In the Absence of Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte has Capitalized

Updated: April 12, 2017

Jefry Marte is playing like he doesn’t want to go back to AAA.

Ever since new first baseman Luis Valbuena went down with a hamstring strain during Spring Training, Jefry Marte has risen to the occasion. Although his at-bats have been limited, Marte has shown that last season was no fluke. In 14 plate appearances, Marte has four hits, including a home run, two walks, three RBIs and just two strikeouts. It’s been just a few games, but Marte has already made an impression on the team.

Luis Valbuena, however, should be back with the team in just two or three weeks. When he comes back, the Angels may have a dilemma on their hands. Will they keep Jefry on the bench and send CJ Cron down to AAA? Or will Jefry get regular at-bats in Salt Lake? The latter is much more likely, but the former could actually be an option. Cron actually has one option left. CJ is 6-for-19 this season, good enough for a .316 average, but has no extra base hits, no walks, and just one RBI. Those aren’t the stats you want from a first baseman.

The performance of Marte is bringing up one question: was Luis Valbuena a panic signing? Back in January, it looked like Albert Pujols was not going to be ready for the start of the season, yet here we are nearly four months later and Albert is perfectly healthy. Valbuena is the one who isn’t healthy to start the year. Ironic.

Then again, the signing could just be prepping Marte for a huge year in 2018. Yunel Escobar is a free agent at the end of the season and Marte could step right up to play his natural position at the hot corner. Still, going without Marte’s bat in the lineup might be a huge disadvantage. This is one of those decisions Mike Scioscia will lose sleep over. Should he give Marte reps in AAA, but risk taking a huge bat off the bench? Or will he keep Marte and let him sit six days out of the week? Seems like a lose-lose situation if you ask me.

Either way, Jefry Marte is looking more and more like the first franchise third baseman since Chone Figgins. Four-time All Star and fan favorite Troy Glaus is probably a more comparable player, though. Both he and Marte hit for power while providing some value on defense. Hopefully this dilemma won’t affect Marte too much and he stays on track.

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