We are approaching the conclusion of Third Base Week at Fake Teams, and we couldn't end the week without offering some third base sleepers for the 2015 season. This list will include some third baseman that may not be drafted in 12 team mixed leagues, and maybe even deeper leagues, but who could outperform expectations in 2015.
Here is a look at a few third baseman who will be available late in drafts, or on your league waiver wire, who could outperform their draft day value in 2015:
Luis Valbuena, Astros
Valbuena joins the Astros after an offseason deal with the Cubs that opens up third base for when the Cubs deem Kris Bryant major league "ready". Valbuena's fantasy value probably takes a bit of a bump up as a result, as he should be the Astros starting third baseman all season.
Last year, Valbuena hit ,249-.341-.435 with 16 home runs, 68 runs scored and 51 RBI in 547 plate appearances. He strikes out a little too often, but compensates with a double digit walk rate. He hits enough fly balls, 48% last season, that he should be able to hit 15-18 home runs in Minute Maid Park, with a chance to hit 20 playing everyday. He is probably just an AL-only league option right now, but he should be drafted in deeper mixed leagues as well.
Nick Castellanos, Tigers
Castellanos is my choice for the old "post hype breakout" in 2015. He may not have been hyped like some other prospects, but he does have a solid hit tool and yet to be seen power. Last season, he hit .259-.306-.394 with 11 home runs, 50 runs scored and 66 RBI in 579 plate appearances.
Once he is able to cut down on the strikeouts, we should see his batting average and walk rate rise, and with that, we should see more power from his bat. His line drive rate was 28.5% last season, so his .259 batting average tells me he was a bit unlucky on some of those line drives. I look for him to increase his home run total to the 15-18 range in 2015, and a breakout is not out of the question.
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Seems strange to see Alex Rodriguez's name in a sleeper column, huh? Well, he currently doesn't have a starting position in the Yankee lineup with Chase Headley playing third base for the next four seasons, and Mark Teixeira manning first base. ARod will probably DH and play some third base and first base this season, so he will gain eligibility at a few positions, but he may need an injury to see more than 400 plate appearances.
Maikel Franco, Phillies
It is just a matter of time before Franco makes his way onto the Phillies roster. Franco is one of the Phillies top prospects, and there is a chance he makes a fantasy impact this season. Last season in AAA, he hit .257-.299-.428 with 16 home runs, 64 runs scored and 78 RBI in 556 plate appearances. He struggled early last season, but turned things around with a strong second half at the plate.
He brings a power bat to the Phillies lineup, and there is a chance he gains third base and first base eligibility in 2015, as there has been talk about the Phillies either trading Ryan Howard, or just dumping him. Franco has a lot of swing and miss in his game, but he has a solid hit tool, so owners may need to be patient with him in 2015, as like other rookies, he will struggle and need to make adjustments at the plate.
Jason Hunt profiled Franco on Tuesday and you can find his article in the link below:
Jake Lamb, Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are using spring training to see if Yasmany Tomas can play an acceptable third base at the major league level. Reports yesterday indicated he had plenty of trouble, bobbling grounders and looked out of position, so there is a chance this experiment may end badly, with Tomas having to move to the outfield, where he won't be much better.
That said, if Tomas cannot handle third base, that opens up a role for Jake Lamb, who had his cup of coffee in Arizona last season. Lamb stubbled in his cup of joe, hitting .230-.263-.373 with 4 home runs, 15 runs scored and 11 RBI in 133 plate appearances. He showed a promising bat in AA last season, hitting .318-.399-.551 with 14 home runs, 60 runs scored and 79 RBI in 439 plate appearances. He is more of an NL-only league pick up at this point, and his playing time will all depend on how the Tomas experiment plays out.
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