2014 seemed like a wasteland for the hot corner, and at the arbitrary mid-way point which isn’t a mid-way point at all, we find third base surprisingly deep. No longer is there a top tier with some guy named Miguel standing alone, far above all other tiers. There are four bonafide studs at third base, and you can drill down all the way into the teens and still find very good production. Names like Evan Longoria, Kyle Seager, Adrian Beltre, Pablo Sandoval don’t even crack the top-10 anymore and holy-crap-I-can’t-believe-I’m-going-to-say-it but Alex Rodriguez is relevant again. What a year.
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While everyone is on #hugwatch we’re also in prime trade territory in the fake leagues as trading deadlines loom for most of us and the vast majority of you dedicated readers are not in first place. Some decidedly so. And while we’ve taken great pains to point out players you might want to target as an acquisition for your second half, I’d like to point out a few players who may still have some value that you ought not shed a tear when you see them go.
Continuing with my line of Sam Hill pieces, Garrett Richards has frustrated owners who waited out his early season recovery from knee surgery. After posting a dazzling 2.61 ERA (2.60 FIP), 1.04 WHIP, and 24.2% strikeout rate over 168.2 innings in 2014, he’s been on again, off again and one absolute drubbing in 2015. Right now, his line of 4.14 ERA (4.06 FIP), 1.31 WHIP, and 19% strikeout rate isn’t terrible, but he’s pretty much standing at the cliff in terms of trade value. One more ugly start and his name recognition will be overshadowed by miserable counting stats. So the question is, should you hold or target him?
Despite my deep interest (obsession) with baseball, the end of the season always seems to bring a moment or two where I look at the final line of a player and think, really? When it’s just the end of May and players have a handful of home runs or a steals or RBI, you name it, it’s not always obvious that they’re actually producing at a fairly solid clip. Two players whose names aren’t new to anyone kind of fit this description right now — and are widely available in most standard formats: Chase Headley and Trevor Plouffe.
When a player goes out and has themselves a truly putrid start to the season, small improvements are typically lost unless you happen to follow whatever team they play for or they exist on your fantasy baseball team. I happen to have many fantasy baseball teams, and therefore I track many players, for better or for worse. My wife thinks worse. Regardless, although your standard small sample size warning applies, I’ve gotten production out of some surprising sources recently.
Ideas spring from odd places at times, and this particular idea I owe to a rather spirited Millennial with whom I shared an adult beverage in the not so distant past. It just so happens we watched Austin Jackson steal a base and I overheard him mutter something to the effect of “don’t get used to that” — which, considering the sprained ankle Jackson suffered just days after, perhaps Jackson’s spiritual adviser might be interested in a chat. But I digress.
The first few weeks of the season is dangerous territory to be making any kind of declarations, as you dedicated minions of the small sample size know all too well. Third base has typically been my beat, and I’m certainly not interested in ringing the alarm of Adrian Beltre‘s .158 batting average nor am I bandwagoning onto Luis Valbuena’s .356 ISO. Players have strong starts, they have cold starts, our job is to remember the whole marathon versus sprint metaphor.
If you drafted Masahiro Tanaka and his elbow of broken parts, you knew there was risk. I was among the many that thought because of his “high floor” and expected ADP, he represented a nice little opportunity given the other available talent at that stage in the draft — a point well articulated by Paul Sporer in this piece. But while we knew he had a partially torn UCL, what wasn’t fully disclosed was that Tanaka had every intention of modifying his approach to hitters, saying, in effect, don’t expect much in the way of velocity this year. So it goes.
It’s rather jarring to one’s sensibilities, regardless how delicate, to have a thought occur to you that goes something like “Kyle Seager isn’t that much different from Evan Longoria, and might even be better.” But indeed, that’s what recently ran through my brain, or what’s left of it after years of fermented grain based beverages. But I digress. Tiering the hot corner isn’t as cut-and-dried as it used to be, and there are very small degrees of separation throughout.
The San Diego Padres out ran 16, (sixteen!), different outfielders in 2014 and unless you’ve been living in the Krubera Cave in the Republic of Georgia, you’ve probably seen there were a few changes made in for 2015. Before the great Padre roster overhaul, their outfield appeared to be comprised of some combination of Will Venable, Abraham Almonte, Cameron Maybin, and Carlos Quentin until his back broke.