SI: Moving Miguel Cabrera To Third Base A Big And Strange Mistake

Our first surprise this week came when Prince Fielder signed a contract with the Detroit Tigers. He signed a nine-year contract with the Detroit Tigers! If you went out today and bought 100 parakeets, almost all of them would be dead of natural causes before Prince Fielder's contract expires.

Our second surprise this week came when the Tigers said that, in order to accommodate Fielder at first base, they're moving Miguel Cabrera to third. Cabrera has been a third baseman before - hell, Cabrera has been a shortstop before - but a third baseman these days he ain't. It seems like a hell of a gamble.

SI's Joe Sheehan doesn't like the gamble. In his words:

The Tigers simply don't have the roster to have forcing Cabrera to third base make any sense at all. It's one thing to take a huge defensive hit to get your best team on the field. It's another to do it so that you create at-bats for a DH, in Young, with a career .288/.321/.428 slash, or to get a 26-year-old fourth outfielder with 78 MLB appearances into the lineup.

It'd be one thing if the Tigers had a good DH. They don't. Victor Martinez is missing the year. As is, the Tigers are planning to put Fielder and Cabrera at the corners so that they can give the DH slot to hitters who aren't very good. There's something to be said for the fact that most players are reluctant to DH, and Cabrera and Fielder probably have their egos. There's also something to be said for the fact that players should do what their teams want them to do. If Cabrera doesn't want to DH, but if Cabrera DH'ing is in the best interests of the team, Cabrera should DH.

Anyway, we'll see how this goes, and for how long the Tigers keep it up. In fairness, while Sheehan talks about how Cabrera is too big for third base, Pablo Sandoval has an outstanding career UZR. Miguel Cabrera, though, doesn't. He has a bad career UZR at first, he has a bad career UZR at third, he has a bad career UZR in left field, and he has a bad career UZR in right field. So. Experimentation!

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