Around the Horn: Third base is Valencia's

January 12th, 2016

A multi-part Around the Horn series, which features a position-by-position look at Oakland's projected starters and backup options heading into the season, turns its focus to third base after covering second base, first base and shortstop.

Who's on third?

Danny Valencia, who has been with six different organizations in as many years in the Majors, may have finally found himself an everyday job as Oakland's third baseman. Valencia burst onto the scene as a 25-year-old rookie with the Twins, with whom he logged 154 games in 2011. Since, he's mainly served in a platoon role as an effective right-handed bat against lefties. Now 31, he lines up as the starting third baseman following an exceptional two-month showing as a waiver claim in Oakland to end last season.

Offensive outlook

Valencia racked up 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 47 games upon his arrival in Oakland, marking the most RBIs in franchise history for a player with fewer than 60 games played. In a combined 105 games with the A's and Blue Jays, Valencia finished with a .290 average to go along with a career-high 18 home runs and 66 RBIs.

The A's hold out hope Valencia can repeat that kind of performance over the course of an entire season, with no serious challenger to his role following the trade of Brett Lawrie to the White Sox.

Getting defensive

Valencia's offensive potential trumps his defensive work, but his play is solid at the position. He made just three errors in a combined 51 games at third base with the A's and Blue Jays last season, sporting a steady glove throughout.

Depth chart

Jed Lowrie made 47 appearances at third base, including 45 starts, for the Astros last season and remains an option when not handling second-base duties. Elsewhere, Max Muncy has shown improvement at third base but is unlikely to land on the Opening Day roster, leaving Eric Sogard as the lone infield utility man. Mark Canha, who figures to see most of his time at first base and left field, is also an option from the 40-man roster.

Down on the farm, Renato Nunez is seemingly next in line. After hitting .278 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs across 93 games with Double-A Midland last season, the 21-year-old Nunez appears destined for a promotion to Triple-A this year. He's ranked by as the club's No. 6 prospect and is already on the 40-man roster.

The No. 5 prospect, Matt Chapman, will also be in big league camp this spring. The A's 2014 first-round Draft pick is considered an excellent defender at third base, and totaled 23 home runs in just 80 games for Class A Advanced Stockton in an injury-shortened season last year.