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Staff Post: Third Basemen to avoid in 2022 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers make cases against a few hitters at the hot corner.

St Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

These avoids posts are always cringeworthy to me. Mostly because plenty of players can fall to a point—or your draft needs can dictate—that you draft a player who you thought you were avoiding. I mean, maybe not Adalberto Mondesi. But plenty of other players.

No matter the case, considering the flip side of the coin can be a useful exercise. Maybe you change your mind on a player. Maybe you find something that helps you break a tie when next you are laboring over similar profiles. So, to that end—to the increasing of our collective knowledge—here are our staff avoids at the third base position for 2022 fantasy baseball.

Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 61.57
Draft rank: 5th

Look, I get that he rose to a lauded space and has won the hearts of millions of fantasy managers. That said, his BABIP—along with such a drastic rise in his 2021 numbers across the board—has me concerned for regression. I am optimistic long-term on Riley being successful. However, at his ADP I think there is risk that he delivers more of an ADP return of 80-100 than top 50. Anytime I see someone’s career BABIP rise almost 100 points in one year, I feel there has to be some downturn in the next season. This is quite the opposite of a guy like Alex Bregman—you are likely buying high on Austin Riley in a somewhat best case scenario draft position.

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 83.26
Draft rank: 6th

Expected stats or xStats are a Statcast metric I often reference because they can be a good indicator of future performance. It can show if a player is due to regress or is due for a breakout. In the case of Nolan Arenado, his xStats are much worse compared to his actual stats. In 2021, his actual BA was .255, his SLG was .494 and his wOBA was .336. However, he had an xBA of .248, an xSLG of .420, and an xwOBA of .311. Those numbers are heavily influenced by a 43rd percentile average exit velocity and a 31st percentile hard hit rate. I’m just not buying him going forward.

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants - Game Five Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Kris Bryant, Free Agent (Skyler Carlin)

NFBC ADP: 103.57
Draft rank: 8th

I understand that Kris Bryant is still considered one of the big names in baseball, but his days of being an MVP candidate seem like they are behind us. Bryant saw his power statistics dip last season following the trade that sent him from the Chicago Cubs to the San Francisco Giants. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bryant’s numbers declined a bit due to going from one of the best hitter-friendly parks in Wrigley Field to one of the worst hitter-friendly parks at Oracle Park. After recording an impressive 4.8% HR percentage, an ISO of .236, and a .503 SLG percentage in his 374 PAs for the Cubs, Bryant posted a 3.3% HR percentage, a .182 ISO, and a .444 SLG percentage in his 212 PAs for the Giants. Amid the MLB lockout, Bryant is a free agent and it remains to be seen where he plays in the upcoming season. The veteran third baseman seems like an unexciting pick that is being taken relatively early at the third base position, though, I’d consider removing him from my avoid list if he joins a team that gives him a higher ceiling from the plate.

Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 211.48
Draft rank: 20th

Just move four draft picks up (on average) and select Josh Donaldson instead. Suarez’s 3B/SS eligibility and 31 homers from last year are nice, but the good news ends there. Two straight years of a strikeout rate in excess of 29%, as well as batting average marks of .202 and .198...yikes! In his two most recent (and crummy) years, he’s traded out line drives for more fly balls. In his two banner years, he posted line drive rates of 24.6% and 21.7%. Over the last two years, he’s had line drive rates of 18.2% and 17.1%. His last two years, we’ve seen his highest swinging strike rates and below average contact rates. And per Fangraphs, his hard hit rates have fallen about 14% since four years ago: 48.6%, 46.7%, 34.1%, and 34.8% since 2018. His barrel rate and healthy launch angle mean he’ll pop plenty of homers over the course of a season given his home park environs—but at what cost to your batting average? For reference, last year’s .215 xBA bested his true .198 BA, and it was still inside the bottom 5% of the league. Hard pass for me with this batting average sinkhole.

Gio Urshela, New York Yankees (Andres Chavez)

NFBC ADP: 274.26
Draft rank: 23rd

The Yankees’ third baseman may be a bit better than what he showed last year (14 home runs in 442 plate appearances, 96 wRC+) but he may not have the same upside of 2019 and 2020 (132 and 133 wRC+) anymore. His career-high in homers is 21, so his power ceiling is capped, and he hits near the bottom of the Yankees lineup. Oh, and he may get traded if the Yankees bring in a top shortstop. He tends to miss games with injuries, too. Overall, he is not the most reliable third baseman out there for fantasy baseball.