Dumpster Dives and Dynasty Finds: Third Base
Each week of draft season, I’ll be digging through the dumpster to find players for the deepest of deep league owners. I’ll also look at some prospects who have a decent acquisition cost in dynasty leagues. The projections next to the player’s name are an average of THE BAT, ATC, Steamer, and ZIPS, projections systems found on Fangraphs. NFBC ADP data is from the date range 02/01/2019-02/25/2019. The hot corner is hot garbage once you start dumpster diving. Better believe we can still find some useful guys for your deep leagues though!
Jake Lamb, ARI (ADP 264): 512 PA, 65 R, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 5 SB, .242/.336/.444/.780
The only way to describe Jake Lamb’s 2018 is as a disaster. He battled shoulder injuries all season and posted a gross .222/.307/.348/.655 slash line with just 6 HR in 56 games. The second shoulder injury required him to have season ending surgery. He’s said to be fully healthy entering spring training this season and I’m buying. In the previous two seasons Lamb averaged a .249/.345/.498/.843 slash line with 30 HR and 6 steals. Simply put, he mashed in the previous two years, when he was healthy. He’s only 28 years old, so we shouldn’t have any age concerns. Lamb is also going to be playing 1B this season, which should limit his shoulder to injury exposure. The two factors that could impede his return to 2016-2017 numbers are his performance against lefties and the humidor in Chase Field. He performs significantly better against right-handed pitching and should really be platooned. In a league with daily lineup moves, pair him with a steady everyday corner infielder like the next two names on this list. Sit him against lefties to boost his ratios and get solid production on days he sits. The humidor is something we just have to deal with and likely lowers his HR ceiling.
Brian Anderson, MIA (ADP 279): 598 PA, 69 R, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 3 SB, .259/.336/.401/.737
There’s no doubt that Anderson is one of the more “meh” players that are fantasy relevant for 2019, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing. He was a very steady contributor in a horrid Marlins lineup last year, slashing .273/.357/.400/.757 with 87 R, 11 HR, and 65 RBI. He’s particularly interesting in OBP leagues because of 9.3% walk rate. He played in 156 games and is the favorite to bat third in the now J.T. Realmuto-less Miami lineup. He’s a great plug and play corner infielder that will help your ratios. Not a bad bargain with one of your last couple picks. He was known to have above average power as a prospect so there may be some growth potential to this profile.
Maikel Franco, PHI (ADP 313): 553 PA, 63 R, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 1 SB, .259/.311/.460/.771
Unlike the first two players on this list, Franco has been relatively consistent for the first 3 full big league seasons of his career averaging 23 home runs per year. He had a one year batting average blip in 2017 that was fueled by a low .234 BABIP. The fantasy community has a bit of prospect fatigue with Franco. While he’s not a prospect anymore, he was at the top of the Phillies’ prospect lists for a couple of years and he was supposed to hit for more power than he’s shown so far in the MLB. It’s important to remember that he’s just 26 years old and in a great HR ballpark. Franco dodged a Manny Machado sized bullet when the Phils failed to sign him, but he’ll still have to fend off Scott Kingery this spring for the 3B job. While he may never reach superstardom, Franco is the rare player with a relatively high floor and high upside this late in the draft.
Yandy Diaz, TB (ADP 506): 434 PA, 48 R, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 3 SB, .269/.360/.361.721
And now we’ve come to perhaps the most intriguing statcast profile I’ve ever seen. According to Baseball Savant (baseballsavant.mlb.com/statcast), Diaz has the 22nd highest average exit velocity (minimum 90 batted ball events) in the league. If you’ve ever seen Diaz, that makes sense. He’s built like a prototypical 1990’s slugger. The problem is that Diaz’s launch angle was just 4.4 degrees, the 20th lowest in the league. That explains why he has just 1 home run in his first 88 MLB games. Fantasy owners have been begging for Diaz to hit the ball in the air more for a couple years now. The good news? That 2018 launch angle was actually up from 0.0 degrees in 2017. *SoYou’reTellingMeThere’sAChance.gif* Well, yes, and with the Rays trading one of their top prospects (Jake Bauers) for him, they clearly have a plan. Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola recently spoke during a Spring Training broadcast about getting Diaz’s launch angle up and making some adjustments. The Rays are one of the smartest organizations in baseball, so I’m believing they’ll tap into Yandy Diaz’s power.
Zack Cozart, LAA (ADP 544): 489 PA, 61 R, 15 HR, 52 RBI, 3 SB, .249/.319/.417/.736
Cozart got off to a horrible start in his first year with the Angels. It got worse before it could get better when he was shut down for the season with a torn labrum in June. He ended up slashing just .219/.296/.362/.658 with 5 HR, after his breakout 2017 (.297/.385/.548/.933 24 HR) earned him a big deal with LA. He’s expecting to be fully healthy heading into Spring Training, so there is optimism for a bounce back season. It’s very likely that 2017 was the high watermark for the now 33 year old but there is still a fantasy relevant player in here somewhere. His plate skills fell back to his career norms (7.5% BB, 16.6% K) after the ‘17 breakout (12.2% BB, 16.6% K). Whatever changes he made didn’t come with him in the Uhaul from Cincinnati. The above projection coupled with his multi-eligibility (2B/3B/SS) makes him much more valuable than pick 544. Take him late and you can always cut bait if he isn’t healthy.
Renato Nuñez, BAL (ADP 576): 527 PA, 56 R, 20 HR, 61 RBI, 2 SB, .235/.295/.412/.707
Nuñez was traded from the A’s to the Orioles in the middle of the 2018 season. After the trade, Nuñez slashed .275/.336/.445/.781 with 7 home runs in 220 PA. If we extrapolate his numbers over a full season (don’t do that!) that’s nearly 20 home runs. I actually think the 20 home runs are a good projections for him because he plays his home games in a great ballpark. His BABIP in that span was .333, so he experienced some good luck. His batted ball profile also showed the medium hit rate being the highest. As I’ve discussed previously, medium hit balls have the lowest BABIPs. We should expect a batting average closer to the .235 that’s projected above. He’s going to bat in the middle of the Orioles lineup so there will be some good RBI chances but runs will be hard to come by. Overall, I’m in on Nuñez at his ADP ballpark and playing time.
Third base has always been a great place to find dynasty prospects. The number one prospect going into this year at 3B is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. I’m not going to go into detail on him because he’s already owned in every dynasty league. Third base is the third deepest hitting position in my opinion, behind OF and SS. I’m also going to skip over Austin Riley and Nick Senzel as they’re likely owned in your league. If they aren’t, go scoop them up before these guys!
Ke’Bryan Hayes, PIT: Age 22, ETA: 2019
Hayes is likely a better real life baseball prospect than a fantasy baseball one. His best tool is the defense that he plays at third. He follows that up with a plus hit tool, average power, and plus speed. His career high in home runs in a season was last year when he hit 7 but he did hit 31 doubles. If he starts turning some of those doubles into HR, he’s going to be a star.
Jonathan India, CIN: Age 22, ETA: 2020
India was drafted out of the University of Florida by the Reds in the first round of the MLB draft in 2018. He’s a very well rounded prospect but doesn’t have one stand out tool. It’s similar to the Nick Senzel profile. India has a good eye at the plate and has a chance to be a solid contributor by 2020.
Nolan Jones, CLE: Age 20, ETA: 2020
Nolan Jones has a profile that has me VERY interested. He’s got huge raw power and a great eye at the plate. He’s averaged about a 17% walk rate in his two minor league seasons. He’s going to be a monster in OBP leagues, so go out and get him! If he stays in Cleveland he’ll also be playing in one of the best ballparks for left handed power.
Nolan Gorman, STL: Age 18, ETA: 2021
Gorman has the ability to be in a similar position to Jones this time next year. He also has great raw power, and good eye, and high strikeout rates. We won’t know what his development will bring but I’ll buy his power and good eye at the plate. He’s also a first round pick so he’s got great pedigree.
I’m also a big fan of the following third base prospects (in order):
Elehuris Montero, STL: Age 20, ETA: 2021
Jordan Groshans, TOR: Age 19, ETA: 2021
Hudson Potts, SD: Age 20, ETA 2020
Mark Vientos, NYM: Age 19, ETA 2021
Third base week will continue tomorrow at KMill Sports Insights with a couple of Player Spotlights!