Third Base Auction Values: Morel, Roberts, Encarnacion

I used to date a girl whose father was a used car salesman – and he had an uncanny ability to apply his motto to just about every facet of everyday life – that is, “everybody likes to feel like they got a good deal.” The underlying message, however was that people might like to feel like they got a good deal whether they did or not.

To his credit, this even applies in fantasy baseball. You might suggest Mat Gamel at auction at a price of $4 dollars and someone feeling like they’re getting a good deal takes him for $5. Yay, Mat Gamel! And yet, they probably could have had him for $2 bucks.

But let’s focus attention on actually getting a good deal at third base instead. And there are deals to be had, if early indications hold.

Brent Morel – $3

Morel actually went for just $2 bucks in the Second Fangraphs Staff Ottoneu League and in stealing from Carson Cistulli’s FG+ write-up on Morel, he’s “someone upon whom to speculate,” which almost immediately makes one eyebrow cautiously raise.

Morel’s season was almost a total loss if it weren’t for the last month and a half where he went on a power binge, hitting eight of his overall 10 home runs and despite lacking a bit in the batting average department, he hit for far better power, and actually walked at a greater clip than any other time in the season. In fact, a good bet to win you a beer somewhere in Chicago – Brent Morel drew a base on balls 22 times in 2011, how many times did he walk in September? (Answer – 15). Yes, almost 70% of his walks came in less than 25% of his plate appearances in the last month of the year. Weird.

But Morel, 24, ought to be able to provide a solid batting average, potential for upper teens in home runs, and depending on where he lands in the White Sox lineup, shouldn’t kill you in runs or RBI. He might even snag a few bases while he’s at it. He’s a great backup plan or a plug-and-play type should injury strike your squad.

Ryan Roberts $4

For a guy that flirted with 20/20, you would think he would be more valuable to fantasy managers, but he’s not only going awfully late in typical snake drafts, but he’s even found below Old Crow and Dickel on the auction whiskey shelf. The problem with Roberts it seems is his age (31), fear that he’s a one-hit wonder, and that with his risk there’s just not enough reward.

Back in October, I had this to say about Roberts:

His season wasn’t buoyed on the back of a ton of luck as his BABIP was .275 whereas his xBABIP was fully .319. Now, perhaps it’s not realistic for Ryan Roberts to maintain a 24.3% line drive rate in the future considering 2010 was just 10.2% and 2009 featured a line drive rate of 19.2%, but even if he fell back to 2009 rates, if he wasn’t horribly unlucky, he’d be able to sustain a BABIP at or above his 2011 level. His HR/FB rate was perhaps a little fortuitous, but he does play in the thin Arizona air, and his park plays favorably to right handed batters. He’s a dead pull power hitter with 18 of his 19 home runs being straight left field, and his average distance on his home runs was over 380 feet, so while he wasn’t sending balls into the stratosphere, he didn’t have a pile of cheapies.

Roberts also walks at a fair clip, and has a history of doing so in his major league career, so his OBP won’t hurt you. In fact, if you trust ZiPS, he’s projected to have an OBP the same as Brett Lawrie at .333. At four bucks, which is also what he went for in the Second Fangraphs Ottoneu League, I think he’s worth the risk in hopes that he can recreate the magic from 2011, and at a minimum, provide you some nice positional flexibility in case the need arises.

Edwin Encarnacion $4

Encarnacion is averaging $4 at auction and actually went for just $2 in the 2nd FG Ottoneu League. Of the three highlighted here, he is perhaps my favorite.

Most of the projection systems see close to 30 doubles and high-teens HR totals for Encarnacion, garnering enough hits and walks to put him well over 600 points if you’re using linear weights in your Ottoneu league. Even in typical 5×5 roto, Encarnacion will net you a good number of RBI and Runs along with what projects to be about a .265 batting average.

Don’t forget that his overall 2011 line, while respectable enough on its own, was dragged down by a miserable first half. His stats from July 1st to the end of the season featured a triple slash of .289/.370/.491 with 12 home runs, 19 doubles, and 40 RBI in just over 300 plate appearances — so there’s always the allure of what might be if he can string that kind of production over a full season.

Third base doesn’t provide a tremendous amount of depth in quality production, but I think there are some good low-cost options to help your squad should you get shut out of some of the bigger names on draft day.

Or heck, maybe Honest John was right and you’ll just feel like they help your squad.

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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

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Morel-he got some love over at Beyond the Boxscore on Thursday…..should be interesting to see if his September power surge if real.