Third Base Competition Remains Hot
By Christian Petrila
Arguably the hottest competition this spring in Goodyear will be for the starting job at the hot corner. Fan favorite and man-of-a-million nicknames Jack Hannahan goes up against sophomore standout Lonnie Chisenhall.
Jack Hannahan came to Clevelandbefore the 2011 season with very low expectations. He was expected to be a utility infielder and only see action until Lonnie Chisenhall was ready to make his Major League debut. Well, things didn’t go as planned. Hannahan ended up having possibly his best career season, hitting .250 with eight home runs and 40 RBI through 110 games. Not bad for a guy who didn’t even play the year before. He also became a lefty-hitting specialist. Although most of his power number came against right-handed pitchers, Hannahan hit nearly .300 against lefties. However, Hannahan really shone with his defensive ability. He only committed five errors in 819 innings at third base. As of Wednesday morning, he is hitting .286 with one home run and five RBI in five spring training games.
Lonnie Chisenhall made his much-hyped MLB debut for the Indians in 2011, but it was followed by underwhelming results. The hyped prospect only hit .255 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 66 games. Those aren’t the numbers fans were expecting from the biggest thing to hitClevelandsince Municipal Stadium Mustard hit store shelves. Not only that, but as much of an asset as Hannahan was defensively, Chisenhall was as much a liability. He committed 10 errors in 461 innings at third base. Think about that one for a second- twice the errors in almost half the innings. He will absolutely need to clean up his defensive play if he has any intentions of taking the job away from Hannahan this spring. Through seven games so far this spring, Chisenhall is hitting .286 with no home runs and one RBI.
The early edge clearly belongs to Hannahan. Not only because of the experience, hitting consistency, and defensive prowess, but also because Chisenhall still has minor league options. Plus, Hannahan is having a terrific spring thus far. Don’t worry though, Lonnie. You’re only 23 and on first call if something should happen in the Majors. Cleveland fans should still be optimistic about Chisenhall but right now, Hannahan looks like he’s here to stay.
Photo: Chuck Crow/Cleveland Plain Dealer
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