Lonnie Chisenhall couldn’t have felt good about the Cleveland Indians deciding to move Carlos Santana from catcher to third base in the offseason. After getting the majority of the playing time at the hot corner a year ago (and struggling), Chisenhall has been relegated to playing sparingly only against right-handed pitchers. He has been the designated hitter a handful of times this year when Santana was manning third base, but with Jason Giambi now healthy he will not see many opportunities there. Throw Mike Aviles in the mix as well, and it will be hard for Chisenhall to crack the starting lineup more often than once a week.
The Indians had high hopes for the former first-round draft pick (and probably still do), but he hasn’t been able to cement himself as an everyday player. Chisenhall has done the most he can do with only 47 at bats through the first month of the season, but even with the hot start nobody is really thinking that he should receive more playing time. But why not?
Take Chisenhall’s career numbers in MLB (about 690 at bats) and prorate them to the number of at bats the average major league starter gets per year (usually around 600 ABs). That rounds out to a .252 batting average, 20 home runs and 65 runs batted in. Not too bad for a young hitter like Chisenhall, especially with the type of production they were getting out of their third baseman the last few years.
It isn’t a bad thing to have a hitter like Chisenhall on your bench to pinch hit or start every once in a while, but the only way for him to get better is to play. He really only got a chance to start every day for the first half of the 2013 season before the Indians started changing things up. Whether it be in Cleveland or somewhere else, Lonnie Chisenhall should get a fair shot to start soon.