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Staff Post: Third basemen to avoid in 2021 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers tell you who to consider fading in 2021.

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Earlier today we gave you our staff targets at the position. Now we wrap up the week with some food for thought. What follows is a list of guys you could consider fading, for various reasons. As always, we invite you to roast us in the comments section...

Manny Machado, San Diego Padres (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 22.76

I know this one sounds crazy, but stick with me for a minute. He has a track record for being a difficult teammate to work with and now he’s on this “dream team” that will be scrutinized at ANY difficult/slow patch they run into this season. Additionally, each of the last five years his batting average has taken a hit every other year. He will give you homers but there is a good chance his batting average falls below expectations and an off chance of some internal team squabbles throughout the season. Finally, teams are throwing more curveballs to him, as he’s shown an increased difficulty with that pitch over the last three years. All of these are small flags that have me avoiding him at his current top 20 ADP.

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals (Andrés Chávez)

NFBC ADP: 35.35

Don’t get me wrong, I like Arenado as a ballplayer. He is an awesome fielder and he is a very good hitter. However, I’m worried that his overall production can fall considerably now that he doesn’t call Coors Field home. I’m not particularly worried about his subpar 2020 (.253/.303/.434) because of the small sample size and a few injury issues, but I do worry about this: over his career with the Rockies, he had a .322/.376/.609 line and 136 homers at home and hit .263/.322/.471 with 99 dingers on the road. I’m not saying I refuse to take him if he falls or at the right price, but I’m not targeting him and I’m definitely not reaching for him.

Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 74.88

It’s a skill set thing for me, especially at his ADP. Sure, he’ll give me homers...but at what cost to my batting average? That early in my drafts, I’m still looking to amass hitters who offer a combination of power and speed—that, or another arm for my rotation. If it’s power at third base I’m searching for, I’m content to wait on Max Muncy (who I like anyway for eligibility) or Matt Chapman. If it’s a well-rounded skill set I’m after, give me Gio Urshela a little later than those guys. I just don’t see a reason to pay up for a guy who is mostly just power that early in my drafts. Heck, even Josh Donaldson at pick 200...he could outhit Suarez if he stayed healthy.

Wild Card Round - Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs - Game One Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 126.12

The obvious choice for a bust is Nolan Arenado. He’s coming off a down year and now moves to St. Louis and out of the hitter’s paradise that is Coors Field. That being said, I’m sure he’ll get talked about in depth from one of the other guys. So, I’ll highlight Kris Bryant here. Bryant, along with the rest of the Cubs hitters, had an abysmal 2020. He hit just .206 with a .644 OPS. The underlying numbers don’t support a bounce back. Bryant’s xStats are almost identical to the actual stats. This means Bryant’s batted ball data supports his poor performance and he did not simply get unlucky. In addition, his hard hit rate of 31.9% was 45th among third baseman with at least 50 batted ball events. His average exit velocity of 86.1 MPH was 49th. He’s fallen from his former days as a top tier third baseman. I’m passing on him in 2021.