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Staff Post: Third Baseman to Avoid in 2016

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The Fake Teams staff offers you some third baseman they would avoid in drafts this season, including David Wright, Kris Bryant, Evan Longoria 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 avoid in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below.

Third Baseman to Avoid in 2016

David Wright, Mets (Rob Parker)

I want to believe in this guy and I know he plays hard and will do his best every time he plays, but the Mets have already said he will get lots of time off during the season and he is coming off a serious back injury. I think the absolute best outcome is 15 HR, 5 steals, a 0.300 average and a 0.370 OBP. The most likely outcome is more like 10 HR, 3 steals, a 0.280 average, and a 0.330 OBP. He hit only 8 HR in nearly a full season in 2014. With inconsistent playing time, returning from a major core injury, and a multi-year power decline, there's too much downside and not enough upside here. I like his character and he has the work ethic to recover from his injuries, but I'm going to let someone else draft him.

Kris Bryant, Cubs (Ray Guilfoyle)

Before you tell me I am off my rocker, give me a few minutes to tell you why you should avoid Bryant in 2016. It is quite simple, really. He is currently being drafted as the fourth ranked fantasy third baseman in most drafts right mow, but he should not be the 11th player taken off of draft boards. As I wrote in my Maikel Franco profile on Monday, Bryant has a ton of swing and miss at the plate, so much so that only three other qualified hitters swung and missed more last season. He struck out almost 200 times, and would have exceeded that had he started the season on the Cubs Opening Day roster. Only one hitter struck out more in 2015, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. That many strikeouts lead to some long slumps. I know he has a ton of talent, and he could easily make this selection look foolish, but there is risk in drafting Bryant as the 11th best player in drafts this season. There is a less than zero chance he puts up a season similar to Davis' 2014 season.

Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays (Daniel Kelley)

Okay, let's define "avoid." If I can get Donaldson in, say, the fourth round, I will be fine with that. But he's going as the fourth pick in some places. (To be fair: I would take Donaldson in the third round, maybe even the second, but I chose fourth because of the round/pick parallelism in that sentence. The sacrifices we make for our art.) I'm just unwilling to use the pick it would require to wind up with the guy. Donaldson is very good. But c'mon, his HR/FB rate last year was 21.8 percent after never topping 14.6 before that. Some of the credit there goes to the move to Toronto. But not all of it. On top of that, dude's enough of a late bloomer that he's 30 years old now, despite having only three full-time seasons, with years of catching on his knees. I don't expect Donaldson to age super well. I'll take him in the third if he's there. Ain't no way I take him in the first.

Todd FrazierWhite Sox (Michael Schwarz)

This isn't meant to bash Frazier - -I'd still draft him ahead of Pablo Sandoval - -but the new third baseman on Chicago's South Side comes with too much uncertainty for my tastes.  For one, it's difficult to predict how the move from NL to AL will affect Frazier, though I can't imagine a player leaving Cincinnati's Great American Launching Pad and then seeing his numbers improve.  Then there's the matter of the offseason trade.  The Reds aren't completely inept -- they got a good return of young lefties for Johnny Cueto -- so why, in exchange for Frazier, did they settle for an underwhelming package led by Jose Peraza?  And why did the Dodgers appear to prefer White Sox prospects Frankie MontasMicah Johnson, and Trayce Thompson when they could have sent Peraza directly to Cincinnati and acquired Frazier themselves?  Frazier turned 30 last week, and his stats plummeted after the All-Star Break, so these questions will be too difficult for me to ignore.

Evan Longoria, Rays (Tim Finnegan)

Longoria has had a notable drop in production the last 2 seasons from his peak years. Prior to 2014, Longoria owned a career ISO of .238 and wRC+ of 135. In the last 2 years, his ISO has dropped to .158, which is around league average for 3B, and his wRC+ has fallen to 107. He just doesn't appear to be the same force offensively anymore, and now he's entering his age 30 season. He's still a valuable contributor at the right draft slot, but don't overdraft him based on his name.

Nolan Arenado, Rockies (Jack Cecil)

Arenado certainly has everyone on his side this offseason, but i'm here to chop that love into itsy bitsy pieces with an ax. Arenado's 42 homers and 130 RBI allowed him to waltz into every owners heart, when you sort the MLB by wRC+ last year, his 119 was only 43rd.  His 21.7% line drive rate isn't impressive, and his average home run and fly ball distance was 46th.  His directional tendencies also give teams a lot of reasons to shift him next year, which won't help his average either.  If you are buying Arenado this year, it seems likely that you're paying for something that has his massive RBI total baked into it.  RBI's are very difficult to predict, making a repeat RBI crown something that isn't statistically likely to happen.  Arenado is very good, but he seems primed to be an overpay candidate in 2016.

Adrian Beltre, Rangers (Heath Capps)

It is too easy to fade the guy who is about to turn 37 in April of this year. He did have an annoying thumb injury last season, and perhaps that was the culprit for some of his depressed power numbers--but I am still not interested in Beltre except as a back-end starter. Beltre's SLG, OPS, and ISO marks have all dropped every year since 2012, and we can't blame all of that on one thumb injury from last season. I still expect a solid average from him (career .309 hitter in Texas) but I am afraid the power may continue to disappear. Beltre also had some concerning away splits last season, with a .240/.291/.342 three slash on the road and only 5 of his 18 home runs coming away from Arlington. I did not bury him in my own rankings, as I had him as my 12th third baseman. But he was our #8 third baseman in our FakeTeams consensus rankings, and I think he will be valued similarly in most draft rooms--which means he won't land on any of my teams in 2016.

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