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Risers at Third Base: Michael Cuddyer, Mark Reynolds, Scott Sizemore

There are a few hot hands at the hot corner worth mentioning, and for anyone without a dead team, you know that third base hasn’t exactly been the deepest position in 2011. I’m not going to take a stab at what these gentlemen may produce from here on out, leaving that to the rest-of-the-season-machines, but I wanted to shed light on a few emerging developments over at the five.

Michael Cuddyer

There are a lot of folks outside of Minnesota who haven’t noticed that Michael Cuddyer has been emitting violent solar flares, strongly effecting long range radio communications. In the month of June, Cuddyer has been plainly stupid hot, hitting .333/.403/.683 with 5 home runs and 15 RBI. Yes, in 17 games, he has doubled his home run and more than doubled his RBI output.

He’s not doing it by virtue of tremendous luck as his BABIP is .320 in June, which is just a tick above his season and career BABIP. He is, however, hitting better than 31% of his flyballs for home runs. While that’s not likely to stay that high, it’s worth noting that none of his June home runs have been cheapies. Checking in over at ESPN Hit tracker, all of his longballs in June have been over 400 feet and deemed to have “plenty” of distance. Part of his current success is found in his splits as he’s absolutely killing left handed pitchers this year to the tune of .379/.474/.712.

Mark Reynolds

Reynolds has had a well documented steaming pile of a season thus far, but his June has been pretty tremendous. He’s hit .300/.435/.720 with 6 HR and 12 RBI in June and fully resurrected what appeared to be a career on the brink. A lot of folks will point to his .375 BABIP this month and scream fluke, and while he may have had a lucky hop or two, his xBABIP is still .348 in June.

A point made earlier this season was his horrific results versus left handed pitchers (see chart at bottom of link), and sure enough, he’s coming around and a lot of his recent success is attributed to his hitting lefties as he’s gone from a .133 SLG, .033 ISO, and .150 BABIP since the middle of May up to a .424 SLG, .242 ISO, and .211 BABIP, resembling the good Mark Reynolds much more than the bad.

Something else is happening with Reynolds too, and I have to credit a commenter “mike” from the post linked above, suggesting (I’m paraphrasing) that Reynolds simply needed to accept the fact that he’s going to strike out a ton and be himself. And in fact, that’s what it looks like he’s done as his K rate is back up in the 40’s and yet his results are reminiscent of 2009.

Scott Sizemore

While going from first to worst in the respective divisions probably wasn’t what Sizemore would have hoped for, the trade to the Athletics has had the proverbial ‘change of scenery’ affect that the old cliche was designed for. Sizemore, mostly a second baseman in the Tiger’s system, has been used in enough games at third base to qualify in most formats and since his recall from the minors after the trade to Oakland, has been a pretty regular fixture in the lineup.

In his six seasons in the minors, Sizemore posted a .300/.388/.453 line and bested all three figures in his time at AAA. He has displayed a genuine ability to hit for power, and the A’s appear committed to seeing if he can carry that over to the big leagues and be their third basemen for the next several seasons. His issues with making contact will always make him a batting average risk, but in deeper leagues, you could give Sizemore a look — and in particular in daily lineups where he would be a solid play versus left handed pitchers.