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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
Mariners 2B Robinson Cano working through struggles
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7:55 pm ET) Robinson Cano is one of the game's best players, but he's been embroiled in a season-long slump for the Mariners, one that has seen his usually solid batting average dip to .247. Cano told MLB.com that he has "no excuses" for his slow start. 

Cano went 0-for-11 in the Mariners' three-game series at Toronto, and Sunday, twice hit into double plays to kill potential big innings for Seattle. 

"I don't know. I feel good. I'm swinging at good balls," Cano said. "I think it's just more just missing my pitches, pitches right down the middle that I've been hitting for foul balls. There's no excuses for that. I'm just struggling."

Cano's on-base percentage is .290, below his career average of .356. 

"The last thing I want to do is hang my head. It's a long season," he said. "And hopefully it'll turn soon."


Padres' Will Middlebrooks hits fifth HR of season
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:40 pm ET) Padres third baseman Will Middlebrooks hit a solo home run to left center field in the top of the third inning of Sunday afternoon's 11-3 victory over the Dodgers. 

The homer was Middlebrooks' fifth of the season. He's now slashing .218/.255/.376.

Middlebrooks finished the game 2 for 5 and also had a single. It's his third two-hit showing in his past five games. In this span, Middlebrooks is hitting .316. 


Padres OF Justin Upton hits grand slam against Dodgers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:35 pm ET) There is a clear reason why the Padres have Justin Upton hitting cleanup. 

In the first inning of Sunday's 11-3 win over the Dodgers, Upton hit a grand slam. Dodgers pitcher Carlos Frias loaded the bases and Upton cleared them with a deep shot to center field on a 2-2 pitch. 

This helped set the tempo of San Diego's barrage of hits and runs for the day. 

Upton finished the game 2 for 4 with six RBI. He also hit a two-run double in the second inning. Upton now has 35 RBI for the season. 

Upton is now slashing .284/.343/.562. 


SS Jose Reyes in Blue Jays clubhouse, expected off DL Monday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7:34 pm ET) Jose Reyes was in the Blue Jays' clubhouse after their victory over Seattle on Sunday, a positive sign that the shortstop will indeed come off the disabled list Monday, per the Associated Press

Reyes, who has been sidelined since April 27 with a rib injury, played in three rehab games at Triple-A Buffalo over the weekend, setting the stage for his return. 

In 60 games this season, Reyes is hitting .250/.266/.300 with three stolen bases.


Padres' Will Venable, Cory Spangenberg combine for 7 hits
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:27 pm ET) As a team, the Padres posted 20 hits in Sunday afternoon's 11-3 win over the Dodgers. 

Outfielder Will Venable and infielder Cory Spangenberg combined for seven of those hits in the win. Venable went 4 for 5 and scored three runs while Spangenberg went 3 for 5 with one run scored. 

Despite the barrage of hits and runs, neither recorded an RBI. 

For Venable, this marked the first time this season and the ninth time in his career that he's recorded four hits in a game. Venable now has a slash line of .292/.354/.472. 

This is the second time Spangenberg has recorded a three-hit game. He's slashing .236/.296/.371. 


Dodgers' Alex Guerrero hits homer in loss
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:19 pm ET) Dodgers third baseman Alex Guerrero blasted a two-run homer in the seventh inning of Sunday afternoon's 11-3 loss to the Padres. 

Guerrero took a 1-0 pitch deep to center field for the home run off of Padres pitcher James Shields. Guerrero finished the day 1 for 4 with two strikeouts. Guerrero is slashing .300/.329/.638 for the season but is only hitting a batting average of .235 in his last five games. 


Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt blasts 12th home run of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:17 pm ET) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 2 for 3 at the plate in Arizona's 4-3 win over the Cubs on Sunday.

Goldschmidt did his damage in the third inning when he blasted a two-run shot off of Jason Hammel to deep center field, his 12th of the season. Goldschmidt continues to tear up pitching early in the season and is now hitting .333 with 38 RBI in 156 at-bats. 


Cubs LF Chris Coghlan blasts seventh home run of the season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:14 pm ET) Cubs left fielder Chris Coghlan went 1 for 2 at the plate in Chicago's 4-3 loss to the Diamondbacks on Sunday.

Coghlan did his damage in the fifth inning when he took a Jeremy Hellickson pitch to deep right field for a two-run shot, his seventh of the season. Coghlan is now hitting .208 with 11 RBI in 125 at-bats this year.


Dodgers P Carlos Frias gives up 10 runs in lopsided loss
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:14 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Carlos Frias had an afternoon to forget. 

In four innings of work, Frias was rocked for 10 earned runs in Sunday afternoon's 11-3 loss to the Padres. He was unable to strike out anybody and walked two batters. 

Frias had been having a solid season until this game. In four previous starts and two relief appearances, Frias had only allowed a total of seven earned runs while striking out 19 batters. Twelve of San Diego's 20 hits came against Frias. 

This disastrous game ballooned his ERA from 2.55 to 5.34 for the season. 

Frias' next start is projected for Saturday against the Cardinals. 


Cubs catcher Miguel Montero blasts fifth home run of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:12 pm ET) Cubs catcher Miguel Montero went 1 for 4 at the plate in Chicago's 4-3 loss to the Diamondbacks on Sunday. Montero did his damage in the second when he connected for a solo home run off of Jeremy Hellickson, his fifth of the season.

Montero is now hitting .267 with 16 RBI in 101 at-bats this season.


 
 
 
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