Comments on: 3B to LF This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: wboenig2 Fri, 01 Feb 2008 03:02:59 +0000 This is about 150 feet off topic, but the Mets tried to make a center fielder out of Howard Johnson in 1992. He played 98 games in the outfield that year (and was never the same).

By: Raphy Fri, 01 Feb 2008 00:51:27 +0000 Regarding #6. David, I don't know how much verification you were looking for, but according to his BR Bullpen page, Minoso was the starting 3rd baseman in the '47 and '48 Negro League All star games.

By: David in Toledo Thu, 31 Jan 2008 17:27:52 +0000 Good work, Zuty. However, many of these guys were very challenged in the field. The old (1958) Frank Thomas was not an "all-star third baseman." He was a 1958 All-Star who was positioned that year at third base.

By: zuty Thu, 31 Jan 2008 16:40:33 +0000 @mrbaseballcard:

Yes, Dick Allen did this...

1964: 162 games at 3B
1965: 160 games at 3B
1966: 91 games at 3B; 47 at LF
1967: 121 games at 3B
1968: 139 games at LF; 10 at 3B

After being exclusively a FIRST baseman in 1969, he jumped around mostly between 3B and 1B after that (except for 60 games at LF in 1971).

Andy's right, though, that the PI doesn't help much for searches like this. But I did one anyway, looking for players who possessed at least one season in which they played a minimum of 100 games and at least 30 each at 3B and LF... Looking at the results points out a few other players who moved from 3B to LF at some point in their careers:

- Frank Thomas was an all-star third baseman in 1958 for Pittsburgh, and while splitting time between 1B-3B-LF, played MOST of the rest of his career in left (for six other teams).
- In 1965, Deron Johnson started 159 games at 3B for Cincinnati. In 1966, he played 106 in left field. He also played that season at 3B and 1B, and spent most of the rest of his career at first base.
- Tommy Harper was an all-star third baseman for Milwaukee in 1970. He spent most of his career scattered all over the outfield, but in 1973, he played almost exclusively in left field (139 of 144 games). Oddly, in 1972, he played exclusively in center field...
- Hector Lopez (Royals and Yankees, 1955-66) played mostly third base in his first three years, split some time between third and second for a year or so, and then moved to left when he joined the Yankees in 1959.
- Don Buford (White Sox and Orioles, 1963-72) started as a second baseman before shifting over to third. When his career took him to Baltimore, he also moved into left field (and made his lone all-star appearance in 1971, when he played exclusively left field for Baltimore).

...I don't know what this says about Ryan Braun. I hope he has a productive career. I don't have a lot of faith in the Brewers this season, but we'll see...!

By: David in Toledo Thu, 31 Jan 2008 16:34:36 +0000 Methodology question: Does "early in his career" mean that Pedro Guerrero qualifies and Chipper Jones doesn't?

Another research question involves WHY such a shift is made. In almost every case, I assume the switch comes because of poor defense in the infield, or because a player new to the roster can play only third base. (Steve Sax became primarily an outfielder at age 33; Al Rosen was switched from third to first -- disastrously -- in 1954 to make room for Rudy Regalado. Compared to a left-field destination, even more off-of-third shifts may go to first base, as in the case of Steve Garvey.)

I wish I knew how to find the records that would confirm the following, but I'm pretty sure that Minnie Minoso was primarily a third baseman in the Cuban and Negro Leagues. I don't know where he played at San Diego in the PCL in 1949 and 1950. In his rookie year, however, Minoso played 68 games at third. Then he went on to win three Gold Gloves at ages 31-34 as a left fielder.

Minoso is a pretty unusual case of an outstanding fielder involved in a switch. These multiposition guys we've been discussing lately are usually, I think, adequate but ordinary in the field. If they were great, somebody would put them at short or in center field and leave them there.

By: BunnyWrangler Thu, 31 Jan 2008 15:49:39 +0000 I looked it up - really, of the guys I listed, only Chipper Jones qualifies.

By: mrbaseballcard Thu, 31 Jan 2008 15:15:22 +0000 Andy,

Dick Allen? Believe Dr. Strangeglove moved from 3B to the OF.

By: mrbaseballcard Thu, 31 Jan 2008 15:12:51 +0000 Andy,

I was going to say Chipper Jones and Pedro Guerrero is another good one. I believe Pete Rose also played 3rd for the Big Red Machines in 75, 76, 77, 78 and when bench moved to third played both left and 1B with the Reds, Phillies and Expoes.

By: BunnyWrangler Thu, 31 Jan 2008 14:52:25 +0000 Chipper Jones did this.

In late 2001, the Braves made it clear that they were thinking about this move when they signed Ken Caminiti. Caminiti was placed in an odd platoon with B.J. Surhoff; Surhoff, a left-handed hitter, would play left field against righties, and Caminiti, a switch-hitter, would play against righties, but he would play third base, and Chipper Jones would move out to left field. Getting a right-handed bat was probably part of the motive behind this decision, but the Braves were probably also tiring of Chipper's shoddy defense at third base. Actually, Jones had been slated to start in left field for the Braves back in 1994, but he got injured and missed the entire season, which pushed his rookie season back to 1995.

In the offseason, the Braves made Chipper their full-time left fielder by signing Vinny Castilla to play third. Two of the groups who attempt to rate defensive contributions, Total Baseball and Baseball Prospectus, has Chipper Jones as an awful third baseman and a decent left fielder (at least in 2002), which helped to make up for his slight decline in offense. The papers praised Jones for his lack of selfishness, but, at some point early in 2002, Jones explicity stated that he didn;t want to force anyone out of the lineup, but he really wanted to move back to third. He got a pass for this somehow, possibly because he never did force Castilla out of the lineup by moving back to third.

Castilla left via free agency after 2003, but Jones stayed put in left, and the Braves decided to play Mark DeRosa at third base. Two things happened to put Chipper Jones back at the hot corner. For one, Chipper got injured chasing a ball in left field, at which point he changed from a dependable player who was in almost every game to the injury-prone player who he is today. Second, Mark DeRosa did not hit well and also had a memorable four-error game against Colorado, which made the Braves wonder if having him at third really provided much of a defensive advantage.

When Jones returned from his injury, he moved back to third, DeRosa moved to the bench, and minor leaguer Charles Thomas platooned in left field with right-handed hitter Eli Marrero. Jones suffered through probably his worst offensive season ever before he rebounded in 2005. DeRosa finished his final season as a Brave by tearing his ACL in the game after the Braves clinched the division title. Thomas had a good season, and the outfield of Thomas in left, Andruw Jones in center, and J.D. Drew in right was nicknamed the "kudzu outfield" for their ability to cover the outfield as well as kudzu covers trees. Thomas was traded to the A's in the offseason as part of the Tim Hudson deal and has never approached his 2004 numbers since.

To answer your question, yes, Chipper Jones has moved from third base to left field, although he did it much later in his career than Braun did it in his. I believe that Phil Nevin, later in his career, tried to do this, but got injured diving for a ball in the outfield in spring training. I also believe that B.J. Surhoff started out as a catcher, moved to third base, and then moved to left field. Albert Pujols, too, started out at third and ended up in left before he moved to first base. Those are all of the guys of whom I can think right now.

By: Jon Weisman Thu, 31 Jan 2008 14:38:56 +0000 Don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, but Pedro Guerrero:

1983: 157 games at third base
1984: 76 games at third base, 58 in the outfield
1985: 44 games at third base, 81 in the outfield
1986-87: played only outfield and first base