Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
      
Fantasy Football Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Draft Prep: Third base profiles

  •  

Al's profiles: Cs | 1Bs | 2Bs | SSs | 3Bs | OFs | Ps

There are few worse feelings in a Fantasy draft than failing to fill a position after there's been a huge dropoff in value between the players taken off the board and the ones left behind. When that happens at third base, taking that step beyond the final elite player will feel like walking off a huge curb that you never saw.

More than at any other position, there is a Grand Canyon-sized abyss separating the top third basemen and the second tier. Miguel Cabrera is miles ahead of the third base pack, and Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre and David Wright are at least several football fields ahead of the remaining third basemen. In Rotisserie formats, Wright projects to add nearly 15 places in the cumulative standings to your team's existing roster, while the next-best option, Josh Donaldson, would add just shy of 13 places. A difference of two places in the cumulative standings may not sound like much, but it's the largest such gap between elites and a second tier for any position.

The third base elite grows by one in Head-to-Head formats, as Matt Carpenter's low strikeout rate, high walk rate and healthy doubles total are enough for him to keep company with Longoria, Beltre and Wright (though most owners would probably use him at second base anyway). In either format, though, owners will take a big hit if they address their third base need too soon after the Big Four (or Five, if you count Carpenter) are claimed.

Get your Custom Draft Kits!
Download your Draft Kit for Draft Day 2014 that's customized to your specific league scoring system, format and player pool!
Download your Draft Kit today!

Still, the position offers some solid fallback options, as long as you don't reach for them. Even with some mild regression, Donaldson can turn in a solid season -- one that should be slightly better than Ryan Zimmerman's 2013 campaign. Martin Prado provides multi-positional eligibility and Kyle Seager offers steady, if not eye-popping, production. Chase Headley and Brett Lawrie have had better days, but both are still young enough to rebound (Lawrie especially). Whether or not they look poised to do it is something I'll address further below. If the proven veterans don't excite you or get drafted too early, there's always the upside potential presented by early-twenty-somethings Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts.

As with every position, third base presents its share of players who are difficult to project, due to inconsistency or inexperience. This sample of projection profiles begins with Longoria, whose stats were not actually all that hard to project, but this space seemed as fitting as any to make my case as to why I think he is at least on a par with Beltre and Wright, who get more respect among industry analysts.

Evan Longoria, Rays

2014 5x5 projections: .281/.356/.518, 33 HR, 101 RBI, 98 Runs, 1 SB in 595 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 15.3 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 2nd among third basemen; 512 Fantasy Points, 2nd among third basemen

After Cabrera is gone, presumably after the first two picks in the draft, it's almost a toss-up among Longoria, Wright and Beltre for second best at the position. I prefer Longoria, since he is a little more consistent and a little less of an injury risk than Wright and six years younger than Beltre.

That said, Longoria is not without his risks. After a three-year trend of reducing strikeouts, Longoria is back to Square One, as his strikeout rate has soared over the last two seasons. Over that span, Longoria has been taking called strikes at the highest rate of his career. While that's a trend to watch, it's encouraging in a way that Longoria's 26 percent strikeout-per-at-bat ratio was skewed by a midseason binge, in which he struck out in exactly one of out of every three at-bats in June and July.

With more typical strikeout rates the rest of the season, Longoria appears set for at least a mild batting average rebound, and that will fuel increases in runs and RBI. He's also practically a lock for 30 home runs, rounding out a picture of a third baseman who projects to be the best and safest alternative outside of the Motor City.

Josh Donaldson, Athletics

2014 5x5 projections: .281/.355/.465, 22 HR, 86 RBI, 84 Runs, 6 SB in 570 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 12.9 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 6th among third basemen; 455 Fantasy Points, 6th among third basemen

Even since Donaldson seized the A's starting third base job in August 2012, he has been a remarkably consistent source of batting average and home runs. In his first full season, Donaldson ranked as the fourth-most productive third baseman in Fantasy, but can we trust him to repeat? He established himself as a power hitter in three tours at Triple-A, so there is little reason to doubt he can approach last season's 24 home runs and 37 doubles. Over the last three years, both at Oakland and Sacramento, he has made steady reductions in his strikeout rate, so I have projected him to have another season in which he strikes out in less than every fifth at-bat.

Donaldson could still lose value, as he may have a hard time equaling last season's 23 infield hits, given that he doesn't have tremendous speed. A batting average around .280 is a more reasonable expectation than another .300 mark, and that dropoff, along with slightly diminished run production, is enough to knock him well below the likes of Longoria, Beltre and Wright in Roto leagues, and also far behind Carpenter in Head-to-Head formats.

Chase Headley, Padres

2014 5x5 projections: .261/.347/.431, 21 HR, 75 RBI, 74 Runs, 12 SB in 590 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 11.6 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 11th among third basemen; 423 Fantasy Points, 10th among third basemen

There's really no good way to put a positive face on Headley's 2013 stats. His home run power evaporated, and the usually selective hitter showed signs of living up to his name, increasing his chase rate.

Headley's mysterious dropoff in production finally got an explanation last September when he revealed he had been playing the whole season with a torn meniscus. We may not know how much of a factor the injury was, but in sizing Headley up for Draft Day, the disclosure provides a reason to expect Headley to make at least a partial recovery of his 2012 value, when he hit .286 with 31 home runs, 115 RBI and 17 stolen bases. His projection assumes a partial rebound and could understate Headley's production, should he make a full recovery.

One reason not to bank on Headley repeating his 2012 success is his current injury: a strained calf sustained in late February. While Headley has been making progress throughout spring training, calf injuries have been known to linger. It's just one more reason to temper expectations, leaving Headley on the fringes of the top 10 at third base.

Manny Machado, Orioles

2014 5x5 projections: .267/.304/.425, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 83 Runs, 4 SB in 640 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 10.4 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 14th among third basemen; 402 Fantasy Points, 12th among third basemen

Machado enters 2014 with a world of uncertainty, not only because he is coming off knee surgery, but because his development took an unexpected turn last season. Instead of building on the home run power he displayed as a rookie (seven home runs in 191 at-bats), Machado turned into a line drive hitter in 2013 and eschewed the long ball in favor of doubles. Lots of doubles, 51 of them, 39 of which came before the All-Star break.

Machado's flyball rate did rebound in the second half, and as his line drive rate regressed, the doubles dried up and the homers returned. Since Machado was more of a flyball hitter in the minors than he has been with the Orioles, and given his second-half reversal, owners should look to Machado as more of a power source this season. An increased emphasis on hitting flyballs could dampen Machado's batting average, though a slow or delayed start would also likely limit his chances for a major power breakout.

Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays

2014 5x5 projections: .275/.328/.429, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 76 Runs, 6 SB in 520 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 10.2 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 16th among third basemen; 367 Fantasy Points, 15th among third basemen

Since exploding onto the Fantasy scene as a power/speed threat who could hit for average in late 2011, it's largely been a downward spiral of injuries and declining performance for Lawrie. He did provide some hopeful signs last season after returning from a month-and-a-half layoff due to an ankle injury. He struck out just 32 times in 262 at-bats and had made some mild improvement on his ground ball rate, but the end result during that 70-game span -- a .279 batting average with six home runs, 32 RBI, 30 runs and seven stolen bases -- doesn't bode well for a return to his rookie glory.

Lawrie's projection reflects the improvement we can expect in his batting average, though I didn't assume he could maintain his late-season strikeout rate, which was far out of line with prior marks. If he does, he could hit above .290, but we have yet to see meaningful signs that a high average would come with 20-plus home run power. Also, a 22 for 35 conversion rate for steals over the last two years is not a good sign for a comeback in that category. With so much of Lawrie's career clouded by health issues and high ground ball rates, it's hard to see him producing enough to merit more than a late-round pick.

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox

2014 5x5 projections: .253/.321/.396, 13 HR, 60 RBI, 73 Runs, 3 SB in 530 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 8.3 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 25th among third basemen; 334 Fantasy Points, 22nd among third basemen

As a prospect, Bogaerts showed he could hit for good power for a shortstop and get on base. Given that he did those things as a 20-year-old in Double-A and Triple-A is impressive, but that doesn't mean he's ready to become the next Troy Tulowitzki just yet. Not only could it take Bogaerts time to adjust the majors, but the sizable dip that his flyball rate took upon moving to Triple-A Pawtucket could foreshadow some struggles to hit for power with the Red Sox. Also, Bogaerts has been a good, but not great, contact hitter, so his higher minor league batting averages have been heavily driven by high BABIP rates he may not be able to sustain going forward.

That leaves Bogaerts with mediocre projections, and at third base, they leave him out of the top 20. At shortstop, he would squeeze just inside the top 20 in Head-to-Head formats and falling just short in Roto formats. Since it's almost a certainty that Bogaerts will gain shortstop eligibility, he is worth a flier in standard mixed leagues that have a MI slot.

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

Want an edge in your draft? Download the Fantasy Draft Kit App.

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Micah Johnson shut down for the season
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:17 pm ET) White Sox infield prospect Micah Johnson has been shut down for the rest of the year.

Johnson injured his knee while taking an awkward swing recently, and won't return. He hit .294/.351/.403 over two levels in the minors.


Padres option Jace Peterson, DFA Bobby LaFromboise
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:13 pm ET) The Padres optioned infielder Jace Peterson to Triple-A El Paso and designated pitcher Bobby LaFrombroise for assignment Wednesday.

The moves were made to clear a 25-man and a 40-man roster spot for Cameron Maybin, who returned from a 25-game suspension Wednesday. Peterson is just 6 for 53 in 27 games with the Padres. LaFromboise owns a 4.75 ERA and 45:21 K:BB ratio in 53 innings with El Paso.


Padres reinstate Cameron Maybin
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:10 pm ET) The Padres reinstated outfielder Cameron Maybin from the restricted list Wednesday.

Maybin served a 25-game suspension handed down for violating the MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. He went 6 for 16 in five games with El Paso before rejoining the team. Maybin has hit .247/.286/.368 with one home run and three stolen bases in 174 at-bats.


Masahiro Tanaka gets through 35 pitch bullpen session
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:08 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was able to get through a 35 pitch bullpen session Wednesday, according to MLB.com.

Tanaka said this bullpen session was "better" than his first one. He was able to throw four different pitches during the start, including his splitter. "It went well, but it was actually my first time throwing breaking balls – something other than fastballs – in the bullpen, so I felt it was a little bit rusty,” Tanaka said. The club still hopes Tanaka can pitch in the majors this season. 


Starlin Castro scratched Wednesday due to family emergency
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:05 pm ET) Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was scratched from Wednesday's starting lineup due to a family emergency, the team announced.

The Cubs haven't given any indication of how much time Castro is expected to miss. He has hit .284/.333/.429 with 13 home runs and 64 RBI in 496 at-bats. Rookie Javier Baez will see his first action at shortstop Wednesday after playing 15 games at second base to open his major-league career.


Jose Bautista continues to rake in defeat of Brewers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:00 pm ET) The first four hitters in the Blue Jays lineup combined for nine hits in a Wednesday win in Milwaukee, but only one of them blasted off. That was Jose Bautista, who crashed a three-run homer in the sixth inning to stretch the lead to 7-3.

Bautista also doubled in the victory in sweetening his stat line to .290/.406/.512.


Jimmy Nelson falls apart in middle innings in loss to Toronto
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:54 pm ET) A strong run of five straight quality starts ended with a thud Wednesday against the Blue Jays for Brewers rookie Jimmy Nelson.

Nelson collapsed after four strong innings to take his fourth loss in six decisions. He gave up four runs on five hits in the fifth and sixth before his removal. Among them were run-scoring doubles by Munenori Kawasaki and Melky Cabrera.

His next start is set for Monday at San Diego.


Joe Thatcher not ready to return
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) Angels pitcher Joe Thatcher has been able to do some light throwing off a mound, but isn't ready to return just yet, according to MLB.com.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Thatcher was "not close" to coming back. He's been sidelined since August 2 due to an ankle issue. 


Grant Green looking to return next week
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:48 pm ET) Angels infielder Grant Green is looking to return next week, according to MLB.com.

Green is on pace to start a rehab assignment over the next few days with the intention of returning next week. He's hit .313 over 80 at-bats. Green has been sidelined due to a back injury.


R.A. Dickey can't be picky - snags win despite poor outing
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:47 pm ET) Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey didn't require a third straight quality start to gain his 10th win of the season Wednesday in Milwaukee. In fact, he didn't need to perform well at all.

Dickey rode strong hitting support to the win despite giving up five runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked one, fanned four and yielded a two-run homer to Carlos Gomez in the sixth inning that knocked him out of the game.

The veteran has given up 24 runs in his last 44 2/3 innings. He will try to pitch better Tuesday against Boston.


 
 
 
Rankings