When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and on Wednesday, Daniel Kelley offered his thoughts on how to approach third basemen on draft day. We have also provided you with our Top 30 third base rankings for 2015 earlier in the week:
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 basemen to avoid, which we provide you today, and some third basemen to target, which published yesterday.
We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the third basemen they would avoid in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below. Some of the players listed below may have been recommended as targets by other writers on Thursday, but are presented to show both sides of the argument for said player.
Third Basemen to Avoid in 2015
Evan Longoria, Rays - Ray Guilfoyle
We ranked Longoria as our 5th ranked fantasy third baseman in our Consensus Rankings earlier this week, but I won't be drafting him this season. According to the Mock Draft Army ADP stats prepared by Howard Bender over at Fantasy Alarm, Longoria's ADP is trending up and currently sits at 39.6. The Mock Draft Army mock drafts are hosted by Howard, are a very good representation of ADPs as they are attended by some of the best fantasy baseball experts in the industry, and an even bigger point, there are no auto drafters allowed in these mocks.
With third basemen like Nolan Arenado and Kyle Seager going after Longoria, I would pass on drafting him and grab Seager or Arenado a round later, as both could put up better stats in 2015. As I wrote in part 1 of our Consensus Third Base Rankings, Longoria's power is trending down, and that is not a good thing for his owners. He is coming off his worst power season of his career, as his ISO slipped to .151 and his SLG dropped to .404 last season, down from his .230 ISO and .498 SLG in 2013.
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays - Daniel Kelley
It was a strong full 2014 for Josh Donaldson last year, with a 126 OPS+ and 29 home runs. Of course, more than half of those home runs came in April and May, and he hit .239/.322/.398 over the season's last four months. He's 29 now, despite only three full seasons in the big leagues. And while I will grant that the move from Oakland's ballpark to Toronto's is a positive move from a park-factors perspective, the move to Rogers Centre's turf is less exciting. The team has installed new turf for this season, supposedly softer, but it's still a far cry from anything resembling natural grass, and more than one player has blamed injury issues on that ground in the past. I don't expect a full season of games from Donaldson. He's still great, but not top-of-the-position great.
David Wright, Mets - Tim Finnegan
David Wright is my favorite baseball player of the last decade, so it pains me to write this, but I would avoid him in 2015 based on where he's generally being drafted. Wright has had a significant injury in 3 of the last 4 seasons, and last year, Adam Rubin reported that Wright had "stretched-out ligaments that failed to hold his non-throwing shoulder in place". The pain in Wright's shoulder was so extreme that he had to tinker with his swing just to be able to get through the games. I think it's fair to question whether he's beginning to break down. There's just too much uncertainty for me to invest.
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals - Jack Cecil
Why draft a guy who is either missing games because he's hurt, or playing games below his talent level because he's hurt? His shoulder issues have become chronic, and his eligibility is likely going to be gone after this season. He has no speed to speak of, so if he's going to have issues that are going to affect his power (they did), he becomes a less and less valuable player, at a position that requires some power to support a higher pick, I don't want to invest a 114th pick in him, which is what his ADP is according to NESN.
Todd Frazier, Reds - Rob Parker
Todd Frazier had an excellent year in 2014, but can we expect a repeat performance in 2015? He came out of nowhere to steal 20 bases after never stealing more than 6 in a season before. He is not fast: his speed score was 4.6, while league average was 5. August Fagerstrom at Fangraphs did an excellent breakdown of all 20 steals and found that most of them were simply because catchers and pitchers ignored him or there were errors. I don't expect any more than a handful of steals this year. His HR/FB ratio was at a three-year high and his homers went from 19 to 29 despite hitting a lower percentage of fly balls, so maybe some of his power surge is unsustainable. His average flyball distance was solid, though. In total, I expect a small decrease in homers (especially since he is past peak power age at 29), a big drop in steals, and that putrid Reds lineup (other than Votto and maybe Bruce) should bring down his runs and RBI. That does not add up to a top 6 third baseman for me. I have him at 11 in my rankings, so I won't be buying him at the prices he is going for.
Manny Machado, Orioles - Nick Doran
Machado is only 22 years old and this will be his 4th season in the major leagues. When he was still a prospect he was often grouped in a trio with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper who were labeled as future superstars. Only one of those players has proven that prediction to be accurate thus far however. Obviously Machado is not that guy. Machado could still turn out to be a superstar eventually, but he is not there yet. Not even close actually. He has accumulated 1266 plate appearances and delivered a 104 wRC+ (100 is league average). So Machado is essentially an average major league hitter right now. Average players don't win your fantasy championship for you. In order for Machado to be the type of player who helps boost your team to first place, he is going to have to make a big leap at the plate very quickly. It is not likely to happen that way. Expect smooth and steady improvement from Machado over the next several seasons, but not an instant spike in production right now. Machado is a great player to own in dynasty leagues, but in redraft leagues you can do better. His ADP is averaging #129 overall right now according to FantasyPros. That is a little too early for my taste, especially when guys like Daniel Murphy, Yasmany Tomas, Kris Bryant and Aramis Ramirez are being drafted much later. Factor in the uncertainty regarding Machado's recovery from a major knee injury and it makes him way too risky for a savvy fantasy owner.
If you are looking for more fantasy baseball rankings, and players to avoid, to get you ready for your fantasy baseball drafts, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, the one spot on the internet for all things fantasy.