Third base was supposed to have more depth this year, despite knowing we wouldn’t have Manny Machado and if you planned to use him at third, Jurickson Profar. As far as tiers go, third base had perfectly acceptable names headed down into a fourth tier, and it looked like you could focus your angst on other positions as the season got underway. Now we’ve lost Adrian Beltre and Ryan Zimmerman. And although you might not have noticed, we’ve also lost Ed Lucas. ED LUCAS!
But maybe what’s even more unnerving about third base is just the dearth of production over the first couple of rainy weeks. Amongst many targets you all had back in March, the list of those refusing to hit is a veritable who’s who at the five. Brett Lawrie isn’t hitting. Kyle Seager isn’t hitting, Pablo Sandoval isn’t hitting. Carlos Santana isn’t hitting, although whatever he’s a catcher. Edwin Encarnacion isn’t hitting (assuming you use him at third in Yahoo! and apparently nowhere else). Jedd Gyorko isn’t hitting. Mike Moustakas definitely isn’t hitting. David Wright hasn’t done much. Heck Miguel Cabrera even appears human right now. Some of these guys you should be worried about, others, you just keep running out there because, yeah, sample size is still just a zygote. But what happens when one of your guys gets hurt — who do you turn to at third base when you need to get beyond the wall and they only gave you an ice pick and an oath?
I recently wrote about Cody Asche and Matt Dominguez, and since that time they’ve both pretty much sucked, so maybe it’s time to get a little more creative. One player I’ve been typically avoiding is Trevor Plouffe, mainly because he’s been actually hitting really well, thanks to an inflated BABIP and wacky strikeout/walk rates by his standard. Plouffe is probably best known for two things: his ridiculous hot streak in 2012 where he went all Ragnar Lothbrok on the league in June and then turned into a pumpkin and that he’s just keeping a seat warm for Miguel Sano. Sano, of course, is out of the picture for this season so Plouffe shouldn’t want for playing time going forward. And he demonstrated some of the same streaky hitting in 2013 with three very good months and three horrible ones. Maybe it’s time to see if you can cash in on one or two of the very good ones.
I’m in no way suggesting this is statistically significant, but looking at last year, it seems like when Plouffe was striking out more was when the wheels started to fall off in terms of production. There’s nothing particularly horrible about a strikeout rate in the mid-20’s as long as you’re still getting positive results, but when Plouffe cut the strikeouts was when he was fantasy relevant:
Right now, Plouffe is striking out at just a 14.8% clip and is looking at a 159 wRC+. Ride him until he starts to whiff more. Cut him at will.
Poor Conor Gillaspie was the target of much Twitter sarcasm when the White Sox trotted him out there in the cleanup slot on opening day, but the experiment hasn’t been an awful one. He’s currently hitting .311/.365/.400 on the back of a 28% line drive rate and an elevated BABIP. Although he hasn’t hit any home runs, he does have four doubles and the projection systems peg him for a guy that could creep into the teens as far as home runs go. I like Gillaspie mainly for his position in the order. If they’re going to run him out there in the 3 or 4 hole routinely, he’s going to surpass projections for RBI and if he manage to get you 15 RBI while hitting something like .260 with a home run or two while you lick your wounds for a month, well, you probably could have done much worse. Gillaspie is owned in just 7% of Yahoo! leagues and ESPN leagues so he’s widely available. And frankly, once you don’t need him anymore, he ought to be.
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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.