Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Don't Know Is On Third

Valenica and Hughes celebrate a walk-off win (Photo: Getty Images)
With all of the players returning to the Twins from the DL, the team is entering a time of uncertainty at multiple positions on the field. On Monday, I profiled the two options the Twins have for the back-up catcher role behind Joe Mauer. One of the other positions that has some mystery surrounding it is the hot corner, third base. The Twins are debating between Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes to be their full-time third baseman. As Abbott and Costello famously said, "I don't know is on third."

Third base has been a revolving door since the departure of Corey Koskie following the 2004 season. Danny Valencia seemed to be the player that could stop that door from revolving. He burst onto the scene last season and showed the Twins he could handle the offensive and defensive riggers of the position.

The 2011 season has not been the sophomore campaign that Valencia had hoped it would be. Valencia has been near the top of the Twins in RBI and HR but his batting average has hovered dangerously near the Mendoza line. Ron Gardenhire has repeatedly voiced his disapproval towards Valencia in the media. This disapproval toward Valencia has opened up the door for another player to step-in at third base.

Valencia Stats Summary (Through 6-15-2011)
BA: .218
OBP: .282
SLG: .332
HR: 5
RBI: 28
2B: 12
G: 65

The next option in line for third base could come in the form of Luke Hughes. The Twins have mostly used Hughes at 2B and 1B but 3B could be the position that allows Hughes to find a home in the infield. In half as many games as Valencia, Hughes has shown the ability to keep his batting average well above the Mendoza line. The question mark could be his ability to hit for power on a consistent basis. 

Hughes Stats Summary (Through 6-15-2011)
BA: .269
OBP: .309
SLG: .356
HR: 1
RBI: 7
2B: 6
G: 34

Both of these players have shown the ability to field their position on the field. Valencia has been given more opportunities at 3B but Hughes has shown his ability at multiple positions across the infield. Gardenhire has been trying to give Valencia a wake-up call by benching him for multiple outings during the recent road trip. Valencia continues to hit the snooze button and Hughes might be taking full advantage of Valencia's nap on the field.

Hughes Stat Summary in June
BA: .394
OBP: 429
SLG: .485

Valencia Stat Summary in June
BA: .163
OBP: .234
SLG: .209

The Twins have to answer the question about who's on third. The problem is that "Who" is on first and "I Don't Know" is on third. 

For the Twins, "I Don't Know" could be in the form of Luke Hughes and his consistency at the plate and in the field.

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