2017 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview: The Elite

by Joe Bond
2021 Dynasty Baseball Player of the Week: Kris Bryant

Third base is loaded. After studying my rankings before writing this I’m very comfortable rostering roughly the first 25 players on my list. This is assuming you have a corner infield spot and will want to draft two of these guys.

Even if not you should have a utility spot and can slide the second player you draft into that spot. Hell I might even draft three to use in my leagues that us corner infield and utility.

Let’s quickly review the top and bottom tiers here. The top tier has Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado. All four of these players should be drafted in the first round of standard drafts and are among the elite in baseball.

The bottom tier of my top 25 includes. Ryan Schimpf, Jung-Ho Kang, Eugenio Suarez and Yulieski Gurriel. All have their flaws and risks, but the first three hit 20 home runs last season. Gurriel is a bit of a wild card, but in some circles is very highly regarded.

Point is third base is ridiculously deep and you should be going into your drafts targeting a few of these players.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

Can Alex Bregman match the hype?

The second overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft got his chance last season, getting called up in July. It was a rough start for the top prospect, but he ultimately finished strong.

Bregman has all the looks of being the real deal. The strikeout rate was a bit high, but that is to be expected for a young prospect. The best news is he was still able to push through it and finish with eight home runs, 31 runs and 34 RBI in 49 games.

Projections have him around 20 home runs and a .267 average, but I think we could see a bit better out of him. I think his plate discipline will come back and we’ll see more of the hitter we saw rip through the minors. That means a batting average of around .280 with 23-25 home runs.

If I miss on the first four Third Baseman who do I want?

If I told you, you could not use a first round pick on your third baseman and instead get one in round 4 who hit 30 home runs, scored 89 runs and batted in 99, what would you say?

How about if that same player has hit over 25 home runs for three straight years, while improving his runs scored and RBI since 2012?

If you say that sounds good, then you should draft Kyle Seager.

He really is the forgotten man in all the third base discussions and I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because he does not have a ton of upside and is not among the elite with Arenado, Bryant and company. But I’ll take the super consistent Seager if I swing and miss on the top-4 at the position and feel very good about it.

Can Adrian Beltre really do this another season at age 37?

Why not. I’m tired of doubting the man. At this point I think he can do this until he decides he does not want to. He is one of those special players, like David Ortiz, who can beat father time.

Perhaps 30+ home runs are not something to expect, especially after he hit under 20 the two seasons prior to 2016. However, the rest of the numbers can be there and the rest of that lineup is good enough for him to rack up the other counting stats.

Player(s) on the Rise

Ryan Schimpf, San Diego Padres

Schimpf is primarily a second baseman, but thanks to at least Yahoo, he has third base eligibility.

He was an unknown quantity last season, having been stuck in the minors for almost seven full seasons.

After the call up in July, he both disappointed and showed a ton of promise at the same time. The .217 batting average, mostly due to a dreadful 31.8% strikeout rate was the disappointment.

The 20 home runs in 330 plate appearances was fantastic, as was his 12.7% walk rate.

Schimpf clearly has the power to play at the big-league level, but he will need to improve overall at the plate to be a real asset. Otherwise we are looking at just another power hitter that will drain your average.

I believe he can raise his average up to respectable numbers though, .250-260 range. He has adjusted at every level of the game, so I see no reason why he can’t do the same at the major league level. I think we see a few less fly-balls, which most were turning into easy outs, and get a few more ground ball hits to raise his average. Don’t worry thought despite more groundball/line drive hits he will still hit for plenty of power.

Player(s) on the Decline

Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria turned back the clock a little last season, looking more like the 2013 version than 2014-2015.

He actually hit the most home runs he has ever hit, and 15 more than the season before.

I have a few issues with him repeating this. First, his strikeout rate increased for a third straight year, while his walk rate declined for a third year.

Second reason is his HR/FB rate increased back to his 2013 numbers and he hit more fly-balls than he ever has. This is a big reason to make me believe the power resurgence is not sustainable.

You will likely get the steady batting average, but the power and counting stats will dip a bit this year.

Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers

Another player that is not primarily eligible at this position, but I felt like I had to say something about.

There is a lot to like about Villar, 62 steals jumps out first of course. Then you add on 19 home runs and you have a lite version of Jose Altuve, with better steal numbers.

Fact is you have to expect some regression here. Why? I’ll tell you.

He is a big ground ball hitter, only 24% of his balls are considered fly-balls. Hitting that few fly-balls means you have to hit for a high HR/FB rate to hit 19 home runs. He did that in 2016 with a 19.6% rate, which was six points higher than 2014 and almost double than 2015. It fair to expect that to decline and therefore his power numbers too.

Even the steals will likely take a hit. 62 is just hard to repeat. He could still get 45-50 easily, just think 62 is not something you can expect.

My point here is, he could still be a good player in the 2017 season, I just don’t want to pay for 2016.

Player(s) on the Horizon

Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals

There are not a lot of third base prospects that are going to get their chance anytime soon. This is thanks to the slew of good young third baseman we have in the game.

Dozier however is one of the exceptions, thanks to his ability to play the outfield. He actually got called up last year and played in eight games (we won’t really talk about how he performed).

I like his chances to perform if he does get called up this year, which seems likely sometime mid-season. He has always had a bit of a power stroke and hit for a good average in the minors. He will need to make sure he does not strikeout 38% of the time like he did last season in the majors, but that’s nothing new for young players.

Do not draft him in redraft leagues, but keep an eye on him come June/July.

Player(s) to Avoid

Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

It is hard for me to want to draft a player who does not have a defined role every day. Fact of it is the Cubs are very crowded at the positions he can play with Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Jason Heyward all there.

I think all the tools are there for him to be a great asset in fantasy and he is still only 24 so there is room to grow. But when most projections have him at just over 400 plate appearances that is not something I’m interested in.

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