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A Look Back at the 2013 Draft: AL Third Basemen

I spend most of my time looking back at the past. It probably comes from being a history teacher for most of my adult life. We could have illustrated some important points by looking at 2012 drafts and prior, but sometimes the information has to be fresh for making the best points. Essentially, the best way to win in your fantasy league is to exploit what we would call inefficiencies in the market.

If this sounds familiar it should, it essentially was the primary point of Moneyball. Most people make the mistake of thinking that book/movie was about OBP. It really wasn’t even though OBP seemed to be prominently on display. It was really about finding out what your opponent overvalues or undervalues and exploiting that for your advantage.

In terms of fantasy baseball, it isn’t about OBP at all. In the case of third basemen, you can see it when we present the table for American League third basemen. Fantasy players overvalue youth and “potential” to their detriment. I have nothing against prospects, but mountains of data prove that most don’t live up to the advanced billing. That means you can get a better player by simply avoiding that temptation.

[am4show have=’p4;p3;p7;’ guest_error=’Front Office’ ]

Owned

TAV

BR

RC

Miguel Cabrera

99

.332

53.9

131

Adrian Beltre

99

.316

30.9

116

Evan Longoria

99

.326

16.7

47

Brett Lawrie

94

.261

-0.2

62

Will Middlebrooks

86

.278

7.1

41

Kevin Youkilis

83

.264

1.2

60

Mike Moustakas

69

.254

-6.9

69

Kyle Seager

68

.273

6.0

78

Manny Machado

64

.261

-0.9

23

Trevor Plouffe

39

.266

3.4

55

Jeff Keppinger

16

.294

13.5

58

Alex Rodriguez

16

.280

8.4

70

Josh Donaldson

14

.258

-3.6

30

Lonnie Chisenhall

8

.269

1.0

18

Alberto Callapso

4

.271

-2.2

56

Matt Dominguez

2

.264

1.4

15

Ryan Roberts

2

.238

-13.2

44

Eric Sogard

2

.186

-8.9

5

Median

—-

.268

1.3

56

For whatever reason, Brett Lawrie was the most overdrafted player at the position. I can tell you why. His 2011 numbers showed him to be one of the best values at the position coming into 2012. That is unless you are aware of the problems with sample size. He had a brilliant final two months in 2011, so many thought he would be a stud. He was a stud with the glove last year, but his offensive numbers resembled his minor league numbers more than his 2011 totals.

In a similar way, Mike Moustakas also was tabbed far more often than he should have been. As a point of comparison, Kyle Seager showed similar power numbers, but has the added advantage of being eligible at second base and sports better OBP skills. Yet, Seager is owned by fewer Yahoo players than Moustakas. Why? Moustakas has more potential. At least that is what we are led to believe.

It isn’t that potential is bad thing. It is that owners seem to apply it inconsistently. Manny Machado and Lonnie Chisenhall are also highly talented young players, but they are relatively undervalued as compared to their more prominent counterparts. Heck, even someone like Matt Dominguez should get a little more love than what they do.

I certainly wouldn’t start Dominguez even in an AL only league, but he is a regular player that will get at least 400 plate appearances this season. He already has four doubles on the season, so he has some pop in the bat even if he doesn’t project to be a fantasy monster. Still, that is the difference between blindly following the pied piper of potential and using it to your advantage.

When you look at the third base position (especially when combining leagues) you will find a half dozen established guys that should be fantasy monsters. The list includes the likes of Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, and maybe Pablo Sandoval. The rest we could split into two categories. You have steady performers that aren’t spectacular, but will do a decent job. In the American League ranks, that will include guys like Jeff Keppinger, Kevin Youkilis, and Alberto Callapso to a lesser extent.

Then, you have your potential performers. Again, I have nothing against potential, but you should never overpay to get it. The American League is full of these guys and it pays to study minor league numbers before overextending yourself. Will Middlebrooks is a prime example. He mashed in partial duty in 2012, but his minor league track record shows a guy that might hit 20 home runs a season. If you make the mistake of extrapolating numbers from 2012 you will be led to believe he could be a 30 home run guy. That’s the difference between a Kyle Seager type and a Adrian Beltre type.

Obviously, this brings us to the present. The first thing you should not do is reflexively drop a guy because you overdrafted. Overdrafting doesn’t mean the player has no value for you. It just means you need to measure your expectations moving forward. Yet, at the bottom of the list are some names that could be solid bench players for you. Josh Donaldson, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Matt Dominguez are owned by fewer than 15 percent of those playing in Yahoo mixed leagues. All of them are capable of putting up decent numbers as their team’s primary third baseman.

[/am4show]

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