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TeamBoone
03-31-2006, 09:14 PM
Thu, Mar. 30, 2006
Encarnacion hopes to be Reds 3B for long time
JOE KAY / Associated Press

SARASOTA, Fla. - Aaron Boone. Brandon Larson. Juan Castro. Joe Randa.

In their last four season openers, the Cincinnati Reds have had four different third basemen. And it's not an anomaly.

Since Tony Fernandez started at third base in the 1994 opener - an ill-fated fill-in move - the Reds have spent a lot of time trying to get some consistency at third base. Boone did the best job, holding the position for more than four years until he was traded.

Otherwise, it's been a work in progress, with one candidate after another failing to stick around for very long.

Edwin Encarnacion intends to change that.

"I think if I continue to do what I have to do, I can be here for a long time," the 23-year-old third baseman said. "I have to take care of my job. That's what I want to do - I want to be here for a long time."

He's next in line to get the chance.

The Reds are hoping that Encarnacion, their top hitting prospect in the minors, can improve his defense and set down roots at a transient position. He was given the job last July 23, when Randa was traded to San Diego after a half-season in Cincinnati.

To understand the significance of Encarnacion's first big-league promotion, a little history is in order.

Nobody has struggled to find a third baseman more mightily than the Chicago Cubs, who kept trying to find the next Ron Santo after they shipped him to the crosstown rival White Sox after the 1973 season. They tried and tried, and never found the right fit for very long.

They went through 99 third basemen - in one remarkable season, they used nine different players there - before Aramis Ramirez finally brought some stability in 2004.

The Reds have been much more fortunate - who hasn't? - during that same time frame. Fifteen different players have started opening day at third base, including Chris Sabo (seven times), Boone (4), Pete Rose (3) and even Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, who moved to third at the end of his career.

The opening-day list also includes Willie Greene, Nick Esasky, Buddy Bell and Ray Knight.

And, on Monday, it will include Encarnacion, who is a lot more relaxed after a half-season of getting used to the majors.

"Now I know how the big leagues work," he said. "I have more confidence."

The Reds are confident that he'll hit, even though he didn't do very well last season. He hit over .300 at three different stops in the minors, including a .314 average at Triple-A Louisville last year before he was called up.

Encarnacion batted only .232 in 69 games for Cincinnati with nine homers and 31 RBIs. He started 55 games and was relegated to the bottom of the order most days, batting eighth 35 times.

Manager Jerry Narron plans to use him higher in the order this season to protect him.

"I think he'll hit," Narron said. "I don't care if he opens the season 1-for-20, I still think he can hit. What really hurt him last year was batting eighth. I'm not saying he's going to hit fourth, but he's going to hit higher than eighth."

Narron has been more focused on Encarnacion's defense this spring. He had 10 errors last season, and Narron wants to see more consistency.

"Really, I've been more pleased with his defense than I have with the way he's swung the bat," Narron said. "Everybody sees what he's done with hitting. My biggest concern is that he can show consistency in catching the ball and throwing it."

Encarnacion has played in 21 games this spring, hit .381 with a team-high six homers and 20 RBIs, and made three errors - not bad on fields that often produce bad hops.

The Reds now have a young left side of the infield - Encarnacion plays next to 25-year-old shortstop Felipe Lopez, who made the All-Star team for the first time last season and has passed along some tips.

"I talk to him," Lopez said. "I tell him what to expect, being young in the big leagues.

"It's always tougher when you're in the big leagues as a young kid because you're expected to perform at a consistent level. It's tough because you're still learning to do things and a lot of time, you're not very consistent."

Given their recent history, the Reds are willing to be patient.

http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/sports/14224902.htm

GAC
04-01-2006, 07:25 AM
When Narron says he plans on using him higher in the order - I wonder where?

westofyou
04-01-2006, 11:41 AM
Encarnacion hopes to be Reds 3B for long time

3rd base is a Reds black hole throughout history.

The Cincinnati Reds are the only team from the original 16 franchises to not have a 3rd baseman with at least 1000 games played at the position for the team.

Furthermore the team leader played in the 1880's and was LH, in fact he holds the record for games played by a LH in the infield (other than 1st base)

The list is fraught with other position players and guys who got there name recognition elsewhere.


CINCINNATI REDS
CAREER
3B

GAMES G
1 Hick Carpenter 890
2 Heine Groh 883
3 Chris Sabo 792
4 Tony Perez 760
5 Grady Hatton 729
6 Arlie Latham 680
7 Harry Steinfeldt 637
8 Pete Rose 629
9 Aaron Boone 625
10 Charlie Irwin 603

tbball10
04-01-2006, 12:19 PM
I think Edwin will bat 6th in front of Hatteberg, the catcher and the pitcher.

Little Alex
04-01-2006, 12:41 PM
If he keeps improving, I hope he stays a Red for a long time too. :thumbup:

KronoRed
04-01-2006, 02:06 PM
I see him 4th in the break up the leftie lineup

Superdude
04-01-2006, 05:25 PM
"I think he'll hit," Narron said. "I don't care if he opens the season 1-for-20, I still think he can hit. What really hurt him last year was batting eighth. I'm not saying he's going to hit fourth, but he's going to hit higher than eighth."

Narron showing an uncharacteristic knack for baseball knowledge there.

Cyclone792
04-01-2006, 05:42 PM
3rd base is a Reds black hole throughout history.

The Cincinnati Reds are the only team from the original 16 franchises to not have a 3rd baseman with at least 1000 games played at the position for the team.

Furthermore the team leader played in the 1880's and was LH, in fact he holds the record for games played by a LH in the infield (other than 1st base)

The list is fraught with other position players and guys who got there name recognition elsewhere.


CINCINNATI REDS
CAREER
3B

GAMES G
1 Hick Carpenter 890
2 Heine Groh 883
3 Chris Sabo 792
4 Tony Perez 760
5 Grady Hatton 729
6 Arlie Latham 680
7 Harry Steinfeldt 637
8 Pete Rose 629
9 Aaron Boone 625
10 Charlie Irwin 603

Heinie Groh ... one of the most underrated third basemen of all-time, IMO, along with Ron Santo. I would absolutely love it if Edwin Encarnacion supplanted Groh as the the man for the Reds historically at third base. If Encarnacion could manage to achieve that, that means he'll have been a monster for us.

Heinie Groh's best seasons were in a terrible era for run scoring and in a pitcher's park, and two of his top seasons (1918 and 1919) were shortened due to WWI, lessening their perceived impact on his peak value. Putting his numbers into context and giving him minor war credit for those two top seasons, he rates very well, as win shares shows.

Groh's win shares totals by season: 37, 34*, 32*, 28, 25, 24, 19, 19, 18, 15, 13, 12, 2, 1, 1

Career totals = 280 win shares*
Per 162 Games = 26.43 win shares*

I gave him 6 win shares of war credit for 1918 and 2 win shares of war credit for 1919, which I don't believe is an abnormally high amount. His top 3 season peak is tied for 6th all-time and his top 5 season peak is 7th all-time. His slightly lower career value hurts him a bit, but the peak is what pushes Groh to 11th all-time among third basemen for me. Pie Traynor got all the recognition during Groh's era, but I'm convinced Groh was the superior player. The only other players at the hot corner who played for anybody prior to 1950 that I'd take over Groh are Home Run Baker and Stan Hack.

Groh's also in the Baseball Think Factory's Hall of Merit, with his plaque reading as

Four-time Stats, Inc. NL Third Baseman (1915, 1917-19). Win Shares NL MVP (1918). Win Shares NL Silver Bat winner (1918). Three-time Win Shares NL Gold Glove winner (1915, 1919-20). Armed with his famous “bottle bat,” the right-handed Groh was the NL’s finest all-around third baseman of the Deadball Era. His keen eye at the plate was instrumental for his standout leadoff skills, while he could deftly drop a bunt or execute a proper hit-and-run for his teams’ cause. One of the most sure-handed at his position in baseball history, he led the NL more times (6) in fielding percentage than any other third baseman; he also led his league in putouts three times and double plays seven times. Member of five pennant winners (1923, 1924, 1927, as well as the world champion 1919 and 1922 teams; he hit .474 in the World Series for the latter team). NL leader for OPS (1919), Games (1915, 1917), Runs (1918), Hits (1917), Doubles (1917-18), Walks (1916), HBP (1914, 1924), OBP (1917-18) and Times on Bases (1917-18). Retired with the major league record for highest fielding percentage for a season (.983 in 1924), as well as the NL record for fewest errors, 140 or more games (7 in 1924).

westofyou
04-01-2006, 06:00 PM
Heinie Groh ... one of the most underrated third basemen of all-time, IMO, along with Ron Santo. I would absolutely love it if Edwin Encarnacion supplanted Groh as the the man for the Reds historically at third base. If Encarnacion could manage to achieve that, that means he'll have been a monster for us.

Yep, the Reds stole him from the Giants, it was perhaps the one trade prior to the Roush deal that the Reds won with McGraw. But they got him bac, eventually after the 21 season, big ballyhoo with the commisioner that year about the Reds trading him as well.

Heine is buried in Spring Grove Cemetary and was the typical dead ball hitter, he liked to punch at the ball and described it in detail in a Baseball Magazine article I have somewhere, hence the big "Bottle Bat" more surface area to hit the sphere with.

Cyclone792
04-01-2006, 06:17 PM
Yep, the Reds stole him from the Giants, it was perhaps the one trade prior to the Roush deal that the Reds won with McGraw. But they got him bac, eventually after the 21 season, big ballyhoo with the commisioner that year about the Reds trading him as well.

Heine is buried in Spring Grove Cemetary and was the typical dead ball hitter, he liked to punch at the ball and described it in detail in a Baseball Magazine article I have somewhere, hence the big "Bottle Bat" more surface area to hit the sphere with.

Any idea why they moved Groh from second to third starting in 1915? Everything I've read suggests it was due to his defensive abilities since third base was considered an extremely important position defensively in his era, but I wasn't sure if there was more to it than that. Seems kind of ironic since after the Reds moved Groh to third, they went through second sackers seemingly every season, similar to how we've been the past few seasons with Reese, Walker, Jimenez, Freel, etc.

westofyou
04-01-2006, 06:34 PM
Any idea why they moved Groh from second to third starting in 1915? Everything I've read suggests it was due to his defensive abilities since third base was considered an extremely important position defensively in his era, but I wasn't sure if there was more to it than that. Seems kind of ironic since after the Reds moved Groh to third, they went through second sackers seemingly every season, similar to how we've been the past few seasons with Reese, Walker, Jimenez, Freel, etc.

3rd was way more important back then than now and the Reds made a mess of trades prior to 1915, including dumping their 3rd baseman Niehoff (who was essentially a 30 year old rookie in 1914) and since it also was a Federal League year there was alot of movement around the whole league as teams were looking to fill spots. One reason why it might have been done as well is that in 1915 Tommy Leach signed on with the Reds, since he had a storied past at 3rd and was playing the OF, it's possible that he could have provided some guidence to either Herzog (who BTW was a crappy SS and needed any help on that side of the diamond anyway) or Grohl.