CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday T... (05/31)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Stanton ... (05/30)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (06/01)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Memorial Day Remembran... (05/31)

May 31, 2010

Fantasy Beat

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

by Michael Street

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

 

Value Picks Season PECOTA Games Scoresheet
1B/3B/DH Team PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG BA OBP SLG 1B 3B DH vRH vLH Rng
Russell Branyan CLE 103 6 12 13 0 .253 .324 .505 .236 .344 .442 34 0 0 +33 –92 1.84
Edwin Encarnacion TOR 77 7 13 18 1 .234 .325 .625 .263 .352 .476 0 20 0 –24 +64 2.55
Travis Hafner CLE 169 4 16 17 0 .275 .396 .420 .261 .350 .423 0 0 39 +26 –77
Kevin Kouzmanoff OAK 189 3 21 24 0 .249 .291 .344 .274 .327 .442 0 48 0 –11 +29 2.67
Gaby Sanchez FLA 189 4 23 21 0 .268 .349 .417 .260 .337 .422 46 0 0 –17 +42 1.85
Mike Sweeney SEA 82 6 8 16 1 .288 .354 .562 .260 .323 .398 2 0 16 +29 –88
Mark Teahen CHA 155 3 16 14 2 .244 .331 .370 .261 .323 .403 1 42 1 +14 –34 2.60
Jim Thome MIN 106 5 10 17 0 .235 .377 .482 .237 .354 .463 0 0 23 +21 –60
Subscribe to Heater Avg for First Base .275 .359 .477   vRH = OPS v RH
Heater Magazine Avg for Third Base .269 .339 .434   vLH = OPS v LH
  Avg for Desig. Hitter .263 .350 .468   Rng = Range

 

I mentioned last week that the DH pool is shallow, but this week three of them make the Value Picks list. I also shed two third basemen, one for overperforming, the other for stinking up the joint. I also predicted Edwin Encarnacion would be off the list this week, since his three-day, 5 HR blitz was too big to ignore. Even though he only jacked one longball this week, his ESPN ownership rose by more than 20%, and we bid him a fond farewell. Kevin Kouzmanoff, on the other hand, had another down week, hitting .105/.261/.211, dragging his overall line below acceptable levels. He could turn it around and return to form, but he’s not someone I’d recommend right now.

Former VP Russell Branyan did return to form, so we welcome him back to the list. He swatted the ball this week to a .389/.421/.778 tune, cranking two long balls and a double among his seven hits, for a very sweet 2.00 BASH (TB/H) rate. He’s not going to sustain that rate or that slash line, but it’s the kind of week you can get from him when he’s on a roll.

Branyan’s first VP appearance discusses his PECOTA performance and what he can deliver; the short version is that he’ll bring low batting average, high slugging, and injury risk, which means a high-risk/high-reward package that’s great for saber leagues or those who can absorb the BA hit.

Branyan’s value comes down to his health and (hence) his playing time; for now, he’s strong on both fronts. Manny Acta had been easing him into his duties, but a struggling Matt LaPorta has meant more and more at-bats for Branyan, who’s even started against lefties John Danks and Mark Buehrle, so he’s not in a platoon.

That’s not to say that his healthy ways will continue, or that LaPorta might not figure things out. Fellow VP Travis Hafner means there’s no room to give Branyan a rest at DH, either. Regardless, Branyan’s a good guy to ride until a cold streak or—more likely—a back injury sits him down. If you pick him up, just be sure to have a backup plan.

Mark Teahen has also been swinging a hot bat, showing glimpses of the talent that produced a .290/.357/.517 line in 2006. On April 12, he fell a double short of the cycle, and a pinch-hit single on April 27 briefly lifted his OPS over .900. Like the rest of the White Sox, however, he’s had difficulty being consistent, hitting .137/.228/.176 in a fourteen-game stretch since that single, before collecting a hit in the next eleven games for a.333/.375/.472 line.

Behind those slash lines, Teahen has positive indications that he could be as good, or even better, for the rest of the year. His 11.6% walk and 21.5% strikeout rates would be career bests, and his .288 BABIP is well below his .325 norm. His HR/FB rate of 8.3% is also off his 10.4% standard, a bit surprising in a more homer-friendly park like The Cell.

Since his fly ball percentage is his best since 2006, a more normal HR/FB would be great, but it’s been declining for the past three seasons, along with his ISO, now near a career low at .126. That explains PECOTA’s power expectations in his 50th percentile, though he’d be near respectability in BA and OBP. It only takes a slight jump to his 60th percentile to make him a good play in all three categories, even if his diminishing power projects less than 20 dingers until his 80th percentile.

BP calls him “a placeholder, and not a very good one,” a fair assessment as far as big-league standards go, but Teahen makes a very nice AL-only play at 3B, and a decent CIF option in deeper mixed leagues. He’s been fairly healthy and can throw in a few steals, both nice sweeteners to a package that’s not as good as it once was, but better than disgruntled Kansas City fans might think.

Looking at the rest of the list, half of Mike Sweeney’s hits last week cleared the fence. Unfortunately, he only got two hits, giving him a .222/.222/.556 line, but he also picked up another 1B start. With Milton Bradley’s return, Sweeney will take playing time where he can find it, and the additional qualifications boost his fantasy value.

Travis Hafner had a good .286/.444/.429 week, though he only got three starts because Acta chose to sit him against lefties John Danks, Mark Buehrle and C.C. Sabathia. Acta’s insisted he’s not platooning Hafner, and those are tough lefties, so this is probably an anomaly. He’d still be productive as the bigger half of a platoon, but further reductions in playing time will obviously mean reductions in Hafner’s value.

Gaby Sanchez had a tough .190/.190/.238 week, which included Halladay’s perfecto, but the Marlins have all hit poorly, losing four straight while scoring eight runs total. Still, he’s sliding below replacement value and needs to turn it around. After playing two straight games this weekend, Jim Thome should now be healthy enough to return to form, so I’m postponing last week’s warning. Unless he can start bringing some healthier counting numbers, however, he could find his VP invite rescinded, too.

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

BP Comment Quick Links

OTSgamer

Is Chase Headley worth keeping at this point? I've had him on my fantasy roster for several weeks, but I cannot say he's really doing anything to justify me hanging onto him. So far he hasn't hit for average, hasn't hit for power, and has struck out a lot.

Any reason to think things will really take a turn for the better?

May 31, 2010 18:02 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

OTS--

Thanks for he question; good to hear from you again :)

I've never been all that wild about Headley, and hitting at PETCO doesn't help me like him any more. He doesn't have much pop (career .126 ISO, in decline for the past three years), and really struggles against LHP (OPS .111 lower against them). His OPS is 143 points higher away from home, so if you could somehow only start him against RHP in away games, you'd have a pretty good 3B. Chances are, however, your roster isn't that deep.

He's improved in some ways this year, dropping his K rate for the third straight year to a slightly above-average 19%, but his walk rate is a measly 6.4%, which would be a career low for him. His BABIP is a touch low (.319 vs. a career .334) as is his HR/FB (5% vs. career 7.8%), but the latter has also been dropping for the past three seasons.

So on top of everything else, I don't see a lot of signs of hope this year. Maybe a bit more BA and possibly a slight bump in power, but nothing that screams "Breakout!" to me.

If there's someone more interesting out there on the wire, or if you can upgrade in a trade, I'd recommend it.

Thanks again!

Mike

May 31, 2010 18:41 PM
 
OTSgamer

That is about what I expected. I drafted him in the final round of our draft, so it's not like I have anything overly invested in the guy. He has only generated 125 points in our league so far, so it's nothing special to date.

The problem, though, is that I really cannot find a better alternative. There are some bigger-name guys out there that probably have more high-end potential -- Aramis Ramirez, Chipper Jones, Michael Bourn, etc. -- but it's really a bunch of guys who have gotten off to very slow starts and have produced even less than Headley, so I am hesitant to make that move. Placido Polanco is available in my league and he is the guy I would like to get, but with him suddenly missing a lot of time I figure it's best to wait on that too.

And oh yes, by the way, the fantasy stuff is addictive. I put off playing fantasy sports for years and years, but it is quite captive. You guys do great work here, as usual for BP, so keep it up.

May 31, 2010 20:11 PM
rating: 0
 
OTSgamer

Better play at third... Casey Blake or Chone Figgins?

For a utility hitter spot, better play... Chase Headley, Placido Polanco, Drew Stubbs, Daric Barton, Jason Kubel, Ryan Sweeney, or Austin Jackson?

Jun 01, 2010 07:30 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

OTS--

Thanks for the compliments! What's your league scoring system, and where do you need category help? These guys have different skill sets, so that would affect my answer.

Mike

Jun 01, 2010 12:48 PM
 
OTSgamer

Our scoring system for hitters is very power-friendly. Low batting averages really don't hurt you (nor does high batting average really help), and likewise high OBP really doesn't help either. The big rewards are for power stats... extra base hits, homers, and runs batted in. Strikeouts hurt (-2 points per for that), but that's the only negative point value a hitter can accumulate. Likewise, you get +2 for stolen bases, but that hasn't had any major impact yet.

Put in more concrete terms, a guy who hits .400 by racking up a ton of singles doesn't produce very much. On the other hand, a guy who hits .200 with a .250 OBP is going to be an elite fantasy player in our league if he puts up 35 homers and 120 RBI's.

Also, defensive performance has absolutely no impact on our league. It's all about what happens at the plate for hitters.

Jun 01, 2010 13:10 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

My 2c on this:
- Given what you've written, it's very hard to see the value in Chone Figgins at all. Casey Blake is very consistent, year-to-year - not great, but you know what you're getting, and it's better than Chone if SB don't get an entire category to themselves.

- Pardon me for asking, but why not play Chase Headley at 3b? Anyway, he's the best of this crowd. I really like Jason Kubel as a ballplayer, but he's been terrible, and starting off June with series at Oakland and at Seattle doesn't seem like a great way for him to get back on track. I suppose a 2nd choice would be Drew Stubbs, since he has extra-base power, adds a few points for SB's, gets a nice home park in which to hit, doesn't hurt you with the low batting average, and - at least yesterday - the Reds were leading the NL in Runs/G. Without batting average helping you much, it's hard to see Ryan Sweeney, Placido Polanco, or Austin Jackson helping much, though Polanco has always had more power than people think [he's played in some rough parks], and the Phillies *should* score a lot of runs.

Long story short, I'd go with Blake and Headley, I think.

Jun 01, 2010 15:12 PM
 
OTSgamer

Well, the position of Headley really does not make a major difference. I keep him in the utility spot, but he plays every day (two utility spots on the starting roster in my league), so it's a bit of a moot point. I could make him my starting third baseman, but he'd be in the line-up every day regardless.

Of course, though, that is unless you have a better option out there for the utility spot if I move Headley to third. Right now it's a rotation of Headley, Figgins, and Polanco at third -- all three are listed as classified as third basemen in the Yahoo! leagues -- but if there is a better idea out there I'd be open to it.

Jun 01, 2010 15:31 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

OTS--

Given your league parameters, I'd take Blake's power potential over Figgy. Though Figgins can help you with SBs and some XBH from his speed, Blake shouldn't hurt you as much with Ks, and he's been much more productive so far. Even if Figgins turns it around (he should) his power doesn't compare to Blake's (neither does the offense around him, which will give Blake more RBI opps than 2-hole-hitting Figgy).

As for your utility play, Barton and Polanco's hollow BAs won't help you, and neither will Stubbs' speed (and Stubbs' Ks will hurt you). Jackson has a similar problem as Stubbs; the high K rate may offset his speed-driven XBH. Sweeney and Headley also don't have enough pop to make them great options, either.

Kubel's got the best power potential of the bunch, even if you can't tell right now (he's below his 10th PECOTA percentile). But he has been hot of late, as has Stubbs. Given how much Kubel will have to slug to reach his expectations, and given his track record of good power and low strikeouts, I'd go with Kubel (betting on statistical correction) and keep Stubbs in my back pocket, if you can. The rest of these guys have their advantages, but this seems the best fit for your league.

Hope this helps and thanks again for the question!

Mike

Jun 01, 2010 15:12 PM
 
OTSgamer

My concern with Kubel has been the new ballpark. After watching my Yankees play there and see the dimensions up close, that places just looks like a power hitter's graveyard. Any thoughts?

In any event, I've got Polanco now and picked up Blake. I effectively used them to replace Nate McClouth and Chone Figgins, so hopefully that will be an upgrade. If nothing else, surely it cannot be anything worse than what McLouth did the first two months, and at least moving forward I should get some resolution on Sizemore soon.

Jun 01, 2010 15:36 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

I think it's too soon to assess the effects of Target Field, especially since the weather hasn't warmed up. I really hadn't considered the park much because it's such an unknown.

FWIW, Kubel went .296/.432/.630 during their just-completed eight-game home stretch, and cranked one last night at Seattle. If you're worried about home-field performances, I'll still take Kubel at Target over Headley at PETCO anyday.

Rob's got some great thoughts here, too, and we clearly agree on Blake over Figgins and the usefulness of Stubbs. We just differ on Headley (a guy I've not liked much anyway, as I said :D)

Jun 01, 2010 17:31 PM
 
friel27

I have Aramis Ramirez and Chone Figgins at 3b league rules are 5x5 with TB as well 10 team league. Blake was just dropped in my league so I guess I should pick him up over Figgins looking at your past statements. Callaspo and Polanco are also out there tho. Is it time to cut loose Ramirez who has been riding the bench? And since Kubel was mentioned I was thinkin about pickin him up as well, I have Carlos Lee too dump him too? What do I do? Thanks

Jun 01, 2010 18:03 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

friel--

Some of our comments were specifically directed at OTS' point-league parameters. Figgins has SB value if you need help in that category, so he's not a complete loss, and I'm still predicting a rebound. Depending on your position in the standings, Figgy still might be an option, but in a 10-team league, you might have the room on the waiver wire to drop him for now.

I've got Ramirez in two leagues, both keepers, so I'm hanging on to him. He recently changed his grip to accomodate his injured thumb and I'm waiting to see if that helps his situation. In a redraft league I might have dumped it already, esp. if I had someone else to fill his spot.

Lee's BABIP and HR/FB look unlucky to me, and I wouldn't cut him just yet, esp. not for Kubel, who's merely had a hot week or two. Lee's PECOTA ceiling is higher, so if you can bench him, too, I would.

But as I say above, a shallower league can mean you can dangle guys like Lee and Ramirez out on the wire and hope to pick them up when they get hot.

Thanks for the question!

Jun 01, 2010 20:23 PM
 
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

I agree with Mike's reply about Chone in 5x5. All my commentary above was based on the statements about the much-reduced value of batting average and steals in that points league.

I sort of like Polanco in a 5x5 league. The Phillies really should score a lot of runs, and that guy can hit .290 in his sleep. And I really think he'll continue to surprise with his power... coming to Philly (NL) from Detroit (AL) has to help.

I could see Callaspo being a lot like Polanco, perhaps with even more power. If he didn't play in a tougher ballpark for a team which rates to score many fewer runs, I'd prefer him, based on youth->health->playing time, if for no other reason.

Jun 02, 2010 02:25 AM
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday T... (05/31)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Stanton ... (05/30)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (06/01)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Memorial Day Remembran... (05/31)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article The Darkhorses: Batting Average and Home Run...
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Adam Lind
Fantasy Article TTO Scoresheet Podcast: National League Play...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Shadow Auctioneering
Premium Article League Preview Series
Every Team's Moneyball: Philadelphia Phillie...
Every Team's Moneyball: Toronto Blue Jays: I...

MORE FROM MAY 31, 2010
Premium Article You Could Look It Up: Memorial Day Meditatio...
Memorial Day Remembrance: Cooper Brannan
Premium Article Memorial Day Remembrance: Hugh Mulcahy
Premium Article Under The Knife: Monday Update
Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Ten Pack
Premium Article On the Beat: Monday Update
The Week in Quotes: The Week of May 24-30

MORE BY MICHAEL STREET
2010-06-21 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-06-14 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-06-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-05-31 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-05-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-05-17 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-05-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
More...

MORE FANTASY BEAT
2010-06-02 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Outfield
2010-06-02 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: D-Train Rolls On
2010-06-01 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-05-31 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-05-30 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Stanton Countdown
2010-05-29 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Buster Posey Called Up
2010-05-28 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2010-08-30 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-07-26 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-06-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...