Harvesting Opinion is a regular feature on Seedlings to Stars. Each week, six of FanSided’s team blogs send S2S a question relating to their team’s minor league system, and we answer them in this space–each question gets one article devoted to answering it. In this way, we make sure we regularly get to discuss hot-button issues relating to the systems of every team, as these go on a five-week cycle.
Please note that any statistics used may be a day or two out of date, as we prepare our answers over the course of a week.
In this edition, we tackle a question sent to us from our Florida Marlins site Marlin Maniac:
With Matt Dominguez‘s glove, how well would he have to hit to be a major league starter at third base?
Nathaniel says: This is a bit of a tricky question. After all, as a statistically-minded person myself, I’d certainly have to see how his defense quantifies to then figure out how his offense would need to quantify. The most cited defensive statistic out there is UZR, which doesn’t exist for minor league players and takes about three years before it’s reliable in assessing a major league player.
Of course, that aside just sort of distracts from the point. Let’s assume his glove plays at, say, 10 runs above average per 150 games, which would put Dominguez at about the sixth-best fielding 3B in baseball (conservative given his scouting reports but reasonable given his lack of big league experience).
So that’s one win above replacement with fielding alone, and in a normal season, he’d pick up a second WAR just from positional and replacement adjustments. Since 2 WAR is approximately the cutoff for being an adequate starter, he only has to hit around replacement level.
An interesting comparison for Dominguez would be Kevin Kouzmanoff, a guy who’s always posted great defensive numbers at third but is hampered by a career OBP of exactly .300. Even with his offensive limitations, Kouzmanoff’s been worth 11 WAR in 645 career games, which is basically 2.5 WAR per season, a near-average starter.
Given the league-wide offensive downturn, if Dominguez’s glove is as good as advertised, he basically just needs to not embarrass himself at the plate. If he can put up .700 OPS figures, he should be fine.
If you look around the majors there aren’t a lot of guys at the hot corner that are an asset with the bat and the glove. That works in Matt’s favor here as a prospect and future regular since he is almost universally regarded as a future Gold Glove Award winner. That is, if the award was actually based on defense.
Brandon Inge is a guy that could be a nice comp here. As a 3B, Inge has hit 0.245/.318/.406 in his major league career, which certainly isn’t anything to write home about in any of the slash stats. But, he could flash the leather – especially from 2006-2009 – and that kept him in Detroit’s lineup on a regular basis.
It’s very likely that Dominguez will have a similar career but his defense will likely be better over a longer period of time as he’s a natural 3B and he figures to make his debut by age 22. Inge didn’t debut until age 24 and didn’t transition to the hot corner until his age 27 season. While it’s not likely that Matt will hit 27 HR in a season like Inge (who did it twice), he does project to have average power potential putting him solidly in the 15-20 HR range per season which is more than acceptable.
As a whole, if he hits in the ballpark of 0.240/.320/.400 he’s going to be an asset to the Marlins, given his defensive prowess, and I think that slash line is certainly something he’s capable of. In fact, with a few years of experience under his belt, I think he will be able to do more than that.
For more on the Marlins, be sure to check out Marlin Maniac.