Fake Teams Staff Post: I Think I'll Pass - Third Basemen

Norm Hall

Each of your favorite Fake Teams writers let you in on who the third baseman they will be avoiding at their current values.

Each week, when we cover a position here at Fake Teams, in addition to all of the content you've been seeing, we're going to be doing two staff posts where each of the writers will contribute a brief comment on a player they will personally be targeting in drafts and a player they will be avoiding. Yesterday we shared the optimistic side of this equation, but today is a day of reckoning. These are the players who we are weary of at their projected draft day values.

So without any further ado, I present the Fake Teams staff and their least favorite third base targets for 2013:

"Look, I'm sure Chase Headley is a really nice guy. And smart too -- the man was valedictorian of his high school in Colorado. But a repeat of his completely and utterly unsustainable 21.4% HR/FB ratio (which was more than twice his career rate, including the 2012 season) is just not in the cards. Amazingly, 2012 saw the lowest fly ball rate of Chase Headley's career in conjunction with this crazy explosion of power. Let that sink in for a second. Headley is a very good baseball player, but I don't think he will hit 20 HR again in 2013 -- and I don't think he'll make up for it elsewhere. He's a perfectly good option right around the back-end of the top-10 (I had him ranked 10th on my personal list), but don't overrate the absolutely monstrous second half he had." --Bret Sayre

"It really, truly pains me to say this, but I'm going to be avoiding Chase Headley next year. I mean, I freaking love the guy. I picked him up off of the waiver wire in an 18-team league, only to see him go turbo on the NL West. He was amazing, amassing 31 homers, 17 steals, and a league-leading 115 RBIs. Alas, the home runs were four more than he had totaled in the three previous years combined, and this in a traditionally unforgiving home park. If anything screams fluke power spike, it's this. Headley's strikeout rate rose and he hit more balls in the air, but I still wouldn't be shocked to see him in the 15-20 home run range next season. He beat Petco Park in 2012, but Petco doesn't forget and it doesn't forgive. I'm looking at his draft stock with the assumption that this was a career year." --Paul Rice

"As I mentioned yesterday, I am looking for top shelf run production at the hot corner in 2013. I am perfectly okay with my third baseman putting up zero to five stolen bases over the course of the season, if it means an extra handful of homers to go along with increased runs and RBI's. After bursting onto the scene, appearing in 43 games for the Blue Jays in 2011, fantasy owners had unrealistic expectations for the fiery Canadian - Brett Lawrie, my player to avoid in 2013. Let me start by saying, Lawrie is a valuable fantasy asset. After all, he is ranked 10th in our consensus rankings and 7th in my personal converted projection to auction dollar figures at third base. I am not targeting Lawrie purely from a draft day strategy stand point. I currently have Lawrie projected for 77 runs, 17 HR, 72 RBI, 18 SB and a .282 BA, all numbers that will bolster a roto lineup. The problem with this overall skill set however, is the hole a non-traditional third baseman puts owners in on draft day. Owners who bypass Longoria, A. Ramirez or even Ryan Zimmerman are missing out on 6 to 10 homers, and in some cases 20+ RBI's, by choosing the speedy Lawrie to man their fantasy hot corner. In fact, only 35 players had 90 or more RBI's in 2012 - 7 of those players will be third base eligible in 2013. Run production and power isn't what it used to be, and straying at a position that can offer these categories is not one I suggest to owners in 2013 drafts." --Dave Morris Jr.

"David Freese was ranked No. 11 in our consensus rankings, but I think he's closer to the 15th best third baseman than the 10th. To me, Freese is what he is -- a slightly above average hitter with so-so power and little to no speed. He turns 30 in April, and there's no reason to believe his power will develop into anything more than what we saw in 2012. He has a career .150 ISO, strikes out too much, doesn't run, and hits a ton of grounders and not enough fly balls. While he does get on base at a healthy clip, you're not going to win your league by drafting a third baseman who knows how to draw a walk or two. What he did for the Cardinals in the 2011 postseason was remarkable and fun to watch, but don't mistake it for greatness. I think he takes a step back and hits 16 homers in 2013. There's a number of players ranked below Freese with more upside I'd rather have, including Manny Machado, Pedro Alvarez and Mike Moustakas." --Alex Kantecki

"I think that the key for me with Pablo Sandoval is this: Someone in your league is going to draft him on the assumption that he will return to 23-25 home runs, either because of it being an odd year, or because they saw his 3 home run game off of Verlander, or some other reason. I would tend to agree with Ray's projection that he will hit for a good average and 15-20 home runs, but he seems to me like the perfect candidate at the hot corner to be drafted a round too early on the basis of that World Series game. It just won't be me." --Jason Hunt

"After taking a closer look at David Freese when writing the player profiles for our 2013 Consensus Third Base Rankings, I am going to avoid him in drafts next season. I want a big power bat at third base in my draft, and I think I would prefer to take Pedro Alvarez, even with the low batting average. The stat that stood out for me is the number of ground balls he hits relative to the number of fly balls he hits. His 1.98 ground ball to fly ball ratio was the 17th highest in all of baseball last year with guys like Jamey Carroll, Derek Jeter, Michael Bourn and Elvis Andrus ranked ahead of him. Don't get me wrong, he is an excellent hitter. But I think his power is limited, especially considering he hit 20 home runs last season with a 20% HR/FB rate. Combine that with him being injury prone, and I will happily draft my third baseman a few rounds earlier." -- Ray Guilfoyle

"I will admit that I come to this subject with some bias. I am not a Pedro Alvarez believer. I spent a summer interning in the press box at the Potomac Nationals and saw plenty of Alvarez as he came through in the Carolina League. He stepped in the bucket almost every time, and while he could hit the ball, I could almost only focus on his flaws. That still persists today, despite the 30 home run season he just posted in 2012, I have trouble believing he can replicate it. This is a player with slumps so bad that he was sent to the minors on more than one occasion. He appears to me to be more of a mistake hitter, and he benefited from some luck in 2012. He had a HR/FB rate of 25%, 8.5% higher than his career high and a 15% improvement over 2011. I concede he has the strength to continue this type of pace, though I would anticipate some regression. What I can't believe is that he can give you any sort of help - or even avoid hurting you in batting average (a la 2012) with a 30% strikeout rate. I would not expect any sort of change in that rate, as it's been highly consistent across his 3 partial seasons in the majors. While he has the ability and strength to hit 30 home runs over the course of a full season, he has the swing and miss ability to sink your season and his own. Many people are "on" Alvarez and I think he has enough risk of getting sent down to the minors that he won't be worth his draft day value. Caveat Emptor." -- Craig Goldstein

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