Ranking the Young Third Basemen: Part I

Terrible, terribly sorry for the scarcity of posts this week. I’ll try to make up for it today. Right now, let’s take a look at the young third basemen that are quite possibly on your waiver wire if you’re in a shallow or moderately deep league. I’ve been asked about a few of them over the past couple days, so hopefully this post will answer all of those questions.

I’ll first take a look at each player’s stats in the majors this year, and then we’ll see if they mesh with his minor league numbers. I’ll look at 3 guys now, the rest in a couple of hours, and then provide a list ranking them later this afternoon.

Alex Gordon – Picked by many as the AL Rookie of the Year favorite back in March, Gordon has disappointed those people so far. Let’s look at his prospects for the rest of the year. He has a 71% Contact rate, a 9.9% BB rate, and a 22.7% LD rate. His BB and LD stats translate to better than a .252 BABIP, although his low Contact rate will prevent him from hitting for a very high BABIP. It should increase to maybe .250 or .260, but if he keeps striking out it won’t get much higher. Gordon has only hit 3 HRs so far, but each has had a True Distance over 400 ft according to HitTracker.

In 2006, he had an 80% Contact rate, 12.5% BB rate, and a 16.3% LD rate in Double A. Judging by that, there is a decent chance he could see an improved contact rate, which would help his average. I don’t see his BB rate getting too much higher this year, but it is at a respectable level. He hit 29 HRs and 40 2Bs and 3Bs, and combined with the power he’s shown this year I’d say Gordon is in for a power surge the rest of the year. I’d say 18-20 HRs is a possibility. The Royals lineup is better than advertised, so Gordon should get some RBIs and a decent number of Runs if he can move up a spot or two.

Akinori Iwamura – Coming off the DL next week, Iwamura was a beast in April. He had an 82% Contact rate, 21.1% BB rate, and a 29.5% LD rate. Those numbers are bound to come down, but even if he ends up with an 11% BB rate and 22% LD rate Iwamura could hit .285-.290. He also stole three bases, and after saying preseason that he was aiming for 40, I think he could still grab 20 or 25 by year’s end. He also said he wanted 20 HRs, and his only one in April went a True Distance of 414 feet.

We’ll look at Iwamura’s Japanese numbers since this is his first year in America. In 2006, he had a 77% Contact rate and an 11.3% BB rate. In 2005, he had a 73.5% K rate and a 10.2% BB rate. For his career he had a 75.5% Contact rate and a 9.3% BB rate. Judging by that, I’d say his Contact rate is bound to drop into the high 70s and his BB rate might finish around 9 or 10%. With those numbers (and a 22% LD rate), Iwamura could hit .275 or .280. He had 44, 30, and 32 HRs, respectively, in 2004, 2005, and 2006, so 15 or 20 might be a possibility for this year. The D’Rays lineup is pretty good, and if he bats 6th again he should get his share of RBIs. His walks and a decent back of the order will help him get a few Runs.

Kevin Kouzmanoff – Like Alex Gordon, Kouzmanoff was an early favorite for Rookie of the Year, except in the NL. Also like Alex Gordon, he got off to a slow start. So far in 2006, he has a 75% Contact rate, 7.7% BB rate, and 20.2% LD rate. So-so, unspectacular numbers. The good news is that they can improve. The other good news is that he’s got some power. He’s hit 4 HRs so far (excluding his one last night), and they had True Distances of 378, 391, 429, and 447 feet. Seems like he can hit the ball a good distance.

In 244 Double AA At-Bats, Kouzmanoff had an 87.7% Contact rate, 8.3% BB rate, and an 18.4% LD rate. In 100 AAA At-Bats, he had an 89.3% Contact Rate, 8% BB rate, and a 23.3% LD rate. Judging by these, I’d say his Contact Rate should improve and his BB and LD rates seem about right. Since May 14th, he’s had an 82.8% Contact Rate, so I think he is well on his way to becoming the player I expected him to be preseason. He had 15 HRs in AA and 6 HRs in AAA, so I think 20 HRs in the majors is pretty likely. The Padres lineup is good (although Brian Giles is DL bound), and if Kouzmanoff can get himself up a few spots he should be fine with RBIs and get a decent amount of Runs.

OK. In an hour or two I’ll post about a few more 3B, including Mark Reynolds, Edwin Encarnacion, and Ryan Braun. Later this afternoon, I’ll post a list ranking these guys.

This post originally appeared at http://saberoticians.blogspot.com/2007/05/ranking-young-third-basemen.html

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