By Tommy Rancel //
Chris Davis just can’t win. After starting the season as the Texas Rangers’ first baseman, Davis lost his job to top prospect Justin Smoak. Once Smoak was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Cliff Lee, Davis once again became the Rangers’ starter. That has come to an end (again) with Thursday’s acquisition of Jorge Cantu for two minor league pitchers.
You can feel bad for Davis if you want, but the truth is the Rangers are justified in looking for an upgrade – even a marginal one. In 113 plate appearances, the 24-year-old was hitting just .188/.265/.267. After smashing 21 home runs in 113 games last season, Davis is homerless in 2010.
Jorge Cantu should not be confused with a savior at the position, but even in a down year he has been more productive than Davis. Spending most of his time at third base for the Marlins, Cantu hit .262/.310/.409 in 97 games.
While he is new to the American League West, Cantu has had success in the AL before. As a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004-2005, he hit .289/.318/.507 with 30 home runs and 134 RBI. His peak for Tampa Bay came in 2005, when he hit 28 home runs and drove in a then-team record 117 runs. The next two years were not so productive for Cantu and by mid-2007, the D-Rays traded him to the Cincinnati Reds. After an uneventful half-season in Ohio, he returned to Florida, but this time with the Marlins
Cantu proved to be a solid pickup for Florida. In 2008 and 2009, he combined to hit .283/.336/.462 with 45 home runs and 195 RBI. As mentioned above, this year has been a bit of a downer, but he still has 10 home runs, 25 doubles, and 54 RBI.
One thing that may help Cantu in Texas is the ball park. According to statcorner.com, the Marlins’ Sun Life Stadium is a below-average home run park for right-handed batters. Meanwhile, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is much more homer-friendly to righties.
Cantu is worth a shot in all AL-only leagues. In a standard 12-team mixed league, Cantu is a borderline pickup, unless you’re in need of a quick fix at a corner infield spot.
For more on Jorge Cantu and his new team, the Texas Rangers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office