Happy New Year. It’s time to turn your attention from fantasy football to prepare for the real fantasy season of 2016 Baseball. It’s about time for those of us who love this game to start studying. I like to get in about 4-6 weeks of reading stories in magazines and on the internet seeing everyone’s prognostications on the ultimate sleepers, break out prospects and newly healthy grizzled veterans. This of course is usually followed by a countless number of mock drafts and auctions.
I’d love to get you started on a few players at Third base who might be slightly undervalued enabling you to swoop in and get a deeper team.
- Miguel Sano, MIN – Here is an example of a very highly touted prospect who last year showed off what he can do with the bat. He had a BABIP of .396 which seems too good to be true. His wOBA of .392 shows that he is a patient hitter thanks in large part to his 15.8% walk rate. When he does get the pitch he likes he hits the ball with authority to the tune of a Hard Hit Rate of 43.2%. Sano has a lot of pop in that bat. He is going to be penciled into a run producing spot in the Twins lineup which has a knack for getting on base. Long story short if you see him being overlooked in your draft/auction it would be a great idea to take advantage.
- Justin Turner, LAD – Turner may be the most underrated hitter in baseball. Don Mattingly knew this as he continued to run him out there instead of their “other” hard hitting Cuban import, Alex Guerrero. There was a time in the early to middle part of last season when Guerrero seemed to hit a handful of HR’s leaving the media to demand his insertion into the everyday lineup. Here is why Donnie Baseball did not do so. Turner had a .321 BABIP a 8.2 BB & 16.2k rates, a 31.7 hard hit rate with a 27.7 line drive and wOBA of .371 rate to show that he doesn’t just hit deep fly balls but hits the ball hard to all fields. Gets on base because he makes good contact with most pitches he swings at in the strike zone (zcontact was 87.2). The one question haunting him this season will be his micro fracture surgery he had when the dodgers were knocked out of the playoffs. Turner is now off of crutches and has begun working out again. He says he will be ready by spring training. If this holds true don’t let someone else get a hitter that does everything well on the cheap.
- Mike Moustakas, KC – Here is a guy who was so close to being a quickly forgotten, hard swinging, all or nothing hitter. A true liability to kill rallies on an eventual World Series team was g0oing to be replaced and sent to the minors. Then, something happened. Something clicked. When Moustakas showed up for Spring Training and started playing Arizona exhibition games. He was hitting the ball to the opposite field. He was hitting the ball hard and going with whatever the pitcher gave him. Whether this was the work of the KC coaching staff or Moustakas realizing that his demise would happen very soon he stopped trying to hit the ball to Jupiter, FL and used the whole field. He sported a .294 BABIP to go with a sparkling 7BB to a 12.4K rate. A 91.4 Z contact rate to show his new found ability to hit what he swung at and a 31.3 hard hit rate to show he was hitting those pitches with authority. With a wOBA of .353 he showed he can make good contact. Hit the ball to all fields and still be patient enough to take a walk if he didn’t get it. If he is able to improve on his numbers slightly from last year as he is just entering his prime then he may be in the discussion for a top 5 fantasy third base ranking in the soon to be future.
- Stephen Piscotty, STL – The Cardinals have a way of producing well rounded baseball players from their farm system…Piscotty is one of the latest success stories. When he was called up from the minors he hit the ground running. With a starting job waiting for him amid the injury problems that occurred starting with the loss of Mat Adams. Piscotty had a BABIP of .372 which will likely have some regression now that pitchers will figure him out a little better. His 7.8% BB rate compared to a 21.9% K rate is average. It does show a good eye at the plate with his slightly above average walk rate. A .364 wOBA confirms his very good ability to get on base. When he does make contact at a z rate of 86% in the strike zone he made hard contact to the tune of a 37.4 HHR That is REALLY good. It compares to the great Kris Bryant who had a HHR of 37.5. Piscotty looks to have a chance to start in 2016 and while he will not likely be the type of 30 HR 100 RBI guy that owners target in corner infield positions he has the ability to make up for it with Runs, Doubles, RBI and BB’s.
- Maikel Franco, PHI – When the tough to watch Phillies made the decision to go into rebuilding mode they moved Cody Asche to the minors to learn how to play the outfield. This allowed Franco to be called up and slide right into the starting third base role. Franco had a very good showing last season. None of the numbers for Franco stand out to me other than his .360 wOBA. He hit well, took walks and found a way to get production from the middle of the order. As the Phillies start to promote guys like JP Crawford to short stop and other guys to hit in front of Franco the power hitter will very likely return the investment with some run production possibly as the cleanup hitter in the lineup very soon.