When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and yesterday, Zack Smith offered his thoughts on third base draft strategy. We have also provided you with our Top 30 third base rankings for 2014:
Included in the rankings above, we provided 2014 projections for almost every third baseman ranked, courtesy of Daniel Schwartz from Fake Teams and Rotobanter.
In addition, Daniel Kelley provided you his third base breakdown using his new fantasy stat called Equivalent Fantasy Average, or EFA.
Now that we have provided you all these tools you need to prepare for your drafts, your fantasy draft preparation would be incomplete without some third baseman to target, which we provide you today, and some third baseman to avoid, which publishes tomorrow.
We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the third baseman they would target in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below.
Third Baseman to Target in 2014
He was the 2nd best defensive 3b last year according to UZR. Why does this matter to fantasy people? It means that he's going to play and play a lot. He doesn't walk a lot but he doesn't strike out a lot either. The power will come. He may not quite hit 20 this year but it should be close given the ABs. I may be a little bold in my 11th overall ranking but really I don't see a whole lot of difference between #11-15 on our lists this year.
After his call-up in 2011, the third baseman showed us his massive potential by hitting 9 HR's and stealing 7 bases in just 150 AB's. After mashing his way through the minors and impressing during his MLB debut, fantasy managers became eager to see what Lawrie could do in a full big league season. But his 2012 and 2013 seasons were continuously derailed by injuries, which led to inconsistent playing time. Lawrie struggled when returning from injuries, so staying healthy will be key going forward. The right-handed hitter is still just 24 years-old, so there is plenty of time to get things turned around. In 275 major league games, Lawrie has totaled 31 HR's and 29 SB's. Give the third baseman anywhere close to 150 games played, and I believe he could become a 20 HR + 20 SB contributor in 2014.
Ramirez's fantasy value has taken a hit this offseason due to the recurring knee injuries he experienced last season. But, when healthy, ARam hit .283-.370-.461 with 12 home runs, 43 runs and 49 RBI in just 93 games and 351 plate appearances. For the period 2010-2012, he averaged 26 home runs and 93 RBI, and he is a notoriously hot second half hitter.
His current ADP, according to NFBC, is 154.37, so he is being drafted in the 10th round of 15 team NFBC leagues. Conversely, Diamondbacks third baseman Martin Prado (ADP of 102.47) and Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (ADP of 112.44) are being drafted three rounds ahead of Ramirez. Let others grab Prado and Machado in the seventh or eight rounds and get better value with Ramirez in the tenth.
Frazier put up similar counting stats in 2013 as compared to his 2012 season, but the problem is that he played in 22 more games, and also saw a drop in his batting average of nearly 40 points into fringe useful range. If you look at some of his secondary numbers, you see improvements in strikeout rate, walk rate, swinging strike %, and OSwing%, all of which point to a slight improvement in his eye that didn't really translate to the performance this year. I think he still ends up around 20 home runs, as he has each of the past two years, but moves back into the .270 range for his batting average.
Sandoval's 2013 numbers don't jump off the page at you (.278/14/79), but with an offseason regimen that saw him drop a significant amount of weight, the Giants third baseman could once again post elite numbers. Sandoval has certainly shown that he is capable of being a top-ranked third baseman in the majors, particularly when healthy (and in good shape). He has posted a batting average north of .300 in three of his six seasons, and with a career-high of 25 home runs, he possesses the potential to hit around 20 long balls in 2014. Don't forget, Sandoval will also hit behind Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence this season. He'll have plenty of RBI opportunities, and if he reaches his potential, he could be one of the top third basemen in the National League.
Third base is tricky. Either you go all-in and pick a consensus top-four option (Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, David Wright, Evan Longoria), or you sit back and wait for the field to come to you. While I believe in Josh Donaldson and debated him here, I'd rather not risk a top-60 pick on a third baseman with only one very good season under his belt. Therefore, I'll drop down a few spots and suggest Seattle's Kyle Seager, who has back-to-back seasons of across-the-board production at the top-heavy hot corner. After smacking 20 home runs in 2012, the 26-year-old did two better in 2013, hitting 22 long balls and adding 79 runs, 69 RBI and nine steals. His batting average only improved from .259 to .260 (!), but his walk rate increased for the third straight season, which is something you like to see in any batter's profile. Seager played in 155-plus games for the second year in a row and recorded 148 R+RBI, the exact amount he produced in 2012. How's that for consistency? I think Seager has an outside chance to reach 25 home runs in 2014, but another 20 home runs and 10 steals would do just fine at his current ADP.
Martin Prado, Diamondbacks - Daniel Kelley (follow @Danieltkelley)
Prado's been a regular or semi-regular for six seasons now. In that time, he has one truly awful season (2011) and one awful half-season (the first half of last year). Outside of that, he's been a truly consistent player, with all his rate stats staying basically static. I don't know if it was small sample size, or the move to Arizona, or, heck, a head cold that had Prado struggling through the first half last year, but he followed up a .246/.296/.348 slash line through June with a .319/.369/.487 from July 1 to the end of the season. Still the same guy as always, Prado should be just about the same as always in 2014. On top of that, dude's eligible at second and outfield in addition to third base. Even if you draft him as your third baseman, that versatility is supremely valuable. He came in at 16th in our consensus ranks, but I think he's pretty easily a top-ten option.
If you are looking for more position rankings, or plain old fantasy baseball goodness, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one place to get all things fantasy.
- Third Base Draft Strategy
- NFBC ADP Rankings Analysis: Third Base
- MLB Prospect Review: Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies
- Does Kris Bryant Make the Grade?
- Consensus Position Rankings/Projections: Top 30 Third Baseman for 2014, Part 2
- Third Base Profile: Manny Machado
- MLB Prospect Review: Garin Cecchini, Boston Red Sox
- Prospect Profile: Colin Moran
- Pedro Alvarez: The Jeff Goldblum of third base