Draft This, Not That: Third Basemen

This is going to go a little different from the first few installments of Draft This, Not That for 2016. You’ll see what I mean as you make your way through this write-up. Third base presents itself as a position with a stacked top-tier followed by a deep middle tier. If you miss out on Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado or Kris Bryant early on, there’s plenty of productive bats in the next group featuring Todd Frazier, Matt Carpenter, Kyle Seager, Adrian Beltre, Maikel Franco, Even Longoria and others.  I can’t remember the last time we were able to say this, but there is a real chance the third base position actually trumps the first base group from top to bottom in 2016.

Draft This Not That

Draft Mike Moustakas – Not Kyle Seager:

This call is not so much that I think Kyle Seager is going too early as much as it is just seeing about the same stat line 70+ picks later from Mike Moustakas. Of course the premium is assigned to Kyle Seager because of his track record. Likewise, the risk is in Moustakas because you have to believe in his 2015 breakout performance if you are going to make him a part of your 2016 draft plan.

Kyle Seager basically offers about as guaranteed a stat line as you will find in the game. The past four seasons, Seager has posted between 148-169 R + RBI and between 20-26 homers each year while playing in 155+ game per season. There’s certainly value in that. I will caution you against hoping for more than a small handful of stolen bases from Seager. His stolen base output is on a four-year decline from 13 in 2012, down to 6 this past season. His 2015 total also came with a red flag of just a 50% success rate. I would not count on more than five stolen bases from Seager in 2016.

So what did Mike Moustakas do that should make us believe he can come close to repeating his 2015 performance? Something I like to look at when deciding if a player’s breakout was real or not is look at his month to month production. Batting average is one area where Moustakas made notable gain as he hit just .220 in 2014 but managed to hit .284 last season. He did have a one-month blip where he hit just .188 in July. Otherwise, he did not hit below .281 in any other month. So do we throw out Moustakas’s 2015 season as the blip on the back of his baseball card or do we throw out his 2015 month of July as the blip in an otherwise successful season? Given that Moustakas demonstrated a willingness to go to the opposite field more than ever before in 2015, I am willing to accept his 2015 and throw out the one low month. This likely helped him recover from a low BABIP of .220 in 2014 to a .294 BABIP in 2015. Also a bonus to consider is his four-year decline in his K%, from 20.1% in 2012 down to just 12.4% in 2015. The reduction in his K% has not impacted the amount of hard and medium contact he makes which leads me to believe that 20+ homers can be repeated. What Moustakas will not do is steal bases.

At this time, I am figuring Moustakas to hit fifth in the Royals lineup and Seager to hit second or fifth in the Mariners lineup. Either way, I could see a similar amount of runs and RBIs for the pair. For my projection, I will figure Seager to hit second.

For 2016, I project the following stat lines:

Kyle Seager: 80/25/75/5/.265
Mike Moustakas: 70/21/80/1/.270

My advice here is not necessarily to pass on Seager, but if you miss out on him, aim for Moustakas. There’s a lot to be said for Kyle Seager’s consistency and that is not something I want to downplay. That said, I feel you can mostly believe in what Mike Moustakas did in 2015, save for a little decline in his BABIP that will ultimately drop his batting average a tad. Still, things are trending in the right direction for Moustakas and he can reasonably compete with Seager’s expected stat line for 2016.

Draft Nick Castellanos – Not Mike Moustakas:

Wait a minute! I can’t do that, can I? I just told you to draft Mike Moustakas above. This is the beauty of Draft This, Not That. It offers some leeway to interpretation. Sometimes I’m really telling you to avoid a player who is being overvalued because a nearly identical projected stat output can be had later on. In this case though, I’m telling you that the consistency of Kyle Seager is attractive at his expected ADP for 2016. Sometimes other needs arise and you might have to pass on a target like Seager. Hence my suggestion to allow yourself to pass on him if something else presents itself as being more attractive and consider targeting Moustakas a little later in the draft. Once you have moved onto targeting Moustakas you might find yourself in the same situation and need to pass on him to take advantage of someone else being available that maybe you didn’t expect. Coming full circle, I am now saying it is okay to pass on Moustakas and move onto targeting Nick Castellanos.

Let’s say you are hoping to land Kyle Seager around 65-75 overall and he so happens to be there for you. However, maybe you never imagined a guy like Miguel Sano would fall to you at that point in the draft yet there he is for the taking. Go ahead and make the move for Sano. With the focus now on Moustakas, you might find yourself caught in a closer run when you target him in the 140-150 range. With the closer cupboard quickly becoming bare, you need to make the move for a guy like Huston Street perhaps and move on from Moustakas. Have no fear, Castellanos is a solid 3B option to target late in your draft.

Nick Castellanos is my favorite 3B option to have a season like we just got out of Mike Moustakas. He seems like a bit of a disappointment early in his career until you realize Castellanos will be just 24 throughout the entire 2016 season. He has pedigree and has shown signs of breaking out. Furthermore, he hits in a decent lineup that should bounce back nicely in 2016 with just a little health improvement. Detroit scored the 15th most runs in baseball last season with both Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera banged up.

A second half of 22 Runs, 9 HRs, 35 RBI, and a .269 AVG gives hope that Castellanos has begun to turn the corner offensively. A little more progression and development from Castellanos and it isn’t hard to imagine a 2015 Moustakas-like performance from him in 2016. Castellanos began hitting the ball harder more frequently in the second half leading to solid improvement to his LD% and HR/FB%.

If you miss out on an earlier target such as Mike Moustakas or maybe you find yourself needing to fill your corner infield or utility position, Nick Castellanos makes for a solid late round player worth taking a shot on. He is currently going off the draft board after pick 260 on average through the early returns from the NFBC’s slow drafts. What I have done here for you is simply bring attention to the depth of the third base position. Feel comfortable passing on third base early on if other needs become more pressing because there’s plenty of fantasy goodness to be had at the hot corner.

I project the following stat line for Nick Castellanos in 2016:

Nick Castellanos: 60/20/75/1/.270

Draft This / Not That Series
CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseShortstopOutfieldPitchers

 

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Ron Vackar
Though Ron is a Dodgers fan, he is more likely to be found at Angel Stadium or Petco Park during the regular season. The Dodgers play 9-10 games a year in San Diego so Petco is basically Dodgers Stadium south. By day he is a high school teacher as well as a golf coach and previously coached baseball. When not working, he can be found at home with his beautiful wife and dog Brooklyn.
Ron Vackar

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