Poll Results: Who Should Play Third Base?

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With third baseman Ian Stewart out for the remainder of the season, last week, Cubbies Crib asked the question who should play third base for the Cubs going towards the future. There were four options to choose from: Luis Valbuena, who is currently the Cubs’ starting third baseman; Josh Vitters, who is the starting third baseman for the Iowa Cubs; Junior Lake, who is playing both shortstop and third base for the Tenessee Smokies; and Stewart, who of course, would assume position in Spring Training.

Valbuena has done an admirable job filling in for Stewart at third base. Valbuena is hitting .225/.253/.425/.678 for the Cubs in 23 games to go along with 3 home runs and 14 RBIs. Granted the batting average and on base percentage are not where they should be if you are a player in the Theo Epstein regime, but Valbuena has handled the glove relatively easily at third base and has provided some clutch hits for the Cubs in his brief stint with the team. Valbuena is 26 years old and chances are his future with the Cubs will be in an reserve role.

Lake is having an impressive season with the Smokies. Lake is hitting .286/.335/.404/.739 with the Smokies this season to go along with 4 home runs and 16 RBIs in 52 games. Lake is very versatile. Lake is capable of playing third base, shortstop, and second base for a team. Most of his starts with the Smokies this season have been at the shortstop position. Though, the expectation is that when Lake is promoted to the Iowa Cubs, he will play third base while Josh Vitters slides over to first base. While Lake is considered by many to be the future third baseman of the Cubs, the 22 year old still needs more seasoning in the farm system before he is ready for the Major Leagues.

Stewart may have played his last game with the Cubs. As the Cubs front office will determine whether or not to retain Stewart for the 2013 season once the 2012 season concludes. All signs point to Stewart not being ready to play baseball again until next Spring Training. Stewart struggled with the Cubs this season. Stewart hit .201/.292/.335/.627 this season to go along with 5 home runs and 17 RBIs. It is possible that Stewart could return to the Cubs this season, but at this point, it doesn’t seem to be likely.

But neither Valbuena, Lake, nor Stewart won the poll. The victor goes to Josh Vitters, the starting third baseman for the Iowa Cubs. Vitters receive 75% of the votes. With the Iowa Cubs this season, Vitters is hitting .302/.356/.509/.866 to go along with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs. Vitters is in an interesting position with the new Cubs regime. Reason being that Vitters does not fit the mold of a Theo Epstein player, but there is potential for the third baseman to be a successful Major League player. I would imagine that Vitters will be given an opportunity to start at third base for the Cubs eventually this season. The Cubs need to know what they have in Vitters, and they could find the answer in the second half.

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