Alex Guerrero must be the worst infielder in the history of baseball.
He arrived from Cuba as a shortstop, and it was quickly decided he lacked the range to play that position at the major league level and was moved to second base. The Dodgers decided last year he could not play that either and moved him to third.
He started off this season splitting time between third and left field, all while hitting the snot out of the ball. And now he has seemingly disappeared from the Dodgers’ plans at third.
He’s been their best hitter per at-bat, and they cannot get him in the lineup. How can this be? He understandably still looks uncomfortable in left field, but he has appeared at least close to adequate at third.
Yet tonight in Chicago, Justin Turner is getting the night off, and Guerrero will again sit while Alberto Callaspo starts at third. Callaspo is clearly a superior defensive third baseman, is a switch-hitter who can bat from the left against Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel and has hit better (.293/.383/.366) than I ever anticipated since being acquired May 27 from the Braves.
But Guerrero has a .269/.297/.569 slash line and has 10 home runs and 29 RBI in only 130 at-bats. That’s the best slugging percentage on the team. And they seldom get him in the lineup.
He started Monday in left and went hitless in five at-bats. He is hitting only .172 in his last 29 at-bats. In those 14 games, he’s had only five starts. And he hasn’t started at third base since May 24 and none since Callaspo arrived.
Guerrero has committed two errors this season, both in left field. He certainly has not always looked crisp at third, but he hasn’t been a disaster, either. He can’t learn a position he’s not allowed to play.
Guerrero is 28 years old. The Dodgers signed him prior to the 2014 season for $28 million. Everyone said he could hit, and he has. Somebody must be wondering how he would hit if he played at least semi-regularly.
Maybe his current slump is because other teams have figured out a weakness in his swing and he hasn’t adjusted. Or maybe it’s because of erratic playing time and being a very frustrated player.
At this rate, we’ll never know.