3B is a very deep position these days and Jake Lamb likely isn’t anywhere in the top 20 or 25 of 3B rankings. However, he could become quite the asset particularly in keeper and dynasty leagues.
Lamb finished last year with 6 HR, 38 R, 34 RBI, 3 SB, .263 AVG and a .331 OBP in 390 PA. Over a full season that comes out to about 8 HR, 53 R, 48 RBI and 4 SB. Nothing too spectacular, in particular at 3B. For a guy who plays 81 games in a park that rates slightly better than average for lefty HRs, it’s surprising that his HR/FB was only 7.2% in 2015. Given that it was only 390 PA, it’s hard to draw meaningful conclusions but that number seems awfully low. His yearly career high in HRs is 19 in 2014 across three levels and given a full season in Arizona, I think he could approach that number.
The real upside for Lamb is if he can somehow get into the two spot in the Diamondback’s lineup. Currently Jean Segura is penciled into that spot but Segura hasn’t had an OBP above .290 since 2013. It would be truly impressive if the Diamondbacks allow him to hit second all year if he continues to post such a bad OBP. The only logical choice besides Lamb is David Peralta, who flashed enough power last year to warrant batting behind Goldschmidt. Obviously some things have to happen to get Lamb into the second spot, but the result could be special.
Why would Lamb in two hole be so special? Because he’ll be hitting behind on base demon A.J. Pollock and ahead of the 2nd or 3rd best fantasy player in baseball in Paul Goldschmidt. Here are the run numbers of the #2 spot in the Arizona order the last three years (note that Goldschmidt only played in 109 games in 2014)
(Stats from Fangraphs)
Lamb obviously won’t take 100% of those above PA but the potential for a ton of runs is there. Arizona was tied for 6th in all of MLB last year in runs out of the two spot. Lamb likely won’t begin the season batting second and it will take some luck to get him there. However this is the kind of late round bench pick that can truly pay off. There is potential for a ton of R and RBI if things break right and he’s easy to drop if they don’t.
Lamb may never bat much higher than the .263 he put up last year because he strikes out a bit too much (24.9% in 2015). However a lot of people will look at his .344 BABIP and think that .250 or worse is his baseline BA. This would be a mistake as Lamb does several things well that could sustain a high BABIP: he had as above average LD rate (22.7% in 2015) and an above average hard hit rate (35.9% in 2015). Both of these will help maintain a high BABIP. His lowest BABIP at any professional level with more than 150 PA before last year was .371. It’s hard to truly declare anything based on MiLB BABIP but it’s a positive sign that his .344 BABIP in 2015 could be legitimate.
Steamer is giving Lamb 12 HR, 50 R, 52 RBI, 4 SB, .261 AVG and a .326 OBP. I’m pretty bullish on Lamb and I’ll give him 17 HR, 75 R, 67 RBI, 5 SB, .263 AVG and a .326 OBP. Some might be worried that Yasmany Tomas will threaten playing time at 3B. If you can’t tell by the projection, I have little to no concerns about that. They had similar seasons last year, if we scale their numbers to a set number of PAs. The real difference is that Lamb is better in the field, potentially much better. Tomas’s defensive inefficiencies can be hidden in LF but at 3B they become a big issue. As long as Lamb can stay healthy, I think he can log 140 games at 3B next year, putting up great numbers. In a dynasty/keeper, Lamb will be a guy that I will be trying to buy low on.