For the 8th installment in the Astros in Fantasy series at Climbing Tal’s Hill, we will look at the left side of the Astros infield. The projected shortstop is Jed Lowrie and the third baseman is Luis Valbuena. Lowrie signed a three-year deal this offseason to be the Astros shortstop until top prospect Carlos Correa is ready. When Correa get the call, Lowrie will shift to third base or become super-utility guy. While Valbuena is in a similar position as a stopgap until Colin Moran is ready, he also could become the answer at third with good play.
What Happened in 2014
Jed Lowrie got in a verbal argument with then Astros manager Bo Porter, where Porter told him to shut up and go to shortstop. Lowrie was frustrated because unless he was playing the Astros, he had a down season in 2014. He had a career year in 2013, hitting .290/ 15 HR/ 75 RBI. Even though Lowrie stayed relatively healthy last season, his numbers dropped drastically. If he could tap into his 2013 Lowrie form, then the Astros got a great deal.
Luis Valbuena was a player that took a while to develop, if you call a .249 hitter developed. Last year Valbuena was 28-years old, and he had a career year hitting .249/ 16 HR/ 51RBI. What led to his success in 2014? He hit more balls into the air and had 53 extra base hits. He didn’t play much earlier in the season, but took over third base for good after the first month.
Looking at the stats from 2014, it clearly shows the struggles that Jed Lowrie experienced in 2014. Looking at the percent of change column should visually show the fall of Lowrie. While all of Luis Valbuena’s stats show him rising. The Astros are hoping that 2014 was a fluke for Lowrie, or else Correa will be up soon.
Valbuena and Lowrie Rankings
According to Fantasy Pros, who combine all the experts rankings into one list, Jed Lowrie is the 21st best shortstop for 2015. He received an average overall rankings of 307, which pretty much means that Lowrie will be undrated. In a standard ten-team league, he would be drafted in the 31st round. In a 12-team league or a 20-team league he’s go in the 26th and 16th rounds.
Verdict: Last resort if you missed out on better shortstops.
According to Fantasy Pros, Luis Valbuena is the 48th best third baseman for 2015. If you thought that ranking was bad, what about his 498th overall ranking. Without worrying about the math, it’s pretty clear that Valbuena is not a draft able option.
Verdict: Don’t draft, unless you are in a deep league. However, keep him on the watch list. He could be a sleeper options for home runs.
Valbuena and Lowrie Projections
Fantasy Pros has Lowrie hitting .267/ 12 HR/ 58 HR/.738 OPS. Lowrie expected to have a .332 on-base percentage, which leads me to think he will bat second.
Valbuena is expected to hit .238/ 12 HR/ 42 RBI. Like Lowrie, his on-base percentage is .329. If 2014 was the real Valbuena, I see more growth this year. Will he be a 25 home run type of guy? No, but 15-17 home runs is possible from the lefty hitting third baseman.
What are others saying about Valbuena and Lowrie?
"“This offseason, I said, “(Lowrie) signed with the Astros. Last year, Lowrie had a 14% strikeout percentage. On the Astros, that’s downright Wee Willie Keeler-ish! Hopefully the other Astros don’t feel like Lowrie’s putting them on the shine with his big city attitude towards the chucking of their whifflesticks at balls in the dirt. Robbie Grossman“ yells, “Don’t worry about where we put our whifflesticks, Lowrie!” ThenChris Carter steps in the middle, “I may look like Ryan Howard“, but I’m a gentle giant like the Green Mile guy and I won’t let no warring happen between teammates!” Then Lowrie and Robbie Grossman begrudgingly shake. That’s all assuming the Astros are broadcast in black and white.” And that’s me quoting me! 2015 Projections: 54/14/58/.242/2″-Razz Ball."
This year, Luis Valbuena and Jed Lowrie are better options than anything else the Astros now have. However, it seems like most of the fantasy world has chosen to ignore these two, and so should you unless you are in a 20 team league or an AL only league. Lowrie may be the more draftable of the two, but keep an eye on Valbuena this spring to see if he is worth a spot on your roster. They are both worthy of being your backup to a backup at this point of the season.
January 2nd, 2015 – Astros in Fantasy Part 1: Astros Top 10 prospects
February 6th, 2015 – Astros in Fantasy Part 6: Dallas Keuchel
February 27th, 2015 – Astros in Fantasy Part 9: Colby Rasmus
March 6th, 2015 – Astros in Fantasy Part 10: Starting Rotation
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- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer