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The Cleveland Indians needs Lonnie Chisenhall to be more consistent in 2015

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Last year, 3B was a weakness, then a strength, then a weakness again. Maybe we can get some consistency?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Previous entries in my position-by-position comparison of the 2014 and 2015 Indians:

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Shortstop

We finish out the IF by moving to the hot corner. Last year was a roller coaster ride at third. The Carlos Santana Experiment was a pretty spectacular failure, which made room for a brilliant first half by Lonnie Chisenhall, which earned the leeway for a brutal second half by Lonnie Chisenhall.

So what should we expect this season?

A reminder: I pulled a list of every player who took the field in that role for the Indians in 2014, listed their wOBA and UZR/150, and the percentage of the team's PA they took in that position.

For the 2015 stats, you are seeing ZiPS projections for wOBA and my projection for UZR/150 based on what the player has done in the past. The 2015 playing time projections are also mine.

For wOBA, the 2014 numbers are position specific (meaning, for example, that in this post you're seeing what Santana did only when he was playing first base), while the 2015 numbers assume the player has the same wOBA regardless of where they play on the diamond. UZR/150 is always position-specific.

The Indians Total line is the pro-rated average of the guys who played (or will play) the position based on playing time; the AL average line is exactly what it sounds like - the average production for the league at the position.

Third Base

Player 14 wOBA 14 UZR 14 PT 15 wOBA 15 UZR 15 PT
Lonnie Chisenhall 0.317 -15 66.7% 0.330 -9 75%
Carlos Santana 0.245 -39.5 17.2%
0.278 -8.3 15.8% 0.278 -10 5%
0 -97.4 0.2%
0 0 0.2%
0.292 0 5%
0.29 10 15%
Indians Total 0.297 -18.3 0.320 -5.8
AL Average 0.31 -0.8

It's hard to believe, when you think back to what a great start Chisenhall had, but 3B was one of the team's biggest weaknesses last year. Below par on offense, horrid on defense. But there is reason for optimism.

First, while ZiPS isn't ready to project first-half-Lonnie as real-Lonnie, it is actually relatively high on him, and sees him posting well-above average offense for an AL 3B. Actually, .330 is above average for an AL 1B. If Lonnie hits like that, there will be room for his bat in the lineup, even if his glove doesn't stick at third.

But I think we'll see improvement there, too. Not "good" defense, mind you, but passable. I think owning the position will help, and Chisenhall seemed to improve as the season went on.

The team will also get a boost from not having Santana butchering the position nearly a fifth of the season. That will actually help the offense too - remember, Santana was brutal with the bat while playing third.

The big question mark here is Giovanny Urshela. If he can prove that his 2014 advances with the bat were legitimate, Chisenhall will have a much smaller margin of error as the everyday 3B. In some ways, the big question here is whether Nick Swisher or David Murphy can hit. That sounds odd, but if they can't and Urshela does, the possibility of Chisenhall at DH and Urshela at 3B becomes much more likely (and attractive).

So, how did I do? Too high on Chisenhall's glove? Too low on Urshela's potential?