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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
Ankle issue has Cardinals SP Lance Lynn scratched Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:57 pm ET) Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn will not be a starting pitcher this weekend as first planned. He has been skipped in the rotation due to a mild ankle sprain, per KMOV. Lynn had been scheduled to pitch Friday in the opener of a key series against Pittsburgh.

The right-hander is coming off one of his finest performances of the season when he tossed seven shutout innings in San Francisco.

His injury is not considered serious, so he appears likely to pitch against the Cubs in another important set next week.


Joey Votto powers Reds to win with late three-run home run
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:56 pm ET) Joey Votto was the offensive hero for the Reds once again, as he helped his club defeat the Cubs 7-4 on Wednesday. Votto, who went 2 for 5 on the afternoon, blasted a three-run home run to snap a 4-4 tie in the top of the ninth inning. 

The home run was his 27th of the year and his second in as many games. It was also his 10th go-ahead home run of the season. 

Overall, Votto is hitting a ridiculous .429 with four homers and 10 RBI over his last 10 games. 


Reds RP Aroldis Chapman survives shaky inning for 27th save
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:48 pm ET) Reds closer Aroldis Chapman had to dance out of danger to record his 27th save of the year on Wednesday against the Cubs. Chapman entered the ninth inning with the Reds up by three, and he allowed two of the first three batters to reach safely, bringing the tying run to the plate.

But he enduced a fielder's choice groundout and got Dexter Fowler swinging to close out the game and protect the 7-4 win.


Report: Mets will promote RP Dario Alvarez on Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:45 pm ET) Lefty reliever Dario Alvarez will be rejoining the Mets from Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday, according to ESPN. He could not be promoted when the rosters expanded Tuesday because he had not spent the required 10 days in the minors.

Alvarez spent two days in the bigs, but did not get into a game. He was sent down to make room for the returning David Wright.

He has earned the trip to New York with just 26 hits allowed in 41 2/3 innings and 61 strikeouts at the Triple-A level.


Cubs SP Jason Hammel not at his best on Wednesday vs. Reds
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:43 pm ET) Cubs starter Jason Hammel turned in a subpar outing against the Reds on Wednesday. The right-hander allowed four runs on seven hits over five-plus innings. He struck out four, but he has now given up at least four runs in two of his last four starts.

Hammel served up a home run to Jason Bourgeois to lead off the game. Another run scored in the second, putting the Cubs down 2-0 early. The Cubs got two back in the third and fourth to tie the game, but Hammel gave the lead right back with solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

The veteran right-hander left with a no-decision, as the Cubs rallied to tie the game again before the Reds eventually took the 7-4 victory.

Hammel's ERA now sits at 3.55, which is the highest it's been since the beginning of May. 


Reds SP Raisel Iglesias shines with arm and bat, gets no-decision
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:37 pm ET) Reds starter Raisel Iglesias was excellent in his outing against the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon. The rookie right-hander went seven strong innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out 10, but was left with a no-decision for his efforts.

The Reds scored twice in the first two innings to give Iglesias a 2-0 lead. But solo home runs in the third (Tommy La Stella) and fourth innings (Anthony Rizzo) tied the game up. The Reds got two runs back to regain the lead, and Iglesias left the game with the Reds up 4-2.

But the bullpen coughed up the lead before the Reds rallied one last time and held on to the 7-4 win.

This was Iglesias' third straight start with at least 10 strikeouts, and he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs since the end of July.

He helped himself with the bat as well in this one, as he hit an RBI triple in the fifth inning. 


Collins seeking to skip another start for Mets P Matt Harvey
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:36 pm ET) Terry Collins will not mortgage the future of Mets stud starter Matt Harvey just to insure a division title in 2015. So he is planning on having the right-hander skip another start sometime before the end of the regular season, ESPN has reported.

Harvey, who already lost his Aug. 23 outing against Colorado, is in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He has thrown 160 innings this season. Doctors have advised that he pitches no more than 180.

Skipping Harvey one more time and going with a six-man rotation the rest of the year would give him five more starts. Barring a few early departures from the mound, he will certainly surpass that total.


Reds CF Billy Hamilton (shoulder) begins throwing
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:26 pm ET) Shelved Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton was slated to begin throwing Wednesday as part of his rehab from a shoulder injury that landed him on the disabled list on Aug. 19.

"Right now ... he's pain-free in all of his activity," Bryan Price told MLB.com. "I'm hoping for a good report when he gets done playing catch today. Hopefully we can initiate swinging the bat."

Hamilton is eligible for activation Friday, but will not return that quickly. The team would prefer he continues his rehab in the minors, but the farm teams for the Reds all end their seasons Monday.


Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt gets rare day off on Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:25 pm ET) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is not in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Rockies. Goldschmidt is getting his first day off since May 21. In other words, he had started 92 straight games prior  to Wednesday.

The MVP candidate is batting .265 with three home runs over his last 10 games. With Goldschmidt out, Jake Lamb is making his second career-start at first base.


Lovullo: Red Sox P Clay Buchholz could still pitch this year
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo has the following message for President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski in regard to the latter stating that pitcher Clay Buchholz is done for the year:

Not so fast.

Lovullo would like to see Buchholz back on the mound by the end of the season, even if it's for one appearance. Buchholz has received clearance to resume throwing after losing the last seven weeks to a strained right flexor. He made 24 tosses from 75 feet Wednesday.

"He's reported that he's feeling very, very good," Lovullo told MLB.com. "We're definitely monitoring that. He's really encouraged by where he's at and how he's feeling. ... It would be great if he could throw one inning just to see where he's at from a mental standpoint, just to give him some confidence moving into the offseason. That's all contingent on him feeling good."

If Buchholz is done for the season, he will end it at 7-7 with a strong 3.26 ERA.


 
 
 
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