Another year and yet again third base is loaded. You won’t see third base represented as well in the overall rankings this year as it was last season, but it is still represented very well.
I am targeting third base early and likely filling my utility spot with another. There is just so much talent in this position it is hard to avoid in drafts. Even in the later rounds, you can find power. In fact, last season 22 different third baseman hit at least 20 home runs. Only first base and outfield had more.
The even better thing about third base is there are few players out of that 22 who hit 20 home runs who will hurt you in the batting average department.
For those of you who are not targeting the 40-plus stolen base guys, third base can be a sneaky place to find speed. As mentioned as a strategy on The Fantasy Six Pack Hour Podcast, you can stay competitive in steals even without getting the Billy Hamilton and Trea Turner’s of the league. Finding some of these third basemen who can get you near 10 or more steals, to combine with their power, is the way to go in my opinion.
2018 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview
Can we trust Anthony Rendon to repeat 2017?
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Rendon had a career year last season. He hit a career-high 25 home runs, 100 RBI and batted .301 while doing it. This resulted in a .533 slugging percentage as well too
Everything was good for him last season. His strikeout rate lowered, his walk rate rose all leading a career high .403 on-base percentage too.
Yes, 2017 was good to Rendon. Can he do this again in 2018? Absolutely.
I think he does regress a little back to his norm in his walk and strikeout rate, which will affect his average and on-base percentage a little. However, he is a great player and appears to be over the injury issues that plagued him in 2015 and carried into 2016. You can draft Rendon safely as one of the top third basemen and get near just below elite numbers in many categories.
How much does Manny Machado gaining shortstop eligibility boost his overall value?
To me, it does not. He is already ranked in my top 15 overall and I can’t imagine moving him up any higher.
Although, I can see why some might promote him into the top 12 maybe even top 10. As I mentioned earlier, the depth at third base is crazy good. Even though shortstop is getting deeper, it still can’t touch third base. So drafting him to get elite talent at short then draft third base later is not a bad strategy.
On to Manny on the field.
Don’t get me wrong I think Manny is a special talent and is a generational type of player. Defensive skills add a lot to that value, but we don’t really care about defense in fantasy.
What we do care about is three straight years of 30-plus home runs and the overall great offensive game he has. He struggled quite a bit in the first half last season, but his BABIP had a lot to do with that sitting at .239 in the first half and .290 in the second.
All in all, I would not fault you for moving him up your board to get an elite shortstop, then try to fill third base with a later round pick. I would rather take the best players available no matter where they fell that early in the draft.
Who is the real Maikel Franco?
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Remember before the 2016 season everybody was drooling over Franco after he hit 14 home runs and 50 RBI in just 80 games. It helped that he hit 17 home runs during Spring Training.
He was the next big thing and was being drafted like it too going as early as the fifth round in some leagues.
Then 2016 happened where he hit just 25 total homers with 88 RBI and 67 runs. Probably most disappointing part of it all was his average dropped from .280 to .250.
Things got worse in 2017 where he hit 24 home run, 76 RBI and 66 runs. Worse is his average sank to .230.
Still just 25 the question is can he be the player a lot thought he would be after his 2015 rookie season? At this point, I don’t think so. I think he is a 23-25 home run type hitter and because of the lack of talent on the Phillies, he won’t get the RBI or runs to make him more valuable. I do think he is closer to a .250-.260 hitter though, so don't avoid him because you think he is a .230 hitter.
The upside is still there, so at the price you will have to pay for him, it’s a great pick.
Player(s) on the Rise
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
This one is a bit obvious, but I still have to state it.
Devers was pretty amazing in his short time with the Sox last season. He hit for average and power and at age 21 the sky is the limit with this kid.
I don’t expect him to bust out and be top 10 player this season, but it is coming soon. Still, this season he has the talent to be a 25 home run, near 100 RBI type hitter, especially in the Sox powerful lineup. If he can get his strikeout rate back to where it was in the minors than I would put money on those stats happening.
Ryon Healy, Seattle Mariners
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I can’t give up on Healey. Perhaps it is the fact that he helped me win a title in 2016 that I had no business winning, actually, that is a lot of it.
But no really take another look at him. Despite a lot of people saying Healy had a “bad” season last year, it wasn’t all that bad. 25 home runs, 78 RBI and a .271 average on an actual bad Oakland team, is pretty good.
He now is moving to a really good Seattle team and should get plenty more RBI chances. He also gets to move away from playing half his games in Oakland, one of the worst parks to hit in for a right-handed batter.
I’m projecting about the same amount of home runs for Healy, but you can expect an increase in runs scored and RBI.
Player(s) on the Decline
Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants
He was on my list last year and I think I was pretty spot on there.
I just spoke about park factors with Healy, you couldn’t get much worse than where Longoria was, playing at Tropicana Field, yet some how he did. The Giants are a distant last place in home runs, for right-handed hitters and near last place for runs.
The only good thing about the move to San Fran is he will have a better lineup around him. But Posey and McCutchen are declining so are we really expecting a bounce back for Longo? No, no we are not.
Player(s) on the Horizon
Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
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The Yankees have made it clear they are ready for Andujar to take over the hot corner this season. This became even more apparent after they did not resign Todd Frazier, who signed with the Mets.
Andujar has been good, not great as a minor leaguer. He has flashed power, but not enough to get truly excited about. What you have to like is the fact that he does not strikeout a lot and his average has gotten better at every level.
He is very young, only 22, so perhaps the breakout will not happen this year. However, he should have plenty of RBI chances in the Yankees stacked lineup, even if he bats at the bottom. I have a feeling he could be a waiver wire add at some point this season.
Player(s) to Avoid
Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
He might hit 40 home runs again and yes that is super valuable, but I can’t stomach his batting average. This is even in a league where batting averages are at an all-time low and strikeouts are higher than ever.
Some stats that you may not be aware of. Gallo hit the ball safely 94 times. That means 43 percent of his hits were home runs. OK so that doesn’t scare you then I’ve got more.
He struck out 196 times last year and walked 75 times. This means that out of his 532 plate appearances he either hit a struck out or walked 51 percent of the time. Basically, if he does not hit a home run he is not helping you. That is hard to trust from year to hear in fantasy baseball.
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