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2016 Fantasy Baseball: Third Base Projections

There are many ways to rank players. I don’t claim to have a monopoly on the truth, but I hope my methods balance analytics with common sense. The analytics part is probably the most involved. We take runs above replacement from the past three seasons according to three different sources (Baseball Prospectus, Baseball Reference, and Fangraphs). We apply a multiplier to make sure the most recent performance is given the most weight. That creates an index score for each platform. We then take the average of those three to provide a single score for each player.

Middle and corner infielders can sometimes be interchangeable. Sometimes teams have them play multiple positions within the season or they may have prospects that push them to other positions on the diamond. We will see the same thing at third base and shortstop. For the purposes of keeping our sanity, we will use rosterresource.com’s listing to sort them out by position. That might mean that some players are moving around from where they have played in the past.

  1. Josh Donaldson— Toronto Blue Jays (63.8)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 56.0 41.3 66.2 56.2
BR 61.0 47.0 73.0 62.3
FG 70.5 59.5 82.4 72.8

Maybe it was a good thing that Billy Beane was kicked upstairs in Oakland. He got the better of just about every general manager most of the time, but the Blue Jays really fleeced him on this one. Yes, he got talent in return, but Donaldson ended up being the AL MVP. I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t continue dominating. Verdict: Under

  1. Kris Bryant— Chicago Cubs (58.2)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 58.1 58.1
BR 55.0 55.0
FG 61.6 61.6

Bryant’s delayed call up was an intense controversy at the time. It bought the Cubs an extra year of club control. If he had been up the whole season he might have driven in 100 runs. He seems about as good a bet as any to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100. This doesn’t mention the improvements in the Cubs lineup. Verdict: Over

  1. Matt Carpenter— St. Louis Cardinals (48.0)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 64.7 34.3 56.3 50.4
BR 63.0 33.0 50.0 46.5
FG 63.9 36.0 48.8 47.1

Every once in awhile we see a significant difference between real baseball and fantasy baseball. Carpenter is really valuable in real baseball. In fake baseball terms, he’s only hit more than 11 home runs once and has never stolen more than five bags. So, he’s surviving on high batting averages and runs scored. In six category leagues he’s considerably more valuable. Verdict: Under

  1. Adrian Beltre— Texas Rangers (45.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 57.4 49.3 33.4 42.7
BR 58.0 55.0 37.0 46.5
FG 46.3 51.9 43.6 46.8

There is nothing more insidious than the memory of a great player. Make no mistake, Beltre is a Hall of Famer in waiting. In point of fact, he’s been more valuable than Chipper Jones because of his fielding and hitting. You only get credit for the hitting. He came on late last season, so there is hope that he has one more good year left in him. Verdict: Under

  1. Kyle Seager— Seattle Mariners (40.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 43.2 45.4 31.1 37.9
BR 44.0 42.0 41.0 41.8
FG 37.3 49.8 36.9 41.3

Last season was a down season for the Mariners, but Jerry Dipoto spent the entire offseason beefing up the Mariners lineup. Getting Seager and Robinson Cano to play to expectations would trump all of his moves. He is still in his prime, so I would bet on a bounce back campaign. Verdict: Over

  1. Manny Machado— Baltimore Orioles (39.4)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 26.4 14.5 47.9 33.2
BR 27.0 16.0 54.0 36.8
FG 57.3 20.8 63.7 48.3

Machado is a bonafide superstar. The problem is that a large part of that stardom is built on his glove. He is still a very productive offensive player, but in terms of a fantasy starter, he is middle of the road at third base. Third base is a deep position though. Verdict: Under

  1. Todd Frazier— Chicago White Sox (38.6)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 19.6 45.8 41.6 39.3
BR 25.0 45.0 35.0 36.7
FG 28.7 43.1 41.4 39.9

League changes used to be really tricky. With interleague play around the clock it might not be so tricky anymore. The White Sox lineup is deeper than the Reds lineup, so there is an expectation that Frazier will see better counting numbers. Verdict: Over

  1. Evan Longoria— Tampa Bay Rays (36.2)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 49.6 34.9 28.2 34.0
BR 46.0 35.0 31.0 34.8
FG 60.5 30.6 39.3 39.9

There was a time not too long ago where Longoria was my pick for AL MVP. Then, Mike Trout happened and Longoria slipped. He’s only 29 year old, but he has had two lackluster seasons in a row. Usually, this is where I would bet on something to change, but I’ve been burned by Longoria in the past. Verdict: Under

  1. Nolan Arenado— Colorado Rockies (32.2)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 7.8 24.8 48.7 33.9
BR 7.0 24.0 39.0 28.9
FG 22.7 26.7 42.5 33.9

It would be hard to say there is a rivalry between Arenado and Manny Machado, but there might be between their fans. Both are young and brilliant defenders at their positions. Both had breakout campaigns a year ago. Arenado has the bonus of playing in Coors Field. Verdict: Over

  1. Justin Turner— Los Angeles Dodgers (30.5)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 6.2 33.5 39.6 32.0
BR 9.0 35.0 34.0 30.2
FG 4.4 29.1 37.6 29.2

Turner is probably a poor man’s Matt Carpenter. Interestingly enough, he had microfracture surgery this offseason. Still, he expects to be back by Spring Training and hopefully will be 100 percent. If you think of him as a bottom tier starting third basemen then you should be fine. Verdict: Under

  1. Anthony Rendon— Washington Nationals (24.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 11.0 51.3 12.0 24.9
BR 13.0 49.0 6.0 21.5
FG 13.6 59.1 8.9 26.4

Rendon spent most of last season injured. When healthy, he is one of the better hitters in baseball and we can only assume he will be healthy next season. If he lasts until this point you should go ahead and snatch him up. Verdict: Over

  1. Matt Duffy— San Francisco Giants (24.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 2.0 33.6 21.0
BR 1.0 39.0 23.8
FG 0.5 46.5 28.1

Duffy represents yet another of a class of third basemen that are more valuable in real baseball than they are in fantasy baseball. If Kris Bryant had stayed in the minors, he would have been the rookie of the year. As it stands he might be a forgotten guy. Verdict: Over

  1. Josh Harrison— Pittsburgh Pirates (21.8)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 0.1 40.8 17.0 22.1
BR 2.0 37.0 18.0 21.7
FG 0.4 45.9 12.7 21.7

When you get to this point in the draft you are either looking for a quality backup with upside or you’ve punted the position and are looking for steady production. Harrison clearly is not the player he showed in 2014, but he might be better than the 2015 version. The question is which one will he be closer to. Verdict: Under

  1. Mike Moustakas— Kansas City Royals (21.5)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 1.0 4.8 39.8 21.7
BR 2.0 6.0 38.0 21.3
FG 11.2 5.9 35.3 21.5

There are breakout players and then there are once in a lifetime seasons that happen to coincide with team greatness. Wilcy Moore pitched six seasons in the big leagues. He had an overall record of 51-44 and an ERA of 3.70. He was 19-7 in 1927 and led the league in ERA for the Yankees. Hopefully you know how that season ended for them. Moustakas has been shaky most of his career and showed up last season. Fluke? Maybe. Verdict: Under

  1. Trevor Plouffe— Minnesota Twins (21.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 14.6 22.2 15.1 17.4
BR 17.0 30.0 21.0 23.3
FG 2.6 32.8 23.6 23.2

I’m not one to recommend punting any position, but if you did you could do worse than Plouffe. In four seasons as a regular, he has averaged almost 20 home runs 70 RBIs a season. That’s not fantastic, but he has surpassed 80 RBIs the past two seasons and the Twins lineup appears to be on the come. Verdict: Over

  1. David Wright— New York Mets (20.2)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 48.4 14.9 15.7 20.9
BR 52.0 15.0 14.0 20.7
FG 56.3 16.2 8.5 19.0

Something happened to Captain America on the way to the Hall of Fame. He proved he was vulnerable after all. At this point, you’d be a fool to count on Wright as a fantasy regular, but he would make an excellent companion pick with a steady regular like Matt Duffy or Justin Turner. He might bounce back and be great again, or he may remain injured. Verdict: Over

  1. Chase Headley— New York Yankees (19.9)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 22.4 18.7 6.8 13.4
BR 29.0 21.0 18.0 20.8
FG 33.3 38.2 14.3 25.4

One of the things I enjoy is looking at those slideshow pieces that rate the biggest busts or best breakouts. I’ve written those and felt like I needed to bathe afterwards. Headley made the busts list on one such article. It’s a long-term deal and he can have a bounce back campaign. 2012 will never happen again, but 2013 and 2014 are reasonable expectations. Verdict: Over

  1. Luis Valbuena— Houston Astros (19.7)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 12.6 26.5 18.0 19.9
BR 12.0 30.0 19.0 21.5
FG 19.6 26.5 11.1 17.7

I don’t think Valbuena should be on anyone’s draft list unless you play in a six category league. Even then, only walks (in lieu of OBP) would be the consideration. He does have multi position flexibility so he could be a useful bench piece, but that should come on the waiver wire and not with one of your picks. Verdict: Under

  1. Alex Rodriguez— New York Yankees (18.6)
2012 2013 2015 ADJ
BP 20.9 6.5 23.3 17.3
BR 25.0 6.0 30.0 21.2
FG 19.6 4.5 25.2 17.4

Writing those slideshow articles other sites love to write makes you want to take a shower. Mentioning ARod in any article makes me want to take a shower and gargle the whole bottle of mouthwash. However, if he performs like last season he has fantasy relevance. Your league may laugh at you, but having him on your bench could help you. Verdict: Over

  1. David Freese— Free Agent (17.9)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 10.4 16.8 16.9 15.8
BR 14.0 22.0 24.0 21.7
FG -3.4 18.7 21.0 16.2

Back in the day, Albert Pujols and David Freese were leading the Cardinals to the World Series championship (along with Lance Berkman). Freese in particular had a great World Series. He’s a great example of how World Series heroics don’t translate to future heroics. He’s productive when healthy, but he never seems to be healthy. Verdict: Under

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