by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Yesterday we got the news that Greg Bird would be sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks, needing surgery to remove a bone spur from his ankle. That means he could miss the first two-and-a-half months of the season, or more, by the time he’s got his timing down and is ready to return to the Majors. While it’s a blow to his value, he still could be a major factor in the second half. How can owners fill the void in the short-term? Here are a few first baseman currently owned in less than 60% of both CBS and ESPN formats:
Brandon Belt – San Francisco Giants
CBS Sports – 55%, ESPN – 20.6%
Last season’s concussion issues, which prematurely ended his campaign, has seemingly caused many to ignore him heading into 2018. It’s fair, though he showed no ill effects this spring:
.365 (19-52), 3 HR, 11 RBI, 14 R
It may only be Spring Training, but you couple it with 6 doubles as well as 9 K vs. 8 BB and it should significantly ease the concerns. It’s also easy to forget that prior to getting hurt he had hit 18 HR over 463 PA and while the average was a poor .241 the underlying metrics indicate much more:
- 23.4% line drive rate would justify a better BABIP (.284)
- He improved his SwStr% (10.6%)
- He continued to show a strong eye (22.0% O-Swing%)
A career .268 hitter, it’s easy to envision a .270/25 year with the potential for even more.
Lucas Duda – Kansas City Royals
CBS Sports – 14%, ESPN – 17.4%
Duda doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he may be the perfect replacement for Bird considering the power he’s displayed. He’s hit at least 27 HR in three of the past four seasons, with the exception being ’16 when he played in 47 games. Strikeouts could be an issue, with a 24.1% career mark, though the bigger problem is his career 46.8% fly ball rate. While it brings power, it eliminates the opportunity for an elevated BABIP (career .280 mark).
That said, you weren’t drafting Bird for his average (though there is more potential than for Duda). Duda should hit .240-.250 while providing some power, and while the ceiling isn’t as high the production could ultimately be similar.
Colin Moran – Pittsburgh Pirates
CBS Sports – 17%, ESPN – 3.8%
Acquired from the Astros as part of the Gerrit Cole trade, Moran appears primed to be the Pirates’ third baseman this season (though he has first base eligibility). The biggest key for Moran is the improvements he made in his strikeout rate at Triple-A, with a 16.3% strikeout rate courtesy of a 10.4% SwStr%. Maintaining that improvement would go a long way, as he’s proven he can hit the ball hard so a .260+ average could be in the cards.
Moran may not offer the highest ceiling and isn’t going to offset the loss of power, there’s enough upside to at least consider him a viable option (especially if he’s hitting the ball well).
Others to Consider:
- Yuli Guerriel (HOU)- We’ll have to wait for him to be healthy, but once May rolls around he will be a good plug in
- Ryan McMahon (COL) – The resigning of Carlos Gonzalez cost him his opportunity in the near-term, but if he gets his shot he should produce
Source – Fangraphs
** ORDER ROTOPROFESSOR’S 2017 DRAFT GUIDE TODAY **
Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!! Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:
|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|