The Fantasy Landscape: Third Base

Ezra Shaw

Alex Kantecki opens third-base week with an overview of the position, including his thoughts on AL-/NL-only leagues and draft strategy.

You know the drill. Today we kick off third-base week at Fake Teams, where the staff brings you positional rankings, player profiles and much, much more. In addition to all of the great content you are about to see throughout the week, we are again very excited to bring you Daniel Schwartz's projections and auction values from Rotobanter.com, as well as Daniel Kelley's Equivalent Fantasy Average. As Ray outlined on Sunday, here is the schedule for the following week:

Time Slot/Day

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

7am

State of the Position (Alex)

Prospect Profile: Colin Moran (Brian C.)

Top 30 Third Base Rankings, Part 2 (Ray)

Third Basemen to Target (Staff)

Third Basemen to Avoid (Staff)

10am

Top 30 Third Base Rankings, Part 1 (Ray)

Prospect Profile:Garin Cecchini(Jason)

Prospect Profile: Kris Bryant (Matt)

Prospect Profile: Miguel Sano (Matt)

AL-only sleepers (Ray)

12pm

Third Base Profile: Nolan Arenado (Zack)

Third Base Profile: Manny Machado (Alex)

Prospect Profile:Maikel Franco(Jason)

Third Base Profile: Will Middlebrooks (Joe)

NL-only Sleepers (Jasper)

2pm

Third Base Profile: Pedro Alvarez (Daniel)

Third Base Profile:Chris Johnson(Zack)

2014 Third Base Draft Strategy (Zack)

Breakout Candidate:Brett Lawrie (Daniel)

Prospect Profile:Nick Castellanos(Brian C.)

4pm

Third Base ADP Trends (Ray)

EFA Analysis: Third Base (Daniel K.)

The Lay of the Land

If not for Baltimore's Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera would be coming off his second consecutive Triple Crown. Miggy slashed .348/.442/.636 with 44 home runs and 137 RBI for the Tigers, earning top honors in standard 5X5 formats for the second straight year. There's not a better hitter in baseball. The only "bad" thing you can say about him is that he doesn't run.

Adrian Beltre fell eight RBI short of his second consecutive .300/30/100 season. Really, he's been a couple of stats here and there from doing it in four straight, and there's little reason to doubt he can do it again. Beltre does turn 35 this season, but there's not a better fallback option to Miggy.

Evan Longoria and David Wright are two completely different players. Longoria is all about upside while Wright is all about versatility. Longo's batting average has slipped in two of the past three years, but he's always a threat for 30 home runs. Wright is past his prime, but he's hit better than .300 in back-to-back seasons with contributions in all five roto categories. I prefer Wright's all-around game, but you can't rule out Longoria putting together a monster season at age 28.

2013's biggest surprises at the hot corner were St. Louis' Matt Carpenter and Oakland's Josh Donaldson. Carpenter is best utilized elsewhere on the fantasy diamond, but he'll once again leadoff for a Cardinals' offense that led the National League in runs scored, including a lleague-leading 126 from Carpenter. Donaldson, 28, was an afterthought in the majority of 2013 drafts but finished fourth best at third base. The A's third baseman hit .301/.384/.499 with 24 home runs, 89 runs, 93 RBI and five steals in his first full season.

Third base is top heavy, but there is plenty of value to be had. Ryan Zimmerman did a lot of his damage in the second half again, blasting 15 of his 26 home runs after the All-Star break. Pedro Alvarez went 35/100. Kyle Seager topped 20 homers in back-to-back years and was a sneaky source steals. Brett Lawrie enters the season healthy, capable of going 15/15. Chase Headley is only two seasons removed from 31 home runs, 115 RBI and 17 steals. And Pablo Sandoval lost a lot of weight.

The Great Divide (AL/NL)

The Official Fake Teams Third Base Rankings will be coming out shortly (in two posts of 15, with the top 15 being released later today), and each league claims 15 of the top-30 third basemen. While the top-two players reside in the American League, the top 10 is split down the middle. Unsurprisingly, Miggy was the unanimous selection for No. 1 while only five points separated Beltre, Longoria and Wright in the battle for second.

In NL-only leagues, Wright is the clear-cut No. 1 third baseman and will require a first-round selection. After Wright, the talent drops off considerably. Zimmerman is still productive but misses time here and there, Carpenter is probably better served at second base and Alvarez is all power. The next tier includes Sandoval, Headley and Aramis Ramirez. And I'm personally high on Nolan Arenado, who I think can approach 20 home runs in Colorado.

In the AL, Miggy, Beltre and Longoria are the cream of the crop. Donaldson and Seager have emerged as strong plays in AL-onlys, followed by Manny Machado and Brett Lawrie. Machado can be a future superstar while we're still waiting on Lawrie to put together a full season. Bounce-back candidates in the AL include Mike Moustakas and Will Middlebrooks.

The Draft Strategy

Zack Smith will bring you an in-depth look into the draft strategy at third base on Wednesday, much like he did with shortstops last week. While there are a lot of intriguing names at third, the position is headlined by four players -- Cabrera, Beltre, Wright and Longoria -- and then everybody else. All four of them have an ADP inside the top 25, according to NFBC. The next third baseman (Zimmerman) doesn't come off the board until the 61st pick, so there doesn't appear to be a strong need to reach for third base on draft day if you miss out on the consensus top four.

The next five, in order, are Donaldson (69.75), Alvarez (81.88), Martin Prado (102.43), Machado (111.91) and Seager (114.92). I actually prefer Donaldson to Zimmerman and Seager to Machado, but you can see that the ADPs of third basemen favor a wait-and-see approach. 10-12 are Headley, Ramirez and Sandoval. I think Ramirez is being severely undervalued, as -- before last year -- he had three straight seasons of 25-plus home runs. I've seen him slip to the 15th round in mocks.

The New Kids on the Block

As was the case with the shortstop position, there is an exciting young group of third basemen ready to make an impact on the fantasy scene. Xander Bogaerts, who will play a mix of shortstop and third base, should be an everyday contributor in one of baseball's best lineups in Boston. He's a relatively low-risk prospect whom many believe will be a perennial .300 hitter with 25 home runs. In re-draft leagues, I wouldn't rely on Bogaerts carrying you in 2014, but he should be a valuable corner infielder/middle infielder depending on his eligibility. In keeper or dynasty leagues, go crazy.

With Prince Fielder no longer in town and Cabrera shifting back to first base in Detroit, Nick Castellanos is in line for the majority of playing time at third. The Tigers No.1 prospect could eventually hit .290-.300 with 20-homer pop, but, again, I would temper my expectations in his first full season. Matt Davidson should be able to hold off Jeff Keppinger in the battle for third base in Chicago. He was a part of the three-team traded that sent Mark Trumbo to Arizona and Tyler Skaggs to Anaheim. He's an interesting late-round flier.

In addition to Castellanos, the Fake Teams Prospect Staff -- Jason Hunt, Brian Creagh and Matt Mattingly -- will profile six third-base prospects in the coming week, including Colin Moran, Garin Cecchini, Kris Bryant, Maikel Franco and Miguel Sano.

What's Next?

In three short hours, Part 1 of The Fake Teams Consensus Third Base Rankings will be released, along with projections and auction values from Rotobanter and Daniel Kelley's Equivalent Fantasy Average for every player ranked. Over the next five days, we'll bring you 12 player profiles, including six prospect profiles. The staff will also highlight multiple third basemen to target and avoid, a comprehensive draft strategy and AL- and NL-only sleepers. Ray and the gang have worked long and hard to bring you the best pre-season coverage available, so we appreciate all of the feedback, whether it's good, bad or in-between. If there is anything you'd like to see in addition to the content being provided, please let us know about it in the comments below.

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