Third base hasn’t necessarily been a complete black hole, what with the arrivals of Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, and a resurgent Pedro Alvarez. But it’s not a plentiful field from which to choose from either. There have been many managers scrambling for answers at third base since guys like Mike Moustakas, Chase Headley, Brett Lawrie and a cast of others left us out in third base purgatory.
One of those answers seemed to be waiver wire darling Luis Valbuena, who through April and May was hitting .264/.372/.464 with six home runs and 17 RBI. He was a player that seemed to have decent enough success at high levels of the minor leagues that he should be able to produce at the major league level, and it appeared that his potential had finally made the conversion. And then there was June.
In June, Valbuena hit .190/.297/.266 with no home runs, and six RBI. Perhaps pressing for the fences, his IFFB% was 15.2% in June and he registered just a .261 wOBA, behind the likes of Freddy Galvis, Juan Uribe, and Joaquin Arias. There is some evidence that perhaps Valbuena is getting a little unlucky with the bouncing ball as his xBABIP is .254 while his June BABIP was just .224. But that difference can’t account for this level of offensive misery.
If you were leaning on Valbuena, thinking he would carry that slash line from the first two months — that ship has sailed. But I also don’t know that he’s completely turned into a pumpkin. I tend to think the culmination of his 2013 season is likely what we’re going to get from here on out: .235/.343/.387 and if he can pump six more home runs he might be useful in deep leagues or league-specific formats. But 10 team mixed leagues, if you haven’t already, you can move on.
Ed Lucas (Ed Lucas?)
Yes, Ed Lucas. Lucas is 31 and playing for his fourth major league organization. Fortunate for Lucas, he happens to play for a major league organization rather devoid of major league talent. So welcome to the show, Ed!
But hey now, let’s be fair. Lucas’ AAA totals aren’t awful at .265/.337/.403 with 33 home runs in roughly 1400 at bats, about the equivalent of two-plus seasons. In 2013, he was hitting .304/.354/.453 with five home runs in fewer than 200 plate appearances with New Orleans, earning his call.
Since joining Miami, Lucas has produced nicely with a .289/.366/.344 line, scoring 15 runs over 24 games. Obviously lacking in the power department, Lucas really shouldn’t be relied upon for more than a half dozen home runs should he stick at third. But if you’re desperate in a deeper league, Lucas could be a useful warm body should you have someone on the DL. His positional versatility might make him interesting enough to keep around — he’s played 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, and LF so far. As far as eligibility goes, he should only need a couple more games at first and second and a few more at short to qualify in most leagues.
One thing to watch is the fact that Lucas swings at a lot of balls outside the strike zone (34% O-Swing%) and he doesn’t make a lot of contact when he does (70% O-contact%). Chances are, if he continues to square up line drives at a 24% rate as he currently is, pitchers are going to capitalize on that tendency and he’s not going to see many strikes.