2015 Third Base Preview
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Rather than identifying players who I like, I tend to begin my draft preparation by making a list of players who I have little interest in owning, whether it be because I expect a drop-off in production from the previous season or simply because I feel they are being overvalued to the point where it is unlikely that I can get an equal return, let alone a profit, out of my investment. This year, the third base pool includes a number of these guys, so as of now, I’m strongly leaning towards shelling out the necessary dough in order to secure one of the top-tier options, saving my bargain hunting for other positions.
Xander Bogaerts – At this time last year, the fantasy world was drooling over Bogaerts, but a largely disappointing 2014 campaign has resulted in him being on average the 14th third base-eligible player off the board in NFBC drafts. So, Bogaerts certainly fits the “post-hype sleeper” description. Note that he batted .313 with four homers and 16 RBI in September. Also note that he doesn’t turn 23 until October. The 3B/SS dual eligibility is an added bonus, as Bogaerts owners will probably end up starting him at shortstop anyway.
Chase Headley – If you decide to wait awhile before drafting your third baseman (something that I do not plan on doing), take a long look at Headley. At this point, his 2012 season can safely be written off as an outlier. But following his trade to the Yankees last season, the 30-year-old batted a respectable .262 with six homers, 17 RBI and a .769 OPS across 58 games. Nothing special, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a full season playing half of his games at Yankee Stadium yields a stat line in the neighborhood of .270-18-75 to go along with double-digit steals. Although Headley shouldn’t be a draft day target, there’s nothing wrong with settling on him in deeper leagues if you want to prioritize other positions.
Brett Lawrie – I value Lawrie similarly to Headley, that is as a low risk/medium reward third sacker. And like Bogaerts, he’s an intriguing post-hype sleeper. Maybe a fresh start in Oakland will do the trick, and maybe getting away from the artificial turf in Toronto will help him finally stay healthy. Lawrie managed to hit 12 home runs in just 70 games last season, and although he did not record any stolen bases, his myriad of injuries, particularly the oblique strain, probably had something to do with it. A DL-free season could translate to double-digit swipes and 20 homers, despite the move away from hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. Oh, and he also qualifies at 2B. In 12-team mixed leagues, he’s a strong starting MI.
Josh Harrison – Harrison came out of nowhere last season to enjoy a career year, and the dual 3B/OF eligibility is nice. But take a closer look at his 2014 numbers. Aside from the .315 AVG, there’s little that stands out. We’re talking 13 homers, 18 steals and 77 runs scored. Not much to get overly excited about, especially considering that it was his only fantasy-relevant season to date. I need to see more. Why is he being drafted ahead of David Wright and Pablo Sandoval in NFBC? I have no clue.
Evan Longoria – I’d happily take Longoria if I can get him at a discount. In fact, I drafted him towards the end of the fifth round (#71 overall) in NFBC. The problem, however, is that he’s being valued much higher than that in most of the mocks and early drafts that I’ve seen. It is true that Longo has now turned in two straight fully healthy seasons, but the Rays lineup is likely to struggle this year, which will limit his RBI and run-scoring opportunities. Plus, he won’t be of much help in the batting average department. Again, I wouldn’t necessarily avoid him if the price is right, but be careful not to overpay due to the name recognition.
Matt Carpenter – Sorry, but I can’t figure out why this guy continues to be valued so highly in fantasy. Perhaps if he was still second base-eligible, I could understand it. But he isn’t, and a third baseman who failed to muster double-digit home runs last season and saw a 46-point drop in batting average is of no interest to me. Can he get his AVG back up to maybe the .290-.300 range? Possibly. But even then, he would be only a two-category player. He’s currently the #12 third baseman in NFBC ADP rankings. In a 12-team mixed leagues, there’s no way I’d draft him as my starting 3B.