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Staff Post: Third Baseman to Target in 2016

The Fake Teams staff offers you some third baseman they would target in drafts this season, including Adrian Beltre, Miguel Sano, Justin Turner and others.

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When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a strategy before going into your draft. To assist you in your strategy, we have provided you with our Consensus Top 30 third base rankings for 2015, tiered rankings, and NL-only and AL-only rankings as well.

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 and avoid, which we provide you today.

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 2016

Adrian Beltre, Rangers (Rob Parker)

Here's what I wrote about him in my Texas Rangers preview and it still stands: Despite being limited by a thumb injury for much of the season, he fought through it and still put up 18 HR and 619 PAs, which is almost a full season. He racked up lots of R and RBI and still had a very good triple slash line, even if it was down from his usual. He had surgery to fix his thumb in the offseason and should be good to go in the spring. He will be 37, but I fully expect a bounceback season with an average around 0.300, 20+ HR, and lots of R and RBI hitting third in that lineup. It is easy to write someone off because they are old coming off a slightly down season, but I'm betting on this guy in redrafts. Despite the thumb, he was #12 on ESPN's player rater for 3B in 2015, so #8 for 2016 isn't much of a reach. I think he is being underrated and forgotten.

Maikel Franco, Phillies (Ray Guilfoyle)

I wrote about Franco on Monday. We ranked Franco as out 11th ranked fantasy third baseman in 2016, but I was the high guy on him, ranking him at #7. Here is what I wrote about him in my Monday profile:

Franco's average draft position according to NFBC currently sits at 105.73, while (Kris) Bryant's ADP is 10.83, meaning you have to draft Bryant in the first round of drafts this season, while you can grab Franco in the late seventh to early eighth rounds right now. Their performance for fantasy purposes could be much closer by the end of the 2016 season than their current ADP's indicate. While Bryant is getting all of the offseason love from the fantasy community, Franco appears to be the forgotten one at the third base position, so he comes with value on draft day.

I think Franco can put up a 2016 season similiar to what Bryant put up in 2015, a 25 home run, 90 RBI season, yet without all of the strikeouts and a higher batting average.

Justin Turner, Dodgers (Daniel Kelley)

Heading into 2014, Justin Turner's main claim to fame, to me, was inspiration for one of my favorite tweets and that was about it. And then he joined the Dodgers. In two years since, he's played 235 games and hit .314/.384/.492, good for a 145 OPS+. Between the Dodgers taking a little time to really believe in Turner and a few injuries, he hasn't played full time in those two years, but he certainly will now. At 31, his prime will be short, but Turner has earned the right in the last two years to be a starting fantasy third baseman. Yet I'm the high man on Turner in our rankings, and I have him 11th. He's outside the top 20 in some cases. Dude should have earned more respect than that.

Mike MoustakasRoyals (Michael Schwarz)

Earlier this week Moustakas checked in at #13 in our consensus rankings at third base, and while I think that's about right, I also pointed out some things to like about him, including impressive splits that should not go unnoticed.  In 2015, for instance, Moustakas hit .282 with 10 HR in only 206 ABs vs. left-handed pitching, numbers that compare favorably to his overall .284 batting average and 22 HR.  Contrary to his reputation, therefore, Moustakas is neither a platoon-player nor a bust.  Furthermore, a player coming off a career-year and about to enter his age-27 season has breakout potential.  If you're not sold on the Rendons, Carpenters, even Fraziers and Bryants of the third-base world, then Moustakas could bring value to your team as a selection in rounds 6-9.

Miguel Sano, Twins (Tim Finnegan)

I'm a huge fan of Sano's talent. His raw power is probably among the top 3 in the sport right now, and his elite walk rate makes him very valuable in OBP leagues. What sticks out to me most about Sano is that he missed all of his age 21 season recovering from TJ surgery, and then came back at age 22 and dominated MLB. Obviously, the .396 BABIP isn't going to be sustained long term, because nobody sustains that long term, but Sano can get his batting average into the .250 range by cutting his strikeout rate down in his second year seeing MLB pitching. A 30-35 HR season is something I see coming from him. Read more about my thoughts on Sano here.

Nick Castellanos, Tigers (Jack Cecil)

Baby steps my friends, baby steps.  While Castellanos has yet to explode onto the scene, he still has plenty on his side going into the 2016 season.  So lets focus on the pros and cons.  The cons are that he's yet to really do anything impressive over a full season.  But the pros are that his infield fly ball rate is preposterously low, his line drive rate is strong, he sprays the ball to all fields, and basically all of his contact in play is either medium or hard hit.  He has the core competencies of a strong player, but he's yet to put it all into practice, at this point there doesn't seem to be anything else he could learn, and he may be ready to put it all together.

Brett Lawrie, White Sox (Heath Capps)

I snagged Lawrie in the 16th round of our FakeTeams mock draft to be my primary MI starter. That is where I prefer him. He gets a park boost in U.S. Cellular Field in 2016, as well as an improved team context that includes Todd Frazier, Jose Abreu, and Adam Eaton. He has dual-position eligibility, so he can back up your primary 2B and 3B options. He is being ranked as a backup (22nd in our consensus ranks) but has enough power-potential to produce like a starter. And you don't have to pay up to take a shot, which I like. If he gets hurt, it didn't cost you too much at your draft table.

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