2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Top strategies for the third base position
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Catcher, first base, second base … is there any position where it’s OK to wait?
You’ve found it. In a year when position scarcity is trying to make a comeback, third base is your easy ticket out.
That’s not to say you have to wait on it. Say you pick third overall. Well, Jose Ramirez joined up with Mike Trout and Mookie Betts as a true five-category stud last year (he got unlucky with the batting average, if you can believe it) and is the obvious choice at that spot, in my humble opinion. There also comes a point in the middle of the first round when Nolan Arenado’s sheer reliability trumps everything else.
For an extended stretch thereafter, though, the position settles into a place where a bigger investment doesn’t necessarily yield a bigger result.
Even so, it’s tempting. Kris Bryant is three years removed from an MVP season. Anthony Rendon has a skill set perfectly tailored for points leagues. Matt Carpenter could shift over to first base if you don’t end up needing him at third. And then there’s the ultimate wild card, 20-year-old Vladimir Guerrero, who figures to get the call at some point in the season’s first few weeks and may be the best hitting prospect I’ve ever seen.
I get it. They’re great, and we could debate just how resolute I’d be if one of them dropped to me a round later than I expected. But with what promises to be available at third base still, there are better places to turn in Round 3-5 of your draft, namely starting pitcher, first base and second base.
So what promises to be available? Well, Eugenio Suarez is one third baseman I expect to have a good number of shares in. There are some who will doubt the production, allowing him to slip to the back of the pack, but we all made those same doubts known last year following his breakout 2017, and he ended up doing more or less the same sort of things but with even more power in his age-26 season. In fact, I’m not sure a good Bryant season, one where his shoulder is fully recovered and he’s back to homering at his usual pace, looks so different from Suarez’s 2018.
Don’t like Suarez? Fine, keep waiting. Justin Turner still delivered elite-level production when healthy last year, especially after regaining the strength in his fractured wrist a couple months in. Josh Donaldson was never totally healthy last season, but you need only go back to 2017 to see what he can be when he is. Yeah, you’re taking more of a chance with those two, given their age and injury history, but the rewards for doing so, having a chance to fill in thinner positions earlier in the draft, are potentially great.
Besides, the position offers possibilities for hedging your bet even beyond that. Travis Shaw and Jurickson Profar make for versatile picks for your DH spot, more than sufficing at third base should the need arise. Matt Chapman was only two-tenths of a point behind Suarez in per-game production last year, which was like the difference between Whit Merrifield and Ozzie Albies at second base. They’re in different tiers, yes, but not different stratospheres. And Miguel Andujar is right there with Chapman, possibly even higher in Rotisserie leagues because he profiles so well for batting average. Wil Myers brings 20-20 potential and Max Muncy a monster OPS. Shoot, everyone’s favorite breakout pick from a year ago, Rafael Devers, will still be up for grabs in the late rounds of standard mixed-league drafts. I swear, you’d have to try to mess up your third base pick this year.
So just relax when they start flying off the board on Draft Day. If the value of one of the early-rounders makes too much sense, take it and know you can add another third baseman as your DH or corner infielder. But if you’re looking for an opportunity to wait on something so you can focus on something else, this is one position where it makes sense to do so.
Scott’s third baseman to buy:
Justin Turner. He hit .357 with nine homers and a 1.067 from Aug. 1 on, having regained the strength in his broken hand, and was one of the few hitters the Dodgers allowed to play every day, in spite of his age.
Scott’s third baseman to sell:
Matt Chapman. He accomplished what he did last year with a high .338 BABIP, which might be forgivable if he wasn’t also coming back from thumb and shoulder surgeries this offseason.
Heath Cummings’ third baseman to buy:
Max Muncy. If the Dodgers let him play every day, he may be a top-12 hitter.
Heath Cummings’ third baseman to sell:
Wil Myers. He posted an .831 OPS way back in 2012. He hasn’t topped .800 since.
So which Fantasy Baseball sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued pitchers can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Baseball rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Scooter Gennett’s huge breakout last season, and find out.