Season in review: Ian Stewart

During the Winter Meetings the Cubs traded Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu to the Rockies for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers. Stewart would replace the departed Aramis Ramirez at 3rd base and would instantly be an upgrade defensively. That much we were sure of. Whether or not he would hit the ball much was something we'd learn throughout the season.

In 2011 Stewart only had 136 PA and managed a .208 wOBA, which is a wRC+ of 10. He had wRC+'s of 94, 93 and 100 previously so there was some reason to think he'd regress and be a productive hitter, though not anywhere close to the hitter Ramirez had been. The hope was he could return to his pre-2011 form at the plate and offer enough of a defensive improvement that the Cubs wouldn't even notice Ramirez's absence.

That didn't happen. By the time April ended Stewart had just a .506 OPS so it was beginning to look like there was little chance he'd rebound as we hoped. Stewart hit .201/.292/.335 in 202 plate appearances this season. His wOBA was .265 and his wRC+ only 59. DRS and UZR both had him slightly better than average and FRAA a bit below average.

His average WAR (rWAR, fWAR, WARP) was about -0.3.

It's safe to say that he was a bit unlucky at the plate. Two years in a row his BABIP has been absurdly low though his line drive rate has been equally low. He hit more balls ont he ground this year than ever before.

At the beginning of August, I wrote this about the trade that brought Stewart to the Cubs:

This is a trade the Cubs would like to have a do over on. It's not one of those trades they'll regret forever. Tyler Colvin has proven he belongs on an MLB roster although he may not be an everyday starter. Factoring in the salary you'd obviously prefer the left handed hitting outfielder who is working at league minimum to someone like Stewart. Add in the fact that Lemahieu might actually provide some depth to an organization at some point and the secondary players involved in the trade make this an obvious win for the Rockies. Not a huge win, but a win.

Since then all Colvin has done is continue to hit. He had a wOBA over .400 in August and he had more PA that month than any other. Colvin isnt' a superstar and as I said, the Cubs won't regret this forever, but considering Brett Jackson's miserable start to his career, Colvin would sure come in handy for this team.

Stewart will be eligible for arbitration for the 3rd time and has another year of eligibility after that since he was a super 2. He earned $2.24 million this season so would be in line for a small raise. A month ago I'd have said there was little chance the Cubs would tender him a contract, but Josh Vitters has been about as disappointing as one could have imagined.

It's possible the Cubs opt to go with Luis Valbuena at 3rd instead of Stewart, but I won't be surprised at this point if the Cubs do go ahead and tender Stewart a contract. He won't get more than $2.5 million and since the Cubs have so few options at 3rd base at the moment it's much more likely than it was a month or two ago.

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