Crede's Defense Turning Heads

Signed for his bat, and to bring stability to a platoon situation at third base, Joe Crede has done much more than that in 2009. The Twins third baseman currently leads all American League regular third baseman in fielding percentage, and his teammates are starting to take notice.

For the past couple of seasons, the Twins have struggled to find that everyday third baseman that could not only drive the ball to all fields, but also play a great hot corner. Brian Buscher, Matt Macri, Matt Tolbert, and Mike Lamb all split time there in 2008, and though they had their moments, they were not exactly everyday players. Enter Joe Crede, who has taken over as the team's third baseman in 2009, and has won over his teammates in only 30 games with the team.

Crede was signed by the Twins on February 22, 2009, agreeing to a one-year contract with the club. Signed to be the team's third baseman, Crede was coming off a 2008 season where he was an All-Star for Division rival Chicago White Sox, though he missed over 60 games due to injury. Prior to the All-Star break, Crede was batting .252, with 16 home runs, and 49 runs batted in.

After the break, Crede batted only .216 in 37 games, and did not play after September 2. The White Sox were willing to see him leave after the season, and the Twins felt that he could fill a very important void in their lineup. The signing of Crede would also end the need for a platoon, and Tolbert would find himself in AAA to start the 2009.

After hitting his sixth home run on Thursday, bumping his batting average up .232, it is clear that Crede has gotten off to a slow start at the plate in 2009, but he has been much more valuable in the field. On Monday, Twins starter Kevin Slowey told us that Crede's defense has been t he most pleasant surprise of the 2009 season.

"Just seeing what he does every day over there is incredible," Slowey told "Day in, day out, Crede makes plays that seem impossible. His defense has been better than I have seen out of any third baseman this season."

Slowey would be correct in his assessment. Through 30 games as the team's third baseman, Crede has committed only one error, and his .987 fielding percentage is tops in the American League amongst regulars. Crede, known for his bat throughout his career, has turned himself into one of the better gloves in the American League, and has saved a few Twins' wins with his defense alone. It is clear that his bat will come around, and when it does, the Twins could have an All-Star third baseman on their hands.

When healthy, Crede has the power to hit 20+ home runs in any given season, and he is on pace for more than that in 2009. If he continues to produce, the Twins will be able to bring prospect Danny Valencia along slower than they expected to before Crede's arrival. As of Thursday, Valencia is batting .324 for Double-A New Britain, so his progression has been great this season. He also has five multi-hit games in his last seven appearances.

Another thing Crede has done for the Twins this season is provide another power right-handed bat in a lineup that is known for its left-handed power. Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, and Jason Kubel get most of the attention when it comes to power, but Crede now joins Michael Cuddyer as two guys who can hit their fair share of home runs. This season, Crede and Cuddyer have combined for 42 runs batted in, 12 home runs, and have formed a C&C Boys to go along with the M&M Boys.

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