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Tuesday 17th Oct 2017

Happy Monday, as we push towards the holiday season with a very active Hot Stove.

There have been a lot of Major League machinations thus far, but since we have been looking at some under-the-radar players at various key spots, this week we will focus on corner infielders, finishing with backstops next week.

Corner infield is theoretically a low-rent version of your corner players, where in general looking for a .265-14-55 line in a deeper league, for $8 or so at auction time, or near round 18 or so in your draft is a pretty good baseline. But, corner is not so much a slot for the up-and-comers it seems, like outfield, or pitcher, or even middle infield. 

So, who are some of the guys I am thinking of as some cheaper sources of runs and power? Well, let's start with 32-year-old journeyman Chris Colabello, acquired by the Jays off waivers when the Twins let the first baseman/outfielder go. Colabello responded to his new environment with a .321-15-54 line, hitting a couple of my baselines pretty much on the nose, but exceeding the average line by 56 points. With 22 walks to 93 whiffs (.367 OBP), I would expect a correction in average, but with 375 or so at-bats (360 last year), Colabello should give you what you need. Be careful, though, not to overbid or be blinded by the .321 number.

Justin Bour, 27, was drafted by the Cubs in 2009, then plucked as a Rule 5 pick by the Fish in 2014 where he sat on the roster for the year with a somewhat ignominious .284-1-11 mark over 39 games. But, the chunky (6'4", 250 pounds) left-handed hitter is sort of the prototype big league slugger. And, if you have questions about this, his .263-23-73 numbers from last year sort of prove this point. Bour is good enough to make a roster, but probably not good enough to own the first base slot unless your league is deep beyond all belief. Like Colabello, the Achilles heel is 34 walks to 101 strikeouts.

I have written about the Yankees' Greg Bird already this off-season. The 23-year-old is clearly the baby here, and he has similarly the brightest future following his call-up and fine .261-11-31 numbers over 46 games last year. The issue for Bird, however, is where does he play with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez on board? I will confess I am not sure, but I do think barring a spring meltdown that Bird winds up with at least as many at-bats as one of the seniors he is trying to displace. Take advantage of the lower slot because I think Bird will be really good once he is a full-timer.

The Rangers' Mitch Moreland has hit the Saberhagen-metric path, going .232-23-60 in 2013, .246-2-23 in 2014 (though injury-filled), and then rebounding last year with a solid .278-23-85 line. Actually, Moreland's ups and downs predate 2013, but he clearly has 20-homer pop, and the 30-year-old, because his numbers and seasons can be erratic, tends to be dismissed. Don't let that make you afraid. Moreland is generally the kind of guy who won't hurt you too much.

I have been a big fan of the Tigers' Nick Castellanos, Detroit's first-rounder in 2010 who turns 24 just prior to Opening Day. Though the third sacker did improve his totals slightly (.255-15-73), Castellanos' second half line of .269-9-35 was a nice improvement over his 2015 first half. This is Castellanos' third full season, so though I am as always cautious of his strike zone judgment (his OBP at .302 is a little disconcerting), I am willing to take a chance as Nick goes into his third full season. That is usually make or break time.

Jake Lamb was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2012, and then hit .321-37-195 over 247 minor league games befor being called up. Lamb is a little rough around the edges still, but his .263-6-34 mark over 107 games makes the third sacker a prime candidate to pick it up with the re-tooled Arizonans. With 131 minor league walks to 230 strikeouts (36 to 97 at Chase last year), Lamb might boast the best eye, and thus possibilities among this crowd.

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