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State of the Position: Third Base

A look at how fantasy baseball GMs should attack the third base position in 2018.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We are halfway done with positional weeks here at Fake Teams, and you can find everything that has been accomplished so far by clicking each link below:

Catchers

First Base

Second Base

Shortstop

Here lies the last position that isn’t overly large...I don’t know about you all, but ranking outfielders and pitchers seems like a far more involved endeavor to me. I guess because there are so many. Anyway, let’s scope out the hot corner, eh?

A League of His Own: Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado’s Fangraphs ADP is 5.2 overall, making him the only third baseman routinely selected in Round 1 this year. Still just 26 years old, Arenado is an annual 40-homer threat who has RBI counts of 130, 133, and 130 over his last three years. He has a career .290/.340/.534 triple slash, but has posted OBP marks of .362 and .373 since 2016 (thanks to increasing his walk rate to over 9.0% in each of the last two years). It’s rare to find a guy with Arenado’s power (career .244 ISO) who doesn’t strike out (career 14.9%). In short, there are no holes in his game.

Kris Bryant, Freddie Freeman, Manny Machado and Jose Ramirez are all consensus Round 2 picks, making Arenado truly the class of his position at the hot corner.

In Title Only: Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman played 16 games at third base and should retain that eligibility on most sites this year. It is still weird to consider him a third baseman, but such is life. The Braves are rumored to have interest in Mike Moustakas...and such a signing would almost definitely put and end to Freeman’s third base days. The presence of utility infielder Charlie Culberson—who is slated to have more PA than ever before—limits that potential as well. Still, in 2017 you can draft Fab Freddie as your third baseman. Enjoy it while it lasts.

The Slightly Overrated: Alex Bregman

Alex Bregman has an ADP of 32.3, only three spots behind mainstay Josh Donaldson. Bregman spent most of his time batting fifth or sixth in Houston’s order last year, but this year he is projected to bump up a few spots—maybe even to the two-hole behind George Springer and in front of Jose Altuve. I’m not saying I don’t like Bregman, okay? He has a pretty solid all around fantasy game and plays in a loaded lineup. But so does the next guy, who is going over two rounds later in drafts...

The Underrated: Anthony Rendon

No offense to the 23-year-old Bregman, but I don’t mind waiting 25 picks later for the 27-year-old Anthony Rendon, who is a rock solid fantasy contributor. Rendon’s batting order spot is still a mystery, primarily because he can be productive in the early or the middle part of Washington’s order. There’s a non-zero chance that he is batting in the two-spot behind Trea Turner and ahead of Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy this year. That, or he may bat cleanup behind Harper and in front of Murphy (assuming Adam Eaton can man the leadoff spot capably). Either way, Rendon is set to produce epic counting statistics in 2018.

Last year Rendon posted the lowest line drive rate of his career (18.8%) but set high marks in fly ball rate (47.2%) and home runs (25). He has never generated soft contact worse than 14.7% of the time, while Bregman has posted marks of 18.0% in each of his first two seasons. Rendon and the Nationals, fifth in runs scored in 2018, should continue to improve offensively with the addition of hitting coach Kevin Long. I’m all over Rendon at his ADP of 57.7 in 2018, and I believe he represents the last of the position’s elite.

Believe the Hype: Nicholas Castellanos

After dependable veterans like Justin Turner and Travis Shaw come off the board, what do you do? Nick Castellanos won’t qualify as a “sleeper” to the expert eye, as he is being drafted ahead of better known names like Miguel Sano, Joey Gallo, and Mike Moustakas in NFBC formats. The sharps are all over the 25-year-old, and for good reason. A cursory glance at his counting statistics shows a guy who is improving, as evidenced by his home run totals since 2014: 11, 15, 18, and 26. Did you know Castellanos reached 101 RBIs in 2017? I didn’t either! He hit mostly second and fifth in 2017, and is slated to hit fifth again this year—at least according to RosterResource.

Castellanos made a ridiculous amount of hard contact last year (43.4%) and has always been great at hitting line drives. Check out these line drive rates since 2014: 28.5%, 23.3%, 25.6%, and 24.5%. He isn’t an extreme fly ball hitter (career 39.2%) but he was 14th among third basemen last year, just ahead of Travis Shaw and Eugenio Suarez. He was second in line drive percentage (Chase Headley was first?!?) and second in hard contact (Gallo was first). Finally, Castellanos trimmed his strikeout rate by 3.4% last year to a career-best 21.4%. I could probably continue to unearth nice things to write about him, but I think the point is clear. At his ADP of 102.1, Castellanos looks like a bargain in 2018.

Poll

Who would you draft at third base, given these ADPs?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Travis Shaw, 94.5
    (33 votes)
  • 47%
    Nicholas Castellanos, 102.1
    (83 votes)
  • 16%
    Miguel Sano, 105.8
    (29 votes)
  • 16%
    Joey Gallo, 115.5
    (29 votes)
174 votes total Vote Now