2018 Dudes and Don’ts: Third Base
As has been the case in recent years, third base is very top heavy. You’ve got five pure studs at the top, and (mostly) solid options throughout the top 20. There isn’t a lot of pure speed at the position, which makes the likes of Alex Bregman that much more enticing. You’ll have to pay up for his services early on, though, and we’re not about that action here. Let’s go bargain shopping and find you a Dude.
The Dude – Eugenio Suarez
Eugenio Suarez made my list last year, too, and yet somehow he is still undervalued! All he did last year was hit 26 homers with 87 R, 82 RBI, a .367 OBP, and 4.1 WAR. Yes, I know this is fantasy, and we don’t give a crap about WAR, but it factors into one of my points, which is that Suarez is an overall valuable baseball player. Everyone wants to give top prospect Nick Senzel the job already, but they’re overlooking just how good Suarez is. The Reds are actually working Senzel at shortstop, so hopefully that is an indication to everyone that Suarez isn’t losing his gig anytime soon.
Suarez has increased his walk rate in a huge way over the past three seasons, going from 4.3% in 2015 to 8.1% in ’16 and then 13.3% in ’17. While that’s encouraging on the surface, there haven’t been huge changes in his swing% or O-swing%, so I’d probably expect something more in the 10-12% range. That said, everything else he’s been doing is legit, and at his 207 ADP (20th 3B) I’m happy to invest in a repeat of his 2017 numbers. He was only 4-of-9 in steals last year, so the days of double-digit SB per season are probably gone, but his position in the lineup should be optimal. He’s slated to be the Reds’ cleanup hitter this year behind OBP legend Joey Votto, putting him in position to push 100 RBI. Invest in Suarez, and you may enjoy a continual soiree.
2018 Projection: 625 plate appearances, 85 R, 25 HR, 95 RBI, 5 SB, .255 AVG
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The Don’t – Miguel Sano
Oh, it pains me to put Miguel Sano in the Don’t pile, but I can’t avoid it. There’s no denying his prodigious power and his ability to lay off a bad pitch for a walk. However, in today’s game where three-true-outcome types like Sano are more common than ever, Sano is a massive overdraft at his ADP of 103 (11th 3B). A year after striking out a whopping 36% of his trips to the dish, Sano reduced that rate … to 35.8%. Not exactly what you were hoping for. He also hit .264 because of a massive .375 BABIP that is going to be really hard to repeat. Now, he crushes the ball when he does get a hold of it, with a 44.8% hard% that ranked 4th in MLB (min. 450 PA). Doing that on a consistent basis will give you a plus BABIP even if you’re running with sand in your pants. However, he makes contact on just 62% of his swings in 2017, which is a downright frightening number.
Sano is facing sexual assault allegations, which puts a potential suspension on the table. As of right now, that’s a total wildcard, but you have to take it into consideration when you draft him. He’s also coming off of surgery to insert a rod into the leg that bothered him throughout 2017, and he reported to camp with a “generous carriage” as Thad Levine eloquently put it. Apparently, he couldn’t find a way to work out as he was recovering from surgery and also lived on a diet consisting entirely of trans fats. So between a possible suspension, injury concern, health concern, and a profile that is less hard to find than ever before, go ahead and Say No to Sano this year.
2018 Projection: 500 plate appearances, 65 R, 25 HR, 75 RBI, .250 AVG
The Deep League Dude – Colin Moran
Colin Moran was almost a throw-in when the Astros acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pirates. Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz were the key pieces, but Moran (for fantasy purposes, at least) has the potential to be a solid addition to fantasy lineups. Moran has always been considered a solid on-base threat, with a career .353 OBP in the minors. However, Moran has been paying attention to the air-ball revolution guys, and now his power is starting to show up in games, as well. Last year at Triple-A he posted a career-high 40% fly ball rate, which fed into his power. He hit 18 home runs in 79 games for a .235 ISO while walking at a 9.2% clip and striking out in just 16.3% of his plate appearances. He might take a seat against southpaws if the Pirates decide to ease him into full-time MLB action a bit, but otherwise, the third base gig is his to lose. With a dirt cheap ADP of 424 (34th 3B), the power and average could combine for a very nice rookie season.
2018 Projection: 500 plate appearances, 55 R, 23 HR, 70 RBI, .280 AVG