Stop Ignoring Cory Spangenberg

Over the last couple weeks, a 24-year-old former top-ten overall pick has been on fire. He has started 13 consecutive games, batting leadoff or second in 12 of those games. He slots in as the No. 6 fantasy second baseman in that stretch. Furthermore, he’s already third-base eligible in Yahoo leagues, making his sixth appearance (fifth start) of the season at third on Sunday.

On the year, this player is now hitting .262/.338/.431, with two homers and four steals. Sounds like a guy we should be jumping all over, right? Would you ever in a million years expect his ownership rates to look like this?

  • 6% Yahoo, 3.4% ESPN, 11% CBS

As you may have deduced by reading the headline of this column before clicking on it, the player I’m discussing is Cory Spangenberg. To be fair — as Kiley McDaniel pointed out in his organizational prospect-evaluation column — Spangenberg was a below-slot bonus player, who was a likely first-round talent, but probably not top-ten. Furthermore, he’s never been widely viewed as a top prospect, with the exception of 2012, when he was a unanimous top-100 guy. Still, he’s young, he has some degree of prospect pedigree and (most importantly) he’s producing.

With Jedd Gyorko demonstrating that last year’s .210/.280/.333 was no fluke — hitting an even-worse .212/.280/.318 — Spangenberg has worked his way into a full-on platoon with Gyorko at second. Similarly, Will Middlebrooks has been so stubborn in his refusal to hit the ball — .202/.246/.351 — that both Spangenberg and Yangervis Solarte have been taking his playing time.

Add it all up, and that’s how Spangenberg became an everyday player. Will he remain a fixture in the Padres lineup? I say yes. Middlebrooks was always more of a wild-card signing in the first place, and the Padres only have $541k invested in him. He’s expendable.

As for Gyorko, the team has too much invested in him to give up entirely — he’s signed through 2019, when his backloaded contract will pay him $13 million to fight his annual battle against the Mendoza line. Still, the organization is clearly aware of Gyorko’s limitations, and it would take quite a resurgence at this point to prevent Spangenberg from getting at least a couple starts a week at second base.

He’s not going to hit many more homers, as he hit just 12 in 374 career minor-league games. On the other hand, he stole 104 bases in those 374 games, so Spangenberg should be a reliable contributor in that area. (Those of you in leagues that use net steals might want to be careful — he was also caught stealing 40 times in the minors.)

Spangenberg has enough swing-and-miss in his bat to make me question the sustainability of his on-base skills at the major-league level. However, as long as he’s batting at or near the top of the lineup, he’s going to have a good shot at racking up the counting stats, whether he’s hitting .240 or .280. And yet…nearly no one owns him in fantasy leagues, regardless of format or host site.

Admittedly, the upside isn’t huge with Spangenberg, but he’s getting consistent opportunities and making the most of them. He should be universally owned in NL-only leagues, and he’s an intriguing MI option for mixed leagues as well. Let’s drive up those ownership rates.

Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.

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Emcee Peepants
9 years ago

I don’t know, since he started getting regular ABs on 5/3, he has 11 hits but with 7 coming in only 3 games. He’s also 0 for his last 11 with 7 KOs. He seems like the best current choice for the Padres, but probably not in fantasy.