Arguably the hardest part of fantasy baseball drafts is deciding where to make sacrifices. It’s impossible to draft an elite player at every position and picking the best spots for trade-offs is imperative. At each position, there are players that go later than their peers that could end up producing at a similar level. Nailing down those later-round ADP jackpots can be the driving force behind a league-winning roster.
Of course, there is a reason players that could provide value better than their draft position have fallen to where they are. There may be injury or playing time risks, or the players could be coming off of down 2022 campaigns. Most of the time, they simply haven’t performed as consistently as the top names at their position. Despite the red flags, these third basemen have the ability to outproduce their ADPs and allow earlier picks to be put to better use.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
Exploiting Third Basemen ADP in 2023
Note: The NFBC ADPs listed are from March 1st through the publish date.
Third base is considered one of the most shallow positions for fantasy baseball this season. In general, the top players at the position all have elite upside and deserve their high ADPs. Perhaps the riskiest of the group, Bobby Witt Jr., posted a 20-30 season as a rookie and has a real shot at a 30-30 sophomore campaign. However, Gunnar Henderson, another budding superstar, may not provide great value in 2023.
Henderson is a highly valuable dynasty asset and could live up to the hype this season as well. At just 21 years old with 132 plate appearances under his belt, there are still several questions about his abilities. In that brief stint, he posted a solid .788 OPS but he struck out in 25.8% of his plate appearances. The high strikeout rate has followed him throughout his professional career but it’s always come with a double-digit walk rate to balance it out.
After putting up solid numbers against lefties in 2021, Henderson couldn’t touch them last season. In 168 total plate appearances against left-handed pitching in 2022, the 21-year-old slashed .208/.316/.354 with a 32.7% strikeout rate. He hit just .156 while whiffing on 35% of breaking pitches. There are plenty of positives, hence his ADP of 87. Henderson’s 91st-percentile sprint speed gives him Witt Jr.-level upside if everything clicks, even if he swiped just one bag at the MLB level last year. However, with this many question marks, it may be smart to see if he can perform at the MLB level before investing a high draft pick on him.
Eugenio Suarez – ADP: 156
If your roster is lacking in power after the top-100, look no further than Eugenio Suarez. Since the start of 2018, he’s belted 160 home runs, second in the MLB to only Aaron Judge. He’s gone deep at least 30 times in each of the last four full seasons. Suarez’s power floor is pretty high based on his elite barrel rate, ranking in the 94th percentile last season. However, his ADP is this low because of the obvious holes in his game.
Suarez led the MLB in strikeouts for the second time in his career and had an atrocious whiff rate. He makes up for it a bit with an elite walk rate but it’s unlikely he’ll ever get back to a .270+ average like he produced during his peak. Against righties, the 31-year-old struck out 32.4% of the time while posting a .292 BABIP, compared to 27.5% and .333 marks against lefties. He slashed .236/.332/.459 last season, good for a 129 OPS+. In the two years prior, Suarez combined to hit just .199 with a .293 OBP.
With the big power comes strong runs and RBI totals and Suarez racked up 163 of them combined last year. He should hold down a spot in the middle third of Seattle’s lineup in 2023, giving him plenty of opportunities to maintain those counting stats. As long as you’ve built a stable base for batting average, Suarez can provide elite power at a fairly cheap cost. After being shifted over 80% of the time in 2022, any improvement in the average category could make him a steal.
Alec Bohm – ADP: 168.5
In a way, Alec Bohm is the opposite of Suarez. If you’ve stocked up on power hitters early, Bohm can provide a solid boost to your batting average later. After a down 2021 campaign, he popped back up in 2022 with a .280/.315/.398 slash line alongside 151 runs + RBI. His .271 projected average by Steamer is the fifth-best among third basemen with at least 200 plate appearances. Bohm has room to take that even further after finishing in the 97th percentile with a .288 xBA.
Bohm’s nonexistent walk rate and lack of elite power limit his OPS potential. Most of his batted-ball data is above average but he chases too much and doesn’t barrel the ball often enough. Philadelphia’s lineup is deep and Bohm will likely hit in the bottom half of the order, limiting his run and RBI chances. However, there’s room for him to move up if someone like Nick Castellanos continues to struggle.
In daily lineup formats, Bohm has some extra value as a lefty killer. He slashed .352/.394/.541 with 22 extra-base hits in 175 plate appearances against left-handed pitching last season. In his last full minor-league season, he belted 21 homers and he has four this spring. Bohm could still tap into that power potential during the regular season, especially in his strong home park. He’s a fairly safe pick at his current price but reaching the 20-homer mark would have him flying up draft boards heading into next season.
Ke’Bryan Hayes – ADP: 178.3
One of the most popular breakout picks in the fantasy community this offseason, Ke’Bryan Hayes can still be had at a decent discount. The underlying numbers show that he could tap into more power with some adjustments. Both his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate rank in the 84th percentile, but his poor barrel rate and launch angle limited him to just 34 extra-base hits (seven homers). Hayes has knocked three home runs in 25 spring plate appearances, suggesting that the breakout could be coming.
Without any additional power, Hayes has very limited fantasy value. Last season, he slashed .244/.314/.345 with a 21.8% strikeout rate. Against righties, that slash line fell to an abysmal .232/.302/.314. The 26-year-old has respectable whiff and chase rates but, overall, he swings less than the average hitter. Hayes has a strong .324 career BABIP (.307 last season) and while his batted-ball numbers should help maintain that, there’s not much room for growth.
As one of just five third basemen projected for at least 15 steals by Steamer, speed is a big part of Hayes’ value. He swiped 20 bags last season after totaling just 10 in his first 120 career MLB games. At his current ADP, another 20-steal season with a slightly improved slash line is probably enough to be worth the price. Hayes would turn into a steal if he adds 15-homer pop to that profile.
2023 Steamer Projections
A few other late options include Brandon Drury, Anthony Rendon, and Yandy Diaz. Drury broke out in 2022 with an .813 OPS and 61 extra-base hits. He’s eligible at multiple infield positions and joins a revamped Angels lineup that could put up some runs. Similarly, Rendon should hit in the heart of that order. He’s a former MVP candidate with an ugly injury history, but if he plays even 100 games he should outperform his ADP of 213.9. Diaz provides a high floor for average and OPS despite his low power output.
For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!