It’s no mystery that the Detroit Tigers have a gaping black hole at second base, with no sign of anyone being able to fill the void. The Tigers have tried using Scott Sizemore (although they gave up pretty fast), Will Rhymes, Ramon Santiago, Brandon Inge and Danny Worth and none of them have been able to step in and take control of the position. It is because of this that Tigers fans are grasping at straws trying to find some fix for second, but they’re favorite “solution” just won’t work.
No matter how much Tigers fans pine for and argue for it, Nick Castellanos will not and should not become the second baseman in Detroit. Yes, he is having an incredible offensive season, but he has never played second base, and contrary to public belief, it isn’t exactly an easy job to just start doing.
General Manager Dave Dombrowski has repeatedly said that Castellanos will continue to play third base in the minors, because that is what he is, a third baseman.
Some people point out that Castellanos is too big to play second. While he is 6’4” and 210 lbs, he isn’t the only big guy to have the option to play second; Cal Ripken, Jr. was a big guy too and he played shortstop.
But his size isn’t the factor; he’s just too good of a prospect at third base for them to be messing with. Think about Evan Longoria, and you have a good comparison for Castellanos. In 298 at-bats during the 2012 season (through late June), Castellanos has 113 hits, a .379 batting average, with a .421 on-base percentage, .544 slugging and .965 on-base percentage plus slugging.
He’s on fire this season, having moved up from Single-A Lakeland to Double-A Erie and hasn’t missed a beat. While he should not be hurried along to the majors any time soon, he is proving that he truly is the “can’t miss” prospect that the Tigers think he is.
But how do the Tigers use him when they are ready to have him in the majors? They have an All-Star in Miguel Cabrera at third base and another All-Star, who they just invested more than $200 million in at first in Prince Fielder. Where does Castellanos fit in? the answer? Right where he is – at third base.
Victor Martinez (remember him?) has two years remaining on his contract in Detroit, once that expires Tigers fans should expect to see Castellanos joining the major league club. When healthy, Martinez is a great designated hitter, hitting over .400 last season with runners in scoring position and filling in for Alex Avila early in the year to give him some rest. But Martinez will be 35, going on 36, in 2014 and will not be worth the amount of money he will want in a new deal.
Castellanos fills that hole left by Martinez for Detroit. The Tigers have seen that Fielder is, to put it nicely, not the best defensively at first base, and Cabrera is not much better at third. However, when Cabrera was at first base he fielded his position well, which is why he needs to be placed back there.
With Cabrera back at first base and Castellanos filling his vacated position at third base, that leaves Fielder without an every day job. While he has said that he does not want to be a designated hitter, his defensive play has shown that he should not be the everyday first baseman because he will cost the team runs. At DH he can contribute offensively, which he has been able to do this season, without costing Detroit runs in the field.
If that scenario plays out – and it’s the best path for the Tigers to follow – come ’14 the club will feature a lineup of Miggy at 1B, Fielder at DH, and Castellanos at 3B.