2014 Third Base Tiers: Roto

Miggy

Following on from our 90 feet shift up the first base line we will follow the diamond round another 90 feet to the hot corner position of third base. In comparison to the guys directly across the diamond this position is relatively shallow in potential top end talent but is rife with mid-level talent. As with the previous two articles I will be outlining the categories people excel in compared to those players I’ve tiered them with.

This is because in a roto draft you need to have a balance of categories in order to take home the prize. Winning steals by 70 but finishing last in every other batting category scores you just 14 points in a 10 team league but finishing 5th in all five categories nets you 30 points and that really outlines the need for balance across your roster.

Within each tier players are ranked according to ADP taken from fantasypros.com

Different Class: Cabrera

Image courtesy of sports illustrated

Whereas I laboured over Goldschmidt in his own class Cabrera was an easy decision. He is projected to be the best at the position in Runs, HR’s, RBI and Batting Average and is a consensus top 2 pick. If you pick after #1 then Cabrera is a no brainer if available.

Elite: Beltre (Runs/HR’s/Average), Longoria (Runs/HR’s/RBI), Wright (Steals/Average)

These three guys are among the best hitters in baseball and are all likely to put up great numbers for your fantasy teams. Wright is the biggest injury risk of the three having missed a big chunk of time last year and that is why he would be my third choice of the three guys available. Longoria is likely to be the second most productive player across four categories, steals are his big down side, but Beltre will be right there with him in Runs and HR’s. Beltre is the only guy other than Cabrera likely to have a 300 average and when you factor in the park he plays in its tough to not see him putting up great numbers. The trouble with these three guys is they are likely to be going at a time in the draft where you will be looking at the Elite hitting positions of OF and 1B but they are much more likely to produce consistently than the guys in the next tier down so they are worth the risk if available late in the second or early in the third.

Step Below: Carpenter (Runs/Average), Zimmerman, Donaldson (RBI/Average), Alvarez (HR’s/RBI), Gyorko (HR’s)

Image courtesy of sports illustrated

This is a really intriguing group if you miss out on the top 4 with all of them bringing slightly different things to your team. Carpenter had a fantastic season last year and should lead the position at runs once again this year however; he is going the highest of this group and is more likely to be someone’s second baseman than third. His big down side is that he won’t hit more than 15 homers and will knock in 20 less runs than the others in the tier which is a big sacrifice considering you’re going to be taking him in the 4th. Zimmerman is actually projected to be the most consistent across the four categories (I’m ignoring steals for this tier) but won’t excel in any one category. Donaldson’s floor is a decent average and 20+ homers but whilst he has the potential to be better than that he is hugely hampered by his park. Alvarez is the biggest hitter of the group with 30+ homers and 90+ RBI however; his average will kill you so it’s a big risk reward with him. Gyorko could potentially hit for the same numbers as Alvarez but with a better average and considering you could get him 40 picks later he is the value of this tier in my opinion.

 

Solid: Seager (HR/RBI), Machado (Runs), Prado (Runs/RBI/Average), Lawrie (Average), Ramires (Average), Headley (HR’s/Steals)

This tier feels to me a little like the last one before it becomes a lottery as to what you end up with a third base. Seager has great potential in a much improved Seattle line-up and is probably the safest bet in the tier to help you in four categories. Machado is pegged as one for the future and showed great promise last year, 25 homers and 75 RBI feels like his ceiling with 20/60 being more likely. His value to you comes in a solid average with 80+ runs. Prado is a one of two players I always feel gets over valued because of his positional eligibility, he should bat at a near 300 average with 80ish runs and RBI but will probably disadvantage you in homers compared to the guys in this tier. Lawrie is the post-hype sleeper in this tier having been pegged for big things both of the last two years and failing to provide both times, 70 runs at a 275 average are the highlights with the potential for 20+ homer and 75+ RBI. Ramires is another guy who will give you a near 300 average but should hit more homers than Prado and goes 30 picks later. Headley is perhaps another case of a post-hype sleeper but unlike Lawrie he has shown he can actually do it after his performance in 2012. Should be a lock for 20+ homers and will give you double digit steals while matching the rest of the tier in runs and RBI. Has been struggling with injuries in the build up to spring training and that worries me but in the 12th/13th round he’s probably worth the risk.

 

Back-Ups: Sandoval (RBI/Average), Bogaerts (Runs), Middlebrooks (HR’s/RBI), Frazier (Runs/RBI), Dominguez (HR’s/Average), Moustakas (HR’s)

Image courtesy of USA today

I so nearly put Sandoval in the tier above but I just can’t see his upside being better than any of the guys above and for that reason he slipped into this tier. Should give you solid production but has the potential to drag you down as well. Bogaerts has potential to be a real star this season but he hasn’t shown to be a great home run hitter or base stealer and that hurts his potential in a roto league. Should give you 65+ runs and 60+ RBI which is solid production late in a draft for someone who could develop more power this year and provide returns of guys at least one tier above. Middlebrooks has been the epitome of streaky as he will hit 6 homers in a week and then not make a hit for three days but there is talk he has tinkered with his swing and that is perhaps true given that Boston have refrained from signing Stephen Drew making Middlebrooks the everyday first baseman. Should give you 20 homers at a minimum but a lot depends on what average that comes with. Frazier is another who should hit 20+ homers with a risky average and you can get him 40 picks later than Middlebrooks and he will give you a few more steals to go with it. Dominguez is my pick of the tier as he’s a 20+ homer guy with a decent average in a batter friendly park so why is he down in this tier you ask? He plays for the Astros with one of the worst line-ups around and that limits his runs and RBI potential. Moustakas makes it three 20+ homer guys with risky average in this tier. He hit less than 200 against lefties last year and there is talk he may be platooning sometimes this year if he doesn’t improve. Has the same upside as Middlebrooks and Frazier but the risk is even greater after one bad year already.

 

Fall Backs: Arenado (Runs/Average), Johnson (Average), Freese (Average), Davidson (HR’s/RBI), Reynolds (Runs/HR’s/RBI), Asche (Steals), Plouffe (HR’s), Chisenhall

Arenado plays in hitter friendly Colorado and should hit for a good average, I love his potential this year with how late you can get him. Johnson should be Atlanta’s #1 third baseman and with a decent averae should put up solid but unspectacular numbers. Freese will be hampered by the Anaheim Park but should drive in some runs in that line up. Davidson has great potential (20+ homers) but I do fear that as a man with a poor average a slow start could see the White Socks finding a way to get Dunn and Konerko in the line-up at third. Reynolds plays in a decent hitters park and IF he makes contact regularly could hit 30 homers! If Asche earns the starting job this spring then his potential is something that would greatly tempt me late in drafts. 500 AB’s could see a 60/15/70 line with a few steals and a decent average and that is nothing to turn your nose up at in the last few rounds. Plouffe had a great stretch in 2012 but he plays in a rough park for hitters and that limits his upside. Look for 20 homers at a 250 average. Chisenhall is in this tier literally because he will put up better numbers than all the guys in the next tier and not because he’s better than the any of the guys in this tier.

 

Desperation: Callaspo (RBI), Franco, Aviles (Runs/RBI/Steals), Semien (Runs/HR’s/Steals), Polanco, Carroll, Keppinger (Average)

Callaspo is a platoon guy. Franco is challenging Asche for the 3B job so he is my sleeper here because if he wins the job or gets in a time share his current projection of 20/8/25 will double at least. Aviles should be the best of this group but there is nothing exciting. If Semien wins the job out right then I would actually move him up a tier but for now I’m not taking him until I’m desperate. Unless one of Keppinger, Polanco or Carroll gets a full time job you might as well forget them.

So that rounds up the pure power based positions. There is power sprinkled through the lower tiers but in a roto league with a CI and Util I’d be shocked if you’re starting more than one third basemen at them positions as there is much better value at first. My advice here is to try and grab someone in the first three tiers but if you miss out make sure you get someone from the Solid tier.

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