While many of you are sweating fantasy football's crescendo, the 2017 fantasy baseball world has been creeping up on the horizon. With the Winter Meetings in the rearview mirror, we've got enough to go on to make your holidays truly happy with some fresh RotoBaller staff rankings!
Today we'll cover third base. As a reminder, this first round of rankings features picks from Bill Dubiel, Brad Johnson, Kyle Bishop, and myself.
If you missed the first couple of installments (catcher, first and second base), click the link below. Longtime readers will note that we've switched up the format a bit for this round of rankings to allow for a bit more insight into each writer's thought process.
Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Third Base
|17||3||Jung Ho Kang||17||17||16||15||16.25|
Are there any picks you want to defend?
Nick: My Turner rank stands out, though it was input before he re-signed with LA. While I do think he's more of the good June-Sept. hitter rather than that awful April-May guy we saw, I still have my concerns. The most notable of them being his struggles against left-handed pitching (.209 vs. LHP, .305 vs. RHP). At 32, I doubt the split gets better (compared to the 26-year-old Lamb, who has more room to develop).
I should also defend Frazier, as I had to chronicle his treacherous 2016 BABIP saga. It was nearly the worst in recorded baseball through the All-Star Break at .202, before improving to .276 for the second half. The latter is closer to what I project in 2017. He'll keep the power and sneaky speed flowing, providing him with top-10 tools despite a watered-down lineup.
Bill: I'm not quite ready to buy into Jonathan Villar as a top-five guy just yet. He had an unbelievable 2016, and it's very, very obvious he took some major steps forward as a hitter. He posted a career-best 11.6% walk rate, which should make you drool with a player like Villar. His main weapon is speed (league-leading 62 steals in 2016), so the fact that he's getting himself on base is a huge boost to his value. However, his .285 batting average was buoyed by a .373 BABIP--the highest he's posted at any point of his professional career. Ultimately the steps forward make Villar a top-10 option going into the year, but I think expectations should be tempered a bit.
Kyle: It was nice to see Rendon play a full season in 2016, but that doesn't dispel the durability concerns for me. Even Troy Tulowitzki managed to play 150 games a couple of times. Rendon's injury history is too long and too leg-centric for me not to bake some worry into my ranking. That said, it's less to do with him personally than with the plethora of excellent options at the hot corner. There are just too many players who I think could produce similar or better value to Rendon even if he stays healthy all season, which is far from a guaranteed proposition.
Brad: I'm not surprised I have the highest rankings for Rendon, but I'm shocked at the general pessimism. His 2016 was a repeat of his breakout 2014 campaign. If you'll recall, that monster five-category season had him going in the first and second rounds of drafts. My ranking does reflect a different expected role. Now that Adam Eaton is in the fold, Rendon will definitely bat below the heart of the order. As such, I'd bump him down to ninth on the basis of decreased run production.
Looks like I have the lowest expectations for Frazier. If you think he'll keep running, he should rank higher despite the Uggla batting average. The problem is, I don't think he'll keep running. He's not actually fast, and he's been caught stealing in 21 of 69 attempts (30.4 percent) over the last three years. Last I checked, he's older than ever. His pull-centric, fly ball-based approach is responsible for his high home run rate. It's also why he has a sky high infield fly rate and terrible BABIP. He's shiftable, and the most common type of contact he produces rarely leads to non-home run hits.
I didn't rank Perez because he's a below average-hitting utility fielder on a rapidly improving team. I only see about 350 plate appearances for him. The modest power and steals are interesting for fantasy owners if he's starting, but Milwaukee has better options.
What picks by others look overly bullish/pessimistic?
Nick: I may not be as bullish on Rendon as Brad, but I think Kyle and Bill are too low here on the 26-year-old. He calmed durability concerns by playing in 156 games while contributing across the board for 5x5 fantasy owners, even if it wasn't quite at 2014 levels. With a healthy offseason of workouts between now and 2017 (hopefully), he should be a reliable five-category weapon again with a chance for some growth.
Kyle: Brad has Jose Ramirez and Jake Lamb flipped. Yes, Lamb's second half was terrible, but I think we can safely ascribe most of that to a hand injury that robbed him of power and bat speed. Even with his struggles down the stretch, Lamb was a top 10 third baseman overall. With regard to Ramirez, I think 2016 was a best case scenario for him. There weren't significant enough changes to his profile for me to buy him as a .300 hitter going forward, and his run production wasn't impressive for spending basically the entire year in the middle of the lineup.
Bill: I think Brad hates Todd Frazier a little too much. The .225 batting average last year was indeed a killer, but the man still managed 98 RBI on a godawful Chicago White Sox team, thanks in large part to the 40 big flies he cranked out. He did still chip in 15 steals even though he was only on base 30.2% of the time (shudders). Frazier just isn't that bad a contact hitter. I'm willing to bet the power numbers drop a little, but if the guy gets his BA back up to like .250 and still cranks out 30/90 and adds in 20 steals? Gotta end up in the top 12 or so.
Brad: As I mentioned, Frazier is third base Chris Carter. I stand by my ranking. We might have all ranked Kang too highly given his escalating legal issues - first with sexual assault and now with drunk driving. A suspension for either or both infractions is possible. He seemed distracted at times last season, and it showed in his production.