We move on to third base today, and things are starting to look up. Unlike first base he have a big cluster of solid/strong dependable names in varying tiers eliminating the necessity to reach. There is no reason you should not come away with a top third base option in 2019. However, there is a cutoff you need to be aware of, especially those that use a CI slot since first base may not be much help in this department. While there may be no need to reach, you may feel obligated to double dip a little early – we’ll get to that later.
At the top of the latter we have usual suspects: Nolan Arenado, Jose Ramirez, Manny Machado and Alex Bregman. If you take out Machado you’ve got three players going in the first round and slipping no further than round two. Machado has been reached for in round one, but his average ADP puts him in round two and slipping as far as round three in a few cases. I can’t stress how much of a bargain Machado would be in round three or even near the end of round two. You will not get a discount with the other three, but you are virtually guaranteed to get what you paid for.
As I said when covering him under second basemen, Javier Baez could easily be mentioned with the first tier of players with an ADP slightly below the big three and in line with Machado. I don’t see him as a first round reach, but in round two with multi-eligibility… he (like Ramirez) gives you some draft flexibility.
That’s one hell of a start for the hot corner. However, that duel-eligibility I mentioned above has the potential to thin things our really fast. Four of the five players mentioned qualify at multiple positions, meaning Nolan Arenado might be the only player of the group to be drafted as a third baseman. And as a drafter, there is no way to prepare for this which makes estimating when the next batch of third basemen will go off the board.
One year ago Kris Bryant would be right up there with the big dogs. An injury and off-year pushed down his draft stock. He is still being reached for in round two, but on average Bryant can be had for a mid to late third round pick. His upside makes him a worthy gamble, but I’d prefer to roll the dice on the man going 10 picks later, Anthony Rendon. Rendon is a .300 hitter with 25 HR pop and should average at least 80 in both runs and RBI. Basically he’s Freddy Freeman light with a very safe floor.
NFBC has Vladimir Guerrero sandwiched between Bryant and Rendon – this could turn out to be either conservative or risky as Guerrero hasn’t played in the majors and could struggle despite the polished resume. That same resume also suggest Guerrero is a star in the making. Unless you are in a keeper league I would pass – take a safer route – but I admit he is intriguing.
The next group would be a tier (or two) below the players above, but each offers a level of security over the players yet to come and are worthy fallback options should you decide to fade third base early.
- Eugenio Suarez may not hit .280 again or hit 34 dingers, but his .260/87/26/82 line from 2017 makes for a safe and conservative floor. Cincinnati has added some offense which should give Suarez an added level of protection.
- Matt Carpenter is similar to Suarez in the sense that he has a safe floor with a similar baseline – albeit with a higher run total and lower batting average floor. Both Suarez and Carpenter have been reached for – into round 3/4, but Carpenter has slipped on average 20 spots past Suarez into the 70s.
- Miguel Andujar is the only in this group that doesn’t offer a security blanket as previously mentioned. He does, however, play for the Yankees and has put up great major/minor league numbers the past two years with minimal flags. Growing pains and adjustments will ultimately decide his fate.
- Travis Shaw could be a sixth round selection, but on average he is going just inside the top-100. His numbers play better at 2B/MI, but his floor and potential ceiling somewhat mirror those of Matt Carpenter – at a discount.
- Josh Donaldson after pick 100 could turn out to be highway robbery. Yes, he did miss time the past two years. However, in just over 400 at bats in 2017 he still managed 33 home runs, and I’d use his 2017 season numbers as an expected baseline – with a lower HR total. That’s still a solid backend option, health permitting.
- If Anthony Rendon is Freeman light, then Justin Turner is Rendon light. He hits for a high average and should rack up 70 or so runs and RBI. He does have less power and has missed time in each of the past two seasons – hence the drop outside the top-100.
- Wil Myers has 20/20 potential, but that upside is saddled with a .250 average and the potential for injury. The addition of Machado would be the lineup protection needed, and with good luck and health you could be looking at a steal beyond pick 70 – even better outside the top-100.
- Matt Chapman may be the last man on this list, but he is one of my favorites (yes, mancrush). I do question the batting average, but if he can hit around .260 with 20-25 home runs with 80 or so runs and RBI he’ll return a premium in round 10/11 of a 12-team league.
We’re now 16 players in, and if a few of those multi-eligible players get slotted at third base you’ve got enough to go around. We all know things don’t work that way though. Injuries and slumps are part of the game, and you should be considering a backup alternative to a few of the above. And while you are considering who that backup should be, your opponent is eyeing the remaining candidates for their CI slot. There are a lot of interesting names left, but only the first two are seriously being considered inside the top-150. That means bargains galore, but it also means you’ll be taking on a certain amount of risk so don’t get too attached.
Max Muncy is a favorite among… I’m not sure I can give a precise number here as I’ve seen many opinions. Lets just say he will be a favorite and reach for a few in each league. Mistake? Maybe, that second half K-rate and unrepeatable HR/FB should give many pause. For me he’s Chris Taylor 2.0 – a guy who came out of nowhere, had his stock pumped up, and failed to deliver on those that invested too heavily. Jurickson Profar is the other potential top-150 guy, and someone I talked about around when covering second base. I see more value at 2B/MI; for 3B/CI I think you can do better, but those better options (especially below) are few and far between.
Running down the remaining cast by current ADP:
- Mike Moustakas is a bargain here even if he just repeats his 2018 season. Solid investment.
- Rafael Devers had a full season of growing pains (injuries, errors and woeful contact. He’s still learning, and there’s no telling how quickly he will turn things around. Risk/Reward.
- Eduardo Escobar improved his launch angle and turned into a 20+ HR guy with respectable run and RBI totals. He’s a no frills fallback CI option. Solid, but always looking for better.
- Yuli Gurriel and Joey Wendle are cut from the same cookie, 10 years apart. There is very little power, but the bat should produce a solid average with counting stats dependent on lineup placement. Injury replacement (Wendle has MI upside).
- Miguel Sano was sent to the minors at one point to work on his conditioning (he was getting fat). Is Sano Pablo Sandoval 2.0? At 26 years of age the clock is ticking. Maybe a flyer with your final pick.
- Asdrubal Cabrera is a better 2B/MI option (like Profar), but his durability will rack up plate time and his 20 HR pop could hold down the fort at CI in a pinch. Being multi-eligible should get him a fantasy bench role
- Kyle Seager has fallen from grace, and surgery that will take away his April clouds the situation even more. He drops from late round flyer to May/June waiver fodder if the 2017 version shows up.
- Jake Lamb went from hero to zero in just one year (remember that Muncy supporters). Injuries played a big part in last year’s downfall so give him a mulligan. Worth a late round gamble.
If you get to a point in the draft where you are considering Brian Anderson, Maikel Franco, Evan Longoria, Jeimer Candelario, or Jung-Ho Kang at 3B or CI you really messed up. Any one of them could be a waiver wire pickup under the right circumstances, but with 27 third base eligible off the board you should have better on your team.
So what’s the plan here coach? I can go one of two ways here. I will never tell anyone to pass on Arenado, Ramirez or Bregman – all are worthy first round choices. However, so is Machado near the end of round two. The problem here is that first base is thin and outfield (which hasn’t been covered yet) is very top-heavy and the first two/three rounds may be your best and only chance at a true 5-category player. Depending on what’s on the board I can see going OF/1B early and settling for the next tiers. Bryant/Rendon/Guerrero make for better values in round 3/4, as does Suarez a round later. I think OF & SP will determine your course of action here. If those seem to be going quick then bypass 3B for now and get yours while the getting is good.
There will still be some quality corner men around after round five and over the next 50 picks (Carpenter, Shaw, Chapman, Andujar, Donaldson, Turner, Wil Myers). Should you choose this route make sure to double dip (Carpenter and Shaw would be the targets in this scenario since they qualify elsewhere). I might even take a third helping if the value is right – cause some panic and reaching among the remaining owners with a hole at third. Remember there will be 4-6 teams with no third basemen once you get to these players – know who those teams are and plan accordingly. Third base and shortstop have both depth and a large tier of high-end talent. As long as you know where that talent drop-off is and you get your player before things thin out you’ll be fine.