There is a conception that a switch of Mike Cuddyer back to 3B would diminish his performance. Several sources indicate that Cuddyer performs worse at 3B. Most recently, MLB.com Twins beat reporter Kelly Thesier, wrote:
Cuddyer has the ability to play a variety of positions, but it's in right field that he has truly thrived, both defensively and offensively. After the unsuccessful experiment at third base, Cuddyer talked about never truly finding a comfort level there.
Here is a more in depth look at Mike's performance at 3B vs. RF:
As a 3B in 502 ABs he hit for .263 BA with a .329 OBP and .442 slugging for a total OPS of .771. At that span he hit 19 home runs with 59 RBI. He had 47 BB and 105 K. His per bat numbers are 26.4 AB/HR and 8.51 AB/RBI. His K/BB ratio was: 2.23
As a RF in 1268 ABs he hit for .275 BA with a .352 OBP and .452 slugging for a total OPS of .808. At that span he hit 40 home runs with 200 RBI. He had 138 BB and 283 K. His per bat numbers are 31.7 AB/HR and 6.34 AB/RBI. His K/BB ratio was: 2.05
Indeed, his RBI numbers improved as did his BB and gap power. His home runs declined. Is that a result of the move to the RF or is a result of maturing as a hitter and/or hitting ofter betweeen Mauer and Morneau while playing a RF vs. in the 7th and 8th hole as a 3B?
As far as his fielding goes, his FP at 3B was .942 (with league average .957) and range factor 2.70 (with league average 2.76). At RF, in 2006, his FP was .981 (league average .984) and range factor 1.87 (league average 2.20). In 2007: FP .986 (league average .985), range factor 2.02 (league average 2.08). Conclusion, his fielding both at 3B and RF is close to (albeit a bit below) league average, which indicates that his fielding does not suffer much at 3B...
It all depends whether the Twins could find a better 3B via free agency or trade. Here are some names and how they may compare (2007 numbers):
Fielding: FP:.936 (League average .954) RF 2.53 (2.68)
Fielding: FP:.929 (League average .954) RF 2.61 (2.68)
Fielding: FP:.969 (League average .954) RF 2.99 (2.68)
Fielding: FP:.973 (League average .954) RF 2.91 (2.68)
for comparison purposes, Mike's 2007 Batting stats and 3B fielding stats
Fielding: FP:.942 (League average .957) RF 2.70 (2.76)
From the third basemen listed here, only Rolen and Feliz are superior fielders and only Mike Lamb is a superior hitter. Mike Lamb would potentially be an improvement offensively, but his defense suffers so much that the Astro's switched him to 1B. Feliz strikes out too much and his OBP is dismal. Rolen is an interesting situation, since he is superior defensively and a change of scenery might return him to an above average offensive player. The Rolen gamble might pay off if the price is right. Mike Cuddyer is here and free...