Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Corner Infield

Miggy's health will go a long way to determining his value in 2015.
Miggy’s health will go a long way in determining his 2015 value

Early average draft position results are not the bible, but in the midst of preseason rankings it helps to see where players are being selected. There is controversy every year, whether it be concerns over “fat” Mike Trout, where Kershaw will go or Miguel Cabrera’s health. Things have been quiet in Detroit and if the Tigers are indeed going for it this year, Cabrera will play. He proved that by playing hurt throughout September while putting up an epic stat line for the month:

Miguel Cabrera September 2014: 19 R, 8 HR, 18 RBI, .379/.409/.709, 1.118 OPS, 214 wRC+

The concern with Cabrera has gone from whether he should be the top pick to how far he falls in mocks. Early indications seem to suggest it is not as far as I would like, but I have seen him go in mocks as far back as number 8. Is there risk involved? Of course, but if he is on the field for the whole season he’ll be more than fine. Outside of Cabrera, a healthy Paul Goldschmidt and the return of old favorites Prince Fielder and Joey Votto make the position deep once again. In fact, it looks like power at the position can be had throughout. Anthony Rizzo seems primed to take another step forward and is climbing up rankings and draft lists. First base is making a comeback as a position of elite fantasy production.

On the other end of the spectrum is third base. With the loss of Miguel Cabrera and the lack of production top to bottom along with the volatility of the players at the position, it will be a tough sea to navigate this year. In looking at early data, it seems like you’ll have to take a third baseman in the top-100. Otherwise, just fill the position late and hope it pans out. In dealing with corner infielders, it appears most teams will be grabbing from the first base pool but there could be an advantage gained by grabbing two strong third baseman early and thinning the pool for your competitors if you can grab a Josh Donaldson and a Kyle Seager. This means another guy in your league may be forced to roster a Mike Moustakas at third, yuck. Have a plan and if you can force a run, it opens opportunity for you to get what you want. For starters, here are the first baseman taken in the top 200 in money NFBC drafts thus far:

1B NFBC ADP

There has never been a time to get such value on players like Prince Fielder and Joey Votto, but do you want to? If you could see their credentials without the names attached, would that change your mind? With credit to Matthew Berry of ESPN, I love his use of blind analysis to take the name value out of the equation and simply focus on the numbers. I will use Steamer projections as a guide for this exercise:

Player A: 79 R, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 4 SB, .280/.409/.473
Player B: 77 R, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 6 SB, .270/.349/.464

Sure, you are giving up some OBP and a pittance in slugging percentage but are the numbers really that different? Drafters say yes since player A is being drafted on average at pick number 79.85 while player B is outside of the top 200. One more:

Player C: 73 R, 20 HR, 79 RBI, 2 SB, .295/.353/.484
Player D: 81 R, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 1 SB, .282/.380/.483

Player D is going at pick number 69 and player C is being selected on average at pick 166.69, I cannot make this up. I sort of played my hand in the intro to this exercise but here are the players:

Player A: Joey Votto
Player B: Steve Pearce
Player C: Justin Morneau
Player D: Prince Fielder

See what I am saying? If I put those names in front of you without the numbers are you changing how you look at them? Something to think about. Just like with Miguel Cabrera, until he comes out and says he is hampered by the injury and may miss time, I am taking him. If he is there at pick 8, I will be ecstatic. I do like Freddie Freeman and he had an impressive 2014 but have you looked at the lineup surrounding him? There are several other players I like more than most, too. Carlos Santana is one of them. If left alone to play first base after the failed move to third should bounce back this year. He’ll be third base eligible in 2015 too! Adam LaRoche is a forgotten entity as well. He’s in Chicago now, hitting after Jose Abreu and will hit 30 home runs this year. I’ll pass on Joey Votto and Prince Fielder. Let them be someone else’s problem, I just can’t trust either slugger. Here are the top 20 first baseman taken in the first 200 with their Steamer projections included. I highlighted the leaders in the four counting statistical categories as well:

1B Steamer Projections

While first base is getting deeper, third base is as murky as the situation in New York. With the pending return of Alex Rodriguez and his albatross of a contract, the Yankees signed Chase Headley to a four-year pact. If you want to take a chance on A-Rod being a fantasy asset in 2015, be my guest, but I will be watching from afar. Anthony Rendon was a favorite target of mine in 2014 due to his value in drafts but the gig is up. Rendon is going at pick number 14 in the drafts used for this article and that may be too steep a price. Like Carlos Santana, Rendon does have dual eligibility along with Todd Frazier but people may be pushing them up too far. Don’t get me wrong, Rendon has the talent and lineup to be successful but there are warning signs about taking him too soon. He hit 21 home runs in 2014 but 12 of them are rated “just enough” and of those 12, 3 more had “lucky” attached as well. I am not saying he will regress but to plan on more than 18 home runs may be aggressive.

Donaldson and his fantasy value head north with his trade to Toronto.
Donaldson and his fantasy value head north with his trade to Toronto

I think Josh Donaldson’s move to Toronto should allow him to thrive and finish as fantasy’s top third baseman in 2015. However, he is being taken at the end of the second or beginning of the third in NFBC money drafts. This number may climb but if it does not, pounce. Here are what the ADP’s for third baseman look like so far:

3B NFBC ADP

It seems that Evan Longoria is finally being valued correctly, but look at the precipitous drop for David Wright. He is teetering at the edge of the top 100 which means he is finally a value pick. But is this name value again? He is an injury risk but the Mets should have a chance to at least compete for a wild card spot with the pitching depth they have. How about another blind comparison?

Player A: 69 R, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 6 SB, .257/.343/.413
Player B: 67 R, 16 HR, 66 RBI, 9 SB, .275/.347/.432

Not too far apart on value but player B is on the outside of the top 200 even after Martin Prado while player A is David Wright. Player B is his New York counterpart. Yes, Chase Headley. Here are the Steamer projections for the third baseman drafted in the top 200:
3B Steamer Projections

Navigating third base will be interesting but while some values exist, people will be reaching for name value like Evan Longoria and Chris Carpenter. One surprise is Kris Bryant going at pick number 105 without yet being named the starting third baseman for the Cubs. Could he return a profit at this spot? Yes, but that is a fine line to walk. I like Nolan Arenado to take a step forward this year but so does everyone else. Kyle Seager should thrive in the improved Seattle lineup and he was already profiled here. If healthy, Manny Machado is a steal at 148.69. Players outside of the top 200 that I like include Nick Castellanos, Aramis Ramirez and Jake Lamb.

Corner infield is setting itself up for a bounce back in 2015 but there are as many questions as there are locks. Good luck avoiding the land mines. Throw name value out the window and try to see a player for who he really is using the numbers.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, NFBC.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/VEC1jj (Cabrera), http://goo.gl/IBmCX9 (Donaldson)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

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Transaction Scripts: Billy Beane’s Gamble with the A’s

If Beane’s gambles do not pay off there may be plenty of seats available in 2015

As I started to dig into the Athletics roster in review of their litany of transactions I have to admire the willingness of Billy Beane to tinker with the team. In 2014, Oakland hit 146 home runs and drove in 686 runs as a team. But as a result of players leaving either via trade, retirement or release, the remaining production on the roster is 49 home runs and 265 RBI. It doesn’t take advanced sabermetrics to see that more than two thirds of the A’s offense is gone. And it doesn’t stop there. Of their 162 pitcher starts from 2014, 65 are also gone, along with 50 quality starts. Wait, there’s more. In losing Luke Gregerson to Houston via free agency, 22 of Oakland’s 61 holds from 2014 have also disappeared. Is Billy Beane a Kinks fan? For some reason music has been on my mind lately and the song “Do It Again” popped into my head while trying to find a way to write up Oakland’s mentality. The Kinks are probably before your time but I thought I would mix in some of lyrics as I take a look at how Oakland is attempting to rebuild on the fly.

“Standing in the middle of nowhere,
Wondering how to begin.
Lost between tomorrow and yesterday,
Between now and then.

And now we’re back where we started,
Here we go round again.
Day after day I get up and I say
I better do it again.”

Semien has a nice blend of power and speed which should entice fantasy player's to remember him in the late rounds as a MI with upside
Semien has a nice blend of power and speed. Fantasy owners should target him in the middle rounds

Why yes Mr. Beane, you will need to do it again. In 2014, the A’s pushed all the chips into the middle, banking their World Series hopes on the back of their starting pitching. It failed, and as a result, a new plan needs to be drawn up. Beane gave up prized shortstop prospect Addison Russell to the Cubs for Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. He then traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester, who inevitably lost the Wild Card play in game to the Royals. This offseason, Beane has dealt Josh Donaldson, who led the team in almost every offensive statistical category to Toronto for young pitching and Brett Lawrie, who at just 24 years old may need Oakland as much as they need him. After giving Brandon Moss a chance, the A’s were rewarded with 76 home runs and 220 RBI over the last three seasons. But at a time when power is scarce, they only got Joey Wendle from the Indians in return. With only one year remaining on his contract, Jeff Samardzija was a player that Beane decided he had to trade as well, and he got five pieces in return including potential starting shortstop Marcus Semien. Is this a lateral move in comparison to Addison Russell? After the dust seemed to be settling Beane dealt another All Star in Derek Norris to San Diego for pitchers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez. This is the one deal I could really get behind as Hahn fared well in his major league debut in 2014 and Alvarez represents a talented young arm in the bullpen with his 95 MPH fastball.

“Where are all the people going?
Round and round till we reach the end.
One day leading to another,
Get up, go out, do it again.

Then it’s back where you started,
Here we go round again.
Back where you started,
Come on do it again.”

This is what A’s fans are wondering looking ahead to 2015. I can offer up some suggestions, but with the Angels looking to build upon their momentum from last year and the Mariners adding Nelson Cruz, it remains to be seen if the A’s can contend this year. Does Beane want to? Not only that, there have to be some more moves on the horizon as the present roster does not seem ready to compete. With A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker working their way back from injuries the present rotation appears to be Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Hahn. Stephen Vogt will appear just about everywhere on the field and lineup to keep his bat active but this team is relying heavily on Brett Lawrie and Marcus Semien on the left side of the infield. Their starting pitching and bullpen may keep them in games, but will they score enough runs to be a real threat?

Acquired by the A’s: Alex Hassan OF, Ike Davis 1B, Brett Lawrie 3B, Sean Nolin LHP, Kendall Graveman RHP, Franklin Barreto SS, Joey Wendle 2B, Marcus Semien SS, Chris Bassitt RHP, Josh Phegley C, Rangel Ravelo 1B, Michael Ynoa, Jesse Hahn RHP, R.J. Alvarez RHP

Traded or left via Free Agency: Josh Donaldson 3B, Derek Norris C, Jeff Samardzija RHP, Jason Hammel RHP, Brandon Moss 1B/OF, Kyle Blanks 1B, Alberto Callaspo 2B, Nick Punto SS, Jon Lester LHP, Adam Dunn DH

“And you think today is going to be better,
Change the world and do it again.
Give it all up and start all over,
You say you will but you don’t know when.

Then it’s back where you started,
Here we go round again.
Day after day I get up and I say
Come on do it again.”

When looking at the fantasy prospects of the players that are new to Oakland, we have a mixed bag. If Billy Butler can regain his career HR/FB% he can return to a 15 home run player as projected by both Steamer and ZiPS. But there is no excitement generated there. Lawrie has burned far too many in the past so 2015 either represents the perfect storm to get him on the cheap or he may lose his relevance in fantasy outside of AL-only. It would appear that the biggest beneficiaries of Oakland’s new faces are Marcus Semien, Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez. Starting with the additions to the offense, a chart showing what Steamer and ZiPS feel about the new Athletics is displayed below:

Oakland Athletics Offense Projection Chart

For Billy Butler to help the Athletics he must recover from his career low HR/FB% of 6.9 back to 10.9. If this occurs, his power will return and he should hit about 15 dingers. There is some discrepancy regarding his potential RBI total but this offense will be a landmine to project as it is full of platooners, injury risks and unproven youngsters. Because of his chance to be the Opening Day shortstop, Marcus Semien will be an intriguing middle infield option for 2015. After a rough debut last year, Semien went to the minors and returned in the second half.

Marcus Semien 1H: 43 G, 22 R, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 3 SB, .218/.287/.327
Marcus Semien 2H: 21 G, 8 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB, .273/.333/.485

While both of his projections forecast double-digit home runs and stolen bases, I think ZiPS is more accurate when setting his value in 2015, which is enticing as long as you are willing to tolerate a sub .240 batting average. Ike Davis could be a source of cheap power in AL-only leagues but that may be the peak of his upside. He does have some power, though it has been in decline the past three years peaking with a HR/FB% of 21.1 and dropping to 10.3 last year. I am not going to predict a Brandon Moss turnaround for Davis in Oakland, but Moss arrived with only 23 home runs in his big league career and was promoted at age 28. Davis will be 29 in 2015 but has a 32 home run season in his past. While that is likely an outlier, I think he can hit the 17 forecasted and maybe even reach 20.

Brett Lawrie is the biggest wild card here. He has barely averaged 100 games per year over the last three seasons but has still managed double-digit home runs each year along with 22 stolen bases during that span. Reckless play on the turf in Toronto has kept many a player injured in and is part of the reason why Melky Cabrera signed with the White Sox. Even though it seems as though he’s been around forever, Lawrie will turn just 25 this year. I was on the Lawrie train last year but it would take a steep discount for me to buy in 2015. However, he cannot be ignored considering the dearth of talent at the hot corner.

On the pitching side of it all I did cover many of the prospects in an article here if you wish to check it out. This time I will focus on Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez as the prizes in the Derek Norris trade. Beane was trading from strength with his abundance of catchers and sold high on Norris whose power finally played in 2014. Here are the Steamer and ZiPS projections for the new arms in Oakland:

Oakland Athletics Pitching Projections

Starting with Jesse Hahn, if he can win the fifth spot in the rotation he will become an AL-only upside play after a solid finish to his 2014 season with the Padres. In order to survive deeper through the lineup he may need to develop a third pitch, but here are his pitch speeds and batting averages against in two different charts (courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net):

Jesse Hahn Pitches and VelocityJesse Hahn Results and AveragesThe other reason I am high on Hahn as the fifth starter in Oakland is due to his ability to produce groundballs. Note his groundball/ball in play percentages:

Jesse Hahn GB rates with pitches

As a fifth starter with upside in Oakland, he can use the ballpark to his advantage and pitch better than his projection. In an effort to strengthen the bullpen, Oakland will take a chance on Michael Ynoa and high upside hurler R.J. Alvarez who wowed the Padres after they acquired him from the Angels last year in the Huston Street trade. It would not surprise me if Alvarez works his way into the eighth inning role by the end of the season replacing Luke Gregerson. Again courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net, here are Alvarez’s speeds from 2014 while in San Diego:

RJ Alvarez Pitches 2014

His 95 MPH fastball and slider combo will play well in high leverage situations. Alvarez struck out 61 in the minors in 43 and a third innings with a 1.25 ERA last year. All he needs is an opportunity.

“The days go by and you wish you were a different guy,
Different friends and a new set of clothes.
You make alterations and affect a new pose,
A new house, a new car, a new job, a new nose.
But it’s superficial and it’s only skin deep,
Because the voices in your head keep shouting in your sleep.
Get back, get back.

Back where you started, here we go round again,
Back where you started, come on do it again.”

It would appear that Billy Beane is walking a fine line with his upheaval of the Athletics roster, but that verse has been written before. Only time will tell but it will take each player acquired playing at or higher than their projected level to make it worth the gamble. I know A.J. Preller is getting all the accolades in San Diego for having brass balls but Beane has been doing it for years.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, MiLB.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/2V9RGm (Beane), http://goo.gl/wpsJfQ (Semien)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Transaction Scripts: Josh Donaldson to Toronto

Bringer of Rain Donaldson may make it rain 30 times or more in Toronto
Donaldson may make it rain 30+ times next year in Toronto

One day after Thanksgiving the Athletics seemed to still be in a giving mood. In a surprise move, the A’s shipped All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto for Brett Lawrie, Minor League pitchers Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman and infielder Franklin Barreto. This trade probably tells us that Billy Beane is far from done and more moves could be on the horizon. A full rebuild perhaps? For Toronto, this trade meant moving two of their best Minor League pitching prospects who are almost big league ready. The transition to Oakland certainly enhances their respective outlooks. For Donaldson, this has to boost his fantasy value, as he moves from Oakland’s 21st ranked park in terms of homer effect to Toronto’s 3rd ranked stadium. After improving from 24 dingers in 2013 to 29 a year ago, 30+ certainly seems like a good bet for the slugger in 2015.

The hardest thing to figure out is why is Oakland was willing to take on the Brett Lawrie experience. Not only has Lawrie been a fantasy tease the last couple of seasons, but he has a hard time staying healthy. Although, I can understand taking a chance on a guy when his value is at it’s lowest. Remember, Oakland has helped turn around the careers of players like Donaldson and Brandon Moss. With the acquisition of two almost-ready Minor League pitchers whose profiles fit the strengths of Oakland’s park, there have to be more deals coming. This seems like a calculated risk for Oakland, who, after going for it all in 2014 is retooling for another run in the future. This is punctuated by this tweet:

Toronto has now signed Russell Martin to a lucrative deal and shipped some of their more desirable young arms for Donaldson, signaling to the rest of the AL East that they plan to play for a division title.

Josh Donaldson to Toronto:

After dealing with the on-again-off-again shenanigans at third base the last two years, the Blue Jays have found consistency, and his name is Josh Donaldson. Brett Lawrie has played 302 games over the last three seasons but in Donaldson’s first two full seasons in the majors he has played 158 each year or 14 more games than Lawrie in one less season. Not only that, Donaldson has hit 53 home runs over the last two years and driven in an average of 96 runs. Here are his stats averaged out for the last two seasons:

Josh Donaldson last 2 year avg: 158 G, 91 R, 27 HR, 96 RBI, 6 SB .277/.362/.470

Donaldson’s batting average dropped from .301 in 2012 to .255 in 2013, but his underlying stats suggest this can be due to a bit of bad luck. Although his line drive rate fell from 20.6% in 2013 to 13.5% in 2014, he lowered his O-swing and O-contact, which are good signs. I don’t think Donaldson is a .300 hitter, but if we average out his slash lines from the last two seasons I think we can come up with a good idea of who he is. What fake gamers really want to know though is whether the move will help Donaldson evolve into one of the game’s elite power hitters. Last season, Donaldson’s average home run distance was 398.1 feet, with balls leaving the bat at 104.6 MPH.

For a sneak peak, here are his 2014 homers with an overlay of the Rogers Centre:

donaldson overlay torontoAlso, even with the drop in batting average in 2014, his home run and RBI totals increased, and his zone profile courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net shows the devastating power he has on inside pitches:

donaldson zone profile sluggingWith third base being a position in flux, Josh Donaldson’s move will only enhance his value, but will the price be too high? This past season, Donaldson was the seventh third baseman off the board at pick 65.4 according to FantasyPros.com. I have to estimate that Donaldson’s power numbers will climb into the 32-35 range on the move to Toronto. Not only that, his defense will be a welcome change for young starters like Marcus Stroman along with the addition of Russell Martin.

Lawrie and three minor leaguers to the Athletics:

One of the funnier tweets I read referenced that Billy Beane has obviously not owned Brett Lawrie on a fantasy team. It’s true. After his breakthrough performance in 2012 he has been riddled with injuries and inconsistencies throughout his young career. But it bears repeating that Lawrie is only 24 years old. He has been beyond frustrating to own in fantasy, but when he is healthy and hot, he puts up stats. However, as his average season over the last three years suggests, those times are few and far between:

Brett Lawrie last 3 year avg: 100 G, 47 R, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 7 SB .260/.316/.405

I find it hard to say that now is the time to divorce Lawrie in fantasy, but it will be hard to invest in him for more than a cheap middle infielder. Until he can prove he can stay healthy I don’t think he is a mixed league player, especially with the move to Oakland. Over the last three years Lawrie has seen his line drive percentage, batting average and on base percentages drop and his swinging strike rate rise. Not the recipe for success. The only silver lining was his HR/FB%, which increased in 2014 but that is mitigated by his new ballpark. Some may find success in buying low on Lawrie and I will applaud them if they do. For myself though, I will have him on my no draft list.

Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman prospects rise:

Sean Nolin and his plus changeup move to Oakland
Sean Nolin and his plus changeup move to Oakland

On the opposite end of the spectrum, young pitchers Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman see their fantasy values rise with the trade to Oakland. With the Athletics ballpark being a renowned pitcher’s ballpark with plenty of foul territory, what is not to like?

Sean Nolin is a 6’5” lefty who is only 24 and though his 2014 was disappointing, he got extra work in during the Arizona Fall League and fared well. He features a 92 MPH fastball, an 83 MPH slider, an 81 MPH curveball, and his best pitch, the 75 MPH change piece. It’s deceptive with his motion and has good sink. His arsenal will be a key to his success as his fastball is enhanced by the changeup. Here are his Minor League stats in 2014 across three levels. However, he did have a groin injury during the season:

Sean Nolin Minor League 2014: 4 W, 20 GS, 97 IP, 88/39 K/BB, 3.43 ERA, 1.22 WHIP

What may have caught Oakland’s scouting eye was his performance in Arizona during the Fall League. He was able to win two games and had 24 strikeouts against six walks in 22.1 innings with an ERA of 4.03. Not off the chart, but in a strong hitting environment Nolin did well finishing his season strong. If he had stayed in Toronto, his path to starting may have been blocked this year but there may be opportunity sooner rather than later if Oakland moves a starting pitcher or two as the offseason progresses. Nolin projects to be a solid #3 starter for real life purposes.

As for Kendall Graveman, he discovered a new pitch during the season which propelled him across four levels of the Minor Leagues in the span of five months. In a game at Dunedin early in the year he threw his fastball a bit differently than normal and it handcuffed a left-handed batter. Graveman described it as something different and the ball moved in to lefties and his catcher noticed. What Graveman discovered was a cutter. It was this pitch that took him from an 8th round draft pick out of Mississippi State to Toronto in less than two years. While Graveman is not an overpowering pitcher, his fastball has gained a couple of miles an hour and if he can maintain the control of his cutter, he may be able to cut it (no pun intended) as a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. Here is his 2014 minor league season:

Kendall Graveman Minor League 2014: 14 W, 27 GS, 167.1 IP, 115/31 K/BB, 1.83 ERA, 1.03 WHIP

Graveman will need to maintain his ground ball rates and have the support of a strong defense since he only averaged about 6.2 K/9 in the minors, but the cutter is the key. According to his former manager and Major League catcher Gary Allenson, Graveman is a “soft-tosser” but offered up this statement:

“A big-league starter? I don’t know.” Allenson said. “He doesn’t light up the radar gun. But he’s got good movement on his fastball, and it’s late movement. You do a game report after he pitches and he’s thrown up 12 or 13 ground balls.”

Whether it was the discovery of the new pitch or his propensity to the ground ball, Oakland sees something to gamble on in Graveman. Savvy AL-only owners may do well to stash him this upcoming season.

Franklin Barreto is a young middle infielder who is described as a “baseball player.” Barreto will be only 19 in February of 2015 so there is time for him to further develop. Oakland is in need of young middle infielders and Barreto is a good prospect for them to get. He has good speed (60-70) on the scouting scales and developing power. In short-A last year his stats were impressive:

Franklin Barreto (A): 73 G, 65 R, 6 HR, 61 RBI, 29 SB .311/.384/.481

There are some who feel he may grow out of shortstop but here is a video of him hitting:

As perplexing of a move for Oakland this is, I guess I can understand it. Josh Donaldson is the big winner here as he not only gets a shiny new ballpark to hit in, but his defense and overall game will be a hit in Toronto and may propel him into the MVP discussion for 2015. Brett Lawrie gets a new chance in Oakland and may be joined soon by Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman according to Jane Lee:

It is far too early to claim which team won the trade, but it appears the Athletics are going to rebuild going forward. Jeff Samardzija or Scott Kazmir could be on the move next with their replacements arriving from Toronto.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com, BrooksBaseball.net, FantasyPros.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/2u0ils (Donaldson), http://goo.gl/LSqVeN (Nolin)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Fantasy Profile: Kyle Seager

Seager may sign a 7 year deal for 100 million, why this is a bargain for Seattle and fantasy owner's alike
Seager’s 7-year, 100 million dollar deal spells value for both the Mariners and fantasy owners

While talking to my son the other day I told him a story about how the only day of high school I missed was to sleep overnight to get my Dad tickets to see his favorite artist, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Of course, his first question was “who is Bob Seger?” So I explained, saying that he had no relation to Kyle Seager. My son plays baseball and loves it, but gave me the same look. “Who is Kyle Seager?” Fantasy owners seem to have the same question. The problem here is that Kyle Seager plays in the Great Northwest and is probably still overshadowed by the old guard at his position. Entering 2014 drafts, Seager was the 11th third baseman selected at pick 106, or only 25 spots after Pedro Alvarez. If you were fortunate enough to draft Seager, he rewarded you with a 7th place finish on the ESPN Player Rater.

What Kyle Seager lacks in sexiness, he makes up for in consistency. He has played an average of 158 games per season since 2012, and with all of the inconsistent performers at third base, this is a welcomed trait. Here is the average of his last three seasons:

3 Year Avg: 71 R, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 9 SB .262/.329/.434

Seager made strides last year, especially in his RBI total:

Kyle Seager 2014: 71 R, 25 HR, 96 RBI, 7 SB .268/.334/.454

It’s surprising that he had his best homer total in 2014 considering his home run distance and speed off the bat have trended downward. Here are his first three full seasons according to ESPN’s home run tracker page:

2012: Average standard distance off the bat 400.5 feet, average speed off bat 103.3 MPH
2013: Average standard distance off the bat 385.1 feet, average speed off bat 102.3 MPH
2014: Average standard distance off the bat 382.8 feet, average speed off bat 102 MPH

While the speed off the bat has only seen a slight dip, the distance drop of 18 feet can be a bit concerning. Seager still smacked 25 homers in 2014 and his stats paint the picture of an upward pointing arrow. He just turned 27.

2012: wRC+ 108, HR/FB% 9.8, SwStr% 8.3, OPS .738
2013: wRC+ 115, HR/FB% 9.9, SwStr% 7.2, OPS .764
2014: wRC+ 126, HR/FB% 12.9, SwStr% 6.9, OPS .788

Even though Seager’s average home run distance has dropped, his home run per fly ball percentage has risen over the last 3 seasons. If Seager can push his OPS over .800 he is in line for another career year. If he puts together a year of hitting well on the road and at home, this is easily possible.

Kyle Seager career slash at home: .249/.324/.394
Kyle Seager 2014 slash at home: .300/.370/.523
Kyle Seager career slash on road: .274/.332/.461
Kyle Seager 2014 slash on road: .240/.301/.393

He has been able to hit away from Seattle in his first 2 seasons but struggled on the road last year. His home statistics last year prove he can thrive in a tough ballpark environment. Two things could really allow Seager a real breakout in 2015: hitting well on the road and using left field for more power. Seager has only hit 1 career home run to left field, though he does use that side of the field. First here is his career spray chart:

seager career spray chartAnd his chart from 2014:

seager 2014 spray chartNine of Seager’s 27 doubles were to left or left-center and so were two of his four triples. To avoid a shift and push his home run total toward 30, Seager will need to use the opposite field for power. His zone profile suggests this is possible. Here is his career slugging zone profile:
Seager career slugging zone profileThen his profile from 2014:

seager 2014 slugging zone profileOn pitches middle and away Seager slugged .552 last year. On offerings in the top third of the strike zone and outside he slugged .429. It appears that Seager is on the cusp of a small but profitable breakout. Seattle acquiring another viable power bat would really cement this. Although he hit .293/.356/.503 in 40 games as the cleanup hitter, how nice would a right-handed power bat look between he and Robinson Cano? It appears that the Mariners are trying to make this happen and if it does this should move Seager up in preseason rankings. I definitely see Seager as a top-five option at third base and will be taking him over the likes of Evan Longoria, David Wright and Josh Donaldson moving forward. While Pablo Sandoval will be getting all the hype moving to Boston, Seager keeps doing his thing in gloomy Seattle. To this day, sharing that concert with my Dad was a top-five show for me as I got him seats in tenth row center. Maybe after reading about Kyle Seager some of you will accompany me on his bandwagon. Seattle will be doing well to lock him up for 2 more years than Panda for the same price. Get your tickets in 2015, this may be the last time to get Seager this cheap.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/vXJszq

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Top DFS Plays for 09/05/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Adam Lind vs. Clay Buchholz – hitting .347 (17/49) with 3 2Bs, a 3B, 2 HRs, 5 RBIs & 2 BBs

Adrian Beltre vs. Hisashi Iwakuma – hitting .357 (10/28) with a 2B, 3 HRs, 5 RBIs & a BB

Albert Pujols vs. Ricky Nolasco – hitting .545 (12/22) with 5 2Bs, 3 HRs & 10 RBIs

Josh Donaldson vs. Brett Overholtzer – hitting .462 (6/13) with 4 2Bs, a HR, 3 RBIs & 2 BBs

Chris Carter vs. Jeff Samardzija – hitting .417 (5/12) with 2 2Bs, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs & a BB

Chris Owings vs. Dan Haren – hitting .818 (9/11) 2 2Bs & a RBI

Austin Jackson vs. Scott Baker – hitting .353 (6/17) with 2 2Bs, a 3B, a HR, 2 RBIs & a BB

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Adam Lind

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Chris Sale vs. Cleveland Indians – Sale went 8 innings gave up 3 runs and struck out 9 in his last outing against the Indians. Sale is one of those pitchers I will always pay for.

Movie of the day: Fruitvale Station – Such a fantastic film which Michael B. Jordan just kills it. Folks the story is insane and is just a great overall film.

Follow me on Twitter @Rickygangster!

Fantasy Forward: 3B In Transition

No Nolan, you are the man with 7 HR's and 20 RBI over the last 30 days. Do not sleep on him in 2015
No Nolan, you are the man! With 7 HR and 20 RBI over the last 30 days, do not sleep on him in 2015

“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.”
Kristin Armstrong

After tracking the improvements of Nolan Arenado and Nick Castellanos recently, I decided to take a look at fantasy’s position in transition. While closers cause owners to chase saves, the dearth of solid third baseman left for fantasy purposes forced many tough decisions on draft and auction days in 2014. It pushed players like Evan Longoria and David Wright up in the rankings due to the “positional scarcity” that was projected at the position. While the scarcity argument may have had some basis for discussion, some players like Aramis Ramirez were overlooked. He did make a trip to the DL in 2014 but his production has not slipped. In fact, when I looked at the last 365 days, he is in the top two using advanced stats like wOBA (weighted on base average) and wRC+ (weighted runs created). Before delving into those stats, here are the top 12 third baseman according to Fantasy Pros aggregate ADP tracker:

Average ADP for 3B in 2014 Drafts:
1. Adrian Beltre (12)
2. Evan Longoria (19)
3. David Wright (21)
4. Matt Carpenter (56)
5. Josh Donaldson (65)
6. Ryan Zimmerman (67)
7. Carlos Santana (71)
8. Pedro Alvarez (76)
9. Kyle Seager (99)
10. Martin Prado (115)
11. Manny Machado (128)
12. Pablo Sandoval (131)

There are pretty standard decisions above and most of the picks will not cost in the pursuit of a fantasy title. However, the injury concerns that caused gamers to avoid Aramis Ramirez were ignored by the Ryan Zimmerman sympathizers. This will also call into question how to value Manny Machado going forward now that he has injured both of his knees. Due to the drop in power around the league, many reached for Pedro Alvarez regardless of his drain on batting average. Matt Carpenter was a great story and value in 2013, but that also swung his returns to pretty much nil in this year’s drafts. So as not to create a recent bias, I will look at the last 365 days (statistical year) for the third baseman next.

3B Ranks for the last 365 Days:
1. Aramis Ramirez: 132 G, 61 R, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 3 SB, 309/359/490, wOBA .374, wRC+ 135
2. Adrian Beltre: 50 G, 80 R, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 2 SB, 310/370/482, wOBA .368, wRC+ 129
3. Josh Donaldson: 159 G, 105 R, 32 HR, 109 RBI, 10 SB, 263/352/484, wOBA .365, wRC+ 137
4. Matt Carpenter: 163 G, 115 R, 9 HR, 65 RBI, 7 SB, 295/388/422, wOBA .361, wRC+ 132
5. Todd Frazier: 157 G, 84 R, 28 HR, 84 RBI, 18 SB, 272/329/462, wOBA .347, wRC+ 120
6. Pablo Sandoval: 157 G, 69 R, 19 HR, 75 RBI, 286/340/447, wOBA .343, wRC+ 125
7. Anthony Rendon: 150 G, 98 R, 17 HR, 78 RBI, 12 SB, 276/334/447, wOBA .341, wRC+ 117
8. Kyle Seager: 161 G, 63 R, 22 HR, 88 RBI, 8 SB, 253/330/427, wOBA .334, wRC+ 114
9. Chase Headley: 133 G, 49 R, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 8 SB, 248/353/391, wOBA .323, wRC+ 108
10. Evan Longoria: 166 G, 86 R, 23 HR, 90 RBI, 4 SB, 255/327/412, wOBA .322, wRC+ 108
11. Trevor Plouffe: 143 G, 63 R, 11 HR, 69 RBI, SB, 258/319/399, wOBA .317, wRC+ 100
12. David Wright: 126 G, 50 R, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 6 SB, 270/330/383, wOBA .315, wRC+ 104

Due to positional scarcity, David Wright and Evan Longoria were taken in very early in drafts earlier this year. Part name brand and part scarcity, but neither is justifying their draft price. The chart below, which highlights how qualified third basemen have performed over the last 30 days may be a great parameter on how to value players at the position entering 2015. A premium will be placed on third base prospects Kris Bryant (Cubs) and Joey Gallo (Rangers) as we await their debuts. Miguel Sano was drafted late this year with the hopes his power would be promoted by June but an injury took him out for the year. If the Phillies decide to rebuild next year, Maikel Franco should also benefit from a chance to play in the majors. All hope for the position has not been lost as young players like Nolan Arenado and Nick Castellanos are starting to show signs in the second half of breakout potential for next year. Todd Frazier is another player to watch moving ahead, he’s had an MVP-caliber season to date and it will be interesting to see if he can continue that into next season. Frazier, Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rendon are the only third baseman to have double-digit home runs and steals over the last statistical year, which bodes well for their production moving forward. Here are the rankings for the last thirty days:

3B Last 30 Days
1. Nolan Arenado: 20 R, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 333/410/618
2. Josh Harrison: 22 R, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 6 SB, 328/361/578
3. Josh Donaldson: 13 R, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 4 SB, 284/410/484
4. Matt Carpenter: 18 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB, 310/402/500
5. Aramis Ramirez: 9 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 337/356/480
6. Yangervis Solarte: 17 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 283/370/413
7. Adrian Beltre: 11 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 287/368/406
8. Nick Castellanos: 7 R, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 247/301/481
9. Kyle Seager: 12 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, SB, 273/339/414
10. David Freese: 9 R, HR, 7 RBI, 286/340/417
11. Anthony Rendon: 19 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 4 SB, 269/326/420
12. Pablo Sandoval: 12 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 288/321/394

For next season, I’ll be avoiding Longoria and Wright while enjoying the safety of Adrian Beltre. I see myself heavily targeting Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon, Nick Castellanos and Kyle Seager in 2015. Getting an early look at how these players are trending is always interesting. I definitely predict seeing gamers continue to reach for third baseman next year thanks to the scarcity trend, but there are players to be had and help on the way in the minor leagues. Third base is in a down cycle, but that should be changing soon.

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/wDFYnx

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Be sure to check for our articles and more at FantasyRundown.com, your one stop shop for the best fantasy content from around the web!

Top DFS Plays for 08/16/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Miguel Cabrera vs. Felix Hernandez – hitting .417 (10/24) with 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs & 3 BBs
One of the best hitters in baseball vs. One of the best pitchers….. This is going to be a fun matchup.

Alex Gordon vs. Phil Hughes – hitting .333 (8/24) with 2 2Bs, 4 RBIs & 2 BBs

Josh Donaldson vs. Julio Teheran – no previous history
Donaldson is hitting .417 (10/24) with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs over the last week. DONALDSON IS GOING YARD TONIGHT FOLKS!!!!!

Starlin Castro vs. Jonathon Niese – hitting .313 (5/16) with a 3B, a HR & 5 RBIs

Adrian Gonzalez vs. Yovani Gallardo – hitting .286 (4/14) with a 3B, a HR, 4 RBIs & a BB
Matchup might not look enticing but Gonzo is the hottest hitter in baseball, he is hitting .500 with 2 HRs & 9 RBIs this week.

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Josh Donaldson

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Clayton Kershaw vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Do I really need to explain this one?

Sonny Gray vs. Atlanta Braves – Gray is 5-2 with a 2.39 ERA on the road this season and the Braves aren’t playing good baseball right now.

Movie of the day: One Hour Photo – One of Robin Williams weirdest performances. It was such a dark movie and he just was so good in this film.

Follow me on Twitter @Rickygangster!

Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank 3B

Arenado is quietly emerging in Tulo's shadow in Colorado
Nolan Arenado is quietly emerging behind Tulo’s shadow in Colorado

As this series continues, it is becoming apparent why some players have more value in the daily game as compared to seasonal leagues in fantasy. It is also showing how some players like David Wright are drastically overvalued in both formats. It also shows how important knowing the splits is especially when a star player is lost to injury. If a league has a deep enough bench with daily lineups, a savvy owner can take advantage of the split advantages and use a Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson replace a star third baseman lost to injury. If this piques your interest, then this article is for you. First I will list the five categories used to measure the third baseman’s value:

wOBA: Weighted On Base Average represents all the ways a player gets on base (HBP counts in this metric). It is used to measure a player’s overall offensive value.

ISO: Isolated Power  is simply a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average.

OPS: On base plus Slugging is exactly what it’s surname suggests, adding together both statistics (OBP and SLG%). In the daily game being getting on base via the extra base hit is preferred.

AB/HR: A simple stat. How many homers does a player hit between each at bat? The fewer the better.

wRC+: Weighted Runs Created Plus A measure of how many runs a player creates. The “+” accounts for differing ballpark factors. So a player who’s home park is Coors is weighted to equal one in Citi Field, for example.

Using these advanced can help to identify what players hold the most value without relying on the basic five category statistics that most rotisserie leagues value. It is especially important the two of the categories are weighted statistics which represent a player’s true value. Below will be the lists for each category with the players ranked in order and then an aggregate list to show the top 12 using an average of all five advanced statistics.

3rd Baseman versus Left-Handed Pitchers (minimum 70 at bats):

wOBA:
1. Josh Donaldson .461
2. Chris Johnson .459
3. Aramis Ramirez .444
4. David Wright .439
5. Adrian Beltre .395
6. David Freese .387
7. Martin Prado .380
8. Danny Valencia .374
9. Evan Longoria .372
10. Lonnie Chisenhall .371
11. Nick Castellanos .366
12. Nolan Arenado .363

ISO:
1. Josh Donaldson .427
2. Aramis Ramirez .318
3. Nolan Arenado .220
4. Todd Frazier .196
5. David Wright .185
6. Matt Dominguez .179
7. Nick Castellanos .179
8. Chase Headley .176
9. Trevor Plouffe .172
10. David Freese .169
11. Evan Longoria .167
12. Chris Johnson .164

OPS:
1. Josh Donaldson 1.098
2. Chris Johnson 1.070
3. Aramis Ramirez 1.043
4. David Wright 1.027
5. Adrian Beltre .916
6. Martin Prado .881
7. David Freese .880
8. Evan Longoria .872
9. Nolan Arenado .858
10. Danny Valencia .853
11. Lonnie Chisenhall .836
12. Nick Castellanos .833

AB/HR:
1. Josh Donaldson 8.7
2. Aramis Ramirez 11
3. Chase Headley 18.5
4. Nolan Arenado 20.5
5. Todd Frazier 23
6. Matt Dominguez 23.4
7. Brett Lawrie 30.5
8. David Wright 30.7
9. Pablo Sandoval 31.5
10. Nick Castellanos 31.7
11. David Freese 32.5
12. Danny Valencia 33.5
13. Chris Johnson 33.5

wRC+:
1. Josh Donaldson 202
2. Chris Johnson 199
3. David Wright 188
4. Aramis Ramirez 185
5. David Freese 154
6. Adrian Beltre 148
7. Evan Longoria 144
8. Martin Prado 140
9. Lonnie Chisenhall 140
10. Danny Valencia 139
11. Nick Castellanos 131
12. Todd Frazier 124

Overall Ranks Based on Aggregate Averages Above (2014 Stats):
1. Josh Donaldson – 96 AB, 24 R, 11 HR, 24 RBI, 1 SB, 281/389/708
2. Aramis Ramirez – 66 AB, 12 R, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB, 333/392/652
3. David Wright – 92 AB, 11 R, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB, 402/440/587
4. Chris Johnson – 67 AB, 10 R, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 433/473/597
5. David Freese – 65 AB, 11 R, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 1 SB, 308/403/477
6. Nolan Arenado – 82 AB, 14 R, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 305/333/524
7. Adrian Beltre – 78 AB, 15 R, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 346/416/500
8. Todd Frazier – 92 AB, 14 R, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, 272/346/467
9. Martin Prado – 74 AB, 11 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 338/381/500
10. Evan Longoria – 102 AB, 17 R, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 294/411/461
11. Chase Headley – 74 AB, 10 R, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 230/288/405
12. Nick Castellanos – 95 AB, 10 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 284/369/463

I was really surprised by how well Chris Johnson hits against left-handed pitchers. Not only is he in the top five against them, but he is ranked ahead of Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria>. Huh? This is exactly what I am talking about. Perception and reality often do not meet in the world of splits and knowing what players excel in these splits helps owners take advantage of players like Johnson. While he only has two home runs versus southpaws, his .597 slugging percentage ranks him third on the list above. The splits also help by identifying a player like Nolan Arenado who gets lost in all the Tulowitzki love and how he is quietly emerging this year. Same goes for Nick Castellanos who does not have flashy stats, but is very productive against southpaws and should only improve in the second half. Now that we know who is at the top against lefties, here are the same categories but against right handed pitchers.

3rd Baseman versus Right Handed Pitchers (minimum 100 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Conor Gillaspie .409
2. Juan Francisco .396
3. Kyle Seager .383
4. Adrian Beltre .379
5. Lonnie Chisenhall .376
6. Pablo Sandoval .368
7. Todd Frazier .357
8. Manny Machado .351
9. Juan Uribe .350
10. Yangervis Solarte .347
11. Matt Carpenter .346
12. Pedro Alvarez .343

ISO:
1. Juan Francisco .313
2. Kyle Seager .251
3. Adrian Beltre .201
4. Todd Frazier .192
5. Pedro Alvarez .190
6. Mike Moustakas .188
7. Luis Valbuena .188
8. Lonnie Chisenhall .181
9. Brett Lawrie .178
10. Nolan Arenado .175
11. Manny Machado .173
12. Conor Gillaspie .162

OPS:
1. Conor Gillaspie .939
2. Juan Francisco .920
3. Kyle Seager .883
4. Adrian Beltre .873
5. Lonnie Chisenhall .856
6. Pablo Sandoval .850
7. Todd Frazier .811
8. Manny Machado .803
9. Juan Uribe .800
10. Pedro Alvarez .787
11. Yangervis Solarte .779
12. Matt Carpenter .770

AB/HR:
1. Juan Francisco 13.2
2. Kyle Seager 16.7
3. Brett Lawrie 19.7
4. Todd Frazier 19.8
5. Pedro Alvarez 21
6. Adrian Beltre 21.8
7. Manny Machado 22.4
8. Mike Moustakas 23.4
9. Yangervis Solarte 25.9
10. Josh Donaldson 26.1
11. Lonnie Chisenhall 29.8
12. Pablo Sandoval 32.5

wRC+:
1. Conor Gillsapie 161
2. Juan Francisco 151
3. Kyle Seager 148
4. Lonnie Chisenhall 143
5. Pablo Sandoval 143
6. Adrian Beltre 137
7. Juan Uribe 127
8. Todd Frazier 126
9. Matt Carpenter 122
10. Manny Machado 122
11. Pedro Alvarez 121
12. Yangervis Solarte

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above (2014 Stats):
1. Juan Francisco – 198 AB, 33 R, 15 HR, 38 RBI, 268/339/581
2. Kyle Seager – 251 AB, 27 R, 15 HR, 51 RBI, 3 SB, 275/357/526
3. Adrian Beltre – 284 AB, 42 R, 13 HR, 42 RBI, 1 SB, 317/355/518
4. Conor Gillaspie – 228 AB, 38 R, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 360/417/522
5. Todd Frazier – 317 AB, 46 R, 16 HR, 43 RBI, 15 SB, 281/338/473
6. Lonnie Chisenhall – 238 AB, 30 R, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 2 SB, 303/373/483
7. Pablo Sandoval – 260 AB, 35 R, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 323/370/481
8. Pedro Alvarez – 273 AB, 34 R, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB, 253/344/443
9. Manny Machado – 202 AB, 26 R, 9 HR, 22 RBI, 2 SB, 292/338/465
10. Brett Lawrie – 197 AB, 20 R, 10 HR, 31 RBI, 259/318/437
11. Juan Uribe – 207 AB, 19 R, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 319/346/454
12. Mike Moustakas – 234 AB, 26 R, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 205/267/393

Juan Francisco is averaging a HR every 13.2 AB vs RHP, Boom!
Juan Francisco is averaging a homer every 13.2 AB vs RHP. Boom!

If you were not convinced that third base was experiencing a down year in fantasy just look at this top twelve. Players like Pedro Alvarez were drafted in the middle rounds for power but a waiver wire pickup like Juan Francisco has not only hit more home runs against right-handed pitching, but is ahead of him in every category except runs scored. Anyone who had Conor Gillaspie as a top five target in this split please raise your hand and leave it there because you deserve a high five. While he is not a sexy target in daily games, his high floor represents great value on days when you need salary relief. He may not score double digits but should be able to get a solid three points versus a right handed pitcher. Sometimes a lineup just needs that. Manny Machado has been breaking out since his return from the disabled list and this exemplifies that. Both he and Brett Lawrie may be deciding factors in the AL East race going forward. While the statistics are not perfect, they do provide very informative glimpses into each positional split advantage. It also provides a more thorough understanding of what each player is capable of on a daily basis. It is not just a “Moneyball’ theory, but one that daily gamers can use to their advantage.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/9UGPZn (Arenado), http://goo.gl/ckVEOA (Fransisco)

Post Break Preview: 3B

Not only a fantasy ADP All Star, the Toddfather has broken through in 2014
Not only a fantasy ADP All Star, the Toddfather has broken through in 2014

Third base is a position in serious transition. Entering drafts this year it was almost necessary to reach on a third baseman in order to secure stable statistics for the season. Not only that, of the ten third baseman drafted on average in the top 100, two of them (Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion) will not have eligibility in 2015. Further, two of the top three third baseman according to ESPN’s Player Rater were drafted after round 20: Todd Frazier (ADP of 248) and Anthony Rendon (ADP of 283). Although Rendon will have 3B eligibility in 2014 he is more appealing at second base in most formats, but his dual eligibility will only enhance his value in 2015. Drafters were hesitant to trust in Josh Donaldson and though he is streaky he still resides in the top five with a solid statistical year stat line. Before I get to my ranks, here is the present third baseman ranks according to the player rater with their last 365 day stats entering the All Star Break:

1. Todd Frazier – 158 G, 85 R, 28 HR, 84 RBI, 15 SB 264/327/464
2. Adrian Beltre – 151 G, 86 R, 23 HR, 90 RBI, 2 SB 328/386/503
3. Josh Donaldson – 159 G, 101 R, 29 HR, 100 RBI, 6 SB 258/347/459
4. Kyle Seager – 161 G, 65 R, 22 HR, 88 RBI, 10 SB 253/336/427
5. Lonnie Chisenhall – 127 G, 56 R, 15 HR, 56 RBI, 2 SB 290/350/481
6. David Wright – 112 G, 55 R, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 7 SB 288/344/438
7. Evan Longoria – 166 G, 88 R, 25 HR, 81 RBI, 4 SB 256/330/426
8. Pedro Alvarez – 162 G, 72 R, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 7 SB 227/306/400
9. Aramis Ramirez – 108 G, 53 R, 18 HR, 66 RBI, 3 SB 292/353/482
10. Matt Carpenter – 165 G, 115 R, 6 HR, 69 RBI, 5 SB 297/383/414
11. Brock Holt – 80 G, 43 R, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 7 SB 303/350/429
12. Pablo Sandoval – 159 G, 65 R, 16 HR, 78 RBI, 0 SB 283/345/438
13. Conor Gillaspie – 127 G, 56 R, 10 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB 289/345/447
14. Chris Johnson – 158 G, 53 R, 12 HR, 73 RBI, 2 SB, 292/319/403
15. Juan Francisco – 129 G, 45 R, 21 HR, 51 RBI, 0 SB 221/294/461
16. Nolan Arenado – 120 G, 55 R, 10 HR, 56 RBI, 3 SB 292/314/446
17. Mark Reynolds – 126 G, 50 R, 20 HR, 53 RBI, 5 SB 211/298/393
18. Brett Lawrie – 139 G, 57 R, 18 HR, 70 RBI, 7 SB 262/320/413
19. Trevor Plouffe – 142 G, 57 R, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 1 SB 246/310/388
UR – Chase Headley – 135 G, 52 R, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 6 SB 248/333/395
UR – Manny Machado – 121 G, 58 R, 16 HR, 46 RBI, 2 SB 256/299/399

Omitted from this list with their rank in parentheses: Miguel Cabrera (2), Anthony Rendon (3), Casey McGehee (9), Josh Harrison (14), Martin Prado (18) and Carlos Santana (24) because they have more value at their other positions. (Rendon, Prado, Santana) and Miguel Cabrera will only have a first base designation in most leagues next year. To say the fantasy landscape at third base is dire is an understatement. Even with the breakthrough season by Todd Frazier, there has not been an infusion of talent at the hot corner for fantasy players to capitalize on. This is underscored by the list above. As pedestrian as David Wright’s stats have been over the last 365 days, he maintains a high ADP because of a combination of name value and lack of top options at his position. This further underscores how bad of a pick it was to take him in the first round in the FSTA by a “fantasy expert.” But we all make mistakes. A key to avoiding mistakes in the future is to use the projections and get the right breaks when a player not only achieves a projection, but more importantly exceeds it. Speaking of projections, here are the leaders using the ZiPS ROS projections via Fangraphs.com:

ZiPS ROS Projected Leaders:

Runs:
1. Matt Carpenter 33
2. Josh Donaldson 33
3. Evan Longoria 30
4. Kyle Seager 30
5. Adrian Beltre 29
6. Todd Frazier 28
7. Chase Headley 28
8. Manny Machado 28
9. David Wright 27
10. Pedro Alvarez 27

Home Runs:
1. Pedro Alvarez 11
2. Adrian Beltre 10
3. Evan Longoria 9
4. Todd Frazier 9
5. Josh Donaldson 9
6. Kyle Seager 8
7. Aramis Ramirez, David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas 7 each

RBI:
1. Josh Donaldson 34
2. Pedro Alvarez 34
3. Adrian Beltre 33
4. Kyle Seager 32
5. Evan Longoria 31
6. Todd Frazier 31
7. David Wright 29
8. Pablo Sandoval 29
9. Chase Headley 29
10. Aramis Ramirez, Chris Johnson 26

Stolen Bases:
1. Gerin Cecchini 6
2. David Wright 5
3. Todd Frazier 5
4. Klye Seager 4
5. Chase Headley 4
6. Brock Holt 4
7. Manny Machado 3
8. *Brett Lawrie 3

Batting Average:
1. Adrian Beltre .306
2. Nolan Arenado .284
3. Pablo Sandoval .279
4. Lonnie Chisenhall .278
5. Aramis Ramirez .278
6. David Wright .277
7. Chris Johnson .276
8. Brock Holt .276
9. Matt Carpenter .274
10. Nick Castellanos .274

Round mound of pound may be in store for a big second half
Round mound of pound may be in store for a big second half

While I like the safety that Beltre provides, the upside plays on this list could be the most important additions as the fantasy season winds down. It will go a long way towards developing ranks for third base in 2015 and beyond. It will be fun to try and navigate. I was fortunate to get Todd Frazier off the waiver wire in two different leagues and with the added stolen bases, I think he can maintain his value the rest of 2014. Here are my top 20 3B going forward:

1. Todd Frazier – Crazy? Maybe but why can’t he finish the year number one for present 3B? Projected for 9 HR, 31 RBI and 5 SB the rest of the way, I’ll take that.
2. Adrian Beltre – The Rangers offense is down but they still score at home and he is as solid as it gets, but a first round option? Not anymore.
3. Josh Donaldson – He is streaky but mashes lefties and Oakland’s offense will score runs down the stretch.
4. Kyle Seager – If the Mariners make a run at the playoffs Seager has to be a big part of it. Only he and Frazier have double digit home runs and steals over the last 365 days.
5. Pablo Sandoval – Somewhere Tim King is smiling. While his health is always in question, I see a big second half coming. Over his last 28 days he has hit 3 HR slashing .320/.378/.480.
6. Manny Machado – I do not have to love a guy to understand his value. It is time for him to bring his career arc forward and a big second half with the Orioles in a pennant race is just the way to do that. His last 28 games: 6 HR, 11 RBI and hitting .373/.420/.729, wow.
7. Aramis Ramirez – Hear me out, he is not flashy but the power is for real, he already had a DL stint so his power numbers will keep him relevant.
8. David Wright – I still respect Wright and he is a good fantasy option but he has been overvalued for too long. Casey McGehee is one spot behind him on the Player Rater.
9. Evan Longoria – Like Wright, he gets a pass for providing power at a weak position, but with only 25 over his 365 days, his price tag suggests it should be 30+.
10. Nolan Arenado – Great home ballpark. He has struggled to find his mojo post injury but it is coming soon.
11. Chase Headley – He is not a fantasy savior moving to New York, but it will not hurt his value. If he improves his average and a couple of fly balls clear the fence in right field, he justifies this spot.
12. Matt Carpenter – It is hard to maintain value at 3B with runs scored and batting average. That is a middle infielder, the league has adjusted to him.
13. Pedro Alvarez – Power is for real, his approach is not for the faint of heart. Third base’s version of Chris Davis or Adam Dunn.
14. Brett Lawrie – His rehab is nearing soon and his talent is so tantalizing, but I may be divorcing him after this year. Lawrie has 18 HR and 7 SB in only 139 games over the last 365 days, fantasy tease.
15. Lonnie Chisenhall – After his three home run performance in Texas he has hit, wait for it, two in his last 34 games. He is growing but is not a top ten option going forward.
16. Mike Moustakas – In fact, given the choice I would gamble on Moose, especially if I needed power for a team. His last 28 games: 4 HR and 255/311/491
17. Conor Gillaspie – Is this a run on the AL Central? Looks that way but Gillaspie deserves more attention than he is getting, slashing a respectable .315/.370/.462 for the season. Lacks power but helps in other areas.
18. Chris Johnson – Speaking of lacks power but helps, Johnson is nothing spectacular but if you got him late and he replaced an injured player you can tolerate his streaks but he just had a hot one.
19. Nick Castellanos – Solid rookie campaign and his star is on the rise.
20. Ryan Zimmerman – Would have had him much higher and he was just hitting his stride, until he popped his hammy. Out probably at least a month and makes him an upside play for the last 6 weeks.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on the Twitter machine @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ESPN.com, FantasyPros.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/gKJ46E (Frazier), http://goo.gl/SwBeFQ (Sandoval)