Drafting a Third Baseman in 2014
Each position that you need to fill is very important to the overall outcome of your fantasy team, but when drafting your team, you must consider prioritizing which positions are deepest and most shallow talent wise. I’m not saying to draft Jason Kipnis in the second round over Carlos Gonzalez just because quality outfielders can always be found, but maybe you reach on a second or third baseman before selecting a non-elite first baseman or second or third outfielder. Have a game plan in place before you draft so you have a backup plan when your coveted player gets drafted before you are on the clock.
Third base is one of the positions that is not very deep this season. While there are three or four guys on their way to the big leagues-- guys like Javier Baez, Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran-- the position is not what it was a few years ago. The aforementioned prospects are players you may want to target on the waiver wire, in deep leagues or those with minor league slots. Castellanos will start the season as the Tiger’s third baseman and Baez will make his debut at some point in 2014, potentially at second, third or shortstop.
Third Base (3B) Tiered Rankings
When setting up your draft board for an everyday third baseman, I like to first look for players who are four- or five-category players. There are usually a handful of players that can be great in four out of the five main scoring categories. This season those players are:
- Adrian Beltre- Texas Rangers- Provides excellent average, runs, home runs and RBI.
- David Wright- New York Mets- Provides very good average, excellent runs, RBI and stolen bases (relative to his position).
The next tier consists of players who can fill three categories very well:
- Evan Longoria- Tampa Bay Rays- Provides excellent runs, home runs and RBI.
- Ryan Zimmerman- Washington Nationals- Provides very good runs, home runs and RBI.
- Josh Donaldson- Oakland Athletics- Provides very good runs, home runs, and RBI.
- Matt Carpenter- St. Louis Cardinals- Provides excellent runs, great average and above-average RBI.
The next tier I rate is the break-out and sleeper group:
- Manny Machado- Baltimore Orioles- Machado has the potential to hit all categories like David Wright, but better. He is in a friendlier ballpark and has young A-Rod-esque talent. He is recovering from a lower-body injury, though which, cautions me a little (but only a little).
- Brett Lawrie- Toronto Blue Jays- Lawrie is another player that can contribute well to multiple categories, but he needs to stay on the field and off the DL.
- Chase Headley- San Diego Padres- Headley needs to go to a different ballpark and he could be traded this season, but in San Diego he can still be a three- or four-category player based on talent alone. The team is never great around him, but I think he thrives in 2014.
The last group of guys to consider for your everyday 3B slot is those who can contribute to at least two categories:
- Pedro Alvarez- Pittsburgh Pirates- Big-time home run and RBI production.
- Kyle Seager- Seattle Mariners- Does an average job in all categories and is in an improved lineup.
- Will Middlebrooks- Boston Red Sox- Assuming he starts, expect solid home runs and RBI.
- Pablo Sandoval- San Francisco Giants- Slimmed down, he may be a mid-to-late-round steal, since he does an above-average job in four categories. He has to prove it to me, though. I’d buy low.
- Martin Prado- Arizona Diamondbacks- He is like Seager number wise. I love his multi-position eligibility: 3B, 2B, and OF.
The remainder of the third basemen available are toss-ups, and you can decide based on what you most need late in the draft. These guys usually won't kill your team, nor will they will you a championship.
If you miss out on the top three or four players, there will not be much left in the batting average and stolen base categories, but don’t worry-- there is quality depth here for 20+ home run players, as well as strong run and RBI producers. Just remember to always have a “Plan B” ready to go so you don't get caught with your pants down.