Third Base Choices

They mean very little, but here are the spring training numbers for the three candidates for the third base job (Eric Sogard, Josh Donaldson, Adam Rosales):

Player G AB 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG
Sogard 18 44 3 0 2 5 4 0.341 0.400 0.545
Donaldson 17 52 3 0 0 5 14 0.231 0.293 0.288
Rosales 12 18 1 0 0 3 4 0.167 0.261 0.222

Here are their numbers in the majors, followed by their numbers at Triple-A:

Player G AB 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG
Sogard 31 77 3 0 2 6 14 0.221 0.277 0.338
Donaldson 14 32 1 0 1 2 12 0.156 0.206 0.281
Rosales 209 575 19 3 13 50 128 0.226 0.293 0.337

Player G AB 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG
Sogard 217 832 44 8 10 115 105 0.298 0.387 0.406
Donaldson 201 738 42 1 35 96 179 0.252 0.341 0.454
Rosales 187 688 42 10 19 47 129 0.292 0.347 0.483

Sogard is 25, Donaldson is 26, and Rosales is 28. The major league numbers are in such small samples that we can throw them out for Sogard and Donaldson. Given their ages and their comparative numbers, it's clear to me at least that Sogard should get first crack at this job. Donaldson's bat played better as a catcher, and Rosales is not likely to catch lightning in a bottle when he should be entering the prime of his career.

Here's the issue - it's likely that only two of the three make the team. Sogard and Rosales can play almost anywhere, whereas Donaldson is much more limited. Do you use Sogard at third and have Rosales move around the diamond? Would you give Sogard the job, have Donaldson as the "utility" infielder and Sogard simply takes the place of whoever gets the day off?

To be fair, the effect of this decision is a win, maybe two. And all three of these guys are going to play this year, probably quite a bit. We're still talking about the Oakland Athletics, so whoever gets the job will be hurt by mid-April. But, evaluating them as baseball players not only for 2012 but beyond, it's clear that "Sogard 5" should appear on the lineup card on Opening Day.

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