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Third base tiers for Draft Day 2014

Senior Fantasy Writer
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For a position that features arguably the best hitter in the game, third base sure is lacking.

OK, so Miguel Cabrera will technically be playing first base in the majors this year, but where he played last year determines his eligibility in Fantasy.

The Tiers Approach to Draft Day
Tiers are designed to deliver the most efficient draft possible by using player rankings to reveal the distribution of talent at each position. A new tier begins whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different projected outcome from the one preceding him. Reducing a position to five or six tiers instead of 30 or more individuals gives you a blueprint to follow as your league's draft unfolds. Naturally, the position to target is the one whose active tier is closest to completion. -- SW

Tiers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

Print Scott's tiers for Draft Day!

Thank goodness.

Just imagine some of the reaching that would go on if one more owner had a need at the position. Safe to say Matt Carpenter wouldn't make it to the end of Round 3.

You think I'm exaggerating? Whether they divide the position into tiers or not, most people realize by now that third base thins out pretty quickly, at least in terms of mixed league-caliber talent. It has no shortage of injury-risk sleepers and bottom-feeder breakout possibilities, but those make better bench options than starters in a standard 12-team league.

The Unmatched: Miguel Cabrera
The Elite: David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria, Matt Carpenter, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Zimmerman
The Near-Elite: Martin Prado
The Next-Best Things: Kyle Seager, Pedro Alvarez, Manny Machado, Chase Headley
The Fallback Options: Pablo Sandoval, Aramis Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas
The Last Resorts: Will Middlebrooks, Nolan Arenado, David Freese, Todd Frazier, Chris Johnson, Matt Dominguez
The Leftovers: Cody Asche, Maikel Franco, Trevor Plouffe, Marcus Semien, Alberto Callaspo, Lonnie Chisenhall, Mark Reynolds, Matt Davidson

See what I mean by thinning out quickly? Two of the top three tiers are one player deep.

Granted, the first tier is an add-on designed to accentuate Cabrera's studliness (he outscored Adrian Beltre, quite often the second third baseman off the board, by about as many Head-to-Head points per game (1.13) as Beltre outscored Trevor Plouffe (1.15) last year, so pass him up at your own peril), but the third tier demonstrates how sudden the drop-off is. And considering half of The Elite -- Wright, Beltre and Longoria -- are typically gone by the end of Round 2, you have a small window to act.

So even though the second tier is large, I'm not so comfortable waiting on it. Going without would mean settling for a player not just one tier lower, but two, unless you time the Prado pick just right. With that in mind, I'm fine drafting one of Wright, Beltre and Longoria late in Round 2 unless a tier stands out at some other position (most likely, first or second base).

If that's too messy and you'd prefer to approach The Elite at third base like any tier at any other position, you may want to drop Donaldson and Zimmerman to The Near-Elite, joining Prado to create a distribution of four and three instead of six and one. The reason I don't is because it de-emphasizes Donaldson by putting him at the beginning of a tier instead of at the end. My ideal scenario is to land him in Round 5, believing him to be the best bang for the buck at the position after he performed about on the level of Beltre in Head-to-Head points leagues last year. Prado is more of a backup plan.

But drafts vary. You can't always anticipate three and four rounds ahead. Sometimes you're better off shoring up the shallow positions when you have the chance instead of holding out for the ideal scenario. Drafting Wright, Beltre or Longoria in Round 2 when you could potentially have Donaldson three rounds later is like drafting Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez in Round 1 when you could potentially have Jean Segura four rounds later. The right time to take them is the right time to take them. Going off script would mean trusting everyone else to stay on script, which is a dangerous way to build a Fantasy team.

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If for some reason, you miss your window on The Elite and don't like where you'd have to draft Prado, you're not exactly sunk at the position, but you shouldn't count on more than middle-round production there. Even with an improved lineup in Seattle, Seager doesn't have the potential for more than that, and for as much power as Alvarez offers, his contact issues prevent him from becoming anything more.

Machado could be the exception. He performed about on Seager's level in Head-to-Head points leagues last year, but he did it at age 21. He has a superstar pedigree and could conceivably become one of The Elite any given year. Right now, though, he's recovering from knee surgery, meaning he couldn't be the only third baseman you draft, and 22 isn't historically a prime age for a breakout. Better to assume Seager-like production from him.

Pass on all of them, and good luck to you. Ramirez and Sandoval have already achieved a certain level of production in the majors, but age (Ramirez), inconsistency (Sandoval) and injuries (both) give them long odds of sustaining it over a full season. Lawrie, Moustakas, Middlebrooks and Arenado have untapped potential but have given little indication they're on the verge of meeting it.

Third base is fairly deep in Last Resorts, which counts for something in AL- and NL-only leagues. Players like Freese, Frazier, Johnson and Dominguez have established themselves as nothing more than waiver fodder in mixed leagues, but in formats where 15-to-20-homer guys are fewer and farther between, they offer cheap alternatives at a position in high demand.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Tigers' Bruce Rondon throwing fastballs and change ups, curves on Monday
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(11:17 am ET) Tigers pitcher Bruce Rondon, recovering from a biceps injury that has him on the 15-day disabled list, will have a throwing session on Saturday.

Manager Brad Ausmus said that Rondon will throw long toss, followed by 20 fastballs and five changeups, per the Detroit Free Press

After a day off on Sunday, Rondon will throw breaking pitches on Monday. 


Nationals' Anthony Rendon: I'm getting back into the swing of things
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:15 am ET) Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon reported no issues with his left knee following his first minor-league rehab assignment game on Friday with Double-A Harrisburg.

"Everything is good," Rendon said, per the Washington Post. "Getting back into the swing of things and trying to feel comfortable."

Rendon went 1 for 2 with one double before being lifted after five innings.

"I haven't seen him since the play he got injured on so it was good to see him back out there,"Double-A manager Brian Daubach said. "He had a normal workday. He took infield with the club. He looked good in the game. He looked good on the double. Had a couple plays at third and made the plays. Another step in the right direction and staying on schedule."

Rendon is expected to play at least five days on a rehab assignment. He will play seven innings on Saturday before receiving an off day on Sunday. The team wants him to play a full game before activating him from the disabled list.


Reds part ways with INF Dan Johnson
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:07 am ET) The Reds released veteran infielder Dan Johnson, who had been with Triple-A Louisville on Saturday, reports MLB.com. Johnson was acquired by Cincinnati in a trade with the Astros before the start of the season. He hit .069 in nine games this season.

Red Sox' Brock Holt hits first home run of year
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(11:05 am ET) Red Sox utility man Brock Holt hit his first home run of the season in Friday's win at Baltimore. 

''It was just the same approach that I normally have - trying to get a good pitch to hit and hitting it hard somewhere,'' Holt said. ''He just left the fastball up and over the plate, and fortunately I was able to hit it out.''

Holt drove in three runs, his first multi-RBI game since driving in three on April 11. He went 2 for 4 and lifted his average to .424.


Phillies' Domonic Brown working on his timing during rehab
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) Although he told reporters he feels "outstanding," Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown still has one last hurdle to overcome in recovery from an inflamed Achilles that landed him on the disabled list.

"Some at-bats you feel locked in and other at-bats you feel like garbage," Brown said, per LehighValleyLive.com. "That's the toughest thing right now, getting your timing."

Brown moved his minor-league rehab assignment from Class A Clearwater to Triple-A Lehigh Valley last week, and is hitting .195 (8 for 41) with one home run and four RBI in 12 rehab games. He is anticipating a return from the disabled list next week.


David Ortiz drives in three in Red Sox win
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(10:57 am ET) Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz drove in three runs in Friday's win at Baltimore. 

Ortiz hit his first home run since April 13, which was also his last multi-RBI game. He had driven in a total of two runs in the eight games since. 

Ortiz went 2 for 5, his first multi-hit game since April 18. He raised his average to .211.


Brett Hayes replaces Roberto Perez in Indians' lineup
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) Brett Hayes will get his second start of the season at catcher on Saturday. Hayes is batting eighth in the Indians' lineup. 

Hayes' start gives Roberto Perez a rest after starting nine of the last 10 games. 

The Indians are +105 money line underdogs at Detroit. 


David Murphy starts third straight game for Indians
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(10:43 am ET) Indians outfielder David Murphy will make his third straight start and sixth in the last seven games. Murphy has started at three different positions--DH, left field and right field--over that span. 

Murphy starts at DH on Saturday, hitting sixth in the order.

The Indians are +105 money line underdogs at Detroit.


Reds C Devin Mesoraco held out again on Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:29 am ET) Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was held out of the starting lineup again on Saturday against the Cubs.

Mesoraco has not been in the starting lineup since April 12 because of a left hip impingement, and has only made one pinch-hit appearance in that period. He remains hopeful of catching a bullpen session in the next few days, which could lead to his return as a starter. Mesoraco is hitting .091 (2 for 22) to start the season.


Mets prospect Steven Matz flirts with no-hitter vs. Triple-A Reno
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:08 am ET) Mets starting pitcher prospect Steven Matz enjoyed his best start to date on Friday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh before Nick Evans singled with two outs in the inning. He permitted two hits and a walk while striking out five over seven scoreless innings of Las Vegas' 12-0 win over Reno in Triple-A action.

Matz lowered his ERA to 2.01 on the season.


 
 
 
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