As I was preparing my preview for third base this year, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. Had you asked me three years ago who the Cubs third baseman would be in 2013, I would have said Josh Vitters without hesitation. In 2009, I saw Vitters play for the Peoria Chiefs and he seemed to be physically worth the third overall pick in the 2007 draft. Today however, I feel that Vitters is the next guy in a long line of “what-could-have-been” Cubs prospects. In light of this, I’m thinking Cub fans will see a majority of Ian Stewart with a mix of Luis Valbuena and Josh Vitters.
First, I am projecting Ian Stewart to play 90 games this year. Stewart’s wrist injury from last year will also trigger a weaker swing, causing the balls that used to be hits to become groundouts and easy line drives. I ran a linear projection for Stewart, but decreased his runs, hits, homeruns, RBIs, and average by 5% due to his wrist.
Next, there is Luis Valbuena who I feel is going to play in 50 games. Due to the infield prospects making their way to the big leagues, don’t be shocked if he is traded some time during this season. After watching him last year, I ran a linear projection for him, assuming he would perform at the same level.
Then, there is the aforementioned Vitters. His production has to go up from last year, so here are the numbers I am projecting. I didn’t use a linear projection for Vitters, I’m just guessing here.
The Cubs can’t carry three third basemen on the team, so someone will have to go. Luis Valbuena is out of options, so it can’t be him. Today, February 22, the Cubs announced that Ian Stewart strained his quad running the bases. If this injury lingers throughout Spring training, the Cubs may let Stewart and his $2 million walk. In the end, the best thing for the Cubs would be if Josh Vitters finally lives up to the third overall pick in the 2007 draft.