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Third Basemen Set to Bust for Fantasy Baseball

In previous seasons, the third base position has been one of great depth. In 2022, this may not be the case. While there are a ton of solid names out there, there are also several landmines littered throughout the top-15 at the position. If you select one of those landmines, it could significantly impact your season, so we certainly want to avoid that.

This article will take a deeper look into third basemen that are being drafted too high based on ADP (within the top-10 at the position) and are not likely to meet their current projections for several reasons. These are players that should be avoided, or at the very least, drafted later than their current ADP.

The third basemen we will look into today are Alex Bregman, Nolan Arenado, and Kris Bryant. Check out all our bust picks in the 2022 Draft Kit.

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Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

Current ADP: 67

Alex Bregman had a lackluster 2021 campaign in which he slashed .270/.355/.422 with just 12 home runs, 55 RBI, 54 runs scored, and one stolen base across 400 plate appearances. He missed a huge chunk of the season between the middle of June and the end of August due to a hamstring injury, which cost him roughly 60 games and is a partial factor in his down season. Taking a strong look at his advanced metrics might give us the other side to that story.

In 2021, Bregman only totaled 12 home runs, which was his lowest output in any full professional season. This is fresh off the 2018 and 2019 seasons in which he combined for a total of 72 bombs. A big reason for his power is the fact that he was able to post sweet spot percentages in 2018 and 2019 of 37.9% and 35.5%, respectively. This number took a drastic dip in 2021 as he finished with a rate of just 33.8%, which was the lowest of his career. He also ranked in the bottom 33% of the league in terms of hard-hit rate as well as the bottom 29% of the league in terms of barrel rate.

A portion of these stats dips certainly could have come from him not being fully healthy with the hamstring injury, but there is no guarantee he returns to form in 2022. Aside from the hamstring injury, Bregman also underwent wrist surgery after the postseason and was restricted from baseball activities until recently.

There are some positives to draw from Bregman's 2021 campaign and those directly relate to his ability to make contact. He ranked in the top five percent of the league in terms of K rate, so there was not a lot of swing in miss in his game, which has come to be expected from Bregman over the years. That being said, he also posted his highest weak contact percent (2.7%) since 2017. This is also an Astros lineup that will likely be losing Carlos Correa in the heart of the order and could negatively affect Bregman's counting stats in 2022.

 

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals

Current ADP: 51

Nolan Arenado did not have a spectacular 2021 season in terms of metrics even though he posted 34 bombs and 105 RBI. He slashed just .255/.312/.494, which was the second-worst slash line of his career aside from 2020's shortened season. The metrics from his first season away from Coors Field paint an even bleaker picture.

Arenado derives much of his value from the ability to hit for power and get on base as noted by his career 269 home runs and .345 OBP. In 2022, his power metrics were well below average as his average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, xSLG, and barrel rate all ranked below the 45th percentile. These metrics make his 34 home runs look like an anomaly as we should not have seen so much power from this type of line. His xSLG of .420 was a full 50 points below his career average of .470. Although Arenado is only 31 this season, he could continue to traject downwards, especially considering the change in parks from early in his career.

His ability to get on base also took a hit because his xwOBA, xBA, and walk rate also all ranked below the 45th percentile. His walk rate of 7.7% was the second-lowest of his career and ranked comfortably below his career average of 8.6%.

Arenado has a current ADP of 51 and is being taken as the sixth third baseman off of the board. It might be best to select a player like George Springer around this ADP and wait on third base until the later rounds while selecting someone like Yoan Moncada around ADP 150.

 

Kris Bryant, Rockies

Current ADP: 86

Bryant just signed with the Rockies, so his bust potential just went down a bit. That being said, his ADP is about to soar, which could lead to a significant loss in value when drafting him. In 2021, Bryant posted a slash line of .265/.353/.481 with 25 home runs, 73 RBI, and 10 stolen bases. The line itself is not horrendous, but also may not be quite worthy of a top-90 draft selection.

Bryant's metrics tell us a bit about the type of player he profiles as. He has a bit too much swing and miss in his game and he always has. In 2022, he posted a K rate of 23%, which ranked in the bottom 39% of the league. This is also right in line with his career average of 23.7%. He also posted a whiff rate that ranked him in the bottom 27% of the league. Both of these contributed to him ranking near the bottom of the league in terms of outs above average as he ranked in the bottom one percent. These are not stats I want to be associated with my starting third baseman in fantasy.

That being said, he continued to get on base at a high clip as he posted a walk rate of 10.6%, which was 2.2% above league average. He also posted an xwOBA that ranked in the top 32% of the league as well as an xBA in the top 40% of the league. If he lands in a high-powered offense in 2022, this could certainly work in his favor as far as putting up counting stats.

Bryant currently has an ADP of 86, which makes him the ninth third baseman off of the board although he will probably start to rise above guys like Alex Bregman and Adalberto Mondesi. Look to snag an up-and-coming player here like Tyler O'Neill and either snag a third baseman like the aforementioned Moncada later or take someone like Jose Ramirez early in the draft.



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