Cody Asche Making A Strong Case for the Starting 3B Job in 2014
The beginning of Cody Asche‘s Major League career could have been better. He had just one hit — a single — in his first 17 trips to the plate, including his debut on July 30. Since then, however, he has been as tough an out as they come, posting a .914 OPS in 95 plate appearances entering yesterday afternoon’s series finale against the Braves. Since August 6, Asche has hit .318 with 11 of his 28 hits going for extra bases.
Overall, he has a .340 weighted on-base average (wOBA). If he had enough plate appearances to qualify on the leaderboard, he would be sandwiched between Ryan Zimmerman (.350) and Manny Machado (.334). He has done this with a normal .301 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and a .190 isolated power (ISO). Though the comparison is otherwise unfounded, it is interesting that those numbers are very similar to those of Chase Utley (.352 wOBA, .294 BABIP, .200 ISO).
As important as Asche’s offense has been his defense. We are nowhere near a sample size large enough to use stats in analyzing his defense, but at least from watching on an everyday basis, he looks like a seasoned Major League veteran at the hot corner, making almost all of the routine plays along with a Web Gem every week.
Last year, the Phillies went into the off-season looking at a weak free agent market for third basemen and no realistic internal options. The Phillies opted to trade for Michael Young, which did not pan out. Considering the way Asche has played in a month-plus, the Phillies don’t have to worry about third base at all this off-season. Even better is that Maikel Franco will get a chance to prove himself at the Triple-A level over an entire season. Had Asche not been an option, the Phillies may have gone with another stopgap solution, and that could have motivated the Phillies to rush Franco along faster than necessary.
GM Ruben Amaro will have some interesting decisions to make between the end of October and when pitchers and catchers report in February. The easiest decision, though, is writing Asche’s name in pen at third base. Will Asche be this good going forward? It’s hard to say, but the 23-year-old has certainly earned the chance to prove himself from day one in 2014.