The Third Base Plan: Don’t Always Trust Your Intuition

All of us here at Fantasy Assembly want to offer up articles that have universal appeal week in and week out. But when we are talking about third base in dynasty leagues, I can’t blame a quarter or so of you to glance at this week’s headlines and basically zone out until we tackle shortstops next week. After all, the World Series is on and there’s no shortage of writing on those games. So: Manny Machado,Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson and Nolan Arenado owners, it would be nice of you to read on, but I hope you are not thinking about making a move. Why go looking for the problems the rest of us have to deal with?

Moving one of those players is acceptable only under extreme circumstances. If you are offered someone like Trout, Goldschmidt, a top 5 overall talent, then you have to take it. Let’s face it, that offer is not forthcoming. After that I don’t see any potential transaction as a slam dunk, “have to do it” move. If you are in rebuilding mode, maybe you’d value someone like Machado more than Donaldson and that might impact how you manage your team.  But if you have one of them you already have such an edge at the position, and if you know what you are doing, your team probably isn’t that far off from contending. These guys are cornerstones.

In these cases your intuition is to keep those players, and you’d be correct. Easy decisions. Most of us are not so lucky. Some of us are going to be operating a cut below the best. Many of us will be several cuts below that. When we take a peak at the next couple of tiers, the obvious move could very well be the wrong move and your intuition will lead you astray. Some big names are overvalued, some vets are unfairly maligned, and you may be passing up one last buying opportunity for the next big thing at third base.

I’ve talked about the big 4 third basemen, but I think we are going to be looking at the Big 5 in the coming years. So I’m telling you now, if you can to target Miguel Sano you should do so; you will be smiling for years to come. Sano’s call-up was a little under the radar in my estimation (except in Yahoo! leagues where he qualified at shortstop), but he exceeded even my high expectations, showing very good patience at the big league level as well as tremendous power. He slugged .530 and his average flyball distance was 21st in baseball (302 feet). Steamer is calling for 31 home runs in 2016. Sano will only be 23 in May. He is a big dude, so he won’t be at third base forever, but I’m on board now before I miss out.

I don’t think you’ll see Sano ahead of Todd Frazier in many rankings, but he is in mine and I’m advising dynasty owners to trade Todd Frazier. Last year he had a monster first half and won an amazing home run derby, but the second half was a different story.  I don’t think he will sink to the .220/10 home runs second half level any time soon, but I think that the first half was an outlier stretch as well. The media presented his performance as the arrival of a new star, but this “new star” will be 30 at the start of the 2016. Don’t give him away, but you might get more than he’s worth if you move him now.

If we target a third baseman a little bit lower in our ranks, we might be tempted by a Nick Castellanos or Mike Moustakas. As my endorsement of Sano shows, I’m not afraid of youth and I like both of those players well enough. But youth isn’t the be all and end all of everything, even in a dynasty league. So while this really goes against your intuition, it is a good time to target Adrian Beltre. We can’t put 30 home runs and a .300 average in the bank anymore, but even dinged up he was a positive contributor last year. He can certainly get back to 20 home runs, and in a good lineup and park the counting stats should be there too. Now if you are in rebuilding mode this makes no sense, but if you have any chance of competing then this is a move to make.

I’d wager many competing teams last year were rostering Matt Carpenter at the hot corner. That doesn’t mean they should expect a repeat of 28 home runs or anything close to it. Maybe there is something to magic Cardinal pixie dust, but when you look at reality like Kevin has here, you’ll know it’s time to trade Matt Carpenter. Seriously, Now. If you want 20 home runs then Beltre is actually the safer choice, and though Carpenter is basically assured a decent lineup spot, I’d even go for Castellanos over Carpenter sooner rather than later.

Some of you may be holding out hope that David Wright might rebound to the middle of the pack or even higher. This is a mistake, people. Wright has been injury prone for years, and his back was the culprit in 2015. That means his power might be gone for good. Realistically it has not been very good for a long time; his days of stealing double-digit bases are probably gone too. Cut your losses and trade David Wright. The one time superstar is now a replacement-level third baseman in most leagues, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Chase Headley  or Trevor Plouffe put up better numbers. If you must, plug one of them in and see if you can move Wright for a supporting piece that can help you.

 

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Michael Zakhar

Michael Zakhar

Michael lives in New Jersey with his beautiful wife Virginia and his adorable son Johnny. We enjoy going to see the Lakewood BlueClaws, who play 20 minutes from home. In addition to baseball, Mike loves reading, music and professional wrestling.