2014 Fantasy Baseball: Early Top 10 3B For 2014
We’re making our way around the diamond, slowly but surely, for our too early 2014 fantasy rankings. So far, we’ve taken a look at catcher, first basemen, and second basemen. Third base should be a pretty intriguing position in 2014. The following list will only include my top 10, but there are plenty of interesting names that could very well end up in the top 10 by years end (Lawrie, Headley, Bogaerts, etc.). Let’s get to it.
Miguel Cabrera at number 1 should shock exactly zero people. He’s the best hitter in the game and that’s the only thing we care about in fantasy baseball. I am a little worried about his late season bite by the injury bug considering his age, but he’s still one of the most consistent, trustworthy names in the game. Cabrera also gets a plus in my book due to the recent trade that sent Prince Fielder to Texas. That may seem a little odd, but it’s all about health. It’s no secret that Cabrera had a few injury problems down the stretch last season. The removal of Fielder allows for Cabrera to play the less physically demanding corner position across the diamond while keeping his 3B eligibility. Fantasy owners rejoice.
Adrian Beltre is defying the odds of aging. Despite the fact that he is heading into his age 35 season I still trust him more than the younger names below him. Much like Cabrera, he does not miss time – at least in 3 of the past 4 years – and he is a very consistent performer. One of the things about Beltre that has always given me pause when evaluating him is his free swinging approach. Despite his aggressive approach he still strikes out well below league average (11.3% of PA in 2013). He’s able to do this – and postpone aging quickly – due to his phenomenal ability to make contact when he does swing. The good news is that his contact skills are not declining any at the moment, in fact many of them improved on his 2011-2012 rates.
There’s no doubt that Beltre is aging – at least according to his age in years. He’s doing it as gracefully possible though.
Edwin Encarnacion is on this list with an *. In some leagues, he may have played enough games to qualify at third base again. If he has third base eligibility in yours, this is where I would take him.
I struggled a little bit choosing between Evan Longoria and David Wright for the number four spot. In fact I look at them somewhat as 4A and 4B. Choosing between them all depends on how you plan the rest of your draft. If you’re looking for as much power as possible from the hot corner then I’d go with Longo. If you’re looking for a five category performer than I’d take Wright. I do not believe there is an incorrect choice here.
I believe in Josh Donaldson. There’s really no other way to put it. While Donaldson seemingly came out of nowhere, he’s always had the potential to be a very productive major leaguer. The batting average may seem a little fluky, but it does not look to be aided too much by an elevated babip. Considering Donaldson’s batted ball profile and his .333 babip in 2013 I firmly believe Donaldson can be at least a .280 hitter going forward – which is extremely above average in today’s game. Donaldson’s power splurge also seems to be completely legit. His batted ball distance ranks 74 out of 300 qualified hitters. That might seem low, but Adrian Beltre ranks 73. He’s in good company. I’m drafting Donaldson with confidence, so should you.
Ryan Zimmerman is somewhat of a tough player for me to write on. I’ve watched him flounder around for months on end it seems like only to destroy my team in a H2H set-up every time I’m matched up with his owner’s team. Needless to say, I’m a little tired of it. Nonetheless, I’m forced to rank him. Zimmerman, like many of the game’s premier players, produces very well when he is on the field. Staying on the field is Zimmerman’s inherent problem though. At least it seemed that way in my mind. I was shocked to realize that Zimmerman played in 147 game in 2013 after suiting up for 145 in 2012. It may seem like he’s always hampered, but he has done a much better job of actually staying on the field since his injury plagued 2011.
Zim’s plate discipline numbers have stayed relatively calm despite the fact that his strikeout rate has been on a steady climb. His swinging strike rate is up a little bit, but nothing is too alarming at the moment. Zimmerman’s homers have consistently been in the mid-20’s despite middle of the pack flyball rates. He’s able to do that due to his elite flyball distance.
Zimmerman’s flyball distance ranked sixth in the majors. He has prodiguous power – evidenced above by the glut of 400+ foot shots to all fields. Zimmerman might lack the upside of a Longoria or a Wright, but he’s a consistent to bet to perform well at the hot corner in 2014.
Matt Carpenter was tough to rank for me. I had a hard time guaging his value, both on this list and on my second base list. Everything I wrote there rings true here as well, except to a greater extent. Carpenter’s lack of power is much easier to overlook when you’re slotting him in at the MI or 2B spot in your lineup than at 3B.
Kyle Seager is an extremely interesting player to me entering 2014. His lackluster finish to the 2013 campaign could prove to be extremely beneficial to his draft day value. I, for one, am not scared off by his poor finish in 2013. Seager improved upon nearly every peripheral stat in 2013. He chased less pitches out of the zone, swung and missed less, and upped his walk rate. Seager’s issue, one that many lefties face, is his ability to hit left handed pitching.
Obviously, Seager still has work to do versus same handed pitching. It is encouraging to see that he is improving – even if it is a slow process. Seager’s chances of reaching his fantasy ceiling depends on if he continues to improve on this aspect of his game. At the moment he’s a very solid fantasy option, improvement versus lefties would push him into top 5 consideration. Many will have the man next on my list, Pedro Alvarez, in front of Seager. I can understand why. I tend to lean towards 5 category contributors. I realize that Seager only swiped 9 bags last season, I believe he’s capable of swiping a few more than that if given the chance.
I recently wrote about Pedro Alvarez. In order to give you a cliff notes version I’ll sum it up this way: I love the power, but hate the strikeouts and lack of flyballs. He is undoubtedly a phenomenal power source, but is that source tapped out? I’m not sure there’s much room for growth here.
Last, but not least, in my top 10/11* is Mr. Pablo Sandoval. He is one of the many players that I would love to see call another ballpark home. He’s also a player that baffles me every year with his draft position. Despite only hitting 20+ homers once 2010, Sandoval is seemingly always drafted as a top 7 or 8 third baseman. There’s no doubt the potential is there. The production – specifically power production – and health, however, have not been there. Sandoval’s ISO (isolated power) declined once again in 2013.
League average power or a little below is not what we expect from Sandoval. It’s what we’ve gotten from him the past two seasons though. The good news, is that his power came back a little in the second half of the season. The bad news is where it had to be pulled up from. Sandoval essentially makes my top 10 by default. Despite attempting to talk myself into placing someone else here, I couldn’t. Draft at your own risk; I doubt he’ll find his way onto any of my teams. So, maybe he was last and least after all?