Padres and Platoons - Third Base

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday we looked at Second Base...a position of near constant turnover for the Padres. Today, we'll look at the Padres' 2018 outlook at Third Base.

The hot corner has been, for the Padres, a position of relative stability. Going back to the mid-1990's the team has consistently gotten multiple years out of their third basemen: Ken Caminiti (1995-1998), Phil Nevin (1999-2002), Sean Burroughs (2003-2005), Kevin Kouzmanoff (2007-2009), Chase Headley (2010-2014) and Yangervis Solarte (2014-2016). In the last 20 years, there have only been a few seasons where a single player didn't make more than 100 appearances at third base.

In 2018, the Padres have three players at three very different points in their careers.

Chase Headley returns to the Padres as a 33 year old entering free agency this offseason. After accruing 17.8 WAR in four-and-a-half seasons as the Padres third baseman, he's only put up 7.6 WAR since a mid-2014 trade sent him to the Yankees.

Cory Spangenberg has never quite stuck at one position. As a rookie, he spent most of 2015 at 2B. Injuries de-railed his sophomore campaign, and in 2017, he found playing time at the hot corner. He's trying to prove that he either is the third baseman of the future, or, has enough positional versatility to stick after Luis Urias takes over at 2B.

Christian Villanueva reached AAA in 2014 as a glove-first 3B prospect, but it took until last season for him to break out offensively. He is out of options.

Here's how Headley, Spangenberg and Villanueva compare on third base defense, platoon splits and defensive versatility:

Defense vs. RHP vs. LHP Versatility

Cory Spangenberg

Age: 26

Bats: L, Throws: R

-9.9 UZR/150

(966.0 Inn)

108 wRC+

(718 PA)

71 wRC+

(231 PA)

30 wRC+ in 2017

Average 2B

Below Average LF

Chase Headley

Age: 33 Bats:

S, Throws: R

7.0 UZR/150

(9576.2 Inn)

3.0 UZR/150 since 2016

111 wRC+

(3991 PA)

100 wRC+

(1710 PA)

85 wRC+ since 2016

Above Average 1B in 2017

Christian Villanueva*

Age: 26

Bats: R, Throws: R

55-60 Grade at 3B

.928 OPS in 2017

.713 OPS in 2015

.863 OPS in 2017

.842 OPS in 2015

Spring Reps at SS

Average 2B, 1B

All stats from FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference

*Villanueva's 2017 stats are a combination of AAA and MLB action; his 2015 stats are a mix of some AA, mostly AAA, and a bit of Mexican Winter League.


-Before losing all of 2016 to injury, Villanueva was projected to have solid defensive value, as a third baseman or as a utility infielder.

-Spangenberg has been consistently below average defensively at third.

-Headley's stats indicate regression in both his defense, and split vs LHP over the last couple seasons.

-2017 was the first season since 2011 that Villanueva had a higher OPS vs RHP than vs LHP.

-Surprising to see that Villanueva and Spangenberg are the same age.

-Headley was a very solid, if unspectacular, player for the Padres. It's too bad that he spent his prime in Petco Park before the outfield dimensions were changed dramatically for the 2015 season.

Third base is a huge question mark for the Padres going forward, how should the team maximize the value of the pieces that they have? Where do they look long-term? Who can they target in a trade/free agency?

This FanPost was written by a member of the Gaslamp Ball community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gaslamp Ball staff or SB Nation.