Juggling at Third: Chase Headley, Ty Wigginton, Greg Dobbs

Third Base has been a scramble for most owners this season. The position has been riddled with injury and ineffectiveness all season long and it has sent many owners to their respective waiver wires for help. Below I’d like to quickly highlight some guys who have returned from fantasy irrelevancy in part because of their recent production and in part because of just how God-awful the position has been thus far. In deeper leagues, they’re probably already on a roster, but their ownership rates right now suggest that there are plenty of teams that might need their services.

Chase Headley

Chase Headley hasn’t hit a home run since the second game of the season, and yet the third base position is so remarkably vacant that he’s actually turned into a fairly decent option, even for standard leaguers.

Headley has followed up a miserable first month of the season with five weeks of pretty solid hitting. In May, he hit .312/.390/.387 with 8 doubles and a steal, scoring 13 runs and driving in 10 and that pace has carried over into June thus far as well. Currently, he’s on pace to hit .278, steal 20 bags, score 63 runs and drive in 57, which is about what you’d expect from Chase Headley, plus a little on the average and a few extra bags. The ugly projection of course is that he’s also on pace to hit 2 home runs, which, even for Headley, is about 10 shy of where you’d expect him to be.

He’s getting a little lucky on the batted ball front, where his BABIP is .353 and his expected BABIP sits at .328. Headley has been hitting far more line drives this year, mostly at the expense of fly balls. His HR/FB rate is at a paltry 2.1% while his career rate is 7.1%, so you would expect that a couple of his fly balls might start to sneak over a wall or two as that rate starts to normalize into something more Headley-like.

He’s only owned in 59% of CBS leagues and just 10% of Yahoo leagues, so if you’re in a real pinch at third, Headley should at least give you a fairly stable batting average, the potential for an occasional HR and the added bonus of a stolen base without killing you in runs or RBI.

Ty Wigginton

With Jose Lopez being shown the door in Colorado, Wigginton’s playing time is less of a question mark and his recent tear at the plate makes him all the more interesting. In May, Wigginton hit .291/.316/.545 and he hasn’t slowed down in June. He qualifies at 1b, 2b, 3b, and OF in most formats, so his versatility is particularly handy, but his value to your squad is most likely at third.

He has hit 5 home runs, but with a little additional playing time and a favorable home park, it stands to reason that he could start making significant additions to that total soon. Wigginton is historically a second half kind of hitter, going .275/.335/.455, although 2010 was an exception as his production tailed off after the break.

Recall that Wigginton, even though it seems as though he’s always scrapping for playing time, has hit 20+ HR’s in any season but just one where he’s given more than 300 at bats. He’s on pace to hit 14 HR’s thus far, but my bet is you can count on something closer to the 18-20 range by seasons end. He’s owned in just 38% of CBS leagues and 13% of Yahoo! leagues, so he’s not getting much interest from owners. If you’re facing desperate times at third base, there are certainly more desperate moves to be made other than Ty Wigginton, so if he’s available, he warrants consideration.

Greg Dobbs

Still widely available in most league formats, Greg Dobbs is a regular major leaguer for the first time in his career. Whether or not you should care that he’s a regular major leaguer depends largely on just how futile your roster looks at third base. Right now, Dobbs is the darling of Florida, the “biggest surprise” they say (unwilling to admit that the biggest surprise is the Hanley Ramirez stinkfest). He’s currently batting .338 with 2 HR’s, 21 RBI and 18 runs. His wRC+ of 129 bests Adrian Beltre or David Wright or many others with a much more respected pedigree.

Dobbs is currently carrying a .400 BABIP, built largely off of some strange changes in his hit trajectory based on his career. In particular, he’s currently hitting 29.1% fly balls where his career average is 44.4%, and more recently, 50.8% and 53.2% over the last two seasons. With a HR/FB rate of 5.9% it’s easy to see why he’s only connected for a pair of round-trippers despite the high average. But his line drive rate is also up significantly at 26.5%, so he truly is squaring the ball up well, and while his BABIP is unsustainable at .400, his xBABIP is still .316, so it’s not totally insane to envision a world where Greg Dobbs is useful inasmuch as his batting average is concerned.

Dobbs has recently been hitting between Gaby Sanchez and Mike Stanton, and that’s a pretty comfy sandwich if you’re Greg Dobbs. He ought to have amble opportunity to drive in some runs as well as score a few of his own going forward. If he can hang on to the gig, Dobbs could give you good production in runs, RBI and batting average, and probably supply another 6-8 home runs from here on out.

We hoped you liked reading Juggling at Third: Chase Headley, Ty Wigginton, Greg Dobbs by Michael Barr!

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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.

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why are you using “on pace” stats on fangraphs. do you honestly believe chase headley is only going to hit 2 home runs all season? the projection is he’ll hit 7 from here on out, with 8 SBs, but there is no reason to not think a 10-15 season is out of the question