Third Base Week has to hurry up and close so we can get ready for the Super Bowl, yes? Ah, the intersection of football and baseball content, for the last time until the NFL resumes. Sadly, unless you’re in a dynasty format, fantasy football will cease to be a thing for some time.
But you can always hop on the fantasy baseball train, can’t you? Here at Fake Teams we’ve already spent weeks covering catchers, first basemen, second basemen, and are now wrapping up third basemen. Up next, beginning tomorrow, we’ll tackle shortstops! Hopefully the MLB owners will work half as hard at the negotiation table as we are at putting out content. Wouldn’t that be a sight?
As always, we welcome your agreements, disagreements, and general discussion in our shiny new comments section. I’d love to see you there. With no further ado, here are some SLEEPERS we’re comfortable taking a shot on for 2022 fantasy baseball...
Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds (Mark Abell)
NFBC ADP: 209.00
Draft rank: 19th
The stats have been on a serious decline, but so has his BABIP over the last two years (both marks being WELL below his career average). But being a third basemen who you can target very late in the draft, there is serious upside. If he is even a percentage of his 2019 self, you will have gained quite the deal. His power continues to increase, but the main issue is his launch angle went up a bit, which caused some of his home runs to become flyouts.
Josh Jung, Texas Rangers (Skyler Carlin)
NFBC ADP: 288.86
Draft rank: 25th
I feel a bit lazy for listing Josh Jung as my sleeper choice, as it seems that a lot of the fantasy baseball community is on him this season. But with the third base position looking thin this season, it’s hard to expect much from other later-round options. Jung was supposed to make his major league debut in 2021 before a stress fracture in his foot prevented him from taking the field until June. In his 342 PAs in Double-A and Triple-A last season, Jung showed plenty of pop in his bat with 19 HRs and 61 RBIs with an OPS that reached 1.088 in Triple-A. There isn’t much standing between Jung starting at third base for the Texas Rangers, but even if he doesn’t begin the year as the starting third baseman, I expect him to secure the job early. If Jung can display some of the power he showed in college and in the minors, he could be a massive value at a position that appears to be paper thin in 2022.
Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants (Heath Capps)
NFBC ADP: 355.23
Draft rank: 33rd
I’m a sucker for boring veteran value. Longoria is a middle-of-the-order bat for a sneaky good Giants offense, as he’s currently projected to bat fifth for San Francisco. Is he 36 years old and injury-prone? Yes! But last year’s .261/.351/.482 slash line plays just fine, and if you prorate his 13 homers in just 81 games from last year, you get something that looks like a 25-homer bat with the corresponding counting stats. Longo has posted his two best hard hit rates in his last two seasons (45.2%, 54.5%), and last year’s 15.5 degree average launch angle was much more optimal for hitting dingers than his previous four seasons. His barrel rate, too, is the highest it has ever been (11.5% and 13.4% in the last two years). He’s also still making plenty of contact, had a stupid-low 22.5% chase rate last year, and bashed southpaws while holding steady against right-handers.
Lastly, remember that the Giants were a top offense in runs scored last year, trailing only the Astros, Rays, Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Red Sox. Something positive is happening with regard to home park factors in San Fran, too. The team moved fences in during 2020, and closed off a boardwalk under a brick wall in right field. I can’t tell you exactly why, but it reads like offense is here to stay in San Francisco. There’s a little concern the Giants bring in an infielder to threaten playing time after this silly lockout, especially given how old the current guys are. But I think Longo plays when he’s healthy, and the DH slot should only help matters.
Jose Miranda, Minnesota Twins (Garrett Atkins)
NFBC ADP: 383.55
Draft rank: 38th
The real life cousin of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jose Miranda is a prospect in the Twins system. He slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 home runs, 94 RBI and 97 runs last season in the minors between Double-A and Triple-A. Those gaudy numbers include just 74 strikeouts in 127 games. He’s a high contact hitter whose power seems to have finally broken through. Keep him on the radar and when the Twins call him up you’ve got a four-category contributor with moderate upside.
J.D. Davis, New York Mets (Andrés Chávez)
NFBC ADP: 443.45
Draft rank: 41st
We all talk about Nick Castellanos, Nelson Cruz, JD Martinez, and Kyle Schwarber as the guys who will benefit the most from the universal DH rule. That guy, however, will be JD Davis. Atrocious with a glove in his hand, I’m betting he will now find more playing time opportunities now that the Mets will have the DH at their disposal. And if that’s not the case (they are crowded), they can easily find a trade. Davis would be a prime target for a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates, for example. Davis is a really talented hitter (.271/.354/.446 career line, 118 wRC+) who may need only 400 plate appearances to put up really useful numbers.