POLL: Help Us Complete the FanSided AL Central Team

I’ve mentioned the current project going on in the MLB wing of the FanSided offices this month as we await spring training – constructing a team filled with each respective division’s stars.

With our powers combined, we have created an offensive lineup of the AL Central’s finest – with one exception.  We can’t come to a conclusion at third base.

That’s where you come in, so at the bottom of this post, you’ll have an opportunity to vote to help us out.

Originally, Wally Fish, lead writer at Puckett’s Pond and myself voted for Danny Valencia of the Twins.  Steve Kubitza of Deep Left Field and Zac Snyder (a contributor at Motor City Bengals and lead writer at SideLion Report, FanSided’s Detroit Lions blog) voted for Brandon Inge.  John Parent the lead at MCB, filled in for the Southside Showdown contingent (who are breaking in new staff)  and voted for Kansas City’s Wilson Betemit.

Part of the thought behind qualifications for each position (in my mind) were if the player was going to be the “everyday” player at that position.  With the likelihood that Mike Moustakas would start the year in Omaha before a summer promotion.  Also, there’s enough out there to suggest that Mike Aviles will be the starting third baseman until that time that Moose arrives.  That was enough for me to shy away from a Royal for the spot.

The White Sox have some amalgamation of Mark Teahen and Brent Morel this year and Jayson Nix is listed as the third baseman on most Cleveland depth charts.

John came around and switched his vote from Betemit to Valencia, but we didn’t feel it was a strong enough margin to justify finalizing a selection.

I’ll let Zac provide his reasoning for selecting Inge:

Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge is the elder-statesman among his AL Central contemporaries. In the end, one of his peers may prove to be a superior player but there is no reason to dismiss Inge based on what we know now. He will give a club 15-20 home runs while knocking in about 70 runs and playing very good defense. His fielding numbers do not tell the whole story about his defensive abilities. Brandon’s superior athleticism allow him to reach balls that many third basemen simply wouldn’t get. At times this leads to a increase in errors but those that watch Inge on a daily basis will tell you that he is anything but a liability at third base. In fact, one of the reasons the Tigers signed Jhonny Peralta to be their shortstop is because they are so confident in the man who will be to Peralta’s right.

To go to bat for Valencia – pun intended – Puckett Pond’s Wally Fish:

I think the clear choice is Valencia.  He’s the youngest but he’s also the most complete offensive and defensive player at the position in the division. Betemit can’t really field. Inge can field but his value at the plate is minimal and his D is trending downward and he rapidly approaching the end of the line (he turns 34 in May and spent a lot of his early career catching). Valencia’s bat is the real deal (though the 7 HRs were a bit of a surprise) and he’s solid on defense and improving. Also, he’s been highly regarded in the Twins system for a while so it’s not like he came out of no where like Brian Buscher in 2008.

If you ask me, since I considered the potential to breakout or bust in 2011, I think Valencia’s the best candidate to at least maintain what he’s done in half a season of work.  He doesn’t have the same power potential that Inge does, but he’ll make more contact and be a more productive hitter all-around to me.  If Inge isn’t hitting homers, he’s almost worthless in my eyes.  If I’d allow myself to put someone in based on a loophole, I’d have voted for Moustakas, but that’s a moot point as he’s not guaranteed to make the big league team out of camp and wouldn’t get a full season in 2011.  Valencia and Inge will (barring injury).

Here are the statistical comparisons for both of our frontrunners:

Brandon Inge (a 2009 All-Star reserve)

Year Age PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2001 24 202 13 34 11 0 0 15 9 41 .180 .215 .238 .453 24
2002 25 351 27 65 15 3 7 24 24 101 .202 .266 .333 .599 64
2003 26 366 32 67 15 3 8 30 24 79 .203 .265 .339 .605 64
2004 27 458 43 117 15 7 13 64 32 72 .287 .340 .453 .793 109
2005 28 694 75 161 31 9 16 72 63 140 .261 .330 .419 .749 100
2006 29 601 83 137 29 2 27 83 43 128 .253 .313 .463 .776 98
2007 30 577 64 120 25 2 14 71 47 150 .236 .312 .376 .688 79
2008 31 407 41 71 16 4 11 51 43 94 .205 .303 .369 .672 76
2009 32 637 71 129 16 1 27 84 54 170 .230 .314 .406 .720 87
2010 33 580 47 127 28 5 13 70 54 134 .247 .321 .397 .718 94
10 Seasons 4873 496 1028 201 36 136 564 393 1109 .237 .307 .394 .701 85
162 Game Avg. 609 62 128 25 4 17 70 49 139 .237 .307 .394 .701 85
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/11/2011.

Danny Valencia (third baseman for the Topps All-Rookie squad, according to the Beckett Monthly I saw earlier today)

Year Age PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2010 25 322 30 93 18 1 7 40 20 46 .311 .351 .448 .799 116

Let’s add Valencia’s minor league stats for a larger sample:

Year Age Tm Lev PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 21 Elizabethton Rk 211 30 59 13 0 8 29 15 34 .311 .365 .505 .870
2007 22 2 Teams 521 72 140 23 2 17 66 44 102 .297 .354 .462 .816
2007 22 Beloit A 271 44 73 15 0 11 35 28 54 .302 .374 .500 .874
2007 22 Fort Myers A+ 250 28 67 8 2 6 31 16 48 .291 .332 .422 .754
2008 23 2 Teams 538 75 151 37 5 15 76 45 113 .311 .366 .500 .866
2008 23 Fort Myers A+ 251 35 74 19 3 5 44 27 43 .336 .402 .518 .921
2008 23 New Britain AA 287 40 77 18 2 10 32 18 70 .289 .334 .485 .819
2009 24 2 Teams 534 79 139 38 4 14 70 39 77 .285 .337 .466 .803
2009 24 New Britain AA 252 44 62 14 4 7 29 31 40 .284 .373 .482 .855
2009 24 Rochester AAA 282 35 77 24 0 7 41 8 37 .286 .305 .454 .758
2010 25 Rochester AAA 202 22 54 15 0 0 24 14 34 .292 .347 .373 .720
5 Seasons 2006 278 543 126 11 54 265 157 360 .298 .353 .469 .822
AA (2 seasons) AA 539 84 139 32 6 17 61 49 110 .287 .353 .483 .836
AAA (2 seasons) AAA 484 57 131 39 0 7 65 22 71 .289 .322 .421 .743
A+ (2 seasons) A+ 501 63 141 27 5 11 75 43 91 .313 .367 .469 .836
A (1 season) A 271 44 73 15 0 11 35 28 54 .302 .374 .500 .874
Rk (1 season) Rk 211 30 59 13 0 8 29 15 34 .311 .365 .505 .870
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/11/2011.

Help us readers – you’re our only hope! Vote for your selection below. Discuss in the comments section. The other AL Central sites on FanSided may present more detailed arguments for a player, so be sure to check them out as well. Voting ends at noon central time on February 14.

Who will be the best third baseman in the AL Central in 2011?

  • Danny Valencia - Minnesota Twins (47%, 79 Votes)
  • Brandon Inge - Detroit Tigers (38%, 65 Votes)
  • Wilson Betemit - Kansas City Royals (12%, 20 Votes)
  • Brent Morel - Chicago White Sox (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Jayson Nix - Cleveland Indians (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 169

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Branon Inge Brent Morel Danny Valencia Jayson Nix Kansas City Royals KC Mark Teahen Mike Aviles MLB Royals Wilson Betemit

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