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Fantasy Baseball Third Basemen 2014: Tiers, Not Fears


“Damn I Wish That Leg Was A Cheeseburger”
Photo Credit: Miss Chatter

 

Aside from first base, third is the deepest infield fantasy position. It’s top heavy, filled with sleepers, and best yet, there are plenty of opportunities to get a good deal, so you don’t have to overspend. 

 

In fact, the position is so balanced with talent that you’d have to be a pretty dumb owner to fuck it up. There are plenty of you out there. I would say “you know who you are,” but the reality is that you are probably too dumb to realize it. It’s all good though, every league needs a couple of suckers to stay afloat. 

 

More after the jump:

 

The “League Of His Own” God

1. Miguel Cabrera

With a career .321 BA and .247 Isolated Power (ISO), is it really any surprise to see Miggy Smalls chilling at the top of the mountain? I could go on about all the insane statistics he posted last year and in seasons past, but if I have to sell you on the merits of Cabrera for fantasy purposes, then this web site ain’t for you.

 

The “Put Ya Money Up” Playas

2. Edwin Encarnacion

3. David Wright

The two players (ahem, “playas”) chilling in this tier are valued very differently by fantasy owners judging by their ADPs, but make no mistake about it, they belong in the same tier (and firmly above the players ranked below them)… I was close to giving Encarnacion his own tier a la Cabrera, but ultimately I felt Wright is close enough in value for them to sit in the same tier together. Encarnacion had wrist surgery in September, but is reportedly 100-percent healthy and ready to go. That’s good, because he’s spent the last two seasons being an elite power hitter in the majors (.260-plus ISOs both seasons). He’ll also bring you a solid BA and elite counting stats… A 20/20 threat with a career .301 BA, David Wright can hang with Encarnacion. He finally has a decent power bat hitting behind him (Curtis Granderson) and should post better counting stats with a Mets offense that, on paper, looks better going into 2014. Even if New York’s lineup sucks again, Wright’s ability to produce in all five standard fantasy categories makes him an elite 3B. He’s well worth the second round pick. 

 

The “Oh Yeah, There’s These Guys” Syndicate

4. Evan Longoria

5. Adrian Beltre

6. Pedro Alvarez

7. Josh Donaldson

8. Matt Carpenter

9. Ryan Zimmerman

10. Pablo Sandoval

Dagnabbit, I missed out on getting one of the top two or three fantasy 3Bs… oh well, I guess I’ll just have to choose from these other awesome options… The strikeouts have gone up two of the last three years, so maybe a batting average in the .260 range is what we should expect from the Longorious Bastard. Regardless, when you own a career .238 ISO and are a perennial threat for 30 HRs and 90-plus RBIs/runs, you can get away with a not-so-great BA… I probably won’t wind up with Adrian Beltre on any of my teams this year. The price tag is just too steep (he’s going in the first round of a lot of leagues). I like the 25-30 HR pop, ample counting stats, and .300-plus BA he’s rocked as a Ranger, but the age (35) and drop off in power last year are disconcerting enough for me to keep him out of the top three at third base… If you think about it, Pedro Alvarez is really just Edwin Encarnacion minus the batting average (more like, minus 30-50 points of batting average). That power ain’t to be fucked with, and if you surround him with the right guys, Alvarez could be a valuable commodity… Showing good plate patience and ample power last year, Donaldson put himself firmly in the top ten at the third base position. He will hit second this year, which should only help his counting stats. The only concern is his health, which prior to last year, had been an issue throughout his entire pro career… His second base eligibility is the real reason Carpenter sits so high on this list. His low HR and speed totals don’t play well at 3B, even with 100-plus runs and a .300 BA. At 2B? They’ll do just fine thanks… Entering last season, Ryan Zimmerman was coming off shoulder surgery. He started off putting up underwhelming power numbers, but hit 14 HRs in the final two months. He’ll be manning first for some games this year in order to lessen the physical toll on his body (he’s played banged up the last few years). If he can stay healthy, Zimmerman can bust out a 30 HR and 100 RBI campaign… Sandoval just snuck into this tier, and the reason has nothing to do with statistics. Homeboy is entering a walk year and he dropped over 40 pounds over the winter. From everything he’s said and done, he’s looking like a man looking to cash in on free agency. I know Sandoval’s power numbers have floundered the last couple of years, but he’s got another 20-plus HR season in that bat and is a career .298 hitter. Don’t be surprised if he posts his best season yet.

 

The “List Goes On” Goons

11. Todd Frazier

12. Brett Lawrie

13. Aramis Ramirez

14. Chase Headley

15. Martin Prado

16. Will Middlebrooks

17. Mike Moustakas

18. Manny Machado

So you decided to wait on a third baseman. No sweat boss. There’s more startable players to consider, and all of the ones in this tier have the potential to really outperform their ADP… With the power to swat 20 HRs and the potential to now steal double-digit bases behind the aggressive mindset of new manager Bryan Price, Todd Frazier is looking like a nice draft day buy. His batting average may not be great, but I think Frazier is a better hitter than he showed in 2013… While he hasn’t reached the lofty heights some predicted for him two years ago (myself included), we should keep in perspective that Brett Lawrie is still only 24 years old. Sure he hits way too many grounders and has been rather injury-prone the last couple of years, but he still has enough power and speed to rack up a 15/15 season in 2014… 35 years old and becoming increasingly brittle, Aramis Ramirez is a candidate to fall off since his power took a hit last year (.178 ISO and 12.1 HR/FB). He’s maintained his contact rate so his batting average should still be close to his career rate of .285. And if his power doesn’t take another big step backwards, you are still looking at a 20-plus HR threat. Let’s just hope he stays healthy… Don’t expect Chase Headley to ever top 30 HRs again. It’s not just the Petco Park factor that works against him, he frankly just doesn’t have that type of power (career .146 ISO). He is, however, capable of going 20/15, especially since he has the walk-year motivation working for him… Prado will man third most days, but it’s his second base eligibility that puts him so high on these ranks despite his 10-14 HR pop. He has a slim margin of error for fantasy production since he relies on a good BA and quality counting stats to get the job done, but again, we are talking about second base, where the pickings are slimmer than a 14-year-old’s cooch… The price is unfortunately steeper than you’d like for a player coming off a disappointing season, but Will Middlebrooks is still capable of turning a draft day profit. In his big league career to date, he owns a 20.8 LD% and 18.9 HR/FB, which are pretty damn impressive numbers to have in your batted ball profile. 20-plus HRs are absolutely in play… If it wasn’t for his struggles against left-handed pitching (.196 BA last year), Mike Moustakas would probably sit much higher on this list. He’s got 20-plus HR pop in his bat and did well to cut down on the strikeouts last year, so it’s possible that he’ll break out in 2014. His draft day price tag is cheaper than it should be… Even if Manny Machado is healthy and ready to go, he might still be a year or two away from being a fantasy beast. While he’s shown the ability to hit for a good BA in the majors, his power has been modest at best (8.9 HR/FB). He’s only 21 years old and could feasibly take a big step forward this year, but I’m not willing to spend too much for the investment at a position as deep as third base.

 

The “Ain’t Half-Bad” Brigade

19. Kelly Johnson

20. Kyle Seager

21. Nolan Arenado

22. Mark Reynolds

23. Chris Johnson

24. Trevor Plouffe

25. Matt Dominguez

Even in the second-to-last tier of the third base position, there is still some useful production to be found… With second base eligibility under his belt, Johnson sits way higher on this list than he probably deserves. Alas, being able to plug 17-18 HRs and double-digit steals into your 2B spot is a pretty sweet move. Those numbers, of course, are assuming he stays healthy and keeps the 3B job all year… With ISOs under .160 and a HR/FB under 10-percent the last two years, it’s a wonder that Kyle Seager has posted back-to-back 20 HR seasons in Safeco Field. An improved walk rate and the fact that he’ll likely hit towards the middle of the lineup saves his fantasy value, but don’t be surprised if he sits below 20 bombs in 2014… Some sucker in your league will probably overspend on Nolan Arenado because he’s a buzzy young player who has been hailed as a top prospect. Problem is, that buzz was mostly around his defense, which doesn’t help in fantasy. He can hit for a solid average and maybe sock 15-20 HRs, but that’s as good as it gets offensively for 2014… Cheap power can be found in the bats of Mark Reynolds and Matt Dominguez (who both socked 21 HRs last year). Even Trevor Plouffe has 20 HR pop if he bounces back, so don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t find power late in the draft… Chris Johnson can hit for a good BA and perhaps knock 15 HRs, but that’s the absolute ceiling for the 29 year old. His floor? A permanent spot on the fantasy free agent pile.

 

The “Had To Suck Some Time” Tyrants

26. David Freese

27. Nick Castellanos

28. Lonnie Chisenhall

29. Cody Asche

30. Casey McGehee

31. Conor Gillaspie

32. Juan Uribe

33. Luis Valbuena

34. Maikel Franco

35. Mike Olt

36. Juan Francisco

37. Kris Bryant

38. Matt Davidson

Shit, even in the bottom tier, you have some interesting deep sleepers like Franco, Olt, and Bryant (and even some post-hypers like Chisenhall and Francisco). The rest are MLB starters, so they force their way onto this list.

 

*Last updated 3/14/14.

Starbonell

About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.

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