Hello all, hopefully you’re having a terrific hump day! Last week we touched on the middle infielders you’d have the best chance at selling high on. Today the focus shifts to the corner infield positions, and let me tell you; there are a lot of aging stars at the corners. One strong name that initially comes to mind is Miguel Cabrera, but after last season perhaps the ship has sailed on that one.
When compiling this list there were a handful or so that made an argument to be included, but it was narrowed down to three for various reasons for each player. Don’t worry though, the players that didn’t make the list will be in the Honorable Mention category at the end.
I do want to make a quick note that a couple of these guys on the list today might not fit the “prime years” as discussed last week, but try telling that to them!
Mike Moustakas (3B)
If you scrap 2016, which is easy to do having only played 27 games, the last two full seasons Moustakas has put together have been solid. In 2015 Moustakas hit .284 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI, all career-highs up to that point. Everyone got onboard the Moustakas train following that output only to be bitten by the injury bug towards the end of May. That left 2017 pretty much a question mark. Are we getting the Moustakas from 2015 or will the Moustakas from 2012-2014 reappear? Those who stuck it out through the Moustakas injury period were rewarded with yet another career year this past season (.272/38/85). Sure, we’d love to see the RBI total higher, but there’s nothing wrong with 85!
For those that took a gamble on Moustakas, congratulations, but it’s time to get out. When the 2018 season begins it will be his age-29 season, and it could be in a different uniform. Moustakas is currently a free agent, and the destination will play a factor in what you can get for him, or if you can even get anything at all. The Yankees will have an opening at the hot corner, and if they can pull something off to land Moustakas, boy oh boy, the asking price sky rockets!
It’s very possible Moustakas’s best year(s) are ahead of him yet, but what better way to get a haul back than to trade a guy with that potential! His increased ratios in fly ball percentage can lead one to believe his home run numbers will continue to be north of 30 for years to come. So long as his BABIP plays better than it has in the past (career .265), Moustakas should be able to carry a .265+ average for several years.
- Potential targets: Added depth, starting pitching (Eddie Rosario + prospect, Jacob deGrom, Robbie Ray) **Rosario may hold more appeal in leagues with LF/CF/RF designations rather than just OF
Joey Votto (1B)
Joey Votto will begin the 2018 season at age 34. According to the experts, and the way the numbers generally lie, Votto should be roughly five years past his prime years of his careers. When you look at his numbers, that’s obviously not the case.
Votto is coming off arguably the best season of his career. Did I mention he’s supposed to be past his prime years? The only year you could argue was greater than his 2017 season would be 2010 in which he won the NL MVP award. Based on his numbers this past season he could be adding his second MVP award to his trophy collection here in a few weeks, but that’s an argument for a different day.
Looking at Votto, it’s easy to see why someone would want to retain him until the end of his career. Votto continually goes out and puts up an average well above .300. The only year he has hit under .305 since his rookie season was the lost season of 2014 in which he only played 62 games due to upper leg issues.
Votto can also be penciled in for 24-30 home runs yearly, having reached those numbers in all but two seasons (not including 2007). One thing that kind of stifles me with Joey Votto is his RBI numbers. 2017 marked his 10th full season in the majors, yet only the third time he’s reached the 100 RBI mark. When taking a look at his home run numbers, average, on-base percentage, among other numbers, one would think he’d be penciled in for 100 RBI every year – that’s not the case.
Votto ends the 2017 season with season average numbers of 29 HR/94 RBI/.313 AVG. That’s a great line for a season. The thing that makes Votto a little different than some other hitters is that he’ll put up darn near those exact numbers every season. When you look at all his career numbers, they are not roller coaster numbers from one season to the next. They’re all right in line!
After reading all that greatness, why sell high on Votto? Did I mention he’ll be 34 when next year starts? There’s another first baseman that recently began a season at the age of 34. His numbers are very comparable (better actually) to Votto’s, and he had a horrific season in 2017 That would be Miguel Cabrera. I traded Jacob deGrom in the 2016 offseason for Cabrera – an awful decision. That very same thing could happen with Votto. Sure, Votto might have a couple more years left in the tank, but it’s only a matter of time before he has to find himself in a position to DH rather than play the field every day.
Votto has played 98% of the Reds’ games over the past three seasons. That’s not something that can continue at age 34+. Don’t find yourself staring at your computer after the 2018 season wondering why you didn’t move Votto while you could. Better a year early than a year late.
- Potential targets: Any ace pitcher, though I’m sure Kluber and Kershaw may be deemed “untouchable” (Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg)
Justin Turner (3B)
Justin Turner is an interesting player. If you’re not a Dodgers fan, there’s a high likelihood you had no idea he’s 31 years old. Turner has only been relevant for the better parts of four seasons, coinciding with his move from the Mets to the Dodgers. A lot of things are wrong with the Mets organization, so it shouldn’t’ be any surprise it took a change of scenery to get the ball moving for Turner.
Since Turner’s arrival in Los Angeles he has compiled an average season of 17 HR/66 RBI/.307 AVG. That’s not “jump off the page great,” but he played more than 150 games only one of the four seasons he’s been in a Dodger uniform. Now let me give you a little truer number as what four full seasons in a Dodgers uniform would look like – 21 HR/81 RBI/.310 AVG. The numbers don’t vary greatly, but there’s something to be said about reaching 20 home runs each season consecutively.
Over the course of the last three seasons Turner has adapted to the new fly-ball era as he’s seen his fly ball rate increase from 28% in 2014 to 47.8% in 2017. With the noticeable change in that category, expect to see his home run numbers continue to climb closer to the 30-mark the next couple seasons. The only thing that may hold him back from reaching 30 is the fact he plays 81 of his games in Dodger Stadium – not really known for being a home run haven.
Turner’s BABIP over his years as a Dodger seems to indicate his average won’t take a hit due to the increase in fly balls. This is something that should sell a future trade partner on acquiring Turner. He may not be as bright and popular as other stars in the game, but Turner is a talent to have, even if it’s only to bolster some depth in your lineup.
- Potential targets: Get younger at 3B, add SP depth (Alex Bregman, Paul DeJong, Alex Wood, Marcus Stroman, Gerrit Cole)
Honorable Mention- Jose Abreu (1B), Ryan Zimmerman (1B), Justin Smoak (1B), Justin Bour (1B)
Next week we’ll get into the list of outfielders to sell high on. If you’re in the twitter world shoot me your questions on there as well, @KennyGarvey.
We’ll catch you next week!
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