Last September 27, Lonnie Chisenhall ended a rough first Major League season with a 2-for-5 effort, including a run scored in what turned out to be a pretty meaningless game against Detroit. On Monday, Chisenhall returned to the big leagues for what he hopes will be a more impressive sophomore campaign, and got things started with another 2-hit performance, against featuring a run scored, this time on a first-pitch home run in his first plate appearance.
Chisenhall’s ownership percentage in ottoneu was high even before the powerful debut, and is poised to climb – there are more auctions currently underway for Chisenhall than for any other player. The question for both current and prospective Chisenhall owners is what to expect from the youngster.
Once considered one of the top prospects in baseball thanks to a sweet swing and some solid minor league numbers, Chisenhall’s star lost some luster with a .255/.284/.415 line over 66 games as a rookie in 2011. With a .299 BABIP and .160 ISO, Chisenhall was not suffering from a lack of luck or a power outage – he just plain stopped making contact. After regularly posting K% around 15% in his minor league career, Chisenhall struck out 22% of the time in his first tour of the bigs.
Despite this, most people assumed he would be ticketed for Cleveland to start 2013, but instead the Indians turned to Jack Hannahan. Chisenhall wasted no time demanding a call-up. In 28 games in Columbus this year, the still-only-23-year-old put up a .319/.352/.531 line with four HR, while keeping his K% down at 16.4%, closer to his career norms. With Hannahan on the DL, Chisenhall will have a couple weeks, albeit weeks he may have to split with the hot-hitting Jose Lopez, to prove that he shouldn’t have to take the drive back down I-71 to Columbus.
Regardless of the fast start, in Tuesday’s Roto Riteup, Zach Sanders warned mixed leaguers not to “get carried away and grab him” right away. But, of course, ottoneu isn’t just any mixed league.
And, as far as ottoneu owners are concerned, Chisenhall is most definitely a worthy add if you still have a shot at him.
Chisenhall’s power potential is somewhat limited, as only once has he broken the 20 HR barrier in a single season, with 22 split between High-A and Double-A in 2009. The fact that he accomplished that feat at just 21 is a good sign, but not enough to suggest 30+ HR potential. Chisenhall will likely fall between 15-25 HR a year, and I would bet he falls in the upper half of that range. Chisenhall is not a base-stealing threat, and his 5×5 impact will likely be muted by a placement near the end of the Indians lineup, at least for 2012.
However, if he can get the playing time he needs, Chisenhall is a decent low-end 3B option in ottoneu leagues, and is definitely someone worth owning and watching. If he can establish himself as line drive machine in Cleveland the way he has in the minors, he could easily see himself moving up that lineup in 2013 and settling in as a solid starter in all fantasy formats, providing value with base hits, doubles power and enough HR to be dangerous.
Much like I said about Matt Adams a week ago, Chisenhall won’t win your league for you this year, and you shouldn’t count on him to do so. But he is a decent fill-in option at 3B this year and could easily be your starter in 2013.
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