Chris Nelson is still a bit of a wild card to me. It’s pretty clear that he has not reached his potential yet, given that he was a first-round pick and has yet to play more than 111 games in a season. He has been given ample opportunity to take the starting third base job and run with it, after the departure of Ian Stewart and Casey Blake‘s neck and any number of smaller mishaps that occurred in the past couple of years. And instead of running with it, each time he has made highlight reel plays and followed those up with stretches of abysmal defense that do not compute with his skills. Offensively, he was decent last season, hitting .301 with 9 homers, but I still expect more out of the guy who stole home back in 2010. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do.
In spite of Nelson’s underperformance, he’s virtually a lock for third base in 2013, primarily because there are no obvious successors. Yes, Nolan Arenado has been a spring training beast, but my guess is he gets called up midseason at the earliest. We all saw what happened to him last year when the pressure and hype got to him before the season started. No one wants to take that risk again before it’s absolutely necessary. So I give Chris Nelson one more year to be a third base star. If he can’t do it, Arenado’s waiting in the wings, and Nelson will be relegated to the bench for the remainder of his career. Or to the Astros.
In spring training so far, Nelson has had a rough go. He’s batting .200 (to Arenado’s .357), and struck out 4 times, tied for team-worst. He’s rarely performed great in the spring – last year he struck out 11 times in 27 games – but it’s still a little worrisome to see him taking this long to get warmed up. Opening day is in four weeks and we need Nelson ready to be awesome.
Where will Nelson be in 2013? Starting at third base until the All-Star break at least.
Where should Nelson be in 2013? Proving he was worthy of that first-round pick.