Most Major League Baseball teams do not like to platoon a position unless they have to, but it certainly has its advantages. The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the rare teams that appear eager to platoon in certain areas and third base seems to be one of them.
Martin Prado has spent all seven of his Major League years with the Atlanta Braves, but after a trade sent him to the desert this past off-season, he appears eager to make a difference with his new team. The Diamondbacks signed Prado to a four-year, $40 million extension in the hopes of him being an asset on the team for the next few seasons. Prado is expected to be the starter at third base in 2013, but Eric Chavez could have a say in that.
The 29-year-old Prado has been competing against Chavez for the Opening Day job this spring, with these two likely to be the platoon if Arizona decides to go that route. Prado batted .301 with 10 home runs, 70 RBI, 42 doubles, six triples and 17 stolen bases in 617 at-bats in 2012. The right-handed batter’s .323/.384/.479 line with two homers, 20 RBI, 22 doubles and three triples against left-handed pitchers last season is definitely the best among all players contending for a role at third base.
Meanwhile, Chavez is better suited against right-handed pitchers and has had the most success in that situation among all Diamondback candidates. The 15-year veteran has a career line of .280/.358/.511 when it comes to facing right-handers, which is impressive considering the sample size. Last season with the New York Yankees in the competitive American League East, the 35-year-old had a .298/.365/.543 line with 16 home runs, 34 RBI and 12 doubles in 245 at-bats against righties.
It is quite clear that Arizona has a surplus at the third base position with four players technically trying out for the role. However, Prado and Chavez have proven in the past that they are exceptional when it comes to facing specific counterparts, which means it would be a wise move for the organization to give the platoon a shot.
Chavez may be the better defensive third baseman, especially since he has a .969 fielding percentage in almost 8,000 total chances at the position, but Prado is good enough in which the Diamondbacks would not feel that they were losing something without Chavez in the lineup.