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We’re Not Dead Yet: Chisenhall, Headley

Chase Headley and Lonnie Chisenhall have both failed to meet reasonable expectations this year. As recently as yesterday, they ranked 14th and 31st at third base on this very site. They started the season ranked 5th, and 21st, respectively. In just four short months, the fall has been precipitous.

Third base certainly still boasts its share of superstars, but if you have a few 12-team league teams, there’s no doubt one of them has caused you problems at the hot corner. There number of disappointing black holes have been abundant. But there are a couple players that have been showing signs of life lately that should register on your radar if you’re looking for help.

Chances are, Headley is already on a roster. His ownership sits at 75% in Yahoo and over 80% in ESPN leagues. But his ownership rates aren’t really the point because there’s nobody in fantasy baseball that’s happy with Headley’s production. This makes him an intriguing trade target of course.

Headley’s current line of .229/.330/.359 with seven home runs, 31 RBI, and six steals is a far cry from the early season Steamer projection of .264/.352/.418 with 18 HR and 76 RBI — and that projection even seemed pretty conservative to me at the time. But in his last 58 plate appearances — or 14 games — Headley has hit .271/.379/.438 with a home run and five doubles. It’s not setting the world on fire, but it’s certainly improvement. Over that same time span, Headley’s O-Swing% rate dropped about five percent, and his contact rate improved slightly as well.

Recall that in the first half of 2012, Headley hit .267/.368/.413 with 8 home runs and subsequently hit 23 home runs from that point on, running up a .308/.386/.592 slash line. If you have a need at third base and the price is right, it might be the perfect time to inquire.

A guy that’s widely available is Lonnie Chisenhall. His ownership sits in the teens and 20% range depending on format, and unless you’re in a deep league-specific format, he should be free for the taking. There is, of course, good reason that he’s not going to cost you anything. Before being cast to AAA, Chisenhall was hitting just .213/.253/.351 with almost a 25% strikeout rate and just a 3% walk rate and he generally seemed like a lost cause.

Since his June 18 recall, however, he’s been a new man. In those 22 games and 81 plate appearances, Chisenhall has hit .280/.333/.493 with three home runs and 14 RBI. Over that span, his BABIP has been .305 while his xBABIP projects over .340 based on his hit trajectory – so it’s not all smoke and mirrors. Early season Steamer projections suggested Chisenhall ought to have been good for a .257/.311/.426 line with 15 home runs and a smattering of steals and he’s certainly starting to look like the kind of player that can be useful on a standard league roster.