Jake Lamb: Top 10 Fantasy Third Baseman
Every year, we as fantasy writers and owners, get to rank players at each position, and every year we see several players at each position break out. Some are predictable and others are not. The Diamondbacks seem to have a breakout player every season. Last season, it was David Peralta. A couple years ago, it was Paul Goldschmidt. This season, their breakout player is third baseman Jake Lamb. I recall back in the preseason, ESPN’s Keith Law predicted a breakout season for Lamb, and he appears to be right on that call.
On Monday afternoon, Lamb went 2-4 with a home run and 2 RBI in the Diamondbacks 3-1 win over the Phillies. Lamb has four multi-hit games in a row, all vs the Phillies, and is now hitting .283-.366-.565 with 14 home runs, 34 run scored, 45 RBI and has even chipped in with 3 stolen bases. He is making more hard contact this season, and more of those hard hit balls are landing in the seats, as he is on pace for 32 home runs and and 100 RBI. He currently ranks in the top 10 among all qualified fantasy third baseman in home runs, RBI and batting average, and his .283 ISO ranks fourth.
In addition to making more hard contact, Lamb is walking more and striking out less than in 2015, so if these trends continue, he could reach the 30-100 season he is on pace for.
Who is the best starting pitcher on the Red Sox? Without thinking, many would say David Price. Well, that isn’t the case through the first two months of the season. Knuckleballer Steven Wright has been the Red Sox most consistent starter thus far. Last night, Wright limited the White Sox to one unearned run, on 5 hits, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts in 9 solid innings. He left with the game tied at 1. Wright is 8-4 with a 2.01 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a solid 80-37 strikeout to walk rate in 98.1 innings. The soon to be 32 year old has given up two runs or fewer in 11 of his 14 starts this season, and tossing seven or more innings in more than half (8) of those starts. His 2.01 ERA ranks in the top 5 in the game after Monday’s start, with only Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta, Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard ranking ahead of him. I am not ready to rank him as a top 20 starter, as knuckleballers are not the most consistent starters in the game over long time periods.
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner has proven to me that he is a top 10 starting pitcher at this point. I definitely ranked his a few spots too low back in the preseason, but he is one of the more consistent starters in the game right now, and pitches for a team that plays in the best pitchers park in the game, with a very solid defensive infield behind him and a manager who manages a bullpen like no other manager in the game. Last night, he limited the Pirates to just one run, on 5 hits, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts in 8 innings, but the Giants lineup was stifled by, surprisingly, Jeff Locke and the Buccos bullpen. Bumgarner is now 8-3 with a 1.85 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 1.02 WHIP and a 115-28 strikeout to walk rate in 102 innings. He has given up two runs or less in 13 of his 15 starts, including 12 in a row. Yeah, he’s good.
Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his start last night due to an upper back strain. Strasburg is no stranger to upper back injuries, so he will most likely land on the disabled list, but we should learn more on Tuesday. Strasburg has been very dominant this season, as he is 10-0 with a 2.90 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a 118-24 strikeout to walk rate in 93 innings.
Coming into the season, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa was ranked as the number 1 fantasy shortstop, and for good reason. He was coming off a stellar rookie season, and based on his performance last season, he had to potential to hit 30 home runs and steal 20+ bases. Based on his performance to date, some could argue he has been a disappointment at the plate thus far. As I write this, he is 1-2 with a walk, run scored and an RBI with the Astros leading the Angels 9-2 in sixth inning. He is currently hitting .256-.357-.425 with 9 home runs, 31 runs scored, 34 RBI and 8 stolen bases. He is walking more and making more hard contact this season compared to last season, but is hitting the ball in the air just 27% of the time, so he will have to add more loft to his swing to reach 30 home runs. That said, he is on pace for 21 home runs and 18 stolen bases, which is still pretty darn good for a 21 year old shortstop. Patience.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner hasn’t been the same hitter he was in 2015 through the first two months of the season. But he has been on fire since the calendar turned over to June. Last night, he homered in his first at bat, and has now homered seven times this month, and is now slugging over .600 in June. Prior to Monday’s game, Turner had multiple hits in five of his last nine games, and is well on his way to making it six of his last ten games as I write this. If you are in need of a third baseman, corner or utility guy, grab Turner now as he is hot and is available in more than 50% of leagues right now. He appears to be back to 100% health after offseason knee surgery.
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