Today we are going to look at the position of third base for the Marlins. Third base is widely regarded as a position that is expected to deliver both power and run producing players. Prototypical players are in the mold of Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria. Those players are capable of delivering 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI’s. If you are curious as to how I came up with my grades, feel free to click here and get caught up.
The 37 year old Polanco was brought in with a stable of other veterans and cast-off’s during spring training in an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle and find an everyday third baseman. What they got was a washed-up, veteran, club-house guy who at best should have been coming off the bench for the team. Unfortunately for the Marlins, they did not have many other options. Polanco ended up playing in 118 games for the Marlins and posted a WAR of 0.0 and an Rbat of -14, 5 runs worse than his previous career low. Polanco’s slash line was .260/.315/.302. That is not a misprint, his slugging percentage was actually worse than his on base percentage. His fielding was average. He no longer has the range that he had in his earlier years, but he is slightly more consistent with routine plays.
If you compare Polanco with other third baseman in the league, he falls woefully short. If you compare him against himself and reasonable expectations for his season, he still falls short. That is what earned him this grade.
After finding moderate success with a journeyman minor leaguer last year in Justin Ruggiano, you can forgive the front office for dipping back into the well and pulling out Ed Lucas for this year’s token old rookie. Lucas, a 31 year-old, finally found a regular home and played all over the infield for Mike Redmond. He logged his share of time at the hot corner so we are placing him here for his grade.
It is important to point out that Lucas, in Marlins terms, was not horrible this year. As a matter of fact, according to WAR statistics, he was the second best player on the team. That lone stat should tell you just how bad the Marlins underperformed this year. Nevertheless, his WAR of 1.5 still stands. Before he gets too big of a head we should remind him that his slash line of .256/.311/.336 was nothing to write home about.
His real value came from his defense. His defense was a +10, and he was able to play any position on the infield and do an above average job. This kept him in Redmond’s good graces, and he continue to find places to play him in the lineup. When compared with how I expected him to play on the season, he earned this grade.
I am including Cogs as a special throw-in to the third base category. Once Coghlan returned from the disabled list, he found himself playing some third base and bringing some genuine excitement to Marlins fans. As the current roster stands, I believe Coghlan should get first crack at third base in the spring, unless they bring in a free agent. One thing that the former Rookie of the Year has shown us is that he makes contact. He only struck out 43 times in 214 at bats, which is becoming the norm for him. The biggest question that surrounds Cogs is whether or not he can stay healthy. Unfortunately he is coming off of three consecutive injury plagued seasons, and if a 4th happens, he might find himself looking for another job. His injuries are the main product of this grade
The Marlins desperately needed production out of the corner infield spot but struggled all year to find it. Thankfully for Marlin fans, Miami’s number 1 draft pick, Colin Moran, is honing his craft in the minor leagues and expects to get a crack at the job within two years. The question remains if the Marlins are able to wait that long.
OVERALL GRADE: D