At the start of the season, the Cleveland Indians announced a series of changes that were designed to shake up the lineup and get certain players more work. That was when the Indians made Yan Gomes the full-time catcher, moved Carlos Santana over to third base and basically stuck Lonnie Chisenhall in the middle of nowhere. It’s funny how players often find their way back when the next step might be a one-way ticket to the minor leagues.
Chisenhall was touted as one of those can’t-miss prospects. The Indians thought he would be a cornerstone at third base for years to come. Then came 2013, when injuries and ineffective play cost Chisenhall a chance at success. His average slipped from .268 in 2012 to .225 in 2013, and it looked like the moves made by manager Terry Francona would cost Chisenhall in the long run.
Instead, Santana has regressed badly at the plate with a .171 average. He has also looked lost at third base. He can’t go back to catcher because Gomes has a .271 average with decent pop at the plate.
Where is Chisenhall? He is hitting .362 in 49 games. Although Chisenhall still averages a strikeout in every six at bats, he no longer looks lost at the plate.
It’s time, Cleveland. Santana spent the past week on the seven-day disabled list due to concussion issues. He should be the one to take the bench, and Chisenhall should start full-time at the hot corner.
It’s understandable the Indians want to keep everyone happy here. The team doesn’t want to lose Santana, but it has a problem. Not only do you have Gomes at catcher, but the Indians also have George Kottaras available in an emergency who has demonstrated an ability to hit if given the chance.
Chisenhall hasn’t even turned 26 yet. The old adage is that 27 is when a player usually starts to hit his stride after years in the minor leagues. If a player hasn’t found his power or hitting stroke by the time he turns 27, then it may never happen. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but Francona isn’t doing Chisenhall any favors by sitting him down.
The experiment has to end.
Chisenhall should be the Indians’ full-time third baseman now and in the future.