With summer officially starting next week and the weather about to heat up, let's focus on the hot corner. Better yet, let's cover a trio of third basemen in this week's buy-low candidates.For those who are set at that position or simply seeking a little variety, we'll throw a starting
With summer officially starting next week and the weather about to heat up, let's focus on the hot corner. Better yet, let's cover a trio of third basemen in this week's buy-low candidates.
For those who are set at that position or simply seeking a little variety, we'll throw a starting pitcher primed for a breakout into the mix, too.
Justin Turner, 3B, Dodgers
After Turner's star-making campaign in 2017, owners who drafted him this season were expecting steady production once the Dodgers third baseman returned from a fractured left wrist suffered when he was hit by a pitch late in Spring Training. That hasn't been the case, frustrating anyone who has rostered Turner to this point.
The 33-year-old is slashing just .243/.325/.343 with only one home run in 20 games since returning May 15. Making matters worse, Turner has been experiencing soreness in the wrist recently, forcing him out of the starting lineup since June 6.
All of the above adds up to an opportunity to buy low on Turner. Recovering from this type of injury often means a player's power is diminished in the short term, and that clearly is the case here. Is there a risk that you deal for Turner and his power remains underwhelming for the rest of 2018? Sure. But Turner has maintained his elite plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills -- sporting a 10.0 percent walk rate and an 8.8 percent strikeout rate -- which is a sign that he can turn his season around if his wrist gets right.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox
So much for that breakout first full big league season, huh? Devers was a revelation of sorts upon his callup late last July when the Red Sox were desperate for someone to handle third base, hitting .289/.358/.537 in his first 32 games before cooling in September. Needless to say, that got fantasy folks super psyched for what was to come in 2018.
Well, they're still waiting. Devers owns a .231/.285/.401 line through his initial 64 contests this season, and his owners must be even more turned off because a number of Red Sox hitters -- from Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez to Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts to even Mitch Moreland -- are thriving.
This is where we remind you that the development of former top prospects like Devers is not often predictable and never linear, especially early in their careers. Devers is struggling some with strikeouts (26.6 percent), but it's not dire. When he does make contact, his average exit velocity (92.2 mph) is among the top 20 in baseball (min. 100 batted balls).
That's promising, as is the fact that Devers hits in one of baseball's best lineups and still is just 21 years old. A little patience is required, and the adjustment might not come this season -- but if it does, you'll be glad you landed Devers at a deeply discounted price.
Jake Lamb, 3B, D-backs
Lamb's stats are severely suppressed primarily because he missed six whole weeks very early on with a left shoulder injury. He's played only 23 games and accumulated all of 98 plate appearances, so Lamb hasn't really had the chance to get going.
His owner likely knows this, and yet it's tough to look at a .235 average, 11 runs, four homers and 18 RBIs and not feel like Lamb has performed poorly. Heck, the D-backs third baseman may even have been displaced as the starter on many a fantasy roster by now.
That makes him ripe for being plucked at well below-market cost in a trade. Why wouldn't you want to snipe an in-his-prime 27-year-old coming off a 2016-17 in which he averaged 85 runs, 30 doubles, 30 homers and 98 RBIs with an .843 OPS? Add in the fact that Lamb is walking (14.3 percent) and whiffing (21.4 percent) at career-best rates, and it's merely a matter of time before he starts resembling the slugger he was during the past two seasons.
Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates
Taillon's buy-low case is less about capitalizing on an underperforming or injured player and more about swooping in to snag a possible star in the making. Although the Pirates right-hander is doing well enough, he hasn't really stood out as more than a solid SP4 in most fantasy formats, recording three wins with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.
But look a little deeper, and it looks a lot better. Taillon has a strong 3.61 FIP, as he's posted solid strikeout (22.7 percent) and walk (6.4 percent) rates while recording a 1.0 HR/9 rate. Even more impressive and promising? Based on his strikeouts, walks, exit velocity and launch angle allowed -- also known as his "expected stats" -- Taillon ranks among the top 20 (minimum 200 plate appearances) in xBA (.218), xSLG (.375) and xwOBA (.280).
Still just 26 years old, Taillon continues to improve and has yet to put it all together, at least in terms of results. There's a potential fantasy SP2 lurking here, and there's a chance the Taillon owner in your league doesn't know it yet.
Jason Catania is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com.