Casey Blake: Bearded Enigma.
There are generally two opinions of Blake, as many believe he has been a key cog to the Dodgers success over the past handful of years, while others loathe the way he came to be a Dodger in the first place. I am firmly in the camp of the latter, though I simultaneously recognize he’s been one of the better third basemen in the club’s history.
Of course, part of that speaks to the lack of quality third basemen this franchise has put on the field. In his short tenure with the Blue Crew, Blake managed a .338 OBP and a .431 SLG, with an injury-plagued 2011 as the culmination of what was a mediocre stint with the team. His fantastic 2009 of 4.9 WAR was followed by a decent 2010, but 2011 saw Blake injured and unproductive when on the field, posting a triple slash line of .252/.342/.371 to go along with a lackluster .314 wOBA and 1.1 WAR. He played in just 63 games as the aging Iowan’s health failed him.
Always solid with the glove (2011 UZR/150 of 8.5), Blake was counted on for far too much production by management and many loyal fans of his. Why, then, did I start this Season Review with a 38-year-old who barely suited up this season? Well, the Dodgers just declined the option on his contract for 2012, so Casey heads to free agency. Or retirement. Either way, I feel safe in saying that whatever path Blake chooses, his time starting at the hot corner in Los Angeles is over.
If, however, he were to return – and I’d be shocked if Ned Colletti didn’t consider bringing back Casey in some capacity, because, you know, he’s Ned Colletti – Blake’s ability to hit lefties (career .271/.360/.486/.846 versus southpaws) and play solid defense would portend to a role as a super-sub at all four corner spots, but primarily at third. Of course, the calls for that scenario have been ringing for well over a year, and we all saw how well that plan came to fruition in 2011.
The fact that Aaron Miles made the squad to start the season was disheartening enough to begin with. That he got so much playing time was even more unsettling.
Though he had a hot month of June, hitting .419/.418/.500/.918 (and yes, that is an OBP lower than his BA), which garnered a whole hell of a lot of attention and simultaneously made him the apple of Steve Lyons‘ eye, Miles was the same old mediocre Aaron Miles that he has always been and will likely continue to be.
While starting 61 games at third, Miles hit .249/.321/.321/.642 while playing beyond shoddy defense (-12.1 UZR/150). He was worth 0.8 WAR on the season with his almost five hundred (!) plate appearances, but could be in line for the Jamey Carroll multi-year deal regardless.
Miles is clearly not worth that, as he will turn 35 in December, is not exceptionally talented at any aspect of the game of baseball, and is simply taking up a roster spot from a younger player who could bring more upside and talent to the table.
53 games started at third (59 in total), a remarkably putrid triple slash line of .199/.262/.270/.532 in those games, a cumulative wOBA of .250, 0.4 WAR on the season, and 20.3% of his plate appearances ended in a strikeout. He walked in just 5.8% of his trips to the dish, put up an abysmal .089 ISO, and ate up more of the Dodgers payroll than he did the post-game spread (actually, that’s an arguable point).
Sadly enough, he’s likely the leading candidate to man the hot corner in 2012.
Juan Uribe is a terrible player. He had an atrocious 2011. If I write anything more about Juan Uribe, I’ll be the one on the disabled list with a detached head.
Fun Fact: Juan Castro started a game at third. Juan Castro.