Orioles Third Baseman Manny Machado gruesomely twisted his knee on first base, tearing his medial patellofemora ligament. For those Head-to-Head fantasy owners fortunate enough to be playing this week (or for those owners wrapping up their roto seasons), a replacement at 3B could be tough to find.
Here are some suggestions to plug into your lineup between Thursday, September 26th and Sunday, September 29th:
Todd Frazier (3B / 1B / OF - CIN) ; vs. PIT (3 Gms) -- Frazier is surging in September (.284 BA), hitting 48 points above his season average during the month (although peripherally I would attribute that to a little good luck for a pull-hitter who is unlikely to ever produce a flashy BABIP). Over his last 9 games, Frazier has batted sixth in the order each game and registered a total of 10 H, 2 HR, 8 R, 7 RBI, and 1 SB. And, up until the Mets series, the Reds offense had scored at least 5 Runs in 7 of their previous 8 games.
Although he's slugged 5 HR in September, 2 of them were hit during a two-game stretch this past weekend and another 2 came during the same game on September 5th. Further, his inflated 19.2% HR/FB rate in September should be expected to regress. Frazier's splits reveal that he has slightly less power against right-handed pitchers (.143 ISO) than lefties (.235 ISO); on the other hand, he does sport a much-favorable 15.3% HR/FB rate at Home compared to other ballparks (8.2%). He hits for more power against lefties (.237 ISO) than righties (.142 ISO), making his match-up against Locke (LHP) much more appealing than Burnett (RHP) or Morton (RHP). Frazier may not be your best option, but the Reds are fighting for home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game head-to-head against their Wild Card opponent (PIT), making their lineup a solid bet to produce runs.
Frazier's weakest category, Batting Average, shouldn't dissuade fantasy owners from adding him. For fantasy purposes, Batting Average is impossible to predict over a four-game sample, so Frazier's greatest liability becomes a non-factor.
Danny Valencia (3B - BAL) ; vs. TOR (1 Gm), vs. BOS (3 Gms) -- An obvious replacement for Machado as his real-life benefactor, Valencia is an intriguing add mostly because of his four remaining pitching matchups (Buehrle, Buchholz, Lester, Lackey). Valencia hits better at home (.404 BA / .414 OBP / .737 SLG vs .233 / .286 / .456) and against lefties (.364 / .387 / .648 vs .203 / .254 / .441), making him especially interesting in daily H2H leagues on Thursday, a day with a half-slate of games, against Buehrle. Although Buchholz is still dominant following his extended stint on the Disabled List, the Red Sox are likely to abbreviate or cancel each of their team's final three starts to end the season and enter the playoffs well-rested. Plus, the Orioles finish the season at home, which favors Valencia.
This late in the season, Valencia's greatest downside, his inability to draw walks (5.1 BB%), is irrelevant over a four-game sample. Valencia's recent slump, however, is a drawback: over his last 36 at-bats, he has merely 7 hits, good for a .194 BA. Despite his recent struggles, O's Manager Buck Showalter kept Valencia in the DH role and, after resting him yesterday in favor of Ryan Flaherty at 3B, we'll likely see Valencia start during the O's remaining 4 games. With the Orioles now eliminated from the playoffs, Valencia could be moved up in the order to consolidate the void left by Machado and/or be given an opportunity to get more at-bats by Showalter & Co. to further evaluate him before the end of the season.
Juan Uribe (3B - LAD) ; vs. COL (3 Gms) / Matt Dominguez (3B - HOU) ; vs. NYY (3 Gms) -- Uribe and Dominguez, both underwhelming options, are similar in that they hit for power (1 HR per 31.17 AB vs 1 HR per 25.04 AB) with a similar HR/FB (11.1% vs 12.1%).
Dominguez hit a HR yesterday, albeit a solo shot off Yu Darvish at the hitter-friendly Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He has 8 Hits in his last 24 At-Bats over 6 Games, including match-ups against Darvish, Ubaldo Jimenez, Corey Kluber, Derek Holland's Complete Game Shutout and a 10 K performance by Scott Kazmir. This weekend he'll face-off against Andy Pettitte, David Huff, and Hiroki Kuroda. Although his match-up vs. Pettitte isn't favorable (Dominguez hits .243 / .284 / .368 vs. LHP compared to .246 / .292 / .429 vs. RHP), both Kuroda (0-6 with a 6.37 ERA since August 13th) and Huff (5.59 ERA) are favorable match-ups for any hitter at this point. If you're worried about his two games against lefties, you can still at least expect him to be a similar hitter (.243 BA vs LHP compared to .246 BA vs RHP) but with significantly less power (.125 ISO vs LHP compared to .183 ISO vs RHP) which admittedly diminishes his greatest fantasy asset.
Despite Uribe's higher slugging against lefties (.473 vs .416) and at home (.423 vs .422), he has hit an identical number of HR's against LHP, RHP, at home, and away (6). So without splits, Colorado's 2 RHP's and 1 LHP are a good matchup against Uribe in that they're Jhoulys Chacin (allowed 1 HR in each of his last 3 starts; allowed at least 1 R in each of his last 15 starts; at least 4 ER in 3 of his 4 starts against the Dodgers), Jorge de la Rosa (3.76 FIP; injured thumb, may not start), and Juan Nicasio (5.32 ERA; recently admitted pain and fatigue in surgically-repaired left knee but is still expected to start). Colorado could very well end the season with two blowout games, of which Uribe would likely be a major factor in.
Matt Davidson (3B - ARI) ; vs SD (1 Gm), @ SF (3 Gms) -- Williams, the 22-year old Rookie who is fighting for playing time in 2014, has hit a somewhat impressive .250 / .351 / .453 over 27 games to go along with 3 HR, 8 R and 11 RBI. Over his previous 3 games (2 @ COL, 1 @ SD), Davidson is hitting .333 / .385 / .917. Although he strikes out at a ridiculous rate through this small sample size (25.7% K%), it's actually slightly down from his rate in AAA this year (26.8% K%).
He's a right-handed hitter that has fared significantly better against righties (.262 / .354 / .548) than lefties (.227 / .346 / .273), which makes his remaining schedule (3 RHP, 1 LHP) appealing. Davidson's games @ SF aren't ideal but gambling on a young player to end the season is worth the risk.
Eduardo Nunez (3B / SS - NYY) ; @ HOU (3 Gms) -- The Yankees are on the brink of playoff elimination having lost 7 of their last 10 games and 11 of their last 18. A-Rod is ailing and Nunez has started 5 of their last 6 games at 3B, hitting .317 / .350 / .526 with 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 SB. If A-Rod is unable to play the field in their final series at Houston, the Yankees are likely to start Nunez all 3 games given David Adams' pathetic .192 BA over 142 PA's. Unless, of course, Manager Joe Girardi elects to start Lyle Overbay at 1B and Mark Reynolds at 3B, but that's doubtful given Overbay's recent play (0 Hits in his last 9 At-Bats; .163 BA in September). Nunez is most ideal at 3B if you need both R and SB to win.
BA = Batting Average
BABIP = Batting Average on Balls In Play
FIP = Fielding Independent Pitching
OBP = On-Base Percentage
SLG = Slugging Percentage
BB% = Walk Percentage
K% = Strikeout Percentage
ISO = Isolated Power
HR/FB = Home Run Per Fly Ball Rate
AB = At-Bat
PA = Plate Appearance