By Eric Schmidt

Two of the more exciting free agent signings of the 2012 off-season were 1B Prince Fielder signing with the Detroit Tigers and SS Jose Reyes moving to the Miami Marlins. However, both of these teams had superstars at the position already with 3B Hanley Ramirez and 3B Miguel Cabrera forced to move to the leftof home plate to accommodate these huge splashes. While new Detroit Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera had his issues on the open road with his affinity for scotch, Miami Marlins 3B Hanley Ramirez made his discontent loud and clear.

3B Hanley Ramirez has shown himself to be a bit of a head case. He clashed heavily with former Marlins and current Atlanta Braves Coach Fredi Gonzalez, and fought injuries all season to post career lows in most every category. Hanley has bulked up, but in a positive way. He shows the type of muscle rarely seen at the position and is truly solidified in his body fat percentage. However, even though his foot speed is still a plus, some of the jerking, fast-twitch motions responsible with a shortstop were tearing at Hanley and adding to his injury woes. Hanley will not steal thirty bases any longer, but he is just now in the prime of his career, all but forgotten after a single bad year.

It was not long ago that Hanley was taking home the Silver Slugger Award and duking it out with Albert Pujols for the NL MVP Award. Because of his stubbornness and his propensity to misinterpret change, Hanley refused at first to make the switch. This prompted Miami Marlins brass to seek a trade when Ramirez’s value was at an all time low. Fortunately, with new skipper Ozzie Guillen in town, a brash man who is known for his great communication with Latin American players, Hanley has not only embraced the change for 2012 to third base, he has thrived in it.

Ramirez jacked the first homer in the finished Marlins Ballpark and has been shredding Grapefruit League pitching during his warm up matches. While Spring numbers yield no real indication of a hitters productivity during real games, take into account that Hanley is a true superstar and is gauging just how healthy he is. Hanley is ripping hits to all parts of the parks en route to a .385 AVG and an OBP of over .500. These numbers are almost impossible to sustain, but Hanley will be utterly surrounded by protection. With SS Jose Reyes and CF Emilio Bonifacio in front and RF Giancarlo Stanton behind, pitchers will be forced to stare one of them down like a man. Of course, the air conditioned atmosphere of the new park will ensure Hanley’s longer fly balls leave the diamond.

Hanley is warming up to the hot corner faster than many had anticipated. With no experience there, his sometimes errant glove has held up well. His combination of size and quick feet has given him all types of flexibility on the field.

On the other side of the coin is Detroit Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera. While Cabrera has a bat that sings fluently in the language of slugging,  Cabrera has had some difficulties. Cabrera spent much of his career in Miami at third base and left field, but after so long at first base, Cabrera has lost some of his quickness with glove and spikes. Cabrera should be fine, but he was the unlucky recipient of an unpredictable ground ball that smashed into his orbital. The result was a bloodied eye and a trip to the locker room.

In any case, even though early in training both players are moving in opposite directions, both should be poised for huge years as expected. While one player has experience, the other has the finest talent in likely the whole NL as a pure hitter at the position. Look for both to put their teams over the hump as the new look Tigers and Marlins strive for a victory as soon as April rolls around.

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