranked third baseman is top 10 in RBI and top 15 in home runs and hits. Success is new for Donaldson in only his second full season, so the second half is a mystery.
Double-Machine Manny Machado leads the league with 39 doubles and is on pace to come up three doubles shy of the record set by Earl Webb’s 67 doubles back in 1931. Hitting .309 as the table setter in a potent AL lineup is a recipe for success. The question is will his 435 plate appearances in the first half tire him down the stretch?
Talking about fresh faces, the No.6 ranked third baseman, Kyle Seager, is hitting .330 in the last month and second in the majors with 22 runs scored over that period. The Tarheel alum cracked 20 out last year in his first full season and is on pace for career highs in all offensive categories this year.
Pittsburgh Pirate 3B Pedro Alvarez displayed last year he had pop after cracking 30 bombs. The .247 batting average is forgettable, but the 10 home runs hit in June reminded everyone that the power is still within. Alvarez has unleashed 24 home runs, 2nd best in the NL, but also strikes out 1 out of every 3 at bats.
Third base is one of few positions this year pre All-Star break that doesn’t have much surprise within the top three. We knew about Cabrera, Captain America David Wright is a usual lock as long as he can stay healthy and Adrian Beltre is doing Adrian Beltre ending his last dozen games before the break hitting seven home runs and 13 RBI. Looking to improve on his first half, .(316, 21 HR, 55 RBI) Beltre is primed for a big second half..
Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman are also poised to have a big second half.
During last season, Zimmerman in the first half hit (.243, 7 HR) but in the second half turned it up (.319, 17 HR, 55 RBI). The career .286 hitter slugged better than .300 in all of his second halves during the last three seasons.
2009 Silver Slugger Evan Longoria has elite power numbers through his five-year career. The ex-Dirtbag is on pace to smash 30 home runs for his third time and is hitting at his career mark (.276). His pre to post All-Star splits during the last three seasons have Longoria hitting for more power (42HR-28 HR in only 48 more ABs) but for less average (.262-.282). He is the type of hitter you want in your lineup down the stretch. The Rays are a different team without him.
Mark Reynolds and Pablo Sandoval have not played up to par before the break.
Reynolds is fourth in the majors with 113 K’s. He started the season off well hitting better than .300 with 13 home runs in the first two months, but then saw his monthly batting average dip each month (.301, .218, .187, .091.) and as a career .233 hitter hasn’t looked the same since he left Arizona in 2009 (44 HR, .260). Reynolds has also only hit two home runs since May.
Pablo hit .330 in April, than didn’t hit better than .250 in the preceding months. Many anticipated a good first half after his 2012 World Series MVP honor, but is only hitting .266 with nine home runs. As a career .298 hitter, Sandoval knows how to hit and I would be shocked if he is not hitting better than .266 by the end of the season.
Like Panda, 3B Chase Headley and 3B David Freese have shown shades of excellence but have yet to put it together in the first half.
Chase Headley took the Padres from pretenders to contenders last year with his second half surge propelling him to MVP notoriety. The 2012 Silver Slugger is hitting way under his career average (.269) at .232 and has only hit a measly 7 home runs. He really didn’t get started till August hitting 10 home runs then nine home runs in September, so if he begins to heat up in July watch out for a similar performance.
2011 NLCS and World Series MVP David Freese is also hitting career lows in the first half (.271, 5 HR). It’s hard to measure Freese who has only played one full season out of four, but as a career .291 hitter it is almost certain to see a boost in production down the stretch.
Also keep an eye out for 3B Michael Young who is a career .301 hitter batting in the top of a Phillies lineup that has guys who can hit the ball gap to gap. In the leadoff spot this year, Young has smashed .323 switching with Jimmy Rollins between the No.2 spot and leadoff.