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Sleeper, draft value, bargain, flier, lotto ticket...whatever your preferred nomenclature, we can all agree that what we're after in our fantasy drafts is value.

Obviously, finding the most valuable players leads to winning leagues, but it's also just incredibly satisfying to snag a guy anyone else could've had for a song before he blows up.

As we draw closer to the start of the season, I'm offering my thoughts on potential 2018 fantasy baseball draft bargains at every position. We're checking in on third base today.

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Everybody Knows Third is the Word

Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

Beltre will be 39 in April, and he failed to play in at least 100 games last season for the first time since his rookie year all the way back in 1998(!). When he wasn't dealing with multiple leg injuries, he was excellent as usual: .312/.383/.532 with 17 HR and 71 RBI in only 94 contests. The ageless wonder posted the best walk rate of his career, while maintaining his typically low strikeout rate. Time is, of course, undefeated; eventually Beltre will stop being awesome. There's little reason to believe the bottom will fall out this year, though, given the remarkable steadiness of Beltre's peripherals. Also, he owns the best active streak in baseball – he’s stolen exactly one base seven years running.

Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds

Suarez quietly put together a solid season in 2017, hitting .260 with 26 HR, 87 R, 82 RBI, and 4 SB. That wasn’t far behind Jake Lamb (whose ADP is 75 picks earlier) and was better than Kyle Seager (55 picks earlier). Suarez isn’t flashy, but he can turn a nice little profit for you in the middle rounds. He’s vastly improved his plate discipline over his three seasons in Cincinnati, more than tripling his walk rate during that time. And not for nothing, he’ll likely spend most of the year hitting either directly in front of or behind Joey Votto.

Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics

Fantasy owners are showing a lot more love to Oakland’s other Matt – Olson, natch – in drafts this spring, but don’t forget about Chapman. In his FanGraphs player capsule, Alex Chamberlain referred to Chapman as “a less-extreme Joey Gallo,” which seems an apt comparison. Chapman doesn’t have Gallo’s raw power (hey, few do), but he has enough of it to comfortably project 30 home runs given his extreme fly ball tendencies. He’ll also work enough walks to keep his runs scored total respectable despite the probable low batting average.

Todd Frazier, New York Mets

Frazier was a top-75 pick a year ago, and now he’s barely inside the top 300. It’s not hard to understand why. Frazier’s batting average has dropped in each of the last four seasons, culminating in last year’s putrid .213 mark. He’d averaged 13 steals per year from 2014-16; last year, he swiped just four bags. He also hit just 27 bombs after hitting 40 the season before. Expecting anything other than a terrible batting average is foolish, but Frazier actually added 13 feet to his average fly ball distance in 2017, so a return to 30-plus homers seems like a good bet. He’s slated to open the year hitting cleanup for New York, which will help his run production rebound provided he sticks there.

Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds

Senzel has experience at both second and third base and is currently learning the ropes at shortstop. Meanwhile, Scooter Gennett is currently dealing with a wrist injury and Jose Peraza is terrible, so there are paths to playing time for the Reds’ top prospect. Senzel, the second overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft, is a patient hitter with great bat control and opportunistic power that should play up in Great American Ball Park. He will open the season in the minors, but don’t expect it to be too long before he’s pushing for time on the big club. Senzel makes for a great stash at the end of drafts this year.

 

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