As I noted in my recent review of the third base position, expectations for Brett Lawrie coming into the season were astronomically high (one expert who I greatly respect had him inside his top-30 overall if I'm not mistaken). I told everyone to keep pumping the breaks with Lawrie, I had him at 12th at the third base position, which allowed me to appreciate what he was able to accomplish in 2012 with a clear head. For those of you that drank the Kool-Aid with Lawrie an are now panicked about drafting him in 2013 keep reading because I think I can make the case that Lawrie is a strong option to turn to in the coming season, even if he let you down in the recently completed campaign.
Lawrie had a better batting average than Alex Rodriguez (.273 to .272). Lawrie homer more homers than Martin Prado (11 to 10). Lawrie had more runs scored than David Freese (73 to 70). Lawrie had the same steal total as Edwin Encarnacion (13).
Is that really that bad a season, for a guy who had never played a full season in the bigs before?
Lawrie was also hurt which limited him to 125 games played. If we extrapolate out his effort to lets say 150 games, his fantasy line would end up looking like this: .273-13-58-88-16. I know there is nothing outstanding there, but do you know how many players reached all five numbers in 2012? If I'm not mistaken the answer is nine – Braun, McCutchen, Trout, Headley, Adam Jones, Justin Upton,Carlos Gonzalez, Shin-Soo Choo and Rios. So again I ask, was Lawrie really that bad?
Lawrie had a K-rate of 16 percent which is a fine number in this day and age of free swinging, but his walk rate regressed causing his BB/K mark to dip to 0.38, slightly below the league average. A few more walks would certainly help.
Lawrie posted a league average 20 percent line drive rate, a 3.1 percent improvement over his rookie effort, though the results didn't show up in the hit column since his BABIP actually fell .007 points from his rookie season. Still, 20 and .311 have the look of a solid combo supported by the other.
Much like the piece on Eric Hosmer, Lawrie saw a drastic reduction in his fly ball rate in his second season in the bigs with Lawrie's fall being much more severe. After a 45 percent fly ball rate that number dipped to 30 percent in 2012, well below the big league average of about 36 percent. It's hard to be a home run hitter, 20 is a big total actually, if you hit 50 percent of your batted balls into the ground. Power often develops as players age, and it's fair to posit that his less than 100 percent physical situation last year may have also contributed to Lawrie's power dip (Brett's HR/F ratio fell from 17 to nine percent leading to an 11.4 percent mark for his career, something that looks about right).
So what does Lawrie need to do to be a fantasy force in 2013? Obviously he needs to stay healthy. Second, he'll need to reign in, ever so slightly, that passion. It's a long season an if you're flipping out every time you don't agree with a ball/strike call, you are never going to make it through the season. On the field, Lawrie needs to impart a bit more lift on the ball. It would also help if he were to learn the importance of patience and how taking a walk isn't an affront to a guy's masculinity. Making sure you get “your pitch,” versus a pitch you can hit, is the key to many players moving from solid to all-star levels (just cause you can hit a pitch doesn't mean you should hit that pitch).
Given his perceived failures in his first full season, a position that I have noted really isn't an accurate depiction of what happened on the field, Lawrie could slide a bit on draft day. If that is the case you shouldn't be overly concerned if Lawrie ends up as your starter at the hot corner. In fact, you might be wise to target just such a scenario for your fantasy club in 2013.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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