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Should the Cardinals Move Some Players Around?
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
April 23, 2009
Here’s a question for all you baseball fans out there: can the best defensive first basemen make serviceable defensive third basemen?
I suspect that the answer is probably yes, although I am oversimplifying the question and the analysis. Third base involves a whole lot more balls hit your way, and probably infinitely more throwing.
So here’s the next question: could Albert Pujols switch to third base? He spent 55 games at third as a rookie, and 41 games at third in his second season and fielded the position adequately. He is simply one of the top two defensive first basemen in the league, so it only stands to reason that he could hack it at third base. Plus, this is Albert Pujols we’re talking about – is there any task we can convince ourselves that he couldn’t perform adequately?
Now, here is why I ask: as of today, the St. Louis Cardinals have four outfielders hitting .292 or higher, plus Rick Ankiel who is off to a slow start but could break out at any moment. One outfielder – Skip Schumaker – has been moved already to second base where he doesn’t appear to have played since college, if even then. But that still leaves four outfielders, and between Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick, Chris Duncan, and Colby Rasmus, you’d like to have all four bats in your lineup.
The way I see it, Chris Duncan has experience playing first base, so he could be moved there. Move Pujols to third, move Duncan to first, and then have Ludwick-Ankiel-Rasmus make out the outfield from left to right, and you’ve got an excellent offense that may not even be giving anything up on defense (well, not too much anyway). Then, when Troy Glaus comes back in June, the Cardinals can send him packing.
Humorously, though, it may not be the end of their problems – they currently have centerfielder Shane Robinson hitting .409 with a .970 OPS at Triple-A Memphis.
By the way, has any team in baseball had as much luck moving around or tweaking players in baseball history as the Cardinals have had in the last fifteen years? Consider:
- Pujols came up as an outfielder/third baseman and played very little first base in his first three seasons before becoming one of the premier first basemen of all time;
- Rick Ankiel was a lights out pitching prospect before remaking himself into an above average hitting outfielder;
- Apparently moving Skip Schumaker to second base from the outfield is going to stick;
- Adam Kennedy was originally a shortstop in the Cardinals minor league system before they switched him to second base in 1999, and in his third season after being traded to the Angels, he was named ALCS MVP on the way to a World Series title;
- Chris Carpenter went from an injured, underachieving pitcher to a Cy Young Award winner with the Cards;
- Kyle Lohse went from one of the worst pitchers in baseball to a (seemingly) top of the rotation starter;
- Both Braden Looper and Todd Wellemeyer both successfully made the previously thought impossible switch from reliever to starter;
- They got more out of Tony Womack in 2004 than any other team ever had in any one season;
- Larry Walker hit well with the Cards in his last season and a half when I thought there was no way he could hit away from Coors Field;
- Ryan Ludwick spent nine years wandering around the minor leagues before emerging as a potentially elite power hitter in St. Louis.
You know, looking at all of that, there’s no doubt in my mind that Albert Pujols could switch to third base.
Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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