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March 29, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: First Base, Third Base, and Designated Hitter

by Michael Street

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Boston Red Sox PECOTA 2007-09 Scoresheet Short-Term PT%
Third Base Age PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG K% BB% TB/H vRH vLH Rng 1B 3B DH All
Adrian Beltre 31 524 18 63 65 9 .271 .323 .437 15% 6% 1.65 –40 +100 2.75 0 95 0 95
Bill Hall 30 171 6 20 20 2 .239 .302 .403 28% 8% 1.70 –33 +68 2.67 0 5 0 15
Mike Lowell 36 246 9 31 37 1 .276 .335 .456 12% 8% 1.61 –24 +61 2.63 5 0 5 10
Heater team expert: Avg for First Base .275 .359 .477 17% 11% 1.74 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Evan Brunell Avg for Third Base .269 .339 .434 18% 9% 1.61 vLH = OPSvL New upgrade
  Avg for Desig. Hitter .263 .350 .468 19% 11% 1.78 Rng = Range New downgrade

 

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Adrian Beltre 36 10 0 0 0 .278 .350 .278 3/4 0/0
Bill Hall 41 7 2 0 1 .171 .271 .293 8/6 0/0
Mike Lowell 10 1 0 0 0 .100 .182 .100 2/0 0/0 Spring training stats per Heater

Adrian Beltre will hold down Boston’s hot corner in 2010, replacing the aging, increasingly fragile Mike Lowell, whose offseason thumb surgery prevented an offseason trade and scared Boston enough to acquire Bill Hall. Heater’s Evan Brunell says Lowell should get as much playing time as his health allows to showcase him for a trade, and he could miss the start of the season after fouling a ball off his knee. Brunell points out that Lowell’s offense hasn’t suffered from his increasing immobility, and PECOTA agrees that he’ll have very little ratio dropoff from 2009.

Whatever PT Lowell gets won’t be at third, where the Red Sox have utilityman Hall, whose offense is barely acceptable at MIF and not at all at third base. Hall’s high K% explains his weak BA, and his SLG has plummeted from a .437 EqSLG in 2007 to last year’s .350 EqSLG. With plenty of position qualifications, Hall is an acceptable MIF option in a deep AL-only league, but not anywhere else.

Beltre's PECOTA projection places him in average third-base territory, though there’s room for optimism. His EqSLG won’t return to its 2007 peak of .501, but 2009’s power was depressed by a second shoulder surgery and a painful DL stint. Assuming a return to health, Beltre’s power history and recent drop in strikeout rates gives him a good shot to beat PECOTA. His elite days are behind him, but Beltre is a mid-range third-base option who’ll deliver good results in several categories, including SB, with a possible power upside.

Atlanta Braves PECOTA 2007-09 Scoresheet Short-Term PT%
First Base Age PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG K% BB% TB/H vRH vLH Rng 1B 3B DH All
Troy Glaus 33 542 17 61 68 2 .252 .347 .416 19% 13% 1.79 –1 +3 85 0 0 85
Eric Hinske 32 383 14 46 46 4 .234 .329 .412 22% 12% 1.87 +26 –91 15 5 0 25
Martin Prado 26 619 13 81 66 4 .302 .361 .446 11% 7% 1.46 –24 +152 1.85 0 0 0 95
Heater team expert: Avg for First Base .275 .359 .477 17% 11% 1.74 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Martin Gandy Avg for Third Base .269 .339 .434 18% 9% 1.61 vLH = OPSvL New upgrade
  Avg for Desig. Hitter .263 .350 .468 19% 11% 1.78 Rng = Range New downgrade

 

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Troy Glaus 37 14 1 0 0 .378 .511 .405 10/10 0/0
Eric Hinske 34 13 1 0 1 .382 .500 .500 5/6 0/0
Martin Prado 45 17 1 0 2 .378 .491 .533 6/10 0/1

Spring training stats per Heater

In the past three years, Atlanta mixed Adam LaRoche and Mark Teixiera at first base with the less-productive Casey Kotchman and Scott Thorman. They "solved" this in 2010 by sharing time between the more equivalent talents of Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske, and Hinske’s strong spring training performance has allowed Atlanta to keep Martin Prado at second base, where he’s a much more valuable asset.

Troy Glaus will be the primary first baseman, an unfamiliar position, but any position might feel a little unfamiliar after missing most of 2009 due to shoulder surgery rehab and back problems. Because of this, Heater’s Braves expert Martin Gandy doesn’t think Glaus is ready for full time, and PECOTA’s low SLG projections further depress his value; he needs to get into the 80th percentile to be a good 1B play. Other projection systems give him a better SLG, but still not enough to climb above average.

Gandy sees Eric Hinske keeping Glaus rested, perhaps even pushing him to perform better, while Hinske will also back up Chipper Jones. Given the age and health histories of both CIFs, Hinske could be in for even more playing time. Though he brings more HRs and a tad more SBs, Hinske’s a step down from Glaus, since his lower contact rates deflate his average. Also, Hinske’s delivered a .741 OPS in his only other NL experience with Pittsburgh in 2009, which doesn’t bode well. This all makes Glaus a decent end-game pickup in NL-only and deep mixed leagues, while Hinske’s roster flexibility carries some value in the deepest NL-only leagues.

Florida Marlins PECOTA 2007-09 Scoresheet Short-Term PT%
Third Base Age PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG K% BB% TB/H vRH vLH Rng 1B 3B DH All
Emilio Bonifacio 25 246 1 26 20 9 .252 .308 .335 20% 7% 1.27 –7 +18 2.64 0 5 0 20
Jorge Cantu 28 647 22 77 88 4 .281 .343 .448 15% 7% 1.62 –7 +18 2.57 15 75 0 90
Wes Helms 34 235 4 23 27 1 .240 .302 .336 22% 6% 1.43 –18 +36 2.60 0 20 0 20
Heater team expert: Avg for First Base .275 .359 .477 17% 11% 1.74 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Michael Jong Avg for Third Base .269 .339 .434 18% 9% 1.61 vLH = OPSvL New upgrade
  Avg for Desig. Hitter .263 .350 .468 19% 11% 1.78 Rng = Range New downgrade

 

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Emilio Bonifacio 48 14 2 2 1 .292 .340 .479 9/4 0/0
Jorge Cantu 47 13 3 0 1 .277 .320 .404 8/2 0/0
Wes Helms 25 7 1 0 0 .280 .455 .320 6/6 0/0 Spring training stats per Heater

Gaby Sanchez's strong spring training tells Heater’s Michael Jong that Florida’s corner infield situation has come into focus around Jorge Cantu, who will share time at first base with Sanchez but spend most of his time at third, with Wes Helms as his primary backup.

Cantu finally repeated his 2005 breakout season in 2008 by cutting his strikeout rate by five percent and returning to career HR/FB norms. These improved rates boosted his BA by about 20 points when he also increased his FB rate by 11 percent, and Cantu sustained that production in 2009 despite a dropoff in HR rate. When that rate rebounds, he should beat PECOTA, making him even better third-base option. The same can’t be said for Helms, who wouldn’t be a good option even in his 90th PECOTA percentile. Helms’ glove will make him a late-inning replacement for Cantu, and he’ll get starts during interleague play, when Cantu is DHing, or when Sanchez needs a break against tough pitching. And if Cantu needs to replace Sanchez, who’s in his first full MLB season, Helms would slide into third base nearly full-time.

All that PT upside still doesn’t improve Helms’ ratios enough to make him acceptable, no matter how deep your league. Super sub Emilio Bonifacio brings steals, but Gandy agrees that he’s so one-dimensional that he’ll damage your other categories. Cantu’s clearly the guy you want out of this bunch, a very good hot-corner choice in any league, though he’s a bit underpowered at first base in standard mixed leagues.

7 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Greg Ioannou

I noticed one spring training game where Eric Hinske was pitching. He threw one no-hit inning against the Jays. Just some springtime fun or is he serious about this?

Mar 29, 2010 05:36 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

I'm sure it was just goofing around. I don't even find him listed in the Spring Training stats, so I'm not sure it was an official game you saw. And I can't find any news about him making the switch to pitching--and really, there's no reason for him to, since he's still a productive hitter, unlike Ben Davis, the former catching prospect who tried to make the conversion to pitcher.

It might be good for Atlanta to know Hinske to throw, in case they end up in one of those blowout games that have allowed hitters like Wade Boggs to realize a lifelong dream and toe the rubber for an inning or less. That always makes for good highlight material, but I doubt his appearance was anything serious.

Thanks!

Mar 29, 2010 09:02 AM
 
Greg Ioannou

OK, your response had me curious, so I checked the box score. I remember having the "live" box score on my screen in a little window as I worked that afternoon.

Here's the game: http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/boxscore.jsp?gid=2010_03_13_tormlb_atlmlb_1

It seems to be a confused score-keeper. O'Flaherty came in to pitch the 7th as part of a double switch, with Hinske replacing Glaus at first. In the "live" box score, this came through as Hinske pitching the inning (and presumably O'Flaherty playing first).

Sorry for the mis-information!

Mar 29, 2010 09:51 AM
rating: 0
 
One Flap Down

"Also, Hinske’s delivered a .741 OPS in his only other NL experience with Pittsburgh in 2009, which doesn’t bode well."

Are you saying that while Hinske has been productive playing in the AL East, he can't handle the NL? This doesn't make any sense, and his .741 OPS is from part-time play in half a season, the very definition of small sample size in comparison to his 2 1/2 seasons with the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees.

Mar 29, 2010 08:27 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

It's not a matter of being able to "handle" the NL. Any time a hitter changes leagues, it means learning a whole new pack of pitchers and catchers: their tendencies, their stuff, the kind of game they like to call. Whether the NL is the "easier" league or not (which IMO is only valid from a pitcher's perspective), there's still a learning curve involved for Hinske, and that's why I brought it up.

I would absolutely agree that it's a small sample space, and should have noted that it was measured over 106 PAs. But Hinske's been a part-time player no matter where he's been, at least lately--his 115 games started with TB in 2008 was the first time since 2005 that he'd started 100+ games. So his experience in Pittsburgh in that regard is comparable to his time with the Yanks and Red Sox. (Though let's not forget Toronto all those years ago, where he did play full time).

It's a great point, though I'm still not bullish on Hinske's chances with Atlanta.

Thanks for your comment!

Mar 29, 2010 08:53 AM
 
kjgilber

"Hall is an acceptable MIF option in a deep NL-only league"

Perhaps he is a better option in an NL only league since he can't kill your batting average when his stats wouldn't count, but I presume you meant AL only league. I would try very hard not to roster him either way.

Mar 29, 2010 10:09 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

Yup, you couldn't be righter there--I've been writing about the Crew and the NL for so long that it's hard to shift my brain in the "other" direction.

I've fixed in in the blog. Thanks!

Mar 29, 2010 12:02 PM
 
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