We all knew that Adrian Beltre, at the tender age of 38, was going to be a health risk. Despite six straight years of 4+ WAR and playing in more than 120 games every season, Beltre was fighting a losing battle with time.
News came out earlier this week that Beltre is suffering from a grade 1 calf strain, making this the third calf strain he has suffered since February. Beltre is likely to be shut down for at least another couple of weeks, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll return to play before mid-May. With an average ADP (Average Draft Position) of 67, quite a few people were expecting Beltre to be ready to go earlier than that. So let’s try to find a couple of replacements who may still be hanging out on your waiver wire to tide your team team over until Beltre suits up again.
Now, the obvious replacement is Joey Gallo. Jeff Banister has already said that third base belongs to Gallo and I won’t go into detail about his potential, but needless to say, he’s probably already been picked up in most leagues.
In the event that you need to look elsewhere, let’s take a look at some guys who might have been passed over when your league was drafting.
Travis Shaw – Brewers: Shaw is currently off to a hot start on a team that’s not likely to be going anywhere, leading to an expectation of lots of playing time. His numbers from 2016 don’t paint the picture of someone you would want starting for your team, even with Beltre on the shelf, but you’re simply looking for someone who can provide offense on a short-term basis, not the entire season. Looking at his monthly numbers from 2016, Shaw tends to be streaky, carrying an OPS over .850 in April and May before slumping to a sub-.600 OPS in June. He also doesn’t hit lefties well, despite his early season success this season. There’s no reason to believe that Shaw will be anything special, but if you ride him while he’s hot, there’s a chance he’ll carry you until Beltre comes back.
David Freese – Pirates: Freese is another player off to a hot start without much competition for his job. Unlike Shaw, there’s some history to suggest that Freese, though not a sexy pick, will do just enough that you will be competitive while waiting for Beltre. One of the benefits to Freese is that, as a righty, he’s less likely to be platooned than Shaw. The drawback is an utter lack of power. With an ISO under .150 in 2016 and a ground ball rate pushing 60%, if you’re looking for power, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.
Eugenio Suarez – Reds – If you are looking for power, this would be a better place to look. Another player who’s shown himself to be streaky, Suarez has had an ISO over .160 the past two seasons, and is currently sporting a .333 ISO in an extremely small sample size. In 2016, Suarez had an ISO above .180 in every month outside of July and September, even when he wasn’t hitting particular well. All this suggests that Suarez is someone to pick up while he is as hot as he is to open 2017.
Derek Dietrich – Marlins – Finally, we come to a player who’s replacing another injured player. Dietrich finally picked up some significant plate appearances in 2016 and is opening 2017 as the Marlins regular third baseman with Martin Prado hurt. Last season, Dietrich had an OPS just under .800 in 412 PAs and he’s currently sitting at .838. Dietrich doesn’t offer much in the way of power (ISO under .150 in 2016) and doesn’t walk enough (BB% of only 7.8% in 2016), but he does a little bit of everything and is slated to continue to pick up playing time while Prado is on the shelf.
Overall, third base has some options in the event that Beltre doesn’t make it back until the summer months, but for the short term, it’s hard to go wrong with the hot hand. None of these players is going to carry you to a championship, but they should be solid until you can finally plug Beltre back into your lineup.
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Featured image courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
All stats courtesy of Fangraphs.com. ADP provided by Fantasypros.com