The Indians are likely going to go with 29-year old lefty swinging Casey Kotchman as their everyday 1B in 2012. He played in 146 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last year and he was 153 for 500 (.306 avg, .800 OPS) with 44 runs scored, 10 homers, 48 RBIs and 2 stolen base. Kotchman has now played in 791 games in his first 8 years in the majors and he is 693 for 2,588 (.268 avg, .733 OPS) with 276 runs scored, 59 homers, 332 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. Kotchman only had 2 errors in 146 games at 1B last year as he probably should have won the Gold Glove last year. He has outstanding range and he will make all of the other infielders better defenders in 2012.
27-year old righty swinging Matt LaPorta is running out of time in Cleveland. He played in 107 games for the Tribe last year and he was 87 for 352 (.247 avg, .711 OPS) with 34 runs scored, 11 homers, 53 RBIs and 1 stolen base. LaPorta has now played in 269 games in his first three years for the Indians and he is 216 of 909 (.238 avg, .701 OPS) with 104 runs scored, 30 homers, 115 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. LaPorta played in 97 games at 1B last year and he had 7 errors. LaPorta has a minor league option left, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him start the 2012 season in AAA-ball.
Shelley Duncan, Jack Hannahan and Carlos Santana are going to have other primary positions in 2012….but they all played some 1B for the Tribe last year. Duncan played in 7 games at 1B for the Indians last year and he made 1 error. Duncan will likely DH and play LF more than he will at 1B in 2012. Jack Hannahan played in 8 error free games at 1B for the Tribe. His best position is 3B, but he is a solid player at 1B too. Carlos Santana played in 66 games at 1B for the Tribe last year and he had 4 errors. Santana will likely split time at DH with Travis Hafner when he’s not catching.
25-year old righty swinging Russ Canzler is also going to try to win a job with the Tribe this spring. He can play both 1B and 3B. Canzler played in 3 games for the Rays in his first taste of the majors and he was 1 for 3 (.333 avg, .733 OPS) with 1 RBI. He also played in 131 games in AAA-ball last year and he was 149 for 474 (.314 avg, .930 OPS) with 78 runs scored, 18 homers, 83 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. He has a nice upside.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE 1B IN 2012: B-