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2011 Fantasy Baseball Spotlight: Why Brett Lawrie Will Win You a Championship

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Spotlight: Why Brett Lawrie Will Win You a Championship
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The next best Canadian crusher.

At the stroke of midnight, just a few moments ago, it officially became prospectin' season, aka June 1st.

Yes, that June 1st. A date that will live in infamy. Well, at least in the eyes of beloved fantasy baseball beholders.

June 1st is widely considered to be the acceptable date—by way of escaping potential financial implications in the future because of "Super Two" eligibility—to finally call up all those budding bats and happening hurlers to the major-league level.

These potent power-producing prospects certainly provide a glimmer of hope for every wayward fan looking for the shine in the silver lining, as every overpaid, overworked aging superstar unapologetically underperforms on his way to yet another losing season.

However, this infamous date, at least for me, raises a rather puzzling question: How can it be, in this ostensibly enlightened age, where we have access to the likes of B/R, ESPN, CBS, SI, MLB, Razzball and a plethora of other relevant and useful baseball websites, that anyone with such an overwhelming cacophony of production—even in the minors—could be so unowned in fantasy baseball leagues across the board?

In short, my conclusion is: I have no idea. Though, the way I see it, I'm here to change that.

So, what would you say if I told you that you could pick up a top-10 fantasy stud with second base and soon-to-be third base eligibility at this point in the season, at the incredibly low price of what my mom always claimed to be the most necessary virtue: patience?

"Um. That sounds like something I'd be interested in and way better than the guy I was gonna go with."

That's right. Now, what would you say if I told you that you could pick up a top-five fantasy stud with second base and soon-to-be third base eligibility at this point in the season, at the incredibly low price of, again, just a smidgen of patience?

"Um. Where the eff can I sign on the line which is dotted, mi amigo?!"

Well, mi amigo, your time has arrived.

 

Brett Lawrie Ownership Percentages

ESPN: 2.2 percent (+1.9 percent)

CBS: 45 percent (+29 percent)

CBS owners are apparently more well informed than ESPN owners, but for now, let's save that topic of discussion for another day and get to the good stuff.

In just under two months at Triple-A (48 games), Brett Lawrie can officially be labeled as major-league-ready. Absolutely en fuego from the get-go, he's hit 12 home runs and stolen 11 bases while slashing a ri-effin-donkulous .341/.403/.625 along his merry way. Because he'll be manning the hot corner at third base and is eligible at second base (he was asked to change positions when traded to the Toronto organization this offseason), he instantly becomes not only fantasy relevant, but fantasy gold as well. 

To illustrate my point, let's take a look at how the top 10 projected players at both second and third base have done so far this season.

***Note: Statistics are based on 2011 composite projections.

2011 Top 10 Projected 3B

Player Name

AVG R HR RBI SB

1. Evan Longoria, TB

.284 96 30 108 13
2. David Wright, NYM .288 94 25 97 22
3. Jose Bautista, TOR .253 97 38 113 7
4. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS .291 95 28 101 3
5. Alex Rodriguez, NYY .279 88 33 100 10
6. Kevin Youkilis, BOS .298 96 27 97 6
7. Adrian Beltre, TEX .287 81 25 92 8
8. Mark Reynolds, BAL .232 85 35 101 12
9. Martin Prado, ATL .299 93 14 79 1
10. Pablo Sandoval, SF
.298 76 19 85 4

 

2011 Top 10 Projected 2B

Player Name

AVG R HR RBI SB

1. Robinson Cano, NYY

.305 94
25 102 4
2. Dustin Pedroia, BOS
.298 98
16
80
16
3. Dan Uggla, ATL
.263 91
32
101 3
4. Ian Kinsler, TEX
.280 85
20
76
23
5. Martin Prado, ATL
.299 93 14 79 1
6. Brandon Phillips, CIN
.273 87 20 80 20
7. Kelly Johnson, ARI
.273 87 21 84 12
8. Rickie Weeks, MIL
.258 90 23 90 13
9. Ben Zobrist, TB
.260 86 19 76 19
10. Neil Walker, PIT
.272 80 17 82 8

 

Top 10 3B Production to Date

Player Name

AVG R HR RBI SB

1. Evan Longoria, TB

.222 13
3 10 1
2. David Wright, NYM .226 23
6
18
9
3. Jose Bautista, TOR .353 42
20
35
5
4. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS .357 5
1
4
0
5. Alex Rodriguez, NYY .284 28
9
27
2
6. Kevin Youkilis, BOS .272 31
8
34
0
7. Adrian Beltre, TEX .255 28
11
41
0
8. Mark Reynolds, BAL .194 22 6 23 2
9. Martin Prado, ATL .281 29 6 30 1
10. Pablo Sandoval, SF
.313 11
5
14

1

 

Top 10 2B Production to Date

Player Name

AVG R HR RBI SB

1. Robinson Cano, NYY

.286 29
10 35 5
2. Dustin Pedroia, BOS
.242 29
4
18
12
3. Dan Uggla, ATL
.177 20
7
16 1
4. Ian Kinsler, TEX
.239 33
7
30
10
5. Martin Prado, ATL
.280 32
7
32
1
6. Brandon Phillips, CIN
.300 32
5
30
4
7. Kelly Johnson, ARI
.223 29
9
22
7
8. Rickie Weeks, MIL
.282 37
9
21
6
9. Ben Zobrist, TB
.251 33
9 30 5
10. Neil Walker, PIT
.265 30
6
31
2

 

As you can see, the lot of third basemen have been—how do you say?— incredibly disappointing. As of today, three out of the top 10 are on the DL (Wright, Zimmerman, Sandoval) and—counting the casualties—up to seven of the top 10 have either severely underperformed (Longoria, Zimmerman, Reynolds, Sandoval) or are simply producing less than expected (Wright, A-Rod, Youk), each in their own right.

As far as second basemen are concerned, while admittedly they have been far less incredibly disappointing, by no means have they been sparkling. That being said, let's take a look at Brett Lawrie's Triple-A production so far this season.

 

2011 Triple-A Production

Player Name

AVG R HR RBI SB

Brett Lawrie, TOR

.341 46
12 40 11

 

Though Lawrie is raking at Triple-A, not yet at the major-league level, his production up until this point has been nothing short of astounding. In comparison to the output of production so far from the top 10 third base candidates, Lawrie would rank No. 2 overall, just behind Barry Bonds—I mean Jose Bautista—and No. 1, in front of the talented Mr. Cano, in comparison to the lot of second basemen.

Realistically speaking, this will probably change over the course of the season as players heat up and stats regress to the mean. But through two months we have seen more than enough from Brett Lawrie to completely negate the sample size argument.

If Lawrie gets recalled sometime in early June and takes over the everyday job at third—which he will considering his competition (John McDonald, Jayson Nix and Edwin Encarnacion)—he has a legitimate shot to go 15/15 or better, starting the very moment he hits the Jays' major-league roster.

Though he's not a burner on the basepaths, he can steal some bags, and the Jays certainly like to run, as evident by the simple fact that Aaron Hill has seven stolen bases. So depending on his batting average—which is a legitimate concern of mine considering he hit .274, .269 and .285 before this season—and counting stats—which should be glittering considering he'll be hitting in a lineup with Rajai Davis, Hill, Bautista, Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia—he could easily land anywhere between top-10 and top-five production.

Projections

***Note: Projections are extrapolated out over 550 at-bats.

Low-end: .250 / 70 / 12 / 70 12 aka Chase Headley-lite

High-end: .290 / 90 / 28 / 90 / 28 aka Dustin Pedroia-plus

What I'm betting on: .265 / 80 / 22 / 80 / 22 aka mini-David Wright 

Name one other prospect, one other player, that will not only have that type of production, that sort of impact, but is also so widely available at this point in the season?

Don't worry, I'll wait.

K, done waiting. Am I saying Brett Lawrie is the next David Wright? No. That would be, objectively, unfair. So what am I saying?

Buy Brett Lawrie Right Now So He Can Help Win You A Championship Starting Tomorrow. 

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