Sleepers & Busts: Third Base
Searching for the ever-elusive fantasy baseball gold and kryptonite, we continue a series on sleepers and busts at the third base position.
Besides identifying who we feel is being under- or overrated in drafts, we are going beyond our own projection system and rankings to find a favorite and least favorite to tweak their stat prediction.
SLEEPER: Manny Machado
The Orioles third baseman is finally healthy, at least for now, but the 22-year-old is primed for a big-time breakout. Coming back last season from ACL surgery on his left knee, Machado took a while to round into form and had his season cut short with another torn ligament in his right knee. In between, he hit .307 with 10 homers in 55 games. We bumped up his projection to .287, 76 runs, 21 homers, 81 RBIs and 4 steals, which was good enough to move Machado into the first tier at third base at No. 6 in our preseason rankings. The ceiling is more like .300-90-30-100-10, so he’s a steal considering his ADP is just 15th at the position.
BUST: Yasmany Tomas
Just because the 24-year-old Cuban slugger got Jose Abreu money at $68.5 million over six years from the Diamondbacks doesn’t mean that we’re looking at another rookie of the year. Tomas has poor plate discipline, which could lead to a poor batting average and won’t allow him to make enough use of his tremendous power. He sat out all of last year, so he would probably benefit from starting the year in the minors. But the D-backs will probably want to start getting a return on their investment right away, so he’ll likely man third base as long as he can hold up defensively there. If he can’t, then he’ll have to find ABs in the outfield. We have Tomas projected for a line of .246 average, 58 runs, 18 homers, 70 RBIs and 3 steals, which ranks him No. 24 at third base while his ADP is 16th.
Chris Davis: Even with just a mild bounce-back season, our projection of 32 homers and 90 RBIs earns Davis a No. 9 ranking at third base while his ADP is 12th. The enormous upside makes him a tremendous sleeper.
Lonnie Chisenhall: The Indians third baseman is coming off a mild breakout, hitting .280 with 13 homers last season, but the 26-year-old is being overlooked with a No. 35 ADP compared to our No. 26 ranking. There’s some serious upside here too, as evidenced by his .332, 9-homer first half last year.
David Freese: The 31-year-old will likely bat in the middle of the Angels lineup and he recovered from a slow start last year by hitting .281 with eight homers over the last four months. We have Freese ranked No. 28 while his ADP is 37th.
Cody Asche and Maikel Franco: It is expected that Asche will begin the season as the Phillies’ starting third baseman while Franco heads to Triple-A, but whoever emerges should be worth owning in deep mixed leagues. Asche’s ADP is 45th while we have him No. 32 and Franco’s ADP is 42nd while we have him No. 33.
Todd Frazier: Fantasy owners are paying a premium for Frazier’s breakout season, which was highlighted by an out-of-nowhere 20 steals. We expect that steals total to shrink substantially and have him as the No. 8 third baseman while his ADP is 4th.
Carlos Santana: The Indians slugger is far better in OBP leagues, as his high walk rate fixes a career .248 average. Coming off a career-high 27 homers, Santana has an ADP of 8th while we have him No. 13.
Josh Harrison: Another player coming off a breakout, Harrison is being drafted 10th while we have him at No. 15.
Alex Rodriguez: The 39-year-old is coming off a lost season and the Yankees replaced him at third base with Chase Headley, leaving A-Rod to fight for at-bats at DH and as a reserve corner infielder. Even if A-Rod can shake off the rust and find ABs, there’s a tremendous risk of injury. We have him ranked No. 31 while his ADP is 25th.