In my starting pitchers’ piece, I noted how I wanted top starting pitchers, but very few had an ADP at or lower than my rankings. Thus, in order to fill my goal of acquiring top starting pitchers, I had to search for relative value; those who had ADPs close to my rankings became relative values.
The opposite applies to the third base market: most of the players seem to be undervalued or properly valued. Thus, a slight value pick (someone who you draft a bit ahead of your ranking) would be a poor relative value in this market. You likely will be able to get a larger value, given how many good third basemen are undervalued. The trick is picking the best value.
This piece will attempt to help you find a third baseman that can give you the biggest bang for your buck. Here are my third base values for the 2017 baseball season. Note: ADP values are taken from NFBC draft data.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!
Overvalued Third Basemen
Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
MY RANK: 165
I addressed Baez in my other positional pieces, but I think it bears repeating: I thought I was high on Javy Baez until I saw his ADP. Then I was confused. Yes, he is a 24-year-old former top prospect who has multipositional eligibility. He has cut down his strikeouts and has speed and power. But, his strikeouts are still where he is unlikely to hit for a high average. Barring an injury, he does not appear to have a full-time role, although he will get plenty of playing time. In his breakout last year, he hit .273/14/50/59/12. While there is certainly room for upside, he is going wayyyyy too high given the value plays available.
Fair Value Third Basemen
These players are slightly overvalued relative to other third basemen, but still fair at their current ADP.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
MY RANK: 77
Kyle Seager has been pretty consistent. From 2012-2015 he hit between .259 and .268 every year with between 20 and 26 homers. His steals started to decline (13, 9, 7, 6), and his run and RBI totals moved a bit, but he was a similar player. Last year, at age 29, he had career highs in homers, average, runs and RBIs, even though the steals declined to three. What should we make of this? His fly ball rate was actually slightly below his career average, and while his hard-hit rate was a career high, it was not much different than 2014. The uptick in HR/FB% can explain the extra homers, while the extra homers can explain most of the slight bump in average (four extra hits in 600 at bats would be a seven point bump, and he was only 12 points above his career average). With the steals down to three, and no reason to think the homers will meaningfully improve, is a 29 year old with career highs in the other categories of .278/30/89/99 that exciting? Seager could very well keep up that performance, but if he regresses to his .268/25/80/90 ways, you will not have chosen the best value in this market.
Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox
MY RANK: 91
Frazier hit 40 homers and stole 15 bases last year, and only had a .236 BABIP. That seems like a great guy to target, right? I don’t think so. From 2014 to 2016, Frazier’s WRC+ has declined each year. His line drive percentage has been on a steady decline. Last year, he had the highest strikeout percentage of his career. And despite having a hard-hit percentage well below his career average in 2016, he had his highest HR/FB ratio of any season he played. He also became much more of a pull hitter, further explaining the average drop (and possibly the homer increase). Now Frazier has battled injuries this spring, including the dreaded oblique injury. At 31 years old, will he continue to steal double-digit bases? With Adam Eaton gone and Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu possibly next, will there be runs to drive in? Frazier’s declining indicators together with all these question marks make his upside too limited for a player who’s batting average already limits him. Get your value elsewhere.
Undervalued Third Basemen
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
MY RANK: 45
I debated Ramirez’s rank with Brad Johnson here. In sum, Ramirez hit .312/11/82/76/22 last year in 152 games. He is only 24, is in an improved lineup, could see some of his 49 doubles plus triples turn into homers, and qualifies at many positions. With only nine players going 20/20 last year (and only two middle infielders – or three if you count Ian Desmond), he is too valuable to let slide. The injury to Kipnis could hurt the offense and thus his value slightly, but I still like the value. If you draft him early and another third baseman slides late, you can move Ramirez to another position.
Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals
MY RANK: 47
Rendon will turn 27 midseason. In his last two healthy years (2014 and 2016), he posted lines of .287/21/111/83/17 and .270/20/91/85/12. With only 487 career games, there is still room for improvement for this four to five category performer. Hitting in a deeper lineup, and surrounded by on base machines, there is no reason to think he won’t have excellent run production. The double-digit steals is something that is rare at the position. A player who has the reasonable ability to go .280/20/95/95/15, while still being young enough to improve, should not slip as far as he is.
Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks
MY RANK: 59
Jake Lamb had some severe splits. In the first half, he went .291/20/49/61/3. In the second half it was .197/9/32/30/3. What should we make of this? Lamb had an injured hand right around the all-star break. He also was coming off a season where he only played 110 games. Thus, we have two explanations for why his performance could have dropped off a cliff, and neither would affect his 2017. Moreover, Lamb still posted a .249/29/81/91/6 line for the year despite the abysmal second half. He may be my favorite value play amongst this group.
Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
MY RANK: 76
While 2016 may look like a fluky home run year for Turner, his HR/FB ratio was not much different than 2015 (13.9% versus 14.8%). He did, however, increase his fly ball percentage (36.2 to 40.0) and his hard hit percentage (32.3 to 37.6). Moreover, Turner started slowly after offseason knee surgery, with .654 and .699 OPSs the first two months, before finishing with OPSs of .922, .979, .854 and .830. In a full season, there is reason to believe he can be every bit as valuable as players like Kyle Seager, who are going much higher. Seager posted a line of .278/30/89/99/3 last year, but Turner was on a 162-game pace of .275/29/85/97/4.
Jose Reyes, New York Mets
MY RANK: 139
I have Reyes at 139th in my rankings, but he is going undrafted in most leagues. For my full take on Reyes, see my recent article here.