2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Third Basemen
Discussing disappointments at third base could take awhile. There is no position on the diamond that was more underwhelming than third base. It certainly starts with the three names we will look at today, but it isn’t limited to those names. Others may have been more mildly disappointing. Then there is the shadow that was cast by Alex Rodriguez. No, Arod isn’t the dominant force that he was during his prime, but we are talking about a starting quality fantasy third baseman that found himself suspended for the season. The end result was a position where most fantasy players found themselves scrambling for credible performance.
Since it has been a little while since we visited disappointments, we should set up some ground rules. In order to be labeled a disappointment, you had to be a preseason starter in most 12-team leagues. That might be hard at some positions and at least one of these guys will be a borderline case. In another, you will be wondering whether that player’s performance could be truly labeled as disappointing. Perception is reality in these cases, but we have to remember what the perception was in March.
David Wright— New York Mets
(.269 AVG, 8 HR, 54 Runs, 63 RBI, 8 SB)
Captain America turned back into Steve Austin. Since 2010, Wright had produced no less than 14 home runs before this season, but there have been chinks in the armor. Wright drove in 90 or more runs in 2010 and 2012, but the other seasons in between have seen fairly pedestrian numbers. RBI totals tend to fluctuate with the quality of the team, and the Mets have been lacking offensively for some time now. He was relatively healthy in 2014, but the numbers weren’t there. He even sported a .325 BABIP and the numbers weren’t there. You’d have to be concerned if you are a Mets fan.
What to expect in 2015
Streamer already has a projection on Wright and they have him at .275/18/75/74/10. Those are certainly better numbers, but they are nowhere near elite. Have we seen the last of Captain America? Since he is entering his age 32 season we have to seriously question whether we will see the player that drove in 100 or more runs in five of six seasons. He has an outside shot of producing 20 home runs and 80 runs and RBI. In this era, that should be good enough to fill a starting third base slot on your fantasy team. I just wouldn’t draft him in the first five rounds as you may have done in the past.
Pedro Alvarez— Pittsburgh Pirates
(.231 AVG, 18 HR, 46 Runs, 56 RBI, 8 SB)
Alvarez was one of the breakout players of 2013, but by the end of the season in 2014, he had lost his job to Josh Harrison. Back-to-back 30 home run seasons gaveway to strikeouts and disappointment. Funny, but the difference doesn’t seem that stark now. His strikeout rate actually went down and his walk rate went up. The BABIP and batting averages were similar as well. The line drive rate dipped considerably and his HR/FB rate also dropped, but even those rates were near or above league average. The difference was more in Harrison than in Alvarez. Harrison produced a .315/.347/.490 slash. His .353 BABIP is unsustainable, but it might be enough to supplant Alvarez on a full-time basis.
What to expect in 2015
Pedro Alvarez has never had an average better than .256 at the big league level. Whether the Pirates deal him or not, his team must understand what they have. In a full slate of games, Alvarez would have likely hit 25 home runs a year ago for the third season in a row. The problem is that he has become a defensive liability in addition to an all or nothing hitter. He may eventually find himself in the American League where he can DH on occasion. His generous walk rate makes him an appealing option in six category leagues, but you have to realize what you are buying.
Chase Headley— New York Yankees
(.243 AVG, 13 HR, 55 Runs, 49 RBI, 7 SB)
In essence, nothing at all. Headley has been a regular since 2008. In those seasons he has produced 9, 12, 11, 4, 31, 13, and 13 home runs. Which of those does not belong? Unfortunately, people have been treating Headley like the guy that produced those 31 home runs. Most aren’t considering him a top five third baseman, but they are splitting the difference. Headley simply is not going to produce 20 home runs. So, Headley is not a disappointment in the truest sense. You just have enough fantasy players that end up disappointed because they misjudged what he was.
What to expect in 2015
Again, this is about expectations. Depending on where he signs, he could be a 15 home run guy. If you add a full complement of offensive players around him then he might even throw up some decent runs and RBI totals. Add in the fact that he is a decent stolen base threat at the position (10 to 15 stolen bases) then you have a decent fringe fantasy regular. The key will be where he signs and whether that club views him as an everyday option. That might not be a given in this market.