Hello and good morning! Over the past few weeks, I have address who “Not to Draft” at the catcher, first base and second base positions. This week we continue around the diamond, stopping at third base. I like the position quite a bit this year heading into spring training, which makes it a little harder to decide on who to avoid.
The third base position, as detailed in our third base tiers article Monday, is deep. There’s a group of arguably five or six at the top that really stand out, but realistically there is no issue on going with any of the top-20 players as your everyday starter. Depending on what kind of strategy you’re planning on going with on draft day, third base appears to be a position you could load up on to trade for team weaknesses later. I’m not here to help with that strategy, though. I’m here to give you some help on who to avoid come draft day this year.
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
Josh Donaldson has thrived since his trade to the Blue Jays after the 2014 season. Since his arrival in Toronto, Donaldson hasn’t hit fewer than 33 home runs or batted lower than .270. For those who recall, his first season in Toronto was an MVP-worthy season. What it all boils down to is that Donaldson has been great in Toronto. So why avoid him?
One thing that has me a bit worried is Donaldson will be entering his age 32 season in 2018. Some would call that “past his prime.” All players decline at a different rate, but most start at or around this age. This is not a major concern, just something to keep in mind.
Donaldson is also in the final year of his contract, which is generally a good thing as far as production. There’s no coincidence that players in their final years of their contracts often have career years. The thing with Donaldson, though, is that he has already voiced his preference to stay in Toronto. Could that lead to a mediocre season? Playing for a contract is incentive, but some players press too hard and end up with opposite results. And any extension sometime during the season could take some of the pressure off, maybe leading to lower counting stats.
The main reason to stay away from Donaldson this year is simply the value at the position. Looking at Donaldson’s average season in a Blue Jay uniform, you can expect 30+ home runs and right around the 100 RBI mark. With the depth of the position this year, you might be able to wait and get that kind of production out of a player ranked between 10-20 at the position rather than using a potential first or second round pick. Choose wisely. I’d rather fill another position early than take Donaldson, when I can get equal production out of a guy like Nicholas Castellanos (ranked 18th).
Mike Moustakas, Free Agent
Mike Moustakas is an interesting addition to this list. I have him ranked as a top-10 player at the position (9th), but his value is extremely contingent on where he lands this offseason. His value could easily rise, but it seems much more likely that his value will drop once his destination is determined.
As I mentioned above when discussing Josh Donaldson, players generally tend to have career years in the final years of their contracts, which is what Moustakas did last year. He hit a career high, and Royals franchise high, 38 home runs. He also drove in a career high 85 runs. Now, it is possible that Moustakas signs another one-year deal with a team to get through 2018, which could then produce numbers like last year, but I wouldn’t count on it.
The market for power bats just simply isn’t there over the past two seasons like it has been in the past. Spring training is less than a month away, and there haven’t been any solid links to where Moustakas might land — that’s troublesome. For those that have later drafts (I have one in the middle of March), you may be in a better spot when it comes to Moustakas, but for those that have drafts earlier than that, don’t go near him with a ten-foot pole! As I mentioned already, there is plenty of value down the list, and his potential ADP may not be worth it.
Travis Shaw, Brewers
When pertaining to Travis Shaw, I feel like all I should have to say is “next!” Shaw’s power numbers from last season (31/101) pretty much equaled his output from the previous two seasons combined (29/107)! If that’s not the definition of a career year, I don’t know what is.
Yes, it’s very possible that all Shaw needed was a change of scenery. Playing in Boston and dealing with the media has been known to affect players in terrible ways. He landed in a much smaller market in Milwaukee, and there wasn’t the added pressure to succeed; he was able to simply go out and play baseball.
Shaw is another one of the players who have adopted the fly ball mentality: “hit the ball in the air, good things happen.” This is so much different than what kids are taught growing up, but it seems to have worked for quite a few players last year. Shaw had a whopping 20.5% home run/fly ball percentage last year. When you break it down, one out of every five fly balls left the park. That’s crazy. That doesn’t seem to be a number that can be sustained.
I look for pitchers to find a way to curb the fly ball tendencies in 2018, which will see power numbers decrease some. If that doesn’t happen, sure, Shaw could have another great year for the Brewers, but so could some sleepers drafted later than him. When it comes to Shaw, I’d rather gamble on a younger, “prospect type player than bank on another career year.
Let’s roll the dice — guys to take a late round flyer on
- Miguel Andujar, Yankees
- Matt Davidson, White Sox
- Colin Moran, Pirates
All three of these players could have breakout campaigns in 2018. Moran seems poised to have the best season out of the three, but watch out for Davidson — he could have monster season at the dish. If the Yankees give Andujar regular at bats, he should fit right in with the Bronx Bombers theme they’re rolling with this season.
Now that I’ve given you my side of the third base position, let’s hear yours! Leave your fantasy questions in the comment section below or on Twitter, @KennyGarvey. Catch you next week as I give you my “Do Not Draft” list of shortstop options!
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