Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 10/22/13
Sure, we’ll see plenty of lonely walks back to the dugout after Ks, but there will be a lot of HR trots, too.If there’s one thing I learned from 2013, it’s that a 30/100 season is supremely valuable — even if it comes from a guy who hits .240 (e.g., Pedro Alvarez).And that’s why I’m officially declaring Andrew Lambo a must-target 2014 fantasy baseball sleeper.With Justin Morneau a free agent and Lambo an affordable in-house option, I think it makes perfect sense for Pittsburgh to make the transition to the 6’3 power-hitting prospect. Last year across three levels (double-A, triple-A and the majors), Lambo crushed 33 homers and drove in 101. Who cares if he’s a career .276 hitter in the minors!Why Lambo Might Break OutShould exceed 500 PA (unless he screws up) should Pittsburgh give him a chanceIn addition to 1B, also an opening in the OF (Marlon Byrd is a FA)Plenty of power pretty much says it allWhy Lambo Might NOT Break Out2013′s power was a new addition — will it return?Will he fit in Pittsburgh’s lineup with a similarly skilled player (Alvarez) already entrenched?Gregory Polanco is probably the team’s long-term option in RF, so why would they develop Lambo there?What Scouts SayMost scouting reports talk about how Lambo was once a highly regarded prospect in the Dodgers system who fell on hard times, saw his stock drop, and ended up getting traded to Pittsburgh. That’s fair. It’s actually very accurate. Lambo has power potential and strikes out a lot. His defense is questionable. In real baseball, his value is probably capped because of that. In fantasy baseball, he can be very valuable (see: Alvarez and Brandon Moss).This is from Mike Podhorzer of Fangraphs.com as of August, 2013:With Lambo’s strikeout issues this year, which combined with his power surge suggest a new approach at the plate, it would be difficult for him to contribute in batting average. He also isn’t much of a base-stealer. So that essentially makes him a two category asset in home runs and runs batted in. I would be surprised if he earned any positive value in shallower leagues like 12-team mixed, but in deeper leagues where you could gain several points in home runs, he is certainly worth taking a chance on.2014 Fantasy OutlookIn the event that he lands a major role in Pittsburgh, I’d draft Lambo around pick 170 overall in mixed leagues.This one is simple. Pay attention through the Winter Meetings and the first few weeks of 2014 and see how the first base market shapes up. If guys like James Loney go elsewhere and Pittsburgh is stuck with guys on their 40-man roster, I have a hard time not seeing Lambo get a chance.Of course, if given the chance that doesn’t mean Lambo will capitalize on it, but we should know by the middle of March (when your fantasy draft is hopefully taking place — February drafts are stupid) whether or not Lambo is the man in Pittsburgh.In the event that he lands a major role in Pittsburgh, I’d draft Lambo around pick 170 overall in mixed leagues. It’s a little bit of a gamble (you could end up getting nothing at all out of that pick) but by that time you’re likely left picking through guys like Nick Swisher, Adam LaRoche, and Chris Carter. I would take all those guys before Lambo, but after them the Pittsburgh prospect seems like a good gamble to take. Maybe he doesn’t work out, but you didn’t invest very much, and a 30-homer, 80-RBI season with a .250-.270 average is worth that sort of draft slot in my opinion.
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