We’re less than a week from baseball, which means drafts are flying in hot and heavy. If you haven’t yet drafted, we’ll be wrapping up our positional avoid series this week with third basemen today before outfielders and pitchers later in the week.
Third base is one of the strangest positions in fantasy this year. There are four projected 3B in the first round, but then there is a very noticeable drop off from that top tier. As hard as it is to lock yourself into a certain position for the first round, it’s definitely going to be advantageous to have one of those Big Four (Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson) in 2017.
If you miss out on one of those four, or are merely looking to third base to fill your 1B/3B or IF spot, you’ll be eyeing a few 3B in the middle rounds. Here are three to avoid.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Potential Third Base Busts for 2017
Eduardo Nunez (19th in RotoBaller 3B ranks; ADP of 86 in NFBC)
Nunez is one of the guys who the industry is most undecided on heading into 2017. His ADP ranges from 86 in NFBC to 186 in RTS. 100 picks! That’s a massive gap and it goes to show how unsure owners are about the 29-year-old after his breakout performance in 2016.
With his inclusion on this list, you can probably guess that I’m closer to the RTS side of things than the NFBC side of things. A recurring theme throughout this positional avoid series has been avoiding hitters with poor plate discipline. Drafting a hitter with poor plate discipline is like drafting a pitcher with a poor FIP. Sure, some hitters can beat poor plate discipline numbers for a while, just like some pitchers can beat a poor FIP for a while, but it just a matter of time until the rug gets pulled from under them. For Nunez, no player who swung at as many pitches outside of the zone as Nunez did (38.6% O-Swing) made as high of contact on those swings (76.5% O-Contact). That’s a dangerous game to play. Flailing at any and everything and hoping to maintain a reasonable BA (.288 in 2016) is very difficult.
There’s also the matter of Nunez’s second half, in which he only hit .244 and hit four HR compared to 12 HR in the first half. The move to San Francisco was always going to hurt his power numbers, and the regression monster was after his BA as well down the stretch. The RTS ADP seems like a much fairer price than NFBC.
Ryon Healy (21st in RotoBaller 3B ranks; ADP of 218 in NFBC)
Healy’s name here might surprise some folks. A lot of writers in the industry think of Healy as a sleeper and would be far from listing him on their “avoid” articles. Same goes for many fantasy players. I will say that when I selected Healy, he was a spot higher in the RotoBaller 3B ranks and his NFBC ADP was 20 points higher, but I’m sticking with his selection. Of the three names here, he’s the best bet to meet expectations, but there are definitely a few red flags.
For one, I’m a big-time Mark Canha guy, and believe that if Healy struggles out of the gate, Canha could start to steal some time from Healy. That point goes along with the even bigger overall point that the A’s are a franchise in disarray right now. They seem to have no real direction, so they will be willing to try any and everything in 2017. If they have hitters struggling they will experiment with them or try new hitters in that role. Drafting any A’s hitters gives me a bit of worry.
There’s also the issue of, say it with me, Healy’s plate discipline. In 72 games as a rookie, Healy struck out 60 times and walked just 12 times. That 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio is in the range of guys like Matt Kemp, Freddy Galvis and Salvador Perez - not guys who hit over .300. Then there’s the issue of his power. Healy posted a 16.0% HR/FB rate despite a rather pedestrian 30.0% hard hit ball rate. That’s due for a bit of regression and when added with the BA drop to come and the general chaos in Oakland, is enough for me to stay away.
Hernan Perez (26th in RotoBaller 3B ranks; ADP of 210 in NFBC)
This one is pretty straightforward. I’m not trying to draft a bench player in the 20th round unless he has a way higher upside than Perez. Perez is a near-26-year-old who likely reached his ceiling already. Last year was a high-water mark for Perez, as he was given a full-time role and hit 13 HR to go with 34 SB. Of course, his HR/FB rate was twice his career rate, and his BABIP (.322) was higher than his career rate as well.
With more offensive depth than 2016, the 2017 Brewers also don’t have room for Perez in their starting lineup right now. Perez is stuck behind one of the sneaky best outfields in baseball, with Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton manning the Milwaukee outfield as of now. Perez also spent some time at 3B in 2016, but the Brewers have ex-Red Sox infielder Travis Shaw slotted as the starter right now. Shaw is slashing .349/.434/.651 in spring, so he’s not loosening his grip on that spot.
Perez does have some intrigue as potentially filling in for Orlando Arcia at SS if the youngster continues to struggle with the bat, but with the Brewers in full rebuild mode, they’re likely to give their top prospect as much time as he needs to succeed. There are just too many roadblocks for Perez to have value in 2017.