Is Britton the Answer at 3B?

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June 2, 2012; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs infielder Matthew Britton (15) makes an acrobatic throw to first in the eighth inning in game three of the Tallahassee regional at Dick Howser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Should Matthew Britton be the starter at third base (for most games)? Or, in other words, is Britton’s defense at 3B > Humphreys/Garner’s offense at DH?

Alex Detz has been manning 3B all year….and he’ll be in the lineup one way another barring an all out dumpster fire of a slump. Coach Cohen is tasked with finding out the best way for this team to win, so is it putting Detz at DH to shore up the defense with Britton at 3B, or is it looking for some more punch in the order with the freshman Humphreys and Garner at the plate?

Britton had his struggles as a freshman at 2B, and early this year he had some lapses at SS – the position that was expected to be his – which allowed Seth Heck to take over. But Matthew has snuck back into the lineup a couple of times over the last week plus at 3B, and he has delivered. Not only playing a solid defensive third base, but hitting as well: 3 for 6 with 4 RBI.

With Vandy coming to town this weekend, I believe I’d find a way to have Britton in the lineup at least twice. An infield of Britt, Heck, Pirtle and Rea may be one of (if not the) best in the SEC defensively. Keeping the ‘Dores from scoring will be huge, and if his defense pays off (and allows our pitchers to relax more knowing he’s there) it could mean the difference in a win and a loss. If Britt’s not hitting much we could always pinch hit Humphreys or Garner in a key situation and then put Hann at 3B (Humphreys can play 3B but I don’t think Cohen really trusts him with that at this point).

But what is the long term outlook of MSU’s offense? Right now we are pretty mediocre – hitting at a .249 clip is 36 points below the SEC average. Our slugging is mediocre as well. Getting on-base and stealing bases may be our bread and butter, and that’s something Britton is better at. His OB% of .467 (despite only hitting .238) is tied for 2nd on the team with Demarcus Henderson. He also has plus speed.

So could Matthew Britton be the answer at 3B? Maybe. I’d prefer to see Humphreys and/or Garner really step into the DH role, hit 5th and knock in some runs, but they are freshman and might not be ready to do that yet. Britton is a junior, he’s been around. He’s had a game winning hit vs. LSU in the 2012 SEC tournament, he was on the CWS team, he’s learned from one of the best in Adam Frazier – I think he could be a valuable asset at 3B…and that may be the direction this team goes: relying extra heavy on pitching and defense.